Nigeria: Why Nothing Much Has Improved Since The Igbo Ethnic Group Attempted Secession In 1967 (Part 2) -By Ifeanyichukwu Mmoh

The enormous traffic that greeted the first part of this piece was mind-boggling. I could feel the hurting in the hearts of many especially those who had believed that the country had finally gone above tribal and religious bickering having collectively fought off the army from power and enthroned democracy in 1999. Now, they are particularly betrayed by the actions of the APC, Bola Tinubu and Mr. President.

The enormous traffic that greeted the first part of this piece was mind-boggling. I could feel the hurting in the hearts of many especially those who had believed that the country had finally gone above tribal and religious bickering having collectively fought off the army from power and enthroned democracy in 1999. Now, they are particularly betrayed by the actions of the APC, Bola Tinubu and Mr. President.

I’d made the following comments in that piece that I wish to elaborate upon. I had said, “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.”

The truth is that every time I call to mind the heroic efforts of the now late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe during the struggles against colonialism; I am pained just like several million other Ibos and non-Ibos alike to realize that the country in which my fathers and your fathers fought to bring into existence is now comfortably sitting on the laps of folks who are mostly not aborigines.

The Yoruba ethnic group, the Wukari ethnic group, the Bachama people, the Ibo people as well as the several other indigenous tribes understands where I am going and therefore, are not quite comfortable with Bola Ahmed Tinubu. You will find in none of the aforementioned tribes any desire to dominate another tribe particularly since independence. Only a section of the Fulani that emigrated from Mali has had it as an agenda to subjugate.

Now Tinubu’s sympathy for the idea of subjugating a member or members of the federation cannot be said to be of the Yoruba bloodline. In fact, when I think of Gani Fawehinmi, I always wondered if he would’ve applauded the dangerous stance that men like Ahmed Bola Tinubu has since taken. My reasons are not far-fetched. It is clear that if the sage was here that he would’ve fallen out with both the man Tinubu as well as with those crops of Yoruba leaders who claim to belong to the Afenifere but romances with those that seek to subjugate.

I say this because I already understand that the Yoruba ethnic group is divided between the Herbert Macaulay group and the Obafemi Awolowo group. Gani Fawehinmi belonged to the Herbert Macaulay group and this group actually believed so deeply in the future and destiny of Nigeria and in the idea of a united southern Nigeria. Gani believed that the Yoruba ethnic group had a stake first and foremost in the Igbos and then in Nigeria.

This belief made him to rise above ethnic ambitions to confront the military even to his own detriment. Unfortunately, even though Tinubu was a better part of the struggle against military dictatorship in those days; it is clear now that he partook in that struggle for parochial and tribal reasons. How else do I interpret what has become of him since his new found love with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari except to suggest that it stems from his desires to be accorded same respects as was accorded the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo?

The Awolowo group – as I was saying – believed that the north was for the northerners, that the east was for the easterners and that the west was for the westerners. They even made it the motto of their political party – the AG. But do not forget that before the entry into politics of this man – Awolowo – the NCNC which was founded by Herbert Macaulay had as deputy Nnamdi Azikiwe.

There was no cause for suspicion between the Yorubas and the Ibos until Awolowo came on the scene. You would understand this division better when you bored into history to find out why Adekunle Fajuyi opted to have his life cut short in the place of his cum J. T. Aguiyi-Ironsi. You may better understand the existence of these two different groups when you found out why Adewale Ademoyega believed so much in Patrick C. Nzeogwu.

The “Nigeria for all” that was inserted into the AG’s slogan was just to save face. The competitive and tribal mindset of Awolowo did not take long to be seen for what it truly was. When in the heat of the assault against the Ibos during the Civil War, this Nigerian – Awolowo, who unfortunately Tinubu is adopting – sold the satanic counsel that saw General Yakubu Gowon adopting starvation as a weapon of war.

When he became federal commissioner for finance; he wasted no time in ensuring that the Igbos were left behind in the scheme of things. Would Fajuyi had done like Awolowo if he did not allow his Ibo friend and compatriot to be killed in his house? Would Macaulay have reasoned so selfishly against his Ibo compatriots? This was the same Awolowo whom Col. Chukwuemeka Ojukwu suggested to Aguiyi-Ironsi for release.     

Till date, many Yorubas especially those of the Herbert Macaulay group continue to show concern for the plight of Nd’Igbo. They understand that what befell the Ibos can befall any one else. In fact, they recount the days of the Late General Sani Abacha and the stolen mandate of the Late Chief M.K.O. Abiola. They have good reasons to frown at what Tinubu is doing and they are faithfully reacting against the anomaly.

Interestingly, it is destroyers of democracy like Tinubu who now organize colloquiums as if to say they are nationalist. Here is a man who almost lost his life in the struggle against military dictatorship, playing dangerously into the hands of dictatorship. If Tinubu is truly a democrat as he parades himself; he should have been able to advise his party (as APC’s National Leader) that it was VERY DANGEROUS to think of excluding Nd’Igbo.   

But his open support for General Buhari’s attitude of sectionalizing the polity is great proof that he is not. Funny, during his colloquium he had the courage to take a stand against the federal government’s plans to increase the VAT but on a very important matter like this; he suddenly choose silence. The question is: what kind of federation does Tinubu think would exist if powers-that-be continued to nationalize the subjugation/marginalization of bona fide citizens of a country?

Whether Nd’Igbo voted the APC or not is constitutionally immaterial but then we exist in a clime – like I said in the first part – where ethnic and religious agitations are civilization. I watched Comrade Dominic Alancha the other day as he made a case for the north-central for speaker. His foundation for arguing in favor of the north-central is that the volume of votes the president got from the zone qualified the zone for speakership.

How foolish? Since when did the APC or the President become Nigeria’s economy? So if a zone contributed more to the economy but does not sympathize with the ideology of religious fanatics or tribal subjugation; it should be thrown out of the power equation? What is democracy by the way? Is democracy a system of dictatorship? Is democracy about equal or unequal citizenry?

For me, the 8th National Assembly remains an ideal democratic setting where the independence is not in the executive’s breast pocket. If democracy should become like the APC or Comrade Alancha wants it then Nigeria is headed for doom. The beauty of democracy is the co-existence of diversity of talent in a way that carried everyone along. I cannot remember that zone in this country back then, which did not loudly and openly condemn General Sani Abacha’s denial, arrest and detention of Chief M.K.O. Abiola in 1994.

If the rest of the federation had abandoned Abiola and his zone to their fate or if the federation had abandoned Oladipo Diya to his fate; there probably wouldn’t have been a democracy today. But see what Tinubu is doing today. He seems to have forgotten the efforts of Chistiana Anyanwu who almost lost her sights in prison because of June 12. He most certainly has forgotten the heroic efforts of Late Dr. Alex Ekwueme. He has forgotten Ken Saro-wiwa. He has forgotten Pascal Bafyau.

Or is it President Buhari, who is working so hard to plunge this federation into chaos. When progressive countries are employing as military strategy, circumstantial concession that promoted equity, fairness and justice; these folks continued to show the world that Nigeria – once in the hands of clueless leadership – was not even safe despite the Constitution. You just heard of the citizenship angle to the fight against Alh. Atiku Abubakar.

That is the extent that those who seek to subjugate can stretch their plot. But when the constitutional crisis ensues; then many will understand some of the executive rascality and mundane things that we kick against as concerned citizens. Nigerians ought to rise against these destroyers of our collective heritage. This injustice against the southeast is not just one that the southeast alone suffers for it affected many other things that I may not – for want of space – be able to put down today.

If injustice against one is injustice against all; it meant therefore that this is the time for Nigeria to stand up and fight for the enthronement of equity.   

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