I came across an article by Donald Ekpo and it blew my mind. I did not know that such a voice of reason could be heard from the South-South. That nomenclature was the main grouse of Ekpo (I hope it is not a pseudo name). He was grieved by the seed of discord and disunity planted among brethren by enemies. He was pained the more that the brethren foolishly fell into this trap and became pawns on the chess board of avaricious and capricious enemies. That is why I concluded that such a voice should be amplified in the hope that common sense would ultimately prevail.
Ekpo, an Akwa Ibom native, captioned it ‘an open letter to my brethren in the South South’:
The word, “South-South,” even though it may sound absurd, is a name we have come to accept as a people. We can’t say exactly how we came about to be identified with the name neither can we say exactly when we were given the name, but we just know it is our name. While growing up back in the days, geography taught us about “the North,” “the South,” “the East” and “the West.” For proper definition of locations, we were also told about “the North-West, North-East, South-West and South-East”. I can’t remember anything like the “North-North”, “South-South”, “East-East” or West-West, but here I am today, writing a letter to my South-South brethren.
That is what happens to a people that are not in control of their cultural development or the political and economic future. That is what happens to a people that are just there for their numbers. That is what happens to people that are just kept for their services. That is what happens to people that are just custodians of wealth for a supposedly superior people, and, finally, that is what happens to peoples that are slaves. Any name is suitable for them; they can only get whatever is given to them even if it is originally theirs
I write this letter not because it is frustrating to see how we allowed a defrauded propaganda to position our people as the pawns in the political chess called Nigeria, but rather I write this letter in an effort to request that we free ourselves from this propaganda that has lingered for too long. We know we all belonged to the old Eastern Region of Nigeria before the Northern Protectorate took back their power after the gruesome murder of General Aguiyi Ironsi.
The genocide that followed is what is recorded as the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 – 1970. As if that was not enough, the Eastern Region was broken apart with the sudden creation of the then South Eastern State (today’s Cross River and Akwa Ibom), Rivers State (today’s Rivers State and Bayelsa). It was during that war that propagandas were designed, created and generated to separate us from the old Eastern Region and make the average Igbo man our potential enemy in an effort to reduce their own presumed enemies. Inasmuch as it is a bitter history, but I find it necessary to do you this preamble.
I write this letter to remind us that our region, known as the South-South today, was a creation of the North for the sake of creating the disunity we face today. And more so, it was not just for the disunity for them to win the war, but to also take away our resources, our manpower and our economic future. In 2014 when President Jonathan, a son of the so-called South-South decided to re-contest the 2015 elections, one of the northern leaders, in an engagement on behalf the Northern Protectorate, reminded us that the so-called South-South was a creation of the North for effective management of the northern interest in Eastern Nigeria. How bad could this be? Can we imagine that? So, while we are busy reminding ourselves that we are a different people or that the Igbo are wicked and are trying to kill us, the North is joyously taking over and owning 85 per cent of our oil wells, while the West takes over the leftovers.
And what do we get? Noise! Even a supposedly football legend is busy telling us he is not Igbo, as if it is a curse to be Igbo. One wonders if the middle name he bears is of Hausa or Yoruba origin. Is that not the saddest thing that can happen to any people of identical culture? Even Major Kaduna Nzeogwu that led the first coup that was said to be an Igbo coup is from Okpanam village in today’s Delta State. Could he have come out to say today like this man said that he was not Igbo? If the Abakaliki or Nsukka indigene that has a more distant dialect of Igbo is Igbo, how come the Anioma or Okrika indigene that is easily understood is not Igbo? How did a people of the same culture get so separated this far?
I write this letter to speak to those of us regarded as “minority tribes.” How can we be minority when in essences we are known to be about 35 million of the said 180 million of the said Nigerian population? How can we be a minority in our own lands if we were not treated as such, or if we did not accept to be such? If those from the alliance that separated us from the West are said to be about 50 million in population, and our brethren in the East are said to be about 40 million, how can we accept we are a minority? Our compatriots from the alleged minorities of the North are said to be another 30 million, who then is the minority? Having run through these figures, we know who the real minorities are.
Be it as it appears, the truth is that our region was broken into two so as to weaken our original strength given that at a combined population strength of 35 million and 40 million people, our economic and entrepreneurial strength put together would be something the alliance will be worried about. So, why should we ever think that it is logical to claim we are two different people when in essence we have always been one and the same people for over 400 years before the arrival of the white man? If what the white man did to us was not bad enough, is it not ridiculous that we allowed certain minority immigrants to assume control of our economic and political future?