On Monday, May 4, 2018, our dear brother, Chinweizu, wrote an article entitled: “Federalism, confederalism or restructuring not enough” published in The Sun. His rejection of the demand for autonomous regions is valid, based on his premises. So also is the demand for autonomous regions valid based on the premises on which it is asserted.
According to Chinweizu, the Caliphate for whom Nigeria is the estate of their forefathers, will not accept autonomous regions or any form of restructuring of Nigeria that will remove the federation from their firm grip. Only a neophyte lacking in understanding of the dynamics of the power struggle in Nigeria (namaghi ebe miri si namanyi) or a thoroughly selfish ally and agent of the Caliphate will dispute this truth. However, given this ugly reality of our situation, the question arises: what is to be done?
In considering this, let us begin from the dictum of the late Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana that man possessed in his hands the power to abolish all forms of misery and degradation. If we accept this dictum, then it follows that something can be done and must be done – relying on our political will and the spiritual force of our God and our ancestors – Onye kwe chi ya ekwe.
Yes, what is to be done? What chances do we have, in the first place, to wage a successful political struggle against the monstrous powers of the Caliphate and liberate ourselves? It seems to me that we are almost exactly at the same position the blacks were in the Apartheid South Africa or almost exactly the same position the blacks were in the United States of America. Some lessons can be learnt from the way they fought to reverse the situation in their history.
Drawing a lesson from their case, I believe the following are imperative in considering what is to be done in our case, thus: There must be an ideologically imbued organised force (not necessarily military force in the first place) – a socio-political force on the ground and united with the people organisationally and spiritually. Vladimir Illych Lenin, the Soviet leader, did say: “In politics, organisation is everything. This organisation must be on the side of the people. It must be capable of expressing its vision in the language the so-called ordinary people can absorb. When united with the people, the organisation becomes a movement; it becomes a force, which the enemy cannot easily destroy or overcome.”
The society itself is a congeries of political animals. Some of them as individuals thrive in working with, and for the enemy. Some others feel the pinch of their collective political enslavement but believe that they can survive by working for and serving the enemy. Many others long for freedom but do not know the road to it. And yet others are in pains daily praying for a saviour.
In the light of this, it becomes imperative that the movement must have a broad presence, impact and influence in the society, hence it must be credible.
It is at this point that we look at the Igbo society today. All these interest groups are present. Let us take the issue of what we are to do, given our tragic situation in the Nigerian federation, which is today more than ever before under the iron grips of the Caliphate. There are currently two broad positions in Alaigbo: That we should stay in Nigeria and work for it to be restructured to ensure equity and justice; That the Caliphate will never give up power nor give up their privileges, but that is as long as they can hold Nigeria together. It is only so doing that it shall remain the estate of their forefathers.
This is the reality of the political situation in Alaigbo today as well as in the broader Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, what is to be done? The Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) sees this scenario as one that involves first and foremost a fierce battle for the mind, indeed, for the soul of the Igbo nation, between the two positions. Meanwhile, the Caliphate is doing all within its power to prop up and support the “One Nigeria, come rain, come sunshine, the Restructionists in Alaigbo” with every available means within their power. As this is going on, the Caliphate is sinking her forks deep into the body and flesh of the republic, taking over, in an absolutist manner, all the organs of state power (military, security, executive, legislature, judiciary, economy, education, etc). There are two inter-related militias formed to murder and seize the ancestral homes of the various regions. What have they not done to take total control of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
The truth, which you and I know is that they do not even want any tinkering with the structure of this estate of their forefathers. The present czar of the Caliphate has said it time without number that the talk of restructuring is futile. No restructuring, period!
What is to be done, given this scenario in Alaigbo and the Federal Republic of Nigeria? ADF is of the view that we must begin from a position that makes allowance for the optimism of the apostles of restructuring, who believe that a meaningful restructuring is feasible.
The question we should ask our brothers and sisters who believe that restructuring is possible is: what constitutes the restructuring you have in mind, since restructuring may mean different things to different people? What is the nature of the restructuring that will guarantee you justice, equality and peace in the current Federal Republic of Nigeria?
Most people in Nigeria today are complaining, except the Caliphate itself, that the situation in Nigeria is too bad. It is like some people are masters and other people are slaves.
Given such a situation as we find ourselves in Nigeria today, the first question to ask them is this: “do you want to live in Nigeria as slaves or as free peoples?”
Surely, majority will answer quite frankly that they do not want to be slaves to anyone. What form of restructuring then do you believe can guarantee you freedom and not enslavement? We must ask our people, especially those that believe in restructuring, this question. They are our brothers and sisters, so we cannot ignore their position. Surely, none of our people, both agents and non-agents, desire to live in Nigeria as slaves.
This is the uniting thread that binds our people together – namely, the unquenchable thirst for freedom. So, we are back to answering the basic question: what is to be done in the case of those who wish to live in Nigeria but not as slaves? This is where ADF comes in.
No Igbo man wants to live as slaves to any other nation. Therefore, the demand for autonomous region is put forward as satisfying the position for those who wish to live in Nigeria but only as free peoples.
We also believe that, if it is realisable, those who want us to opt out of Nigeria may have a change of heart. But this is the irreducible minimum condition they can accept, the minimum political order that guarantees basic freedom for themselves and their children, including their children’s children.
ADF believes that in answering the question – what is to be done, given our vulnerable position in Nigeria – we must endeavour to reduce the divide among our people. We must reduce the divide among our people in a strategic way.
Therefore, those for and those against remaining in Nigeria, ADF has put forward the demand for Alaigbo to become an autonomous region, so that her citizens can be guaranteed first and foremost the fundamental right of self-determination, the first principle that defines free peoples. It is the first law of nature regarding the union of peoples who are different socially, culturally, linguistically and religiously; it is the most fundamental political law recognised by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights; it is endorsed by the African Charter on the Peoples’ Rights; it is enshrined even in the flawed 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
This is the sense in which ADF put forward the demand for autonomous regions that shall guarantee Ndigbo as well as other nationalities that want to be free, based on social, economic, legal and political rights that constitute the foundation of any union of free peoples, namely, self-determination, power-sharing and rotation, resource-control, control over their security, land, judiciary, freedom to engage the world to advance the political and economic welfare of our people, freedom of religious worship, freedom of speech, democratised state organs, etc.
ADF believes that if a federal union, the type we have articulated in ADF Memorandum on the Future of Ndigbo and the Future of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (some call it The Green Book), is not possible in Nigeria, our people shall definitely do all within their power, no matter the costs and no matter how long it takes, to actualise their freedom and self-determination. If matters inevitably come to this point, our people shall stand as one people to take their destiny in their own hands.
We also believe that other people who find themselves in the same situation as Ndigbo shall stand in solidarity with Ndigbo to free themselves. Neither ourselves, as Ndigbo, nor our neighbours the Ijaw, Efik, Ibibio, Itchekiri, Yoruba, Tiv, Edo, Igala, Hausa, Munshi, Kanuri, Nupe, etc, are created by our God to be slaves to any other nationality.