Ibusa Union, London Branch: Problems and Prospect

Please note that the opinion expressed in this piece as the new General Secretary of the London branch of the ICDU {men’s wing} is my personal opinion, and may or may not have reflected the views of other members of the new Executive Committee. All criticisms should therefore be directed at the author, whose shock absorber, is stretchable and, by English democratic practice and standard, tolerable. I am the most tolerant man in the universe. Just call me an ‘incinerator’!

About a month ago, the Ibusa Community Development Union {ICDU} London branch held an election and new Executive members were elected. Mr. Rowland Nwanze – a very intelligent and articulate young man, bubbling with full enthusiasm and ideas and whose passion for Ibusa knows no bounds – was elected as President while, Mr. Peter Okonji, was elected as his Vice- President. The ambition of the new team is to help fast-forward and propel the union and Ibusa to a greater height. Before the new Executive members can swing into action, there is the need to identify obstacles to set goals.

Let’s therefore get down to brass tacks: the union has been engulfed for quite a long time in a niggling crises of embarrassing proportion. Inasmuch as there is no community without conflicts, what makes most to always stand out irrespective of such set backs is the determination to always forge ahead. This is where I always give Kudos to the Yoruba community in London. That Egbe Omo Oodua – a thorough Yoruba socio-cultural group, which Chief Awo founded in London in the forties with Chief Rosiji, Olu Akerele and others – is still in existence, shows the extent to which the Yorubas can swim and sink with a union.

Human nature and human relationships are buoyed with conflicts. We can never do without them otherwise human existence would be boring. But when some conflicts become so entrenched and seem to be dragging on for too long thereby acting as a cog in the wheel of progress of a union and a community, it becomes a very serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Ibusa town, and its problems, has become a microscopic mirror reflection of the problems in our amalgamated Federal Republic of Nigeria. The conflicts in that community are both historical and modern. The modern ones being mostly a reflection of the dirty politics that politicians play at the national and state levels which simmers down to a raging poverty stricken people at the village level. These conflicts tend to be tearing our homogeneity apart. This is very painful. More painful is the fact that attempts to modernise the community is moving on quite all right but they are not qualitative.

The “Obuzor of Ibusa,” a modern creation, which the people cravingly created out of their own volition to work hand in hand with our democratic gerontocracy {“govt of a people by the representatives of the people directed and guided by the eldest men of the people by virtue of their special powers, wisdom and prestige”}, seemed not to be working harmoniously as envisaged by the people. Despite the Supreme court’s ruling in favour of the establishment of the “Obuzor” stool, entrenched positions against the institution are still at daggers drawn, though waning gradually.

Besides, now that {even} the “Obuzor” has come to stay, demarcated and delineated functions of that office and that of the “Diokpa of Ibusa” seemed to be overlapping and some times even clashing thus more often than not generating frictions between the two offices. Sometimes the news that filter into one’s ears about the persistent altercations between the “Obuzor” and some private influential individuals in the community on the one hand and the “Diopka of Ibusa” on the other hand does not go down well. Perhaps, that is the prize we have to pay for trying to effect a gradual change into an archaic gerontocracy. But the people shall overcome. It is a question of time.

The fact is that if most state governments in Delta state were doing their job effectively by providing for the quality needs {not quantity need} of the people, there wouldn’t have been the need to create the “Obuzor” institution. It was a creation borne out of necessity and desperation by a people craving to survive the challenges of modern times. The present “Obuzor of Ibusa”, Prof. Nwaoboshi, was a retired lecturer at the University of Ibadan. One expects the learned Professor, and I hope he does or is doing it, to use his intellect combined with native intelligence to move the once sleepy community forward. He can do it, all he needed is to re-define his office and the plans he has for the community and go after those plans. He also needs the support of all sons and daughters of Ibusa otherwise there is no way he can perform. People should learn to bury old wounds and animosities for us to move on.

It is however, not a mean achievement for a community to have two serving Managing Directors manning two of the 24 consolidated banks in a nation of about 140 million people, namely, Mr. Francis Atuche and Mr. Sebastin Adigwe; neither is the community doing badly in politics, where we have people like the ever precocious and highly articulate Prof. Pat Utomi; Oxford university guru, Prof. Fidelis Oditah {SAN and QC}; Mr. Nwaoboshi, PDP state Chairman; Peter Okocha of the Action Congress and Mrs {Princess} Fred Ajudua and a host of others like Profs Emenanjo, Arinze and Elueze. Not to be left out however, is the first Dirctor-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Prof. Chike Onwuachi, who was single-handedly brought back from the USA by General Yakubu Gowon to come, lay the foundation of the Institute and to position it for a good take off. So far the community is faring well. Inasmuch as we cannot all belong to the same political party, there is a need for shared understanding in our diversified efforts and entrance into politics bearing in mind the funny nature of the game in Nigeria. Therefore, putting all our eggs in one basket could be a dangerous gambit.

It is with this understanding and background that the London branch of the Ibusa Community Development Union {ICDU}, especially the men’s wing, should take its pride and place. We should not be found wanting in character, maturity, and integrity. We should, based on the mature democratic environment we’ve found ourselves, be seen to be exemplary. While most of us have, by now, imbibed the British politics of tolerance, respect, and mature ability to absorb divergent views and opinion, some others are craving to do so while a few others, despite the fact that they have been here for ‘donkey’ years, don’t {even} want to try. This is understandable. People have their philosophy of life to live. But one’s chosen philosophy, I presumed, ought not to run at cross-purpose with the development of one’s community, especially if one lives abroad.

However, wise counsel demands that if one comes into a foreign land where there are strange ways of doing things, the onus lies on one to strive to sift and internalise those qualities and cultural values which are good into one’s personality. It is normal to copy good and to leave those evil aspects that are anachronistic to one’s personality formation and development. In other words, there is nothing bad in accepting some of the good things of the white man just as there is nothing bad in retaining some of our traditional values. The onus is to create a good mix and evolve a “perfect” personality and to strive to maintain a qu

ality balance.

In London, the problems in Ibusa Community Development Union {ICDU} seemed, if I may borrow Chief Gani Fawehinmi’s words, “intertwined, interwoven and interlinked.” I shall try and delineate some of them.

So far, the community in London has a number of social clubs among which are: the popular Isunambogu, Gentleman’s club, Ezidi Bu Eze, Dibu-ugo ete etc. There is nothing wrong in belonging to clubs. With sincerity of purpose and open-mindedness, they are all meant for the development of our community and, for taking care of the welfare of their members. And the town has been benefiting from all of them in various ways and I thank the clubs for their unflinching support in that area. However, that a person decides to join “this club” instead of “that club” should not have been a source of friction if clubs are working maturely and albeit harmoniously. And to persistently pester someone to come and join “this club” or “that club” is becoming out of character. Are the clubs in a competition? I thought each has its plans and objectives? Some times during elections into Executive offices, members literally fight themselves to finish and tear themselves apart. I cannot comprehend it. Before I left Nigeria’s ‘jagara-jagara’ political terrain, I had never in my sensual visualization and slightest imagination believed that I will witness in the UK, and among Nigerians for that matter, what I had witnessed in Nigeria.

This is not supposed to be a source of concern and friction, but it is, among “Ibusans” in London. It is more worrisome in the men’s wing of any association. Most come to meeting with bellyaches because they do not belong to the same club with some others. It has created unnecessary enmity and gregarious tendencies. People who had interest in joining clubs lost it and stayed away because of the display of arrogant exhibitionism, voodooistic attitude, “ego massaging”, unnecessary and unwarranted show of strength and the tendency to dominate. This should not be at all. It is appalling! I just cannot get it. What is in a Blackman’s character for God’s sake?

As already reflected above, it is a pity that we live in an advanced democracy and yet could not conduct ourselves responsibly because of cynical distrust and sarcasm. This is why some serving presidents, rather than allow the people to decide who should lead the union, impose almost by fiat, a particular person to succeed them; or that members of a particular Ogbe, Idumu, Umunna or quarters wants to monopolise power because – by their sheer number -‘they’ control the majority.

The smaller quarters in turn feel rejected because they can never produce a president of the union due to their number. It stems from the fact that these big quarters use their numbers to intimidate the smaller ones during elections. This is a fallout of the fear of domination entertained by smaller ethnic groups in Nigeria when politics is being played at the national level. It has gradually crept into us. Fear of this and fear of that! However, such fears should be recognised and could be handled in a diplomatic fashion. We cannot bury it under the sand. There are ways of overcoming them which – based on genuine desire and willingness to give and take, sincerity of purpose, maturity and respect with our good sense of humour – would yield greater results and benefits.

Club politics also plays its own negative role thereby compounding what ought to have been a simple issue. Members of a particular club will like to hijack the leadership of the union and then use it to pursue their selfish agenda and to intimidate those who do not belong to theirs. Or that elections which ought to have been conducted based on constitutional stipulated period becomes continually postponed because a serving member of the Executive does not want to hand over – a carry over of our monarchical tendency of sit tight politics, as theorised by the Kenyan Professor, Ali Manzuri.

In line with these is our attitude problems. There is nothing wrong in a free and fair competition. If properly handled, competitions bring out the best in a people. But in exhibiting some of the above negative tendencies, our people portray bad attitudes in a good game. They then add grandiose and salacious gossiping to it all. Again, there is nothing wrong with gossiping, it is part of our sociology of everyday life. It is a social behaviour which makes social relationships in societies interesting rather than boring. It is {even} an institutionalised pastime among the English people. They literally eat gossip the way they munch mashed potatoes. We should however be conscious of positive gossips as different from the negative ones. Negative gossips are destructive and damaging. It destroys relationships to the point that such relationships are never ever salvaged.

Negative gossiping concerning individuals, couples, organization or society is a calculated gossip that is well planted at a particular spot to achieve a destructive purpose. It blows ill-wind and does no good to anyone. Whatever good it does to the peddler and trumpeter can only be fathomed by the peddler. To be privileged to get information about a couple or an individual and then effectively plant it at a particular spot and allow it to incubate and then spread like the BBC to disparage a couple, has actually contributed to the wrecking of the London union. This is one major cause of the problem in the union. In a random survey which I conducted and interpreted, this was one of the principal reasons why people don’t attend ICDU meeting. It is really shocking how some adults behave like children in another man’s country! Added to this is the dragging of an issue or issues for a long time in a meeting. This kills morale, discourages people and affects attendance.

A union that is supposed to be “a pull” in a foreign territory now turned round to become “a push”. What then is a negative and a positive gossip? We cannot pretend not to know the meaning of these terms because they are self-explanatory. As a proper son and daughter of Ibusa, who’s well steeped in Ibusa tradition and Igbo values, you cannot pretend not to know the meaning of a negative “Okholi” or “Ngboto”. In fact, in Igbo communities of old, there were social sanctions imposed on gossips because their wild speculations, spread and exaggeration often had destructive impact on societal cohesion and solidity. In fact, magical sanctions were often invoked to deal with perpetrators except where they decided to confess to appease the community and cleanse their conscience.

Apart from these distractions, some others just come to the meeting to take on everyone. They behave like the three monkeys: they want to eat Akpu, banana, and beans all together. They inconsiderably put their ’hands in all humble pie’ thereby making some few others go berserk. While Some others come to meetings with their irritating shenanigans to ’kill’ positive ideas being put forward by some others. This is got to be discouraged.


Written by
Ephraim Adinlofu
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1 comment
  • The statement: “Not to be left out however, is the first Dirctor-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Prof. Chike Onwuachi, who was single-handedly brought back from the USA by General Yakubu Gowon to come, lay the foundation of the Institute and to position it for a good take off.” is very inaccurate and you are dishonouring the achievement of others in order to highlight the professor’s. The 1st Director General was Dr Lawrence Fabunmi who served for 9 years from 1962 to 1971 and then Dr Olasupo Ojedokun who died on 18th May 1972 as he was about to be confirmed the substantive DG. Then the Professor Chike Owuachi who served for 2 years! and then Professor Bolaji Akinyemi who served for 8 years. Thank you.