Posted by News Express | 23 March 2017 | 2,362 times
Let me begin by reminding you of what some of us think of your agitation. Some of us think, and honestly too, that rather than dissipate energy campaigning for Nigeria’s break-up, it is time you joined hands to end the Osu caste system in Igboland and emancipate the stigmatised members of the caste who, till date, are still victims of hate, discrimination and despising. Honestly, you cannot continue to stigmatise and hate a large section of Igbo population and expect outsiders to take you serious.
You might have succeeded in programming the despised members of the caste to join your hate campaign of seeing to other Nigerians as sub-human but, truth is, in the unlikely event you succeed in your segregationist campaign, the world will soon have another South Sudan and Burma to contend with. Tell me, what place has the Osu in the Biafra of your imagination? What guarantees are there that the Osu will not become the target of ethnic cleansing in your imagined Biafra?
Do you even understand the antics of the arm-chair revolutionaries who claim to be your well-wishers? From their comfort zones, they feed you with so much hate and incite you to carry arms to shoot their way out of a zoo. They feed you with such racist jargons about the Igbo being a special breed and whose blood should not mix with others. Yet, the hatred they have for the Osu literally wears a hat! I hope this Osu thing is not at the heart of the confusion between IPOB and MASSOB?
It may sound blunt, but the only way to put it is that Nigeria has to remain one, united and prosperous country. Prof Chinua Achebe captured the essence when he wrote - There Was A Country - that we all know lasted 30 months. This is a fact we must accept. We have to move on; and to move on is to build a great, united and prosperous Nigeria. As it is, we all have grouses, valid or otherwise, against the fatherland. Even the lecherous Boko Haram bandits reel out grouses.
If what I hear is true, there has never been a common ground among the arm-chair revolutionaries who pose as well-wishers, at home and in the Diaspora, in finding real solutions to the problems of Nigeria. Yes! I am referring to the constant deadly clashes between supporters of Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB and Ralph Uwazuruike’s MASSOB. Is that right? You should know because you have attended several meetings with these people where you are taught to hate and abuse and insult others.
You may not believe it, but very few people advocate a break-up to redress perceived injustices. See what is happening in South Sudan! In just five short years, the people of ‘Africa’s youngest sovereign country’ have become refugees among former compatriots they were programmed to hate. As I write, thousands of South Sudan refugees say they feel happier and safer among the Sudanese they were told to regard as mortal enemies. In other words, what the people of South Sudan formerly called a zoo has become their sanctuary. And, the people they were programmed to see as beasts and cannibals are now their protectors.
Truth is, the people of South Sudan were deceived by the elite into believing that the only way to cure a headache was to cut off the head. Just as you and other segregationists are busy deceiving innocent Igbo people of South-east Nigeria to hate their compatriots. The damage has been done and the long-suffering people of South Sudan have now realised that they were fooled by hate-mongers and gunrunners into believing they were headed for El-dorado. Can’t you see that IPOB of Nnamdi Kanu and MASSOB of Ralph Uwazuruike are planning to create a problem in Igbo land that will turn South Sudan into a tea party?
While you reflect on the pathetic condition of the people of South Sudan, let me take you down memory lane. If you take a quick look at the recent history of Nigeria and, you wish to be honest with yourself, it is the Yoruba-speaking people of South-west Nigeria, more than any other zone, that should complain of marginalisation. You know the South-west was home to the candidate that was denied the presidency in 1993. Yes! I am talking about late Chief MKO Abiola and the June 12, 1993 election.
What the South-west did and why other Nigerians and, indeed, the whole world supported their stand was that there was never a time the Yoruba people threatened to pull out of Nigeria over June 12. Never! Of course, misguided roughnecks otherwise known as Area Boys made noise to that effect, but no persons of substance in Yorubaland supported the call. The underground Radio Kudirat and NADECO struggled to actualise June 12, but not to pull Yoruba land out of Nigeria. That brought about President Olusegun Obasanjo.
You also recall that, as recent as the Goodluck Jonathan presidency, there was no way any politician from the South-west could have constitutionally ascended the throne in the event of vacancy. Of course, you know the South-west did not feature in the top four positions in the government. In fact, the South-west did not feature in the top 10 in the Goodluck Jonathan government. Check the facts. You could not have forgotten that President Goodluck Jonathan literally cleared all the votes in the South-west. It was only Osun State that voted for the adopted candidate (Nuhu Ribadu) of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) in the South-west. The South-west did not threaten secession.
It is strange, dear segregator, that the reason you give for your agitation is that Igbo people are marginalized in Nigeria, because they do not get to occupy strategic positions in government. What is biting you? Should that be ground for a fight? It is about time to sit back and reflect deeply on your agitation against the backdrop of facts on the ground. Yes, there are sound reasons to grumble and people should feel free to grumble. Even then, do you think it is okay to shed blood in the name of grumbling?
And, let me take you a little back in time. You could not have forgotten that a prominent Igbo, HE Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme was elected vice-president of Nigeria just nine years after the civil war. And this was in the genuine spirit of ‘No victor, No vanquished’. At the time under reference, Igbo occupied two of the four top slots in the country. It’s a pity that this fact of history is either lost on you and your colleagues or you choose to ignore it. Now, when Ekwueme occupied the number two constitutionally-recognised slot, no Yoruba politician from the South-west featured in the top four positions in the country. The Senate president was Dr Joseph Wayas, while the Speaker of the House of Representatives was Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, another Igbo. The only prominent Yoruba politician, Chief Adisa Akinloye, a.k.a Adisco Champagne, was NPN chairman. Nobody from the South-west complained of being marginalissed, or threatened to tear up the country. Tell me, dear segregator, where, exactly, is this marginalisation stuff coming from?
As you know too well, there is no group that is deliberately targeted for mistreatment in Nigeria. None! You know this beautiful country very well enough not to characterise her as a zoo. You have travelled its length and breadth. And, during those trips, you saw poverty walking the streets of the vast plain of the far north, just as you saw it in the Niger Delta. You saw abject poverty in the South- west, just as you saw it in the Middle-belt area. It is for supposedly enlightened people like you who should challenge the arm-chair revolutionaries in your midst to embark on fact-finding mission across Nigeria.
The arm-chair revolutionaries, the same commissioned agents who pretend to be your well-wishers live in affluence in Europe at the expense of gun-runners. It is from their comfort zone that they sneak into Nigeria to pollute the mind of people with hate campaigns. You hear them say: ‘Those people are animals’! ‘You are surrounded by enemies’; ‘the Hausa don’t like you, they want to kill you’; ‘the Yoruba are your mortal enemies’; ‘never trust the Tiv’. Never associate with those who invoke the Holy Ghost and thunder to fire and strike imaginary enemies. Must you allow ill-wishers to pollute your mind?
Finally, dear segregator, you should realise that IPOB and MASSOB are not being honest with you. The moment to reflect is now. Can you imagine what will be happening in South-east Nigeria if Nnamdi Kanu did not get himself into trouble? Do you think South-east Nigeria can contain IPOB and MASSOB members? You can see vividly that these guys only want to create another South Sudan and get the good people of South-east Nigeria into trouble.
Prove them wrong! Free your mind! Turn your back to hate and do not allow it to consume you. After all, there is enough room in the sky for all birds to fly. Remember that the task is to make Nigeria a great and united country. This was the message of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu as it was of Dr Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe. It has been the message of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
It’s a task that must be done!
•Abdulrazaq Magaji writes from Abuja and can be reached via email@example.com
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