Monday, March 6, 2017 9:30 am
By Igbonekwu Ogazimora
“For we who have mastered the waves and winds of history, events tending to the future are only too clear but to the uninitiated.”
…Mogwugo Okoye…in Letter to Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
It is really surprising how our so called educated and articulate Nigerians, including some Igbo, dismiss the current frenzy for Biafra by the youths of Igbo extraction.
Many are simply dismissive of the events as delusional. Pity! Some say it is idiotic.Tifiakwa! Some think it is never meant because the Igbo have invested hugely, indeed, more than any other Nigerian, in all corners of Nigeria. Fac!
And some think it is mob action of the unemployed. Closely connected! Some think that since the previous Biafra was defeated in battle in 1970, any next attempt would be a walkover. Hogwash! There are also those who think: let them go; good riddance to bad rubbish. Pedestrian! How reductionist so called analysts can really be.
What these go to show, and in loud notes, is that the entire scenario is misunderstood. Nigeria is a country bedevilled by ethnicism. This translates to so called analysts being ethnocentric, which in its turn means seeing matters only from the prism of the ethnic stock of origin.
Recently, one analyst had rightly presented an argument by way of raising a question. If misgovernance has been the reason for the current rise in demand for Biafra, why have the people not once asked their governors, from 1999 till date, to render accounts resources they collected and purportedly used in their respective states?
I had gone ahead to add, and are these leaders, in the National Assembly, State Government Houses and the likes, not the same persons of monetary muscles who would emerge the leaders of the new republic? I took some blows for this, and more blows are still expected.
But that is not even the issue here.
If Ndigbo, know that we have all bitten of the devil fruit of misrule think that there would be any difference in a new republic (of course there can be good reasons for such if the hope of surviving as a people is erased), the non-Igbo so called analysts have committed the worst of blunders in treating with tribal condescension, the present agitation as decidedly ethnic.
They are living in a fool’s paradise. With my great respects to people of other areas of Nigeria where I studied and worked for many years, I make bold to say that the Igbo will always stand out as the ethnic group naturally or is it genetically equiped, to stay tops in the ensuing chaotic, if ever competitive, Nigeria. That is even with the plethora of niggardly designed and implemented policies of the Federal Government starting with the abandoned property regime, £20 policy and economic disequilibrium of the Yakbu gowon government; the quota system, deliberately designed denial of infrastructure to the Igbo region, etc, by subsequent FGs.
From the mid-1970s, these Igbo areas have come tops in internationally measured Human Development Index, HDI, and remain the region with the highest diffuse presence of wellbeing and endeavour development possibility factors.
What these other Nigerians miss is that as blinded victims of elite manipulation, they are made to see Biafra agitation as a project against their interests. This has now flowed in the direction of certain parts of previous Biafra – the non-Igbo areas – turning up as the trump card against the present agitation.
Yes, it was in the past. It will still be. But what if the present proponents of Biafra do not even factor in those areas in their design? This reductionist tendency has now been made more childish by the chest beating claim that without these areas, the Biafra of their dream would be landlocked. Laughable!
Who did this to the present generation of so called educated men and women? Who ever told them that any country can actually suffer any serious defect for not having access to the sea, if it ever comes to that? Just do a little lundry list of such countries that do not have access to the sea. Take for instance, a little Niger Republic. Many Nigerians do not know, and will never be told why the River Niger will never be dredged despite the lies of governments. There is a treaty that forecloses that! Did you get me? We move on.
It is surprising that fellow impoverished Nigerians would come out so hateful of the Igbo for asking for Biafra. But is it really too surprising? No! Since there must be the scape goat for elite failure or falsehood, the Igbo, most present in every corner, has to be. Yes, it is because of the Igbo. They are everywhere. They make all the money, blah, blah blah. But there are dubious elites as there are forthright elites. I remember the military Governor… “don’t come here to tell me that rubbish” he roared at local leaders who addressed him in Makurdi, 1997. “You tell me the Igbo control patent medicine business, they control transport, they control supermarkets…did this Igbo tell you people not to get into the business the ways they entered?”
He leapt to his heels and left the hall. Today, the vacuous Facebook warriors, champions of failed Nigeria, will never see the restiveness of the youth, even in their non-Igbo localites, as national because there is the suggestion of Biafra. The point they miss is that they are in the same, if not worse, hopeless situation in a misruled Nigeria.
If the pretences must stop, then truth be told, the situation “is as messy as the pig’s breakfast”, ala General Alexander Madiebo, for the Nigerian, be he old, or young, man or woman, Yoruba or Bini, Hausa or kanuri, Igbo or Ibibio.
I have my personal reasons not to fancy the present agitation, or is it the method, for Biafra. I have some training in “agitation and insurrection,” I was possibly wrong in seeing the sudden surge as coming of PDP losing political power and I cannot be used. Secondly, as one of my teachers, Dr. Ife Ogbonna, mused, ‘can you achieve statehood such as in challeging an old order when there is no single person who can possibly be a president of Nigeria on your contact list? And lastly, I have no taste in abusing a whole ethnic group or a generation of a section of Nigeria.
I am always in love with same Mogwugo Okoye’s words here: “there is no such thing as a race of geniuses and another of scoundrels…”
Put these aside, I am for Biafra for two reasons: pressing the points against mindless misrule of the Nigerian state and self determination as a way of reminding us of “our differences,” ala, Ahmadu Bello.
It does not change the colour of my tea, or even palm wine, if the Oil Rich region subsumes its identity in crude oil and the resultant USD, exploited by government of the Igbo, Yoruba and the Fulani. I am not even sure I can confidently spot the difference between crude oil and dissel oil, and I am likely better in it than tens of millions of Nigerians who are inundated with tales of oil wealth and potentials of high rise buildings in far away plush cities, where the great architect’s skills are revealed in enchanting edifices called hospitals but which have no medicines or the committed staff to operate.
I also remember the great Duro Onabule: “no sooner than the Yoruba would come over their pains of agitation over June 12, than the Igbo and other sections of Nigeria get entangled in their own shares of the ordeals.”
He was talking of a known elite conspiracy to move the trouble spots for their comfort. A national ordeal!
If you have neve mastered chess game, I have. I understand. It will take anoher life time, but must we must – in deep analytical breakdown – it is not about the Igbo and it has nothing to do with some Igbo struggling, grovelling and foaming at mouth, to be seen to be distant from the present trend in agitation