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Igbo political leaders have historically been more inclined to serve the interests of the Nigerian nation often at the expense of those of Ndigbo. This philosophical orientation was the major reason why the most eminent of Igbo politicians, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, unceremoniously absconded from Biafra in the heat of the Civil War to support the effort of the Federal troops to scuttle the secessionist struggle. Zik and Dr. Alex Ekwueme both attained high political offices at the national level but many still feel that their tenures were devoted more to Nigerian nationalism than for the advancement of special interests of Ndigbo.

Because of the unique cultural heritage of Ndigbo, it would be unrealistic to expect that our collective interests will be best articulated by a group of select elites or chieftains as are the practices in the North and West. The less-than-adequate role that the Ohaneze Ndigbo has played toward filling a leadership void for Igbos is self evident. There are no clear-cut criteria for belonging to the Ohaneze–Ndigbo and it appears that anyone can become its mouthpiece as situations warrant.

This unacceptable leadership structure has very serious consequences that are detrimental to overall interests of Ndigbo. Even if the Ohaneze shall continue to provide the forum for articulating interests of Ndigbo, there ought to be a clear delineation of its make up, leadership structure and most importantly, a clearly defined and understood set of agenda that will act as a road map to guide everyone who represents Igbo interests. There should also be a code of conduct that binds the members of Ohaneze and all others who have been given the responsibility to represent Ndigbo at the local, state or regional and national levels of government.

There ought to be a conscious effort to include youthful elements within the policy-making structure of Ndigbo in order to ensure continuity when the elder members retire or become incapacitated. Women should be given a voice in Ohaneze for political reasons.

Osondu
The Survival Struggle for Ndiigbo

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