Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Onyeka Onwenu: Another Case Of 'That Ibo Woman'!

By Chuks Iloegbunam
Onyeka Onwenu was, on September 13, 2013, appointed the Director General of the National Center for Women Development (NCWD) by the Jonathan admin­istration. The all-changing Buhari government relieved her of the position last month.
*Onyeka Onwenu
On her ten­ure, she claimed thus in an open letter: “I served for two years and five months and did my best under very difficult conditions. We hard­ly had money to operate and the place was badly run down. Worst, there was low moral and lack of commitment among the staff. Most spent the day loitering and gossiping. Many would not show up for work or arrive 11 am, only to leave before 3 pm. Some were absent for months and were just collecting their salary at home. My administration changed all that. Most staff were turned around and became passionate about the work, appreciating also the changes they thought were not possible but were happening right before them.”

Is she correct? The answer would seem to be positive because, nearly two weeks after the claim, no voice has controverted her. This should cause botheration in conscientious quarters because she protests that her sterling service to the country was repaid with the objectionable coins of injustice: “There remained, though, a rem­nant who felt that the Center was their personal preserve and that the position of Director General should only go to someone from their part of the country. I was ini­tially dismissed as just a musician. When that did not work, I was tar­geted and abused for being an Igbo woman who came to give jobs to and elevate my people while side­lining them. When these detrac­tors could not provide answers to the spate of improvements we were bringing, they resorted to sabotage and blackmail. The first such salvo was fired when a Senate Commit­tee visited on an oversight mission a few months after my arrival. All three Generators at the Center were cannibalized, overnight, just hours to the visit.”

Onyeka stated in her open letter that, to begin with, she hadn’t lob­bied to be appointed DG-NCWD. Nor was she ever minded to grovel in order to retain the post. Once word arrived from above that she had had her day at the Center, she made to leave. “But some people were going to exact their pound of flesh. They organized some staff, mostly Northerners, invited the Press and set about to disgrace themselves. By mid-afternoon, while the Heads of Departments were putting together the hando­ver notes, they seized the keys to my official car, even with my per­sonal items still inside. Threats be­gan to fly. ‘That Ibo woman must’, ‘We will disgrace her.’ Their chief organizer, the Acting DG, went about whipping up ethnic senti­ments against me. Late 2015, the same officer had gone to the Cent­er’s mosque to ask for the issue of a Fatwa against me, claiming that I was working against the inter­est of the North. We nipped that in the bud by calling a town hall meeting and asking that proof be provided. The Fatwa was denied and peace reigned for a while. Po­lice was called in to the Center to escort me out and avoid bloodshed as I disengaged. Eventually, in the midst of insults and name calling, with an angry baying crowd, some of whom were brought in from outside, I entered my official car and left.” 

*President Buhari and Onyeka Onwenu 
Onyeka Onwenu avers that her travails at the NCWD were down to her being Igbo. In this respect, she is in the good company of some others of her ethnic stock, or did not Professor Eni Njoku suffer a similar fate in the mid-1960s while the Vice-Chancellor of the Univer­sity of Lagos? Did not Professor Gilbert Onuaguluchi suffer the same fate while he was the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Jos in the mid-1970s? Was it not on account of being Igbo that Com­modore Okoh Ebitu Ukiwe was forced from the office of Chief of General Staff in President Ibrahim Babangida’s junta? Was it not on the same score that General Sani Abacha ditched Rear Admiral Ali­son Madueke as his Chief of Naval Staff? Is there any aspect of Nige­rian life in which Ndigbo are not subjected to indignities that would shock even even slaves elsewhere? Isn’t it for the reason of deep-seat­ed antipathy against Ndigbo that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Diezani Alison-Madueke and Stella Oduah were singled out for remorseless media excoriation in a Jonathan administration that held at least an extra score of female appointees at the uppermost echelons?

Ms. Onwenu’s short shrift ran­kles. Isn’t it the same unfortunate and indefensible treatment that has ignited the resurgence of Bia­fran agitation, more than four dec­ades after it’s Nunc dimittis was largely considered a fait accompli? Rather than address this critical issue, listless voices started chant­ing the false refrain that Onwenu had threatened to sue President Buhari for her disengagement. She also hadn’t flooded the NCWD with Ndigbo because the posi­tion of D-G statutorily precludes the incumbent from hiring. A few charged that, while meeting the President at some public function, she had knelt in salutation. Before now, it never crossed the mind that this had become a capital offence. She had also done so in greeting President and Mrs. Jonathan both of whom are younger than her.

A lady phoned from Maryland, USA, with a fresh perspective on what, to Ndigbo, is aberrant, re­calling that while she still lived in Nigeria, she often espied Onyeka in genuflection before the Blessed Sacrament at St. Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Ikeja. Mean­ing? Mrs. Onyeka Onwenu knows the One she worships! This gifted daughter of a First Republic Fed­eral legislator cum Administrative Secretary of the Igbo State Union holds Bachelors and Master’s de­grees from highly rated American institutions. She is a TV personal­ity, an actress of distinction, one of the best-known Nigerian musi­cians, a composer in her own right and a study in intellection. But her pedigree must count for less than zero in Nigeria – simply because she is Igbo.

“I am a multitalented, multifac­eted and multitasking child of God,” she declares. “By His grace, the future is greater. So what is the problem?”

Well, the problem is mostly in Ndigbo unconnected to their his­tory. One of them asked Onyeka to “SHUT UP” on Facebook, hardly realizing that it amounted to hit­ting a child and circumscribing its entitlement to a tiny cry… An­other claimed that Onyeka wasn’t truly Igbo! How could a techno­crat who acquitted herself cred­itably on a national assignment forfeit her membership of an eth­nic group of excellence, someone who has refused to be cowered? Of course, the social media is Babel of Thoughtlessness, which is forgiv­able. What seems beyond pardon is the current abnegation in some Igbo jostling for crumbs from the master’s table.

Onyeka Onwenu’s testament: “I declare that I am a Nigerian citi­zen who should enjoy the rights attendant to that privilege. I am Onyigbo and proud of it. I respect myself and I love and respect all for who they are. We are all God’s children. No one has the right to insult or abuse me or deprive me of my rights. Nigeria will not hold unless and until we all come to that realization.”

*Mr. Chuks Iloegbunam, an eminent essayist, journalist and author of several books, writes column on the back page of The Authority newspaper every Tuesday.


  1. Elderly and WiserMarch 2, 2016 at 12:56 AM

    Brilliant article by Mr. Iloegbunam as usual. But you got horribly wrong on the issue of blessed sacrament, sir. Please, genuflecting before the so-called "blessed" sacrament is horrible idolatry. The priest lacks the power to turn a common bread into God. How can any sane person believe that? Isaiah 2:8 says: "Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made." Please sir, what Onyeka worshiped at the Catholic Church in Ikeja was not God, but the work of man's hands. A mere piece of bread.

    1. This is serious! The Council Trent claimed that the priest possesses "the power of the immortal God." And so, during what they call "substantiation", the priest mumbles somethings, and the bread in his hand becomes God! Incredible! Abomination of the worst order. To think that intelligent people have believed this for ages. The priest might as well remove God from heaven and replace HIM with the one he created or creates (every morning at mass). By creating a false god on the alter, they manage to remove the people's heart from the true God in heaven. That is why they also genuflect before images in the Catholic Church forgetting or flagrantly violating what is written in Exodus 20: 4-5: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me"

  2. Ignorance can only mislead you. I advice you to short up about what you do not know.

  3. The blessed sacrament is undisputably miraculous because Christ lives in there. I advice you to keep quiet over issues you are ignorant about in order not to be condemned especially as you have been told.

    The worst situation in this life being ignorant.
    The worst crime is ignorance. Be careful, please.

    1. Elderly and WiserMarch 3, 2016 at 2:05 AM

      There is nothing miraculous about the so-called "blessed sacrament." I know about this more than you do. You are just unwilling or scared of daring to look at a very obvious falsehood more sincerely and rationally – maybe, because, it sustains your cherished illusions. That an error has lasted for a million years or been embraced by millions of people does not and cannot change it from what it was originally: ERROR!
      Now, it is utterly blasphemous and sacrilegious to assert that Christ, the Saviour of the whole world and equal member of the Godhead – part of the Holy Trinity, lives in a piece of bread! How dare you? You need to seriously repent of this very damnable and heretic pronouncement, no matter who taught you that. You are responsible for everything you propagate. Christ only promised to live in us – those He died for and purchased with His precious blood – if we repent of our sins, accept Him as our Lord and Saviour, and commit our lives to serve Him in obedience and righteousness.
      What the framers of this erroneous doctrine relied upon to come up with this clearly weak theory was the Communion of Saints instituted by Christ before His death. The apostles practiced it in the Acts of Apostles and referred to it as “breaking of bread.” Nowhere in the Gospels or the Acts of Apostles did any of them assume the powers to create God or pronounce God into a piece of bread, and then keep it somewhere and begin to worship it! Can you imagine that?
      Now, when a piece of bread is lifted up during the Roman Catholic mass and the bell is rung, and all of you genuflect and chorus: “My Lord and My God!” you are all worshipping what your hands have made. (Isaiah 2:8) That should be very simple and straightforward enough. Instead of getting angry, being worked up and issuing warnings to somebody asking you to reexamine an error you have embraced which was concocted by human beings like you to mislead humanity and damn their souls, you should realize that salvation is an individual issue. Everybody shall face God individually, and any insistence that you were deceived by an erroneous doctrine concocted by your fellow human beings cannot be sufficient to absolve you of the sin of idolatry. When Adam shifted blames in the Garden of Eden, did it save him? No! I have told you and all others who will read this otherwise brilliant article by Mr. Chuks Ilogbunam and the comments under it, and I am now free of your blood. You have no more excuse to keep clinging to error. You have been told. Take your Bible and read it with an open mind, after discarding all preconceived notions.
      God has given us our brain to reason and the Bible to guide us into every truth. If we neglect these and follow the misleading products of dead men’s brain, it will be disastrous at the end. And remember, this has to do with where you will spend your life in eternity: whether in heaven with God, or in hell abiding in eternal punishment. God abhors idolatry! Remember, this is a personal thing and you are responsible for all your choices on earth no matter whom you listened to. Remember too that eternity means FOREVER and FOREVER! So, you cannot afford to joke with it.


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