This Biafra we seek to actualise (1)
ADEYEMI Ayodele, my friend, a Yoruba, asked me: “I know you as an Igbo man, what is your take on the call for Biafra secession by a group called, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB)?” My interaction with him, led me to put up this piece.
Now, the advocacy of a doctrine of Igbo superiority over other tribes in Nigeria is, according to the dictates of rationality and the United Nations declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust. Whatever advancements the Igbos have made is due to personal self-development and other tribes also have great things to boast of.
Now, you said, “You are fighting for your right, and you said I have no right to ask you, why. You said somebody is enslaving you because you are a minority group but you insult your fellow minorities that are not in agreement with you. You said the ‘animal kingdom’ is killing harmless protesters but you break your potential follower’s head for not understanding you.” Go and ask those that witnessed the Nigeria civil war, they would never agree to anything that would lead to violence. People living in the North-East Nigeria, would attest that violence is terrible.
We can only get a different result by trying a new way. Those fuelling crises should understand that no investor would come into a city filled with crises. Therefore, wherever you are, saying, ‘let them (the protesters) move on’, should know that they are endangering the South-Eastern zone, which could scare away investors from the area. I hope they understand the massive unemployment it is going to create. I hope they won’t eventually turn the South-East and South-South to a volatile region as witnessed in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria. Any further action that would lead to unrest in the South-East and South-South would take them backward and destroy the infrastructures they struggled to build.
Did you all know that between the years 1999 to 2015, the five South-East states received a total of about N17trillion from federal allocation alone? That’s enough to develop some countries. No matter how you choose to look at it, the real enemies of Igbo land are our political class. Blaming everyone else but ourselves is convenient, but doesn’t change the truth. Former and present governors, National Assembly members failed deplorably in discharging their mandates. Of course, the government and people of Nigeria have marginalized Igbos. But greater blames should go to the Igbos who marginalise themselves to the point of not wanting to help themselves.
Most Igbos in positions of authority would never want to help their people. Yet they would gather and confer on such a person an award “Ome Nke Ahuru Anya” meaning; “He does visible things”. The one that may want to help her sister to get a job would request to sleep with her, which is not even a guarantee that she would get the job. Some would demand for both sex and money. Hausa men in government or position of authority go up with their people. A Hausa man can never demand sex as a requirement to help a Hausa woman get a job. He would rather go to an Igbo woman to demand for such because the Igbos in government taught them that they do not do favour to their people free. These are people seeking for secession, yet they don’t have genuine love for themselves.
Meet an Igbo man in an office and try to communicate with him in vernacular. Either he snubs you or he would ask you to speak in English. You cannot see a Yoruba man or a Hausa man do such. The height of this is that most parents have trained their children and wards in English language and would punish them should they hear them speak their own language.
The bitter truth is that President Buhari is not the cause of poor roads, unemployment and decay in infrastructures in the South-East. South-East leaders should be held responsible. Most of the roads had been awarded but our leaders squandered the fund.
We fail to read history. “Those who do not know their history are bound to repeat it.” This was the same attitude that most nations had prior to their independence especially Ghana and Nigeria. At the end, most leaders of the new nations only foisted the same aristocratic behaviours of their colonial masters, which gave birth to massive corruption, collapse of public institutions and a bitter civil war, things we are yet to fully recover from. The Southeast has a leadership challenge. Everyone wants to be this or that. We need to get our actions right.
Now, if we have Biafra, will the common man be allowed to rule? Will the enlightened man who is politically naive, be allowed to rule? Is it not still going to be those same politicians with clout and money that will rule us? Are we going to love ourselves better than we do now?
I am not insinuating that the Igbos don’t have their better side that unites them. After all, only in Igbo would you see a man who would singlehandedly train and establish in business more than 50 young men. It is only an Igbo man who would train a child that is not his in schools up to the university level. Igbo men know how to take care of their wives. Igbo people have this attitude of no matter what and where they maybe, would always have home at heart and they don’t forsake the gathering of their people (Kparakpo).
The Southeast and the South-South should concentrate on building regional strength and integration. They should make the region an industrial hub such that would attract investors from other countries, making it an envy of all before thinking of breaking away. They should develop their tourism sectors. By this, the region will be very strong politically and economically. The zone is blessed with successful businessmen, scholars, etc but personal aggrandizement has not allowed them to achieve a common goal. How can the Igbos achieve a common goal when Ohanaeze Ndigbo, a social cultural and political body, cannot unite them? It is pertinent to state clearly that Ohanaeze Ndigbo has lost its relevance.
It’s ridiculous that Ohanaeze Ndigbo has become partisan in politics. That is why when they talk; another group of Igbos would counter what they say. OHANAEZE NDIGBO must stand out and unite the Igbos. By this, they would be able to speak and achieve a common ground.
The emergence of Nnamdi Kalu can be said to be the manifestation of Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi prophecy, which goes as follows:
“There is a new Igbo man, who was not born in 1966 and neither knows nor cares about Nzeogwu and Ojukwu. There are Igbo men on the street who were never Biafrans. They were born Nigerians, are Nigerians, but suffer because of actions of earlier generations. They will soon decide that it is better to fight their own war, and maybe find an honourable peace, than to remain in this contemptible state in perpetuity.
The Northern Bourgeoisie and the Yoruba Bourgeoisie have exacted their pound of flesh from the Igbos. For one Sardauna, one Tafawa Balewa, one Akintola and one Okotie-Eboh, hundreds of thousands have died and suffered.
If this issue is not addressed immediately, no conference will solve Nigeria´s problems.
•The above excerpts were part of a paper Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi presented at the National Conference on the 1999 Constitution, jointly organized by the Network for Justice at the Arewa House, Kaduna on September 11-12, 1999.
There is fire on the mountain and Nigeria must run fast to avoid being consumed. I am not saying that all have been well. I am aware of the palpable mistreatment of the people, which has revived the hibernating Biafra agitations, and now, protest marches have become daily occurrences across the South/East and South/South geopolitical zones of the country.
Also other ethnic groups in Nigeria have not been fair to the Igbo man in the scheme of things. If you look at Nigeria since after the said war, now about 45 years, you would see the systemic marginalization of Ndigbo in the scheme of things in Nigeria. It is a taboo for the Igbo man to hold some positions in the present Nigeria whether elective or appointive. This is an aberration, but here in Nigeria, it is a norm. This is part of their agitations, which have sidestepped MASSOB, with the coming of IPoB and hitherto unknown Nnamdi Kanu, director of Radio Biafra, whose detention has revved up dangerous heat for the barrel of gunpowder on which Nigeria perches precariously.
For those saying that Nnamdi Kalu should be killed or charged to court for treason and felony, in as much as I do not support the statements by Kalu but, they should also note that the so called inflammatory statements made by Kanu can never be quantified with the aggressive, misguided, provocative and defamatory statements made by the APC and PDP during the general elections. I’m sure it was not as disgraceful and shameful as the words being used by our political class to describe our dear country and leaders. A Nigerian politician once referred the Federal Government as Boko Haram.
I commend the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar for calling on the Biafran agitators to sheath their swords and embrace dialogue. This he said at the second general assembly of the Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council, which took place in Kaduna on Monday, November 23:
“We are very much concerned about the growing agitation for an independent Biafra because, we know we have millions of Igbos residing with us in our homes, in our towns, very peacefully, very industrious, helping our communities and our economy to grow and so many of them as we know, keep telling us that they have nowhere else to live than where they are at present living.
TO BE CONTINUED
•Nwokocha is a Nigerian young writer, media strategist and principal author of The Metamorphoses of Nigeria. He lives in Abuja. 08089243045 (SMS only).