There is no doubt that the Igbo are endangered. Truly, that is the root of the agitations and violent outbursts in the South-East. People feel caged and neglected and yet not allowed to take their destinies in their own hands in their dream land.
Like many other innocent children growing up, I took great delight in war films. The exploits of James Bond 007 held much allure for us but, along the line, I realised that war is not drama. War kills, war destroys. War is not a wise option.
As a little boy that was almost consumed by the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, I grew up in great trepidation. My relation, Nnawuihe, died but I survived. It did not make much sense to me then but Nnawuihe was never seen again and I wish so much even today that he was alive to fulfill his destiny. At last, his candle was blown out before bloom time.
I also heard about Radio Biafra and Okoko Ndem whose stock was spreading propaganda of war gains that never were. He was good at it and though he inspired hope, it dawned on Biafrans too late that it was false hope manufactured in the man’s tortured brain.
There was a particular abominable word, almost sacrilegious. God help you and yours if you were dubbed a ‘sabo’ – saboteur. Wrongly or rightly, you were as good as dead if you were thought to be a ‘sabo’. For even calling for caution, you were a ‘sabo’ and must be destroyed.
We are travelling down that infamous route again by the new-age Biafra mongers. You are a Fulani apologist if you tell them that their strategy is next to suicide. You are doomed if you tell them that it is foolish to bring war inside your own mother’s kitchen. You are a marked man if you point out that their scheme has brought defeat to Ala Igbo even before the war begins.
Okoko Ndem has been resurrected alongside other variants. All we get to see is doctored photographs and news on social media, deceiving gullible youths whose only hope is in a Utopian Biafra republic, since Nigeria seems to have forgotten them.
There is no denying the parlous state of the Igbo in Nigeria of today. There are cries of marginalisation in virtually all parts of this country but the brazen neglect of the Igbo is very lamentable. There is near zero federal presence in the entire South-East with regard to infrastructural development. Almost all the key structures in the region were built by community self-efforts. That is why it is disheartening to see them destroyed by the touted “unknown gunmen.”
While Nigeria is busy constructing rail network to Niger Republic, the Igbo are cut off from the rail projects being constructed with loans they would join to repay. Moreover, there also seems to be a ceiling to positions the Igbo would occupy in this land.
For instance, the presidency. It would not be out of place to suggest that the current spiraling insecurity in the South-East is being orchestrated by those who want to blackmail Ndigbo out of the 2023 presidential race.
However, what the present Biafra campaigners do not know, which I have canvassed repeatedly, is that the destruction of the Igbo ethnic group would give much pleasure to some people. The Igbo are envied for their indomitable spirit; they cannot be fazed by any adversity. In fact, the more the oppression, the more the Igbo prosper. So, it would be give Igbo haters so much joy to finish them off once and for all. Unfortunately for them, it is not going to happen.
That is only if the Igbo themselves forbid it. That will not happen if only the Igbo ignore Nigeria and refuse to be provoked to the point of giving them the opportunity they desire to achieve their aim.
The Igbo are a blessed Dot Nation where greatness is innate. A people that rose out of the ashes of the Civil War to rise to the commanding heights of enterprise; this is no mean feat. Nigeria does not know what makes Ndigbo tick or what exactly can crush their thick skin that enables them to prosper in adversity and would do everything to decode the Igbo secret. The Igbo must not humour them.
That is only if the agitators stop seeing alternative views as sabotage. The tendency to denigrate other options could only lead to confusion and in-fighting.
To this end, I beg to borrow excerpts from a masterpiece article by Mbe Nwaniga, entitled “Alternative route to Biafra.” Chief Pascal Egerue, president of Nsu Elite Congress, the think tank of Nsu, the Land of Promise and a bustling community in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, posted it on its platform.
“Before my head is used to break coconut, let me state unequivocally that I am a firm believer in Biafra. Nevertheless, I insist that certain foundation for its survival must be laid, otherwise these mobsters will have burnt our candle from both ends and it would be too late by the time we realise it…It is instructive that while succeeding governments in the East are hosting all-night weekend parties or conducting government business from inside bush bars erected inside Government House premises, the late Dr. Michael Okpara, former Premier of then Eastern Region, was one of the best administrators Africa ever had. He was the first African leader to conceptualise an indigenous political-cum-economic philosophy on which his development strategy was anchored. He called it Pragmatic Socialism, and he came up with this even before Tanzania’s Nwalimu Julius Nyerere launched his Ujama, which equally had a socialist bent. Because we do not have scholars who dig deep into such authentic and original economic philosophies, nobody paid attention to their intellectual bent. What China under Deng Xiaoping launched in 1980 through its version of State Capitalism (and to some extent South Korea’s Chaebols) were all variants of Okpara’s Pragmatic Socialism.
“Okpara built the first Farm Settlement in Africa at Igbariam. He built the first indigenous brewery at Umuahia; a metallurgical industry at Onitsha; glass industry at Aba; cement factory at Nkalagu and also added the Calabar Cement Company as well as establishing the Obudu Tourism and Entertainment Ranch. Nigergas. Nigersteel. Aba Textile Company. Standard Shoe Factory in Owerri and Modem Ceramic Industry. The Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation’s enormous estates of oil palm, rubber, cocoa, cashew and rice, with the inter-cropping of pineapples, banana, plantains and cassava and expansive rubber plantations, formed veritable bastions for cash crop and food production.
“Have you asked who the biggest influences of your so-called governors are today? Who do they take advice from, who do they listen to? Do the governors have advisers at all or cheerleaders while Rome burns? Is it these jesters and comic characters that will make our destiny dawn in glory? Is it the hungry hirelings and bootlickers around corridors of power that will take us to El Dorado?
“Because we are stuck with kleptomaniac, accidental somnambulists, leading us to the abyss, wonky characters giving the false hope of El Dorado in Biafra. Worse still is the assemblage of rapacious, subservient elders with opaque and neophyte intellectual depth, who would rather remain unperturbed as goats give birth in tethers. The Okpara blueprint, surely, is a faster route to Biafra land, and when we get there, no amount of Nigerian hatred can alter the course of our destiny.
“Leadership is not a one man show. Today’s ‘leaders’, unlike Okpara, have no intellectual giants whom they defer to. Okpara had Zik, Mbonu Ojike, Eyo Ita, Akanu Ibiam, Nwafor Orizu, Ozumba Mbadiwe to name very few; all these men had smoke coming out from their heads due to deep thinking, writing and reading. Okpara was number nine on the NCNC hierarchy and he was humble enough to understand the privilege Zik gave him to serve. And he remained so loyal to the cause he even forgot to build a house in his hometown. But today’s leaders announce their exhibitionist power by first hewing down the ladder that gave them the lead. Shame!”