We Are Not Igbo, Rivers Ikwerre Blasts Iwuanyanwu, Ohanaeze

May 4, 2024

The claim by Ohaneze Ndigbo and its President, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, that Ikwerre is part of Igbo, has drawn the ire of the Ikwerre socio-cultural group, the Iwhnurohna Progressive Organisation (IPO).

The membership of the IPO led by Dr. Okahchukwu Dibia at the weekend said it was offensive, insulting, shameful, disgusting, insensitive, careless and uncivilised for Iwuanyanwu to be credited with the falsehood and unfounded claim that Ikwerre people were Igbo.

Reading the position of members after a meeting in Port Harcourt, Dibia said: “To us at IPO, Ikwerre is Igbo means that all the ancestral communities in Ikwerre originated from Igbo. This is not true and can never be true, hence our reply to him and indeed Ohanaeze.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Ikwerre people are a distinct ethnic nation recognised in Nigeria and the United Nations. Ikwerre language is one of the recognised languages in Nigeria and the United Nations (UN).

“Whoever is in doubt can contact the appropriate government authorities in Nigeria and the UN. While Ikwerre is our political name, Iwhnurohna is our native name, and both refer to the same people: Ikwerre Ethnic Nationality.

“We live and own the Emohua, Ikwerre, Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City (in alphabetical order) local government areas in Rivers State, Niger Delta, South-South geo-political region of Nigeria”.

Citing the works of some renowned scholars like Prof. Otonti Nduka, Dibia used thematic headings of appearances, innate qualities and history to explain that the Ikwerre remained distinct from the Igbo despite similarities in their language.

He said: “Consequently, IPO’s reply to Iwuanyanwu is that language, name, dances, songs, and dressing cannot be and should not be used as determinants of who Ikwerre is. IPO wish to reply to Iwuanyanwu that who a man truly is, is more about his core innate character and behaviour than the physicals he sees.

“IPO’s reply to Iwuanyanwu on the history of Ikwerre is that Iwhnurohna is a Federation of Aborigines and Migrants who have come together under one political roof called Ikwerre Ethnic Nation. It is therefore very unthinkable and childish to claim that Ikwerre is Igbo because of the existence of few Aro communities allowed to settle in Ikwerreland”.

Dibia said the IPO’s position was that features of appearance should not be used to determine someone’s identity but that verifiable piece of history and the innate character of an individual should speak for his ancestral affinity.

He said: “Ikwerre history has been well written and documented. Ikwerre is not Igbo. In Igboland, due to reckless boundaries delineation between Rivers State and Imo State, Ikwerre people are carved into Imo State. An example is the Ohaji people in Imo state.

“Ohaneze should know that it is only a handful of Aro people who were allowed to settle in Ikwerre that can trace their origin to Igboland. Therefore, it is very wrong, preposterous and unacceptable for anyone to say that Ikwerre is Igbo.

“Henceforth, such offensive, insulting, abusive and insensitive hate claim should not be uttered by Ohaneze or any other group or individuals from any part of humanity. Iwhnurohna will not tolerate it anymore.

“IPO suggests that Ohaneze should maintain good neighbourliness. Ohaneze, Ijaw and indeed all ethnic groups in Nigeria should respect their neighbours as distinct people instead of angling and making subtle desperate moves for unification for a political entity they will dominate. No nation is successfully built on suspicion and domination.

“Ohaneze should recognise the need to change its antagonistic attitude towards Ikwerre. Igbo should stay and develop their five states and let Ikwerre be. Ikwerre is not Igbo”.

Dibia told Ohaneze Ndigbo that the Late Chief Eguma and not Aguma, the Igbo version was fined a cow by Ogbakor Ikwerre Organisation WorldWide for being part of Ohaneze Ndigbo, which he paid.

He said: “This payment shows that Eguma realized he did the wrong thing and was restituted. IPO notes that our late father Eguma may have committed that error involuntarily to secure his job in Enugu.

“IPO wishes to remind Ohaneze that good neighbourliness is better than money, profits and gains. Ohaneze should respect Ikwerre as a distinct ethnic nation instead of insulting Ikwerre through claims that provoke and promote disaffection between Ikwerre and Igbo. Then, we can all co-habit as good neighbours”.