I am not equating myself with Olubadan —Anozie
Dr Alex Anoxie is one of the claimants to the stool of Igbo leadership in the state. The opthamologist affirmed that he was made a leader by his people and said that he was never at anytime rude to the Olubadan.
What happened when you visited the Olubadan of Ibadan recently?
Let me say that I was not informed that I was invited with any other person/faction.In fact, we don’t have any faction any more in Ibadan and Oyo State, as far as Igbo leadership is concerned.
Igbo have chosen me to be their leader since December 1997 and they gave me whatever Igbo title of their choice, not a Yoruba title. When we were invited that day, I thought I was being invited for something good because I was expecting to be appreciated for the good job I’ve been doing with my leadership of Igbos. Since 1997, despite all the confusion, I have maintained peace in Ibadan and Oyo State. So, I was coming on that day for something good, but when I got there, to my surprise I saw Alloy Obi and Baale Ekotedo. Nobody informed me they were coming. If I knew we were all being invited together, maybe I could have taken another decision entirely.
When I saw them there, I just felt I should respect the Olubadan and the Council. These are people I respect so much. So I came there as the leader of my people in Ibadan and Oyo State. The only thing they told us was that they do not want the title, Eze.
It was a briefing but they didn’t allow us to argue, and we left. I didn’t make any comment because it is not a title by me alone.
My people, Ndigbo, gave me that title, not anybody. Ndigbo in Ibadan and Oyo State, collectively gave me that Igbo title, not an Ibadan chieftaincy title. I repeat once again, there is no way we are equating ourselves with Olubadan. He is our royal majesty and father of all of us residing in Ibadan, and we should be free to reach him anytime we wish. And we will never reach him for bad. We will continue to reach him for good. We were communicating with the past Olubadan peacefully, there was no problem.
We left and that was all. I didn’t make any reply because the association that brought us together which owns that title will make their pronouncement over that very soon. And whatever they say should be binding to everybody.
We are in country called Nigeria and there is a constitution that guides the country, Nigeria. We are not yet in a separate country maybe a Republic of Igboland or Ohaneze or Arewa, Oduduwa or what have you, we are still in Federal Republic of Nigeria. Truth is bitter and we are to tell ourselves the truth. As far as I am concerned, there is no problem but some people are trying to create problem. But I thank God for the wisdom Kabiyesi has used now to clear the air about the whole thing.
So the Olubadan-in-council’s concern was the title Eze?
Yes. They said they were informed by the Council of South East traditional rulers that Eze means ‘king’ and that they don’t want to have two kings in Ibadanland. But if you go to Salvation Army Road in Ibadan, you will see so many Ezes: Eze Enterprises, Eze this, Eze that. Eze is a commonly used name in Igboland. Anybody can bear Eze.
But when this matter between me and Obi got to the court, the Oyo State High Court ruled on February 18, 2016, that all those actions of the traditional rulers, even when Obi arranged and brought them to Ibadan, were null and void and of no effect; that I, Dr Alex Anozie remain the only Igbo head or leader in Ibadan and Oyo State. The court also ruled that they had no right whatsoever to even leave their domain, stating that they should be concerned with what was happening in their domain and not outside.
The court also ordered Chief Alloy Obi and his group to stop parading themselves in the same capacity. That ruling flushed the whole thing away. Every member of that association is bearing this title. Why is that of Ibadan in a fix? It is the opposition and somebody in the person of Baale Ayorinde that are taking up the issue and pushing it forward. But I am appealing to Ibadan people because they are wise, they should not allow anybody to deceive them.
Maybe the difference is when it means Eze Ndigbo?
The meaning of Eze is somebody who is a leader or exalted who is looked upon by his people; and it is a name commonly given by Igbos right from birth. In fact, my family’s real surname is Eze Umeh Anozie. There is no way I am equating myself with Olubadan, in any manner. Since 1997, have you ever heard that there was anytime I challenged the Olubadan in anyway? We’ve been living very peacefully. In everything the previous Olubadan was doing, we were always invited; I went there with my people. We were well received, we’ve contributed our own quota to the development of Ibadan. When we go there, they recognised us properly. They recognized me as Eze Ndigbo of Ibadanland and Oyo State. That did not stop me from giving Olubadan all his due respect and honour he deserved as the royal father of all Nigerians residing in Ibadan.
So when we got there, I saw these people – Baale Ekotedo (Elder Taiwo Ayorinde) and Obi – and they said they didn’t want the title Eze again. I know that some people manufactured those things. All the Igbo leaders in Diaspora chose that title Eze Ndigbo in Diaspora. In fact, the title and our association have been registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, which is still in operation till today.
But I learnt that you operate from a palace in Ibadan, especially on a chair with an inscription ‘HRM’?
I got the information that some people were displaying a picture where I was with my people holding our meeting and was sitting on my chair. Let me state clearly, no matter how gigantic the chair is or which ever way I design it, is there any law in Nigeria that stipulates the kind of chair anybody should have in his house? Is there anything like that? I design any chair and put it in my house? That does not mean I am equating myself with the Olubadan; not at all. I am only exercising my constitutional right as a citizen of Nigeria. I have been to homes of leaders of other ethnic groups in Ibadan here, both Hausa and others and even outside Ibadan, and I see how these residences are decorated.
In our culture as Igbos, we can prepare anything that will look like our cultural homes away from home. We are still Igbos even when we are living in Ibadan, which is still within the four walls of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and which belongs to all of us. There is nothing we are doing that is against the authority of Olubadan; some people are just out to make trouble from no trouble.
So, the title my people gave me is Eze Ndigbo nala Ibadan Oyo State. Not Oba Ndigbo, not Olu of Ndigbo, but Eze Ndigbo. We are not in any way equating ourselves with Olubadan. We will never ever give the Olubadan any problem and they should not allow anybody to deceive them into creating problems which are not supposed to be. Yorubas that are residing in Igboland are many, Igbos in Oyo State are in millions and not thousands.