When sometime in march this year, Chioma ( Alex Otti ), visited me in lagos to inform me of his intention to recontest for governorship of Abia State ( high respect for an elder brother), I not only felt remorseful but I felt ashamed too. I felt very bad because that was the same respect he accorded me about four years ago and I disappointed him.
In our culture, it is almost evil to accept such respect ( cola nuts, hot drinks and some cash to support ), and wilfully disappoint. So, on that fateful day in march, I hardly knew what to tell him despite the fact that his visit was on a scheduled appointment. But I made up my mind then that I would have to correct my mistakes and set my mind free because I played an unjust role in the 2015 elections which he contested.
Anyone who knows my family well would agree that we have suffered so much injustice and unwarranted bad image in Abia politics.
My eldest brother, Hon Dr.G.A.Amuta, is arguably the pioneer of modern politics in Ngwa land, especially where it concerns the contest for the governorship of Abia State. When he contested, and eventually stepped down for Dr Ogbonnaya Onu as per reached agreement, and also to maintain the peace and save the lives of our youths, in 1992, our people not only called him a coward but also accused him of being a traitor who sold their mandate, despite the fact that none of those righteous Ngwa men contributed one kobo during the struggle.
This situation was playing at the back of my mind when I decided not to support my own brother, Alex, four years ago. Our people brought in a lot of sentiment and despite the fact that I was personally convinced that Dr. Otti was a better candidate, I supported Dr. Ikpeazu, partly believing that he would at least not perform that badly. Today, like so many other of our people who supported him, I know better. The rest is history as they say.
By the Grace of God, I am a senior citizen of this country and I believe that I possess the background knowledge of our history, to discuss this issue fairly. Dr. Alex Otti and I come from the same place, and I can safely claim that our mutual ancestors brought about the topic under review. I am therefore presenting the facts below as honestly as possible.
Our father, Mr Alison Amuta, was born between 1904 and 1906, by our calculations, based on records and verbal communication we had with him. He passed on in 1995, which means that he lived for about 90 years.
Our father was a man of knowledge who was acknowledged in our community and all the places where he served as a dispenser, as a just man who was ready to speak the truth, not minding the consequences. He was also seen as a repository for ancestry norms and knowledge.
On my own part, I can also claim, like my brothers before me, that I got from my father, everything a man could possibly pass on to his offspring. I travelled with him everywhere his job took him to and I heard him speak in pains and tears, in joy and happiness : there was hardly anything we did not discuss. Indeed, I have a notebook where I recorded many things that my father told me.
From my account as stated above, it goes without saying that we also discussed the people of Umuru, as Alex’s people are called at home.
My family had, and still have a very cordial relationship with them and I cannot remember any family in our community that does not. The truth is that nobody remembers (or talks about it in any derogatory way), that his ancestors migrated from Arochukwu.
From what I heard from my father, he never saw Alex’s ancestors :I mean the ones that first came to our place. He was not sure that his own father did. That means that Alex’s ancestors may have come during the times of my father’s grandfather, great grandfather or even when our own ancestors were settling down, having migrated from Mbaise, in Imo State.
From the above, it stands to reason that all of us are migrants wherever we find ourselves. The Ngwa people hurriedly left (ngwa ngwa ), their kinsmen in Mbaise who were busy roasting the yams they would eat along the journey ( ndi ohuhu ). Who owned this land before our ancestors came? When are we going back to Mbaise?
I regret to say here that our Ngwa people find it difficult, or shall I say, almost impossible to tap into other people’s success and position. We are a proud people, even when we have nothing to boast of. Is this one of the reasons why we are comparatively lagging behind?
My grandmother was from Mbaise. Early in her marriage, she took my mother and her siblings to visit her people in Mbaise. Much later in her life, our mother decided to reconnect with her mother’s people in Mbaise. She still remembered the name of the village but time had passed with history and every existing knowledge and connection eroded . She finally convinced my elder brothers in 1980, or thereabout, to take her to Mbaise. Every family in the community, as our mother could remember, claimed her and my brothers as their own. Luckily, I was still abroad pursuing my studies, otherwise I would have been claimed too. It may sound funny but those were people who saw what they thought was success and were doing everything to cash in on it. Of course, no need to say that the trip and search was aborted.
Alex Otti is a successful man today, known and acknowledged both in Nigeria and in the diaspora. Every human being needs, and in most cases has a mentor. Who possibly was Alex’s mentor? Was he an Ngwa man? I could bet my last kobo it wasn’t.
Our people would be quick to claim that Alex has traced back to his people at Arochukwu. Who would not? Success has a lot of friends , relations, family and even colleagues. Why is it that parents encourage their married daughters to remember home always, especially if they or their spouses are successful? Why is it that such successful daughters or in laws participate in the development of the family and community of their wives? In fact, I would score Alex very low if he did not reach out to Arochukwu people, or he rebuffed them if they did. No one should make himself an island.
Now, Is Alex Chioma Otti An Ngwa Man?
What would you say about a man who was born on the soil? A man whose umbilical cord (the part that detaches some days after birth ), was buried on the soil, a man whose parents were born and buried on the soil, a man who has literally lived all his life on the soil?
What do you say about a man whose parents warned and admonished in their final days on earth, never to take them for funeral in Arochukwu because their spirit would not recognise anyone there? Where did this couple see as home?
What can you say against a humble, respectful man who never calls any close relation by their name according to our tradition (must add De or Da).Chioma grew up this way and has remained so despite his position in society today.
This is bad belly politics. It is the type of thing that leads to social disorder with dangerous consequences.
Alex Chioma Otti is an ideal Ngwa man and a loving brother too.
To Ngwa Youths :
This whole thing is about you. It is about your life and future. You must rise above dirty politics of segregation and bitterness. Who the cap fits, let him wear it. Our mumu don do in Ngwa Land.
*Okey O Amuta*