Igbo: What is your fate? by Acho Orabuchi


In fact, I could hear the inherent consterna­tion in the voices and tone of the Igbo in the Diaspora during every discussion concerning their fate in Nigeria. They often reminisced about the pre-civil war status of the Igbo, in­cluding all the cultural variables that formed who we were. It was a scintillating feeling in­deed. On the other hand, some became nau­seated with not only the ailing condition and well-being of the Igbo in Nigeria today, but also with the vivid image of the portentous nature of the survival of the next generation of the Igbo.

I reflected on my 2004 New Year message to Ndi Igbo in the Diaspora, which is aptly relevant today in light of all the recent ethnic tensions in Nigeria. Here are the excerpts:

We are hopeful that a lasting peace would ensue among Ndi-Igbo. At the same time, Nigeria should rid herself of tribalism, nepo­tism, and corruption because they are in­imical to economic growth. I encourage all Nigerians to embrace all the legitimate and prudent reform efforts of the federal govern­ment in 2004 [2016]. I beseech all Nigerians to drop their corrupt and venal tendencies and imbibe honesty and accountability in their daily activities so that the Nigerian economy would improve for everyone.

Well, in the mist of ebullient feeling that we are entering a new era, we will be mindful of the fact that the past years witnessed some un­desirable mélange of problems for and among the Igbo. We witnessed in the last two admin­istrations series of political miscalculations, de­plorable South East roads, political instability in Ala Igbo, disunity among the Igbo, corruption, dishonest leadership, alarming level of poverty, increased level of Igbo marginalisation in the hands of federal government, increased level of resentment of the Igbo by other ethnic groups and the list goes on. It has never been more ominous than now the changing attitude Igbo youths have toward education. The negative impact of this phenomenon on the future of the Igbo in the Nigerian body polity should not be overemphasized. It aches my heart that many of the above problems will continue. However, we have to get ourselves to overcome this malaise by changing our value system in the form of moral regeneration.

Our past leaders, including some of our pres­ent leaders, have not only eloquently enunciated our problems, but have contributed a great deal to uplift the Igbo. The following individuals, in no small measure, contributed their own share in the past: Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr. Kingsley Mbadiwe, Dr. Michael I. Okpara, Dr. Nwafor Orizu, Dr. Akanu Ibiam, Major General Chuk­wuma Nzeogwu, General Philip Efiong, Chief MCK Ajuluchukwu, and others. Similarly, a few Igbo leaders alive have contributed tremen­dously to uplifting the Igbo.

Our position in Nigeria in the pre-civil war era was admirable. Now, this is a different era and the Igbo are suffering all kinds of dis­criminatory actions in the hands of the federal government. The Igbo, as a people, have been consistently and systematically marginal­ized in Nigeria. It would take a whole book to serialize the marginalization of the Igbo and the consequent economic, political, and psychological effects on the Igbo. It is now that some people are beginning to realize that Igbo marginalization is a structured part of the institutional architecture of the nation called Nigeria. For instance, as recent as few days ago, Mr. Ishaya Akau, National Chair­man of NASC, unilaterally disqualified the three South East candidates for the position of secretary of the National Assembly Ser­vice Commission (NASC) in preference to the two northern candidates. Perhaps, it is pertinent to know that the Danzaki Com­mittee had already recommended the fol­lowing five candidates for the position: Mrs. S. E. Chijioke, a lawyer by profession, (Abia State), M. J. Yusuf (Kogi State), Prof. W. E. Herbert (Abia State), Mrs. M. V. Mbu (Imo State), a lawyer by profession, and Mr. S. Ibrahim (Niger).

The only reason Mr. Akau had the alac­rity to maliciously and discriminatorily drop the South East candidates in violation of the Federal Character Principle was that he would not account to anyone and the Igbo are perceived to be dispensable.

It appears that this is a pattern already es­tablished by Mr. Akau since a complaint was leveled against him in August 2003 by two South East commissioners, Chief Okorafor and Chief Eze Nwenyi, for discriminating against the Igbo in the recruitment process of the National Assembly Service Commis­sion (NASC). Compatriots, I brought this incident to show how widespread the Igbo are being marginalized in every facet of Ni­gerian government and Nigerian economy. This is a salient example of what the Igbo are facing in Nigeria.

It is no longer enough to identify our problems; it is not sufficient to cry for mar­ginalization; it is rather a necessity for all well-meaning Igbo, men and women, boys and girls, young and old, to work diligently to reclaim their heritage—to reclaim their past glory and transform it into a common denominator of the current era.

However, we must first of all formulate a new direction by deriving a constructive and consensus Igbo agenda replete with ideo­logical underpinnings. Prior to embarking on this exercise, we must enshrine honesty, trust, unity, integrity, accountability, etc. in our value system. In other words, we must change our attitude and behavior individu­ally to focus on collective interest of the Igbo. It would be a fatal mistake to ignore the urgency of the moment. The Igbo are in danger of being exterminated politically and economically in Nigeria.

Are we going to let it happen before our eyes? Or are we going to fight against it within the parameters of the law? We have to collectively work feverishly to assert our­selves and reclaim the things that have been taken away from us. We are now placed in a historic position to do something. With this historic position comes a tremendous responsibility of an immense magnitude. It is both our individual and collective respon­sibility to ensure that Igbo marginalization ceases henceforth. We must demand that all the vestiges of marginalization be obliterated and all the wrongs redressed. I personally and strongly encourage those on the ground to have courage in making public those dis­criminatory practices against the Igbo so that they can be documented for the world to see.

In the course of having a better Nigeria for all Nigerians, I have spoken on several topi­cal issues in order for the federal government to watch its steps and correct some wrongs.

(Source: Daily Sun)

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