I was compelled to write this article from the standpoint of a young professional Igbo lad and my filial disposition towards “THE GREAT IGBO TRIBE” and in the midst of the undercurrents troubling the Unity of our county Nigeria.
Spanning a period of over two decades, I have spent a good portion of my childhood and adolescent in the Eastern part of Nigeria, and have lived in the West afterwards and have on many occasions interacted with Nigerians from length and breadth without for once harbouring any sense of opposition. Hence, naturally, my position on the emerging agitation for the creation of a State of Biafra is one that would hopefully bring peace or a lasting solution to the current sense of non-inclusion or marginalization being suffered by the Igbo race.
For starters, the agitation for the Republic of Biafra dates back to 1967 which culminated in the first civil war ever witnessed in Nigeria. Known factors that led to the war or reasons why the Igbo lost the war is not the focus or intention of my article. However, the need to strongly evaluate the causes of this civil war and its slow but gradual rebirth today makes for an intelligent yet strategic assessment especially for the Igbo in its move to emancipate itself from the shackles of the notorious “rebel nation” title ascribed to us by other Nigerians.
That being said, I dare say that violent protests, agitation for war, and other emotionally charged or tensed statements should never be the first approach to resolving conflict resolution, without first engaging in dialogue at different levels. When the news broke about the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu for illegally operating Radio Biafra, as a typical Igbo person I got upset but I paused and asked myself the following questions:
- Is it the responsibility of a responsible government to defend the sovereignty of the country? – YES it is
- What about when utterances are of treasonable nature and are fueling ethnic bickering and hatred? Same answer YES. I recall one of his videos on YouTube (expect he was impersonated) classified Blacks as Satan because Satan is a Black man and Blacks should be dealt treacherously by the Whites etc. I will advise anyone reading this article to google and listen to a minimum of 3 of his broadcasts to enable you take an unbiased, objective position.
- Article 1& 2 of the United Nations Charter provides for self determination “all people have the right to self determination. By virtue determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”. Therefore any group of persons can determine their political status but when your campaign becomes defamatory, the law provides for caution.
- What steps did the Eastern leaders take to engage the government in a dialogue AT THE point of his arrest to ensure this did not degenerate to the point it presently has?
Please, I want to use this medium to appeal to the Igbos that violence is not the best approach to resolving a conflict, my father fought the war, I read the book “there was a country” written by Chinua Achebe and ‘Half of a yellow sun” by Chimamanda and envisioned the horrors and aftermath of provoking a WAR through their harrowing experiences. Trust me, we do not need a war or bloodshed at this point of our existence in nationhood. Rather, our youths should be more strategic, dynamic and adept on this subject. No man wins a war based on sentiments. The quest for war follows a well thought out and marshaled Roadmap.
Things like running a new financial and currency systems for Biafra vis-a–vis sustaining an anticipated population migration as our brethren that runs into the millions return home becoming the priorities. In addition infrastructures, feeding and housing cannot be left out or else same tragedy would occur where Biafra failed, as a result of poor planning and preparation. The fallout being the loss of an estimated 2million lives comprising mostly of women and children, hungry, desolate and desperate.
A typical question I would also like to ask (and would appreciate a sincere response amongst ourselves) is “Can we Igbos truly lead ourselves”? Asides the Azikiwes, Sam Mbakwes, Chirs Ngiges please point out a leader of Igbo extraction that has selflessly led, resisting undue cabal for the sole interest of our people? For example, I grew up knowing my kindred is called “Amato” some people woke up in the name of autonomous community changed the name to “Agbaharizu”. Is that the purpose of creating autonomous communities? That is simply changing of ancient landmarks. Embedded in that move was selfish interest for chieftancy titles etc. These kind of stories are peculiar across Igbo land where pecuniary interests or selfish ambitions overrides the social good of the people.
After I read Chinua Achebe’s book “There was a country, I paused and asked myself a fundamental question, “why should I fight against a country I so much do not believe in and come back and contest for presidency in the same country”? The only salient reason that came to mind was AMBITION.
If there are no vested interest in the ongoing violence amongst our political leaders, I implore our recent governors to engage the Federal Government on the release of Nnamdi Kanu and adopt a dialogue approach with him.
On the recent agitation for war, I want to ask the ring leaders of this: do you know what it means to declare a war? Do you think our geographical position puts us in an advantage position? Do we have ports on our shores for food supplies? Do you think that the food blockage on Biafra that brought us to our knees can’t be unitized again as a result of our geographically location? Do you think Port Harcourt, Uyo, Delta, Edo etc will join in the fight for a Biafra republic? What is the statistics of Igbos that are anti-Biafra republic? To mention, one of Nnamdi Kanu’s broadcast says that Delta MUST be part of Biafra and I sat on my seat speechless asking myself ‘what happens to their right to self determination”
Dele Momodu wrote and I quote “ And don’t forget that the Igbo people are naturally brilliant in all spheres of human endeavour. They are endowed with genes that we could liken to those of Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Pythagoras, and Bertrand Russell combined. If the Black man would ever venture into Space exploration, I’m sure of the shock that awaits us; an Igbo would not only land on the moon, he would have a permanent abode there and a shop to sell all common needs to us. Such is the dynamism of the Igbo geniuses that I often refer to them as the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans of Africa all rolled into one”.
We refined oil locally and produced our bullets during the war, we produce in Aba and export outside the shores of our country due to the negative perception of made in Nigeria products, I bet to state that 40% of Lagos state revenue comes from the industrious Igbo men and women (not statistically proven though).
My core objective is to encourage us to channel our dogged spirit and ingenuity to achieve international and national economic relevance and advantageous mile stone towards our regions and not embark on an agenda that will sap our human capital. Ndigbo, Learn to choose and launch your fight decisively and strategically.
What we should be doing is finding a way of coming together to decide, how much can every Igbo son and daughter should contribute only on a monthly basis to enable us have a port of international standard in our borders? If 1,000,000 Igbo’s contribute for example N1000 per month, it sums to 1billion. That to me is a worthy cause that will boost our relevance. People flock to Lagos simply because the environment is enabling and who say’s the young men and women from the Eastern part of Nigeria cannot take our future in our hands rather than wait for our political figures who usually leave us short-changed.
I believe setting up a sinking fund of this magnitude should not be in the hands of the government, but will be an infrastructure fund registered as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) independently managed by an appointed adviser, fund manager, and trustee etc to ensure transparency. As a practicing investment banker with eight (8) years experience, I am willingly to be volunteer my expertise, experience and commitment towards championing this course. Critical to the success of this kind of initiative is having the right blend of think-thank team comprised of professionals in the caliber of Chukwuma Soludo, Barth Nnaji, Festus Odimegwu etc . With this I am referring to selfless Igbo men and women that can change the course and destiny of our Igbo race.
We should endeavour not repeat same mistakes as fore fathers because we are more dynamic, exposed, strategic and empowered. It baffles me to know that Aba which has the capacity to be the Dubai of Africa is in such a deplorable state. I must commend the effort of the recent governor (from my readings on papers) channeled towards giving Aba the face it deserves. Please Sir, do not give up or lose steam but make a name in the sand of time as the governor that impacted immensely in the economic development of Abia State, such that providence will sing your song in good light. Our leaders should learn from Fashola and his template in transformation of Lagos State into a potential financial and trade hub of the African continent.
With this I conclude by saying, Let us defend our unity as one country. America emerged from series of bloody wars and conflict. Today American Indians go about their business in America without any form of victimization.
When I read articles online on the Biafra’s subject, I practically cry at the ethnic abuses that you find as comment “WE ARE ONE”. Let us go back to “Nigeria Per civil war”, where you do not have to be an indigene of state to be appointed the Vice-chancellor of the its university. Our strength is in our diversity – great people Nigeria. There is global interdependence so I wonder why we can’t survive in our small world appreciating our differences.
As I drop my pen my people, critically evaluate the ministers of key ministries of this administration and immediate past administration which tribe are they from? Perhaps I should mention a few Okonji Iwela, Stella, Kachukwu, Madueke. For me I prefer to be the King maker than to be the King. And I implore the President by reminding him of his words“ I am the president for all”. Also bear in mind that the under root causes of this misguided outrage are unemployment, fuel scarcity, tough economic climate”
LONG LIVE NIGERIA, LONG LIVE THE IGBO TRIBE
- Vera Nneoma Osuji