Posted by News Express | 1 September 2017 | 2,201 times
It was the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who told the whole world that he was first, a Yoruba man before he became a Nigerian. It, therefore, follows that every Nigerian is first a member of his ethnic nationality before becoming a Nigerian.
On a personal note, I believe in One Nigeria. I want this country to remain a one indivisible nation. But, for us to achieve this, there must be good leadership, fairness, equity, and equal distribution of resources to the six geo-political zones. There must be equal distribution of political offices to the six geo-political zones in the country. Once there is a suspicion and confirmation by a particular geo-political zone that they are being maltreated, ill-treated and mistreated on the foregoing issues, then the quest for self-determination becomes their Plan B. And that is not a crime!
It pains, worries and disturbs me, that the All Progressives Congress (APC) Federal Government led by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, has openly shown great disdain for the people of South-east Nigeria. Yes, Buhari has shown great disdain to the Igbo in this country, and that is the main reason the agitation for Biafara is very high today.
Before I open the minds of the reading public, let me inform the world that I have never been a coward, and I cannot keep quiet now that it is obvious that there is a plot to perpetually keep my people, the Igbo and, indeed, the people of South-east in bondage. The time has come for us to look at the purveyors of hate straight in their eyes and tell them: “Enough is enough.” But, before then, we must let the whole world know that the people of South-east are being marginalised since the end of the civil war. And that is why our great son, Citizen Nnamdi Kanu, stepped out to demand self-determination for his people. To silence him, they arrested him and accused him of belonging to unlawful society, labelling him a terrorist and charged him for treason.
It is a notorious fact that the Igbo are treated as second-class, even third-class citizens in this country, notwithstanding our commitment to the growth of the economy and unity of the country, as one of the three major tribes. We have the worst road networks in the country, because the Federal Government has consistently refused to rehabilitate these roads. Our brothers and sisters living in the northern part of the country are usually killed on flimsy excuses. Anytime there is riot in the North, it is the Igbo that get killed and their businesses rendered impotent.
Honestly, these are some of the reasons that spurred our son, Nnamdi Kanu into action. These are some of the unhealthy situations Citizen Kanu saw and came to the painful conclusion that it would be better for him to use Radio Biafra to propagate what has been on the lips of majority of Igbo since the last 47 years. Kanu lived in London. If he were a terrorist, the British government would have arrested him. If he belonged to an unlawful society, the international organisations, especially the Interpol, would have said so. He announced to the whole world that he would be in Nigeria ln six weeks’ time, and he did. The next thing that happened was that, the parochial and politicised Department of State Service (DSS), clamped down on him. They arrested him, despite the fact they did not find any gun or explosive on him. Nothing! Yet, the self-serving DSS arrested him, labelling him a “terrorist”. Today, Nnamdi Kanu is being charged with treason. This is Nonsensical Nonsense, on the part of the Federal Government and her agents. But Nnamdi Kanu was immediately granted bail when they arraigned him in court. The bail conditions were met, yet they still held him, until Justice (Mrs) Nyako released him “on health grounds”, although with stringent bail condition, which was eventually met.
Recall that on December 1, 2015, NnamdiKanu was brought to the court, but the presiding magistrate was nowhere to be found. He did not sit. Perhaps, the powers that be ordered him not to sit. Later, we were told that the DSS had secured an order to further detain him for 90 days, but before then, his bail conditions had been met.
But, what exactly, was Kanu’s crime? Nothing! Yes, just nothing. Except saying in public what anybody with Biafran blood has been murmuring about in private.
In retrospect, one wonders why the DSS found it difficult to arrest the man who said openly that he will make the country ungovernable should he lose the 2011 presidential election? And, why did the DSS find it difficult to arrest the man who said that the attack on Boko Haram is a fight against the North? Why? That is one Nigeria, different presidency?
Therefore, it is crystal clear that the actions of President Buhari’s administration towards the people of South-east have made the agitation of Nnamdi Kanu more cogent and valid. Buhari’s lopsided appointments do not represent Nigeria’s ethnic diversity. All security and other major appointments were given to northerners. Just check it out; Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Comptroller-General of Customs, Comptroller-General of Immigration, Director-General of DSS, Chief of Army Staff, Inspector-General of Police, Head of the National Security and Defence Corps (NSDC), etc.
The South-east is treated with disdain in Federal Government appointments. For example, a Professor of Education with over 30 years experience was assigned deputy Minister of Education, and he reports to a non-professional and former newspaper columnist, as substantive minister. The junior minister is from the South-east, while the senior is from Muslim north. Other instances abound.
So, where is equity and fair play here?
The South-east produce oil (Imo and Abia states), yet the zone receives the least allocation from Federal Government. Most states of the North-east, North-west and North-central that do not produce oil receive higher allocations from oil revenue. The South-east zone has the least number of states in this country. While other zones have six to seven states, the South-east has only five states. Yet, we are the second visibly most-populated zone in this country. No South-easterner occupies a high position in the security forces. Be it Police, Army, Navy, Air Force, etc.
The administration’s first gift to the people of South-east was to transfer Boko Haram suspects to prisons in our territory, with a view to heightening tension.
Federal policies are sometimes employed to smother the economic interest of the South-east. The list is by no means exhaustive.
The foregoing litany of neglects are among the things our blood brother, Citizen Kanu, was complaining about before the DSS arrested him. The truth is that the arrest and prolonged incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu has not solved anything. Rather, it has toughened him, even as it put the Buhari presidency and the DSS on the spot. His arrest and detention has exposed the insincerity of Buhari’s presidency. Above all, it is not likely that his arrest, intimidation and harassment will stop us from talking about Biafra. After all, what Biafra is to the South-east, is what Arewa is to the North. And that is what Oduduwa is to the South-west. Why is our own case different?
The travails of Citizen Kanu in DSS detention can be likened to what I suffered in the hands of the shameless Imo State Police Command, when they connived with the most-corrupt and irresponsible former Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, to accuse me and my wife of murder in June 2014. I Spent 11 months in prison custody (and my wife, 6 ½ months), before the allegation against us were quashed.
I exposed the criminal activities of then Speaker, Benjamin Uwajumogu (now a senator), to the world and officially petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The disgraced ex-Speaker sent five hit-men to come and kill me on June 3, 2014. The men ended up killing another person, one Architect Franklin Okoli. Then, Hon Uwajumogu turned around and connived with the Imo State Police Command, led by an unprofessional and self-serving Commissioner of Police Abdulmajid Ali, to accuse me of the murder. Till today, the Imo State Police Command has refused to arrest the five hit-men who murdered Okoli, even when they have their names, phone numbers and addresses.
The truth is that the arrest and hanging of treason charge on Kanu’s neck would neither intimidate nor stop us from complaining of the injustice and unfair treatment of our people. It will not stop us from asking or demanding good and forthright leadership. Once there is non-parochial, responsible and responsive leadership at the centre, nobody will talk about Biafra, Oduduwa or Arewa.
A popular Igbo adage says Eme nwanyi ka emere ibe ya, obi adiyanma. That is, if you treat a woman same way her mates are treated, she’ll be happy. If they continue to treat the Igbo as conquered second-class citizens, then the agitation for Biafra will continue to gain attention. Simple!
•Citizen Iwuoha is former senior special assistant on media/ immediate past senior special assistant on special duties, Imo State House of Assembly, Owerri.
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