BY FRANCIS OKOYE
Onowu Hon. Dr. M.N. Ozua Okoye the Traditional Prime Minister of Igbo Land / The Igbo Regent is a high chief who has embarked on a mission to lead the Igbo’s to the Promised Land.
Born on November 28th 1939 into the family of Igbuefi Ozua Okoye”ana agba agu mba” and Iyom Nwabugo Ozua Okoye in Ifite Awkuzu Village, Awkuzu in Oyi local Government Area. After primary school at St. James Central School Awkuzu, he enrolled in the institute of Continuing Education in England and passed General Certificate of Education (G.C.E) and ‘A’ levels in 3 subjects of G.C.E. in flying colors.
He started business in 1958 at Umuahia, Abia State as a major distributor of Motorcycle for Levant’s Technical Nigeria ltd and R.T. Brisco Nig LTD.
The Biafra war (1967-1970) put a stop to his business, so he joined the Biafran Army and rose to rank of a colonel and was the best friend of the Biafian leader Major General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
In 1972, he became a major distributor of motor vehicles for S.C.O.A. Nigeria Limited (Peugeot vehicles), C.F.A.O.Nig ltd (Morris motor products) and Mandlias Nig ltd (Volkswagen products), He relocated to Onitsha where he erected a magnificent edifice along Awka road onitsha known as ‘IGWEBUIKE MOTORS BUILDING’ used as a showroom and corporate offices.
He made giant strides in business and incorporated reputable Chain of business including Igwebuike industrial and commercial Company ltd, Gemadin Construction Company Nig ltd, Micela international Company limited, Domingo properties Nig ltd, Migen Enterprises (West Africa) limited, chief M.N.Ozua Okoye and Company; Federal Govt Licensed Auctioneer.
THE CALLING TO LEAD THE IGBO’S
Onowu Igbonine got the calling to lead the Igbo’s gradually, beginning with the taking of his First Ozo title as ‘Chinyelugo’ meaning honored by destiny) in 1964, after the war in 1978 he was capped the ‘Ichie Agu’ and yet another title of Osu ofia 1 of Awkuzu was bestowed on him on Dec 27th 1980, he became t he permanent Traditional Prime Minister of Awkuzu when he was installed the Onowu Awkuzu.
As Onowu of Awkuzu he has served as Onowu of Awkuzu for 25 years, under 3 Igwe’s and has been known for his integrity, respect for customs and traditions of the land, promotion of the Awkuzu people’s heritage within and outside Awkuzu.
Finally, for his untiring efforts to promote Igbo culture and tradition, and his efforts at rallying round the Igbo’s to be united and working for their progress, he was installed as Onowu Igbo nine – Traditional Prime Minister of Igbo Land on May 4th 1996 by the Adama Nri Grand chief S. O. mbanefo and handed over the Ofo Igbonine, along with late Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu who was crowned Eze Igbo Gburugburu at Nri, the ancestral home of Igbo Land.
In an interview in South East Star Newspaper of September 30th 2011, on the major obligation of his office as Traditional Prime Minister of Igbo Land. He stated ‘The major obligation of Traditional Prime Minister is to promote the culture and tradition (of Igbo’s), to administer the value and rites of culture and tradition on the people with a view to draw their attention on the need to know and respect their culture and tradition’. With the death of Eze Igbo Gburugburu in 2011 Onowu Hon. Dr. M.N. Ozua Okoye also assumed the mantle of Igbo Regent.
Since then, Onowu has gone about carrying out the twin duties of traditional prime minister and Igbo Regent to the admiration and respect of all.
To be leading the Igbo race to the Promised Land, Onowu Igbonine employed so many methods
1. ONOWU IGBONINE ORGANIZATION OF IGBO HIGH CHIEFS. The organization was started by late Eze Igbo Gburugburu Dim. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu -Igbo leader and his highness, Onowu Hon. Dr. M.N.Ozua Okoye (JP), the Onowu Igbonine – Traditional Prime Minister of Igbo land and Igbo Regent and registered at corporate affairs commission Abuja CAC / IT 81424). According to the Onowu Igbonine, illustrious sons and daughters of Igbo Land are crowned High Chiefs based on their outstanding achievements, contribution to Igbo Land development and advancement, their philanthropy, success in life and to lead their people in Igbo Land and Diaspora.
Some of those coroneted include a white man, High Chiefs Dr Sandra as Agunaeche ibe na Nkpor, High Chief Nnamdi Nwawue as Igwe Ayaya, High Chief Nwachukwu Dike from Agulu as ‘Agunaeche Mba Ndigbo Gbulugbulu’, High Chief Nnamdi Nwosu from Oraifite as ‘Dike na Mba Ndigbo’ at Cameroon, among several other prominent Igbo’s sons and Daughters.
Some of the aims of the Organization is to build a bridge between the Igbo’s and other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, to help up lift the general good and image of the Igbo’s in Nigeria and Diaspora, To help protect the socio- cultural integrity and foster good neighborliness among Igbo’s and ethnic group in Nigeria and Diaspora.
Any one who expresses interest and is found worthy is made a High Chief by Onowu Igbonine and becomes a member of the organization.
2. CORONATION OF EZE IGBO’S
Onowu Igbonine and late Eze Igbo have gone many times to the north and west to defend Ndigbo against oppressing enemies and resolve conflicts that were threatening the welfare of Ndigbo in areas like Kano and Lagos. It was courtesy of his concern for the protection and unity of the Igbo people outside Igbo Land that Eze Ndigbo outside Igbo land was initiated by both of them.
He has helped to install Eze Igbo in places like Lagos, Ibadan, Uyo, South Korea, Spain,ikom, Cameroon and other places.
He points to the fact that Hausa’s have Sariki in any part of the world where they are found as their leader and the Igbo’s cannot be an exception. The Sariki title he says does not stop or interfere with the Emir’s role in Hausa land, so the same can be said of Eze Ndigbo title with respect to Igwes.
3. COURTESY VISITS
The Onowu Igbonine and members of the organization of Igbo high chiefs also from time to time pay courtesy visits to prominent Igbo Sons and daughters, to discuss and exchange ideas as it concerns Igbo Agenda within and outside Nigeria.
Goggle the name ‘Onowu Hon DR M.N. Ozua Okoye’ and you would see, that as for back as 2005, he has engaged the media, both local and National on burning issues as regard the IGBO NATION
Recently on invitation of the Nigeria Government to celebrate Nigerians 54th Independence anniversary he visited Spain, as special guest of honor, where he broke Kola nut and was honored as the King of Africa by the Europeans. The event was televised and show all over Europe and NTA international also covered the event.
5. IGBO AMAKA FORUM
He set up this forum which is a Socio-cultural, non partisan organization, formed to champion the cause and interest of the Igbo’s in general, in order to give Igbo Sons and daughters a good sense of belonging in the society and a guaranteed secured future. The forum’s crucial agenda is the unification and upliftment of the Igbo’s’ both at home and Diaspora, and to fight both external and internal marginalization of the Igbo’s’.
6. SOCIAL MEDIA / WEBSITES
Onowu Igbo nine has also set up a website where news interviews, Royalty affairs of Igbo people, Igbo Cause ,culture and traditions would be showcased at www.Igbohighchiefs. org and a face book page at www.facebook.com / Igbo high chiefs to further his mission and agenda for Igbos and to reach Igbo’s in every parts of the world
Onowu Igbonine was among the first Igbo people to set up a foundation to care for the needy in Nov. 10th 2008, known as Onowu Igbonine M.N.Ozua Okoye foundation, registered at the corporate affairs commission Abuja. The foundation seeks donor agencies and sponsorship of proposed micro credit and entrepreneur schemes and has a website www.onowuigboninefoundation.org and a face book page: Onowu Igbonine foundation.
8. NDI ONOWU
Onowu Igbonine uses his position as first vice president of ndi Onowu Association of Anambra State, made up of 177 ONOWU’S FROM 177 COMMUNITIES IN Anambra, to also Advance the cause of the Igbo people.
Onowu is also one of the King makers in Igbo Land as far as politics is concerned, making sure that the right people are voted in by the people, by endorsing candidates, and speaking out on political issues like Biafra
, second Niger bridge, corruption etc.
He had a stint in partisan politics in the 2nd Republic which led to his being elected the chairman of Onitsha local government area, then comprising Onitsha North, Onitsha South and Ogbaru local Government Area. He was the Director, Anambra state Housing Development Corporation for 4 years. He was also a founding member of NPN in the East He was a founding father of APGA and its national organizing secretary before he quit partisan politics.
In 1999, he was conferred with Doctor of philosophy in Business Administration (Honor’s cause) by the pacific Christian university, Glendale, California U.S.A, and is a fellow of institute of sales management of Nigeria since 1992.
Onowu Igbonine can be contacted via e mail at Onowunine @ yahoo.com