Nigeria: Why Nothing Much Has Improved Since The Igbo Ethnic Group Attempted Secession In 1967 -By Ifeanyichukwu Mmoh

For the umpteenth time, the remainder is again put out for the federation of Nigeria to read and then do the math as it so conveniences one. Personally, based on articles, books and stories that I have read as well as what my eyes have seen; I make bold to say that this federal republic will surely come back to that one nightmare they desperately wished should just vanish.

For the umpteenth time, the remainder is again put out for the federation of Nigeria to read and then do the math as it so conveniences one. Personally, based on articles, books and stories that I have read as well as what my eyes have seen; I make bold to say that this federal republic will surely come back to that one nightmare they desperately wished should just vanish.

What is this nightmare? The nightmare is clearly that the federation finds it difficult to countenance the idea of the Igbo ethnic group assuming its rightful place in our national destiny. Let me clear a few issues as we move on this discourse. I am Igbo and because of this, give or take; the sentiments of emotion must appear in what you’d be reading. I am also a Nigerian, a progressive and a Christian.

My passion is to by all means; find the right model that works for all Nigerians even if we will be required to swallow our pride to do it. As a young man growing up, I heard stories of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war and like many of my contemporaries, I thought nothing of it because I felt it happened in the past and therefore that made it history. My early education was quite interesting; I had friends from the north, south, east and the west.

Decades later, when it was time to put my knowledge and training to work for my country after training in the university and completing the compulsory NYSC one-year experience, in order that I may gain experience of public service; I began to observe that all was not well after all with this republic called NIGERIA. My observations – as I will shortly reel out – affected me so much that the writer in me suddenly surfaced.

By the way, if the NYSC scheme is compulsory for every Nigerian; why is public service experience not so? I questioned. This is the first anomaly I noticed – that folly is set in high places. Why must I know someone who knew someone before I could get this all-important public service experience? If I was told this back in the days after my SSCE; I would’ve towed the easy path of travelling overseas for greener pastures.

Now, after spending a better part of my youth in the country; I am made to know that I needed to have someone to link me up for employment. Among the worst hit in this man-know-man system of doing things are the Igbos. The combination of self-marginalization and marginalization compounds the dilemma for were the hurdle just the know-man; I could heave a sigh of relief but with the combination of know-man and a brutally strict culture of buying employment! Haba!!!

Unfortunately, folly is now comfortably set in high places and the country has been the worse for it. Mediocrity found its way to power from the day the ‘5 Majors’ failed to execute their plan for a new egalitarian federal republic of Nigeria. The failed attempt by another youth – Major Gideon Orkar – in 1990 to address the same anomaly has made Nigeria to look like a country richly blessed with resources but without men of character.

The second anomaly is the unexplainable gap between the haves and the have-nots. One of the direct consequences of the first anomaly is the lack of vision. The greatest treasure of any people is their diverse abilities. Dr. Nelson Mandela of blessed memory did not obtain the freedom of his people with the diamond reserves nor did he do that with his tribesmen alone. He brought the people together, impressed a national vision and won the liberty!

The Late Singaporean statesman – Lee Kuan Yew – did not build Singapore with his majority Chinese tribesmen alone nor did he give credit for his success to his family members alone. He was statesman to the people of Singapore. He toiled all his life to build a nation out of the diverse tribes and tongue that make up Singapore. President Paul Kigame of Rwanda – an African – is at work, seriously laboring to build a national legacy.

What do we have here? We have a country where the battle for religious and ethnic supremacy is civilization. Currently, amongst the many civil society organizations the Igbo youths are about the highest; advocating for one cause or the other. When a better society is birthed, they are sidelined and made to understand that they cannot rule here. Democracy is still being enjoyed today were it not for the efforts of Prof. Dora Akunyili (of blessed memory); who boldly denounced executive recklessness during the reign of President Yar’Adua.

In this administration, Nigeria has since slipped into a totally Islamic federation but everyone is just cool about it. Why? Nigeria is waiting for the Igbo to be the scapegoat to challenge the arrangement. When Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was loudest in the demands for Biafra; the southwest, southsouth and northcentral pretended to ask for restructuring but the moment Kanu was arrested, everything died.

For a discerning mind, the question is: Should not have the fire for restructuring been widespread after Kanu’s arrest if there is in deed truth? In the same presidency, a sitting CJN is replaced with a Sharia judge from the north under very preposterous allegations when there are seated among the current cabinet, men who are far more notorious in their greed yet no one is asking questions.

We have 6 geopolitical zones (unofficially) but can one say that the federal cabinet/parastatals are a reflection of the plurality that is our reality as a country? The answer is NO!!! I know that in the case of Engr. Babachir Lawal, it was the pressure groups’ pressure that stirred the presidency into action. Is it because he is from the north? Till date, no court has arraigned Col. Lawal Daura (rtd) of the DSS for the alleged invasion of the national assembly.

The truth is that no Nigerian is a kid that they should see favoritism and not recognize it or be comfortable with it. Look at the Okada riders today. They have more than 200, 000.00 naira to purchase a motor bike but do not have less than a quarter of that amount to buy plate numbers that should’ve added to government’s revenue drive. Why? There is still oil money from the Niger Delta to spend!

Injustice just smells everywhere!!! The government is doling out huge sums to fight armed bandits, Boko Haram and the IPOB but the easy thing to do is GIVE EVERY GEOPOLITICAL ZONE A SENSE OF BELONGING!!! Is it not folly set in high places for a government to clamp on its citizens instead of engaging them in dialogue? And when the billions of naira has not achieved the intended results; more is still pumped into the cause?

Another word for this anomaly is what I called “The Witchcraft Mentality”. All the running around that we and our leaders have engaged in; has been so for the simple fact that we do not like to accept truth and whoever speaks truth to power in this country is looked at as either a mad man or a threat and, therefore is quickly neutralized. Only witches do like Nigerians do.

The witch will forcefully take what belongs to someone, keep it and does not even bother to use it. If you check this fact of witchcraft against our character/mindset in this country; your surprises as to the decadence will simply fizzle. The northwest and the southwest are sitting on the destiny of this federation and all the while, they wondered why Nigeria was boiling. Can you claim your rights and deny those of another? Witches don’t like equity; they only respond to FIRE!

The third anomaly is that creativity is dead. Sacrifice is buried and ingenuity has travelled overseas. Just do a questionnaire today and go out. Find out what the youths are dreaming to do at the moment and you’d be shocked to find that 7 out of every 12 Nigerian is not only dissatisfied but desperate to leave Nigeria. The other day, AIT Kaakaaki Social showed a young Nigerian of 8 years who was already an acclaimed world chess champion.

Have you bothered to find out what his contemporaries are doing back home? O yes, I find them mostly eating Indomie noodles! The smartest way to kill creativity is to encourage a system whereby the buck starts and stops at the politician’s table. So long as he has not endorsed it; it remained unaccepted or an anathema. See the country now and you’ll know that indeed folly is at work.

Can we please fight corruption through re-orientation campaigns, through a bold national vision that guarantees future financial security for every citizen or through redistribution of national patrimony? Can we just focus our minds towards building an egalitarian society where our youth wouldn’t have to thug for the political class or for the religious bigots? Can we create a system that recognizes and rewards creativity, resilience and prowess?          

The year is 2019, men like Dr. Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors are aggressively pointing Nigeria to a future driven by technology but the muslim-controlled APC are suggesting that the Igbo – despite the intellect – have no place in this federation. Since they rigged themselves back to power about a month ago, their concerns have been to organize power to the exclusion of the Igbo man.

Without question, civilized countries of the world give decent positions to those who contribute the most to national progress. While the position of Senate President is zoned to the northeast by the APC; they say the southwest must have both the position of DSP and Speaker. Nigeria is simply waiting for the Igbos to rise up – perhaps, like Mazi Nnamdi Kanu – and demand secession but they will be disappointed.

If you allow me, the Igbos will not fight for secession nor will they agitate for a restructured Nigeria again; do you know why? The reason is simple: THE IGBOS UNDERSTAND THAT THEY ARE NOT FAVORED TO RULE IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY even if they fought for these. But a constitutional crisis will soon arise in this country and it will be impossible to deny the Igbos rule.

I am not suggesting a coup or the death of the president rather I boldly announce that like it happened to Israel in the days of Jephthah (Judges 11), so will a constitutional crisis arise that will force Nigeria to bring the Igbos back to the position of honor. That witchcraft mindset that is currently controlling everyone in power will soon land Nigeria in that soup she needed to be in order to discover EQUITY, FAIRNESS AND JUSTICE.

Recently the Nigeria Express published the faces and their names of ministers whom they called DEADWOODS. Majority on that list are non-Igbos and I said this must be why this government is failing. Come to think of it, was it not the acting-President Yemi Osinbajo who showed Col. Lawal Daura the way out of the DSS? Why was Buhari unable to sack him? Will Nigeria survive disintegration 20 years from now if we continued nepotism?

There is a common by-word that in wherever environment you entered and cannot find an Igbo there; such a place was dangerous to reside. Is it not folly hence to find that among the strategists of this administration, the Igbo are sidelined? Has Egwu Eke I & II improved the revenue generation of government in the southeast/southsouth regions? Will Nnamdi Kanu’s re-arrest bring solution to the manifest sidelining of the Igbos?

Take it or leave, would the Igbos had emigrated to Nigeria from some place and perhaps sided with the British Empire during colonialism; it will be appropriate punishment to sideline them. But to continue to marginalize this peaceful ethnic group because of the wrong impression that the January 15th, 1966 coup d’état was an Igbo coup and because the Igbos defended self by doing what every endangered tribe anywhere would’ve done; is a crime that will surely meet with Karma.

If anything, Nigeria would’ve rejected President Buhari as a man who overthrew a democratic government in the ‘80s but he is enjoying the idea of a second term in power and also working hard to leave Nigeria worse than he met her. He is even called ‘Mr. Integrity’ when everything around him seems to say that “An Eli the Priest who cannot tame his sons (Hophni and Phinehas) is most certainly not Mr. Integrity”.

Despite that nothing much has improved in the polity since the sidelining began in the early ‘60s; it is not to say that Divine Justice is not coming. I will simply conclude here by saying to the Igbos (particularly) that just as it was not Jephthah that made himself ruler over his people but God; the same way will no agitation for Biafra nor any sit-at-home order enthrone the Igbos in their rightful place.

The Igbos must prepare and be ready; for the day of rearrangement will come suddenly and without any prior warning.    

Comrade Ifeanyichukwu Mmoh is an advocate for attitudinal change, a researcher and author. 08062577718.