Onitsha, the commercial city, east of the Niger was agog last week for the ceremony to inaugurate the Onitsha North chapter of the newly introduced Association of Igbo Youths (AIYO). The founder of AIYO and the ogirisi Igbo, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka was on ground to inaugurate the youth body with a divinely articulated oath of office using the sun and the earth as witness and chief overseer of their activities.
Chief Ezeonwuka spoke to newsmen on what the South East region stand to gain with the newly formed AIYO.
How do you feel at this point in time seeing this large numbers of youths come together under one umbrella for this occasion?
"I feel very happy and my heart is full of joy. It is unusual to witness this kind of occasion on a business day like Thursday in this highly commercial city of Onitsha, which is full of highly business-minded people. The turnout is wonderful. You can see that this road, which is one of the major roads that leads to the main market, is completely closed for this occasion.
"People closed their shops. It shows that the people are interested in youth affairs. The members of AIYO in Onitsha North are happy and proud because of the support they got from the people who closed their shops to attend this occasion.
"In summary, I think today is a great day in Onitsha and I hope that the members of AIYO who were sworn in here today will henceforth be good Ambassadors of Onitsha by promoting and enhancing responsible life among youths in the commercial city.
"They have to go and mobilize their fellow youths in all nook and cranny of Onitsha and its environs into their fold so that they can all fight against kidnapping, robbery and other vices. They have to work toward restoring the lost pride of Onitsha in terms of growing business and an adventurous place that produces successful businessmen and women, artisans and people of all works of life."
Why the use of sun and earth to administer oath instead of the Bible?
The sun and land is superior to the Bible as both control those who wrote the Bible and the Bible itself. The Bible cannot be relied upon on the cause of administering oath because it has no specific terms that guarantees the protection of oath taking against violation, that’s why people take oath with the Bible and still embezzle public funds and get away with it. The sun and the land oversee the entire things in existence and nobody can escape punishment if he or she takes oath with these two elements.
What does AIYO mean for the Igbo?
AIYO is my brainchild. I founded it with a view to give the Igbo youths a platform upon which they can lay hands and fight their cause and make their lives better. And the significance of this inauguration is that my efforts to better the lives of Igbo youths are paying off. It has been my age long dream to impact on the Igbo youths, to help them help themselves against social vices like kidnapping arm robbery and hired assassin.
AIYO means good news to the Igbo nation. A good number of youths came together under one umbrella to take an oath against indulging in any act of criminality. This is a good beginning for us as a nation.
With this, it means if any of them, under the oath, partake in kidnapping or robbery, the sun and the land will act against that person. I can comfortably tell you that AIYO is the best thing to have manifested for the Igbo. And I call on the appropriate quarters to take advantage of this.
How exactly do you expect the appropriate quarters to take advantage of AIYO?
The most important need for the youths is proactive measures that show them a sense of belonging to the system, giving them direction and hope. Government cannot arrest the menace of robbery and kidnapping because they don’t have convincing measures.
Before the Niger Delta militants introduced kidnapping there was no preventive measure against such deadly crime by the government. Why? Because they weren’t conscious of the measures for the protection of the youths against such crime. In other words, there were no pro-active measures. The youths need measures to hypnotize them against negative minds.
Do you know how I was able to bring them together?
I spent time and money to rehabilitate some of them from drug addiction, senseless life resulting from no direction, no hope and no future. Some were in a state of oppression by some powerful individuals.
But I was able to reform them because if an Igbo man sees that something good is lying somewhere he certainly wouldn’t hesitate to finding ways towards moving over there to claim it. So, if the youths see that the future is bright, that tomorrow have something good in stock they will be committed to it, but if they don’t they pick up arms and do other wise.
I have talked about the Federal Government declaring amnesty for robbers and kidnappers in the southeast and I still wish to use this medium to repeat it and call on the Federal Government to declare amnesty for robbers and kidnappers in the South East.