Mike Okiro – The Man And The Misplaced Logic

by Ossie Ezeaku

The circumstances surrounding the background of Mr Mbama Mike Okiro, the Agunechemba I of Egbema, and Nigeria’s first ethnic Igbo to assume the post of police IG, even in acting capacity, does not need much investigation. It is possible to create a geo-political zone but not an ethnic group, which Igbo is one. Ethnic, defined as: “relating to, or characteristic of a sizable group of people sharing a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage”.

But the comprehension of this definition has become difficult in Nigeria. To discern an ethnic group from a geo-political group has become one issue that keeps coming up time and again. And the spuriousness of this issue is further re-enforced by the fact that it comes up each time applicable to only identifying an Igbo in post-civil war Nigeria.

In the Vanguard edition of Mr. Mbamara Mike Okiro’s appointment as the acting IG police, the reporter, Mr. Kingsley Omonobi wrote to say “… Onovo was said to have lost out in the last minute when powerful forces were said to have argued that giving such a sensitive position of the number one security organization to an Igbo man, could be dangerous” He further stated the background of what appeared to him a non-Igbo man this way:

“The man, Mike Mbama Okiro
Date of birth: July 24, 1949.
Place of birth: Oguta, Imo state.
Home town: Egbema
LGA of origin: Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni
State of origin: Rivers”

Here Mr Omonobi feigned ignorance of the ethnic demography of Nigeria. He rather acquiesced to the distorted information of Okiro’s origin by further re-stating the background of Okiro, which made a mockery of his knowledge of the ethnicity and geography of Nigeria as a journalist.

Should I say that he does not know that there are ethnic Fulanis and Yorubas of Kwara state, just as there are ethnic Igbos of Rivers state? Has Atiku Abubakar, ceased to be a Fulani for hailing from the North Eastern geo-political zone? Mr. Omonobi’s edition of this important news did not only misrepresent material facts, It was Goebelian in nature.

The out-gone Inspector General of Police, Sunday Ehindero, began the drama when he refused to endorse the two officers of Igbo origin next in line to him. The officers were Ogbonna Onovo from Enugu, and Mbamara Mike Okiro from Egbema. At that point, Igbo pressure groups came in requesting that either of these their two sons must succeed him. But Instead, Ehindero went ahead to nominate the fourth, fifth and the sixth officers in line to his position.

A nomination published by many Nigerian newspapers. We are talking about a position that no native-Igbo speaker in Nigeria has occupied since independence.
And DIG Ogbonna Onovo 53, was next in line to Ehindero, followed by DIG Mike Okiro, 57.

Thus the emergence of Okiro must have been a face-saving concession made to soft-land Ehindero, who had earlier made It clear that no Igbo would succeed him. Though many Igbo saw this development as a plot to further provoke division within the constituent parts of an already fragile Igbo nation, but the elevation of Okiro was as well welcomed by Ohaneze. At the end of the day, an Igbo became the 13th Nigeria’s Inspector General of police. South East or South South is inconsequential in this matter.

The insinuation that Ndigbo cannot be trusted with sensitive positions has become an excuse given to grace a terminally ill policy. The late Lady Nwizu, from Anambra state was appointed the Head of Nigeria’s Immigration, a para military outfit. Until her death when she was replaced by a fellow Igbo, Chukwurah Udeh from Delta state, she didn’t compromise Nigeria’s security.

Nigeria’s premier defense industry ( DICON ), which shuns out deadly weapons is currently managed and directed by a serving Major Gen.of Igbo extraction. Anambra state. He has not compromised the nation’s security.

Air Vice Marshal Paul Dike, an Igbo from Issele-Ukwu heads the Airforce. An organization far more awesome and dangerous than the police.. He has not yet directed the fleet of jet bombers under his command to level up Nigeria.

Thomas Aguiyi Ironsi is Nigeria’s Minister of defense. He has not planned an Igbo take over of Nigeria.

Should there exist any hidden strategic precaution to exclude and include parts of the Igbo nation from the so called sensitive positions in Nigeria, such a policy must have been murdered by time. If DIG Ogbonna Okechukwu Onovo, touted constantly by the Nigerian media as one of the finest cop in Africa was too Igbo to become Nigeria’s Police IG, his kinsman Mbama Okiro, should as well be a security risk. What an un-intelligent and bizarre policy!

I commend Chief Gani fawehimi’s concerns on why Onovo did not take over. It should have been the right to do had we been in a progressive society. But anchoring this matter on ethnicity was simply wrong. Chief fawehinmi should understand that there was a much more deeper sinister motive behind all these. Who is Okiro in the first place? Has Mike Okiro lost his Igbo ethnic nationality as a result of his community being ceded to Rivers state? A notion only applied to the Igbo in Nigeria.

Egbema is a homogeneous Igbo community whose one part was ceded by the Maman Nasir boundary adjustment commission after the civil war to Rivers state. The greater part of Egbema lies in Imo state.

Thus, any agitation by South Easterners about the elevation of Okiro will be tantamount to the Igbos of the South South, and particularly Egbema folks of the both divide crying foul of Ohaneze Ndigbo. In respect of this matter, leaders of Ohaneze must walk on a political fine line

Pit them against themselves, this was the motive behind Okiro’s elevation to Police IG. Yar-Adua may have indeed fired his first salvo to the Igbo nation. It was regrettable.

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RICHY January 18, 2009 - 6:24 pm


S.Brown March 30, 2008 - 8:50 pm

I have known Mike Okiro & Ogbonna Onovo along with thier Late colleague Ibezim these are fine gentle men who started their rise to fame with single stars when posted to Rivers State please allow them to do their jobs they love what they do & they do it very well . Bravo Okiro & Onovo we love U . S Brown.Hope to know U for 33 more years

Ichieawka October 19, 2007 - 3:27 am

Chief Mike Mbama Okiro is an illustrious son of Ndigbo.All the credible igbo sons and daughters supports his new postion as the 13th inspector general of police of this our dear country.All igbos are one.The wicked boundary adjustment of the never-do-wells should not tear us apart.Long live Chief Mike Okiro, long live the igbo nation and long live Nigeria.

Chief Anayor Ajator (Ichie-Awka) writes from South Africa.

Anonymous June 13, 2007 - 7:53 pm

Hatered for ndigbo has no end aslong as they remain in nigeria.

Anonymous June 12, 2007 - 2:11 pm

I can never understand Ndigbo and their agitation. For example, I think it's unfathomable and utterly unforgivable that Ndigbo acceded to the scandalous pdp zoning formula where Ndigbo were allocated the party chairmanship instead of the house speaker – the NUMBER 4 citizen! In this dispensation, there is no Igbo leadership in the presidency or either of the houses of legislature, how could Ndigbo have let this happen. Instead what we see is squabbling over IG of police and party chairmanship, self serving positions that have no influence in the direction of Nigeria.


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