Well, the oppressors are trying to keep me down
Trying to drive me underground
And they think that they have got the battle won
I say forgive them Lord, they know not what they’ve done
’Cause, as sure as the sun will shine
I’m gonna get my share now, what’s mine
And then the harder they come
The harder they fall, one and all
Ooh, the harder they come
Harder they fall, one and all
And I keep on fighting for the things I want
Though I know that when you’re dead you can’t
But I’d rather be a free man in my grave
Than living as a puppet or a slave.
Of course, this title is borrowed from legendary reggae maestro, Jimmy Cliff. The above excerpt from the song has been playing on my lips and in my heart. It typifies the mood in Biafraland and I say Jimmy Cliff is a prophetic songwriter, who wrote that song with the Igbo in mind. Fifty years down the line, Biafra is still alive and getting more resonant.
The question self-denying Nigerian government refuses to ask is why the ghost of Biafra refuses to be exorcised. What happened on May 30, 2017, is a pointer that the Biafra agitation can no longer be wished away. I was opposed to the shutdown of the South East and still am because I felt it was the Igbo that lost, not Nigeria, since there is no Federal Government presence throughout Igboland. I also recognise that a lot of people shut down their businesses out of fear but be that as it may, the complete shutdown proves that the agitation is getting deserved groundswell.
Imperious Nigeria only has itself to blame should it get cataclysmic because it is self-evident that what it faces now is not the Biafra of 1967. There are Biafras at various stations and when the looming implosion takes place, defunct Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union may have better stories to tell.
My thinking is that Nigeria has reached a watershed, to be or not to be. The AGF, Abubakar Malami, has boasted that the country cannot be restructured and I wonder what gave him so much audacity to speak for Nigerians. All over the country, it is obvious that Nigerians are unanimous in the yearning for restructuring, but for some pockets of opposition in the North because they are beneficiaries of the evil system. However, at this point, it is either they key in or they will be swept away by the building whirlwind.
Nigeria is rooting to reconstruct the North East that clearly self-destroyed itself, yet would not do as much for the Biafran nation that the entire Nigeria teamed up to raze to the ground. For those who feel comfortable reaping the gains of our pain, greater calamity sure lies ahead. The Igbo are a rock of offence because of whom many shall fall and stumble for God is their defender, not a careworn world struck dumb and blind.
Nevertheless, the more they put the Igbo down, the more the Igbo rebound and the more they go down with disease and backwardness. It is undeniable that the Igbo are the only part of the country that virtually provides for itself all needed amenities. It is on record that General Yakubu Gowon’s ‘three Rs’ policy after the Civil War was mere rhetoric designed to deceive. My grouse with Gowon is not that he led the war. He may not be entirely to blame for it but he was manifestly vindictive afterwards. He gloated in his supposed victory and foisted pernicious policies to further crush the Igbo. But whether they like it or not, they owe it as a duty to recompense for their sins against the Igbo. They owe it as a duty to atone for the atrocious sins against the women, children and even unborn fetuses ripped from the womb, otherwise Nigeria will continue to go in circles and the perpetrators in perpetual affliction. Now that Gowon is a ‘new creature’, praying for Nigeria, he owes it as a duty to God and humanity to be in the forefront of this campaign for restitution instead because prayers of seared consciences and blackened hearts avail nothing.
The Biafra agitation is not really about independence. But pray, what does Nigeria stand to lose if Biafra leaves; have they not drunk enough of Biafran blood? Remove the manacles on our limbs and give us free rein and access as others and this agitation rests. But as long as the brazen injustice continues, Nigeria will remain wild-eyed, both in the day and at night. No power can keep the Igbo down. We are like the covenant Jews in Egyptian captivity, who kept on multiplying and getting stronger despite their oppression. That is what Jimmy Cliff is saying. We will keep rebounding. O chu okuko nwe ada, nwa okuko nwe nwewe oso (the pursuer of the fowl will keep falling while the fowl keeps escaping).
That is why the North is in putrid backwaters. Now check this, in foisting downright discriminatory policies to favour the North, that section of the country has remained a drag on the development of the country. The rescued Chibok schoolgirls are being deployed to training camps in English language, yet they were abducted in the course of writing WASC exams. How did they get to that level of education without speaking English language? Was it not because of this ridiculous situation that people still doubt if truly there was an abduction of such mass of students? Consider the shameful allocation of cut-off marks for the so-called educationally disadvantaged North and you would weep for how the North is unconsciously destroying itself. Why won’t they remain incurably retrograde when competition is taken away from them, when education is haram, when petty jealousy and vicious iniquity rule their soul?
Unfortunately, we use the term North carelessly, not out of hatred or malice, but because the North does not want to liberate itself from the stranglehold of preying leaders who turn them into conscienceless almajiri, the army of beggars easily unleashed on civility to club down innocent people in the streets, while ferreting their own children to safety and choice schools abroad. They don’t want to tackle their leaders who jet out in private jets at the slightest symptom of flu yet neglecting to build health centres in their deserts swimming full with the worst forms of maladies and deformities. These so-called northern leaders will mobilise them against truths as this because it is ‘anti-North’ and use crumbs to instigate people against the hardworking Igbo in their shops, worship places and in the streets. But this North, who is the North? Many northerners are slaves of the Machiavellian few (the North) and are even in a worse boat than the republican Igbo. That is why soon, when the new Biafra actually breaks out, Nigeria will be in real trouble because the game has since changed. There are many Biafras wanting out from oppression and denial. For the Igbo’d rather be a free in the grave than live as puppets or slaves, thanks to Chief Ralph Uwazurike of MASSOB-BIM, who stoked the embers of this wildfire, long thought dead.