The Chairman of Elders’ Forum of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, on Monday, dismissed reports claiming that he described the Yoruba as “political rascals.”
Iwuanyanwu’s comment during his outing at Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s one-year-in-office event in Awka, Anambra State, on Saturday, had generated controversy as some claimed he ridiculed the Yoruba.
The pan-Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, also asked the renowned philanthropist to clarify his statement.
While distancing himself from the reports alleging he made the comment, the elder statesman described it as “fake news circulating on social media”.
According to the industrialist, his comment at the event was manipulated and circulated on social media by blackmailers.
In a statement he personally signed on Monday, Iwuanyanwu said, “My awareness has been drawn to fake news circulating on social media completely misrepresenting the statement I made at Awka, Anambra State, in connection to the killings, destructions of properties, and harassment of Igbo in Lagos during the recent elections.
“My statement was covered live by Arise Television, Channels, and many other electronic and print media houses.
“All Nigerians of goodwill who care should get the true transcript of my statement from any of these media houses.
“I want to make it abundantly clear that at no time did I make the statement credited to me by blackmail circulating on social media that the Yoruba are political rascals as this was fraudulently manipulated.”
The financier of the now-defunct Iwuanyanwu Nationale Football Club, Owerri, warned alleged perpetrators that it was a criminal offence to circulate fake news against a peace-loving Nigerian, saying he is a senior citizen who has meritoriously served Nigeria.
“The seven Igbo-speaking states namely — Rivers, Delta, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, and Enugu states — have also honoured me with the traditional title of Ahaejiagamba Ndigbo,” he added.
He said he had quite a number of friends from the western part of Nigeria who had influenced his business and professional life.
“Most of my close friends who have influenced my business and professional life are from the northern and western parts of Nigeria.
“For instance, I am the Balogun Babaguwan of Ibadan land. I have also been honoured with Chieftaincy titles by numerous Yoruba Obas. I am no doubt an honorary citizen of Yoruba land. I have many personal friends and staff of my various companies including directors who are Yorubas. Most of them played major roles in shaping my economic destiny. I, therefore, do not have any reason whatsoever to insult the Yoruba tribe whom I regard with great respect,” he stated.
Explaining further, Iwuanyanwu said what he did at the ceremony was to admonish the Igbo who felt threatened by alleged various attacks in Lagos that they had no cause to worry because there were no problems between the Igbo and Yoruba.
“I, therefore, told them to stay (back) in Lagos and go about their normal business,” he said.
He said he did however mention to them that the alleged attackers “are political rascals and their action does not reflect the good relationship between the Yoruba and Igbo.”
According to him, one of his best daughters is married to a prominent Yoruba family in Ibadan, Oyo State.
“My son-in-law and his wife have lived together for over 20 years. This union has produced four adorable children. I am very proud of my son-in-law. The children of this marriage are Yoruba and not Igbos by our culture and tradition. I will not be happy if at any time any group of people discriminates against them in Yoruba land because their mother is Igbo. Over the years, many Yoruba and Igbo families have intermarried. It is therefore very important to all men of goodwill to arrest the present situation which if not arrested may cause social unrest,” Iwuanyanwu admonished.