By Akwudoleze Ifeme
A popular Igbo proverb says: “When an old woman stumbles and falls twice she counts the contents of her basket.” Others: “When the green leaf is falling, let the dry tree be careful.” “Only those who lack knowledge about the efficacy of herbs call them vegetables.” “Gold is sold only to those who have value for it.”
The Igbo nation has been basking in past glory. Events in recent times can at best be described as shocking, unfortunate and mindboggling. Shocking in the sense that political violence of any form has never been part of Igbo culture. The Igbo have always believed in the principle of dialogue.
But the alarming rate of political violence, arson, assassination, brigandage, inciting utterances and provocative write-ups by political leaders to disparage each other in Igboland calls for concern.
Not that these vices are not happening in other zones. What made the South-East’s situation particularly stinging was the unbridled nature with which these acts of criminality was orchestrated. The house is divided in Abia State, things have fallen apart in Anambra State, the centre can no longer hold in Ebonyi State, there’s fire on the mountain in Enugu State, and it’s run, run, run in Imo State. Even in Ohanaeze, the apex Igbo organisation, there is faction.
Umu Igbo, lets reconcile our differences. Let’s follow the path of co-operation instead of separation, the path of understanding instead of indifference for a healthier Igbo front. Are we no longer interested in producing the next President in 2023? A house divided against itself cannot stand. Rather than dissipating energies to discredit one other, these self-proclaimed Igbo leaders should put an end to their shameful display of animosity.
The Igbo’s biggest problem is the enemy within. We are the architects of our problems in the national scheme of things. Igbo politicians of today, unlike in the First Republic, are not united and do not appear to understand the high stakes involved. They will fight their tribesmen for materialistic gain as is ongoing in some South-East states, forgetting that they can be the next victims.
These are men who were given all the opportunity in this world to turn things around for the better but failed woefully. These are men that had deliberately annoyed the people. They are now throwing up matters to provoke and distress you. They ought to bury their heads in shame for failing to sustain the genuine hopes and aspirations of the ordinary Igbo person. They are the most part of the “Igbo second fiddle role” in the country’s leadership structure.
In the First Republic, the Igbo were really involved in the leadership of Nigeria. They had their right share in the scheme of things. That was when men were men. Then came the Second Republic, when the Igbo played the beautiful bride. This earned the zone the post of the Vice-President of Nigeria.
Thereafter, the bride was sent packing for being a bad wife with no refund of bride price. Since then, all the zone had was the President of the Senate, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, one Chief of Army Staff and one Inspector General of Police.
Since the coming of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration, the country has been nursing a serious ailment that needs urgent therapy. The first prescription needed to resuscitate it is restructuring. But government has refused to do something about it.
The second is free and fair election. The two are critical to Nigeria’s survival.
Despite all the negative indices, Nigerians approached the February 23, 2019, general election with optimism. Unfortunately, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the electoral body the people entrusted to administer the right prescription on the ailing country, was not allowed to do so. The APC government in power brought dangerous substances into the hospital, instead of the prescribed drugs.
In place of the expectant free and fair election that would have produced the duo of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Peter Obi of the PDP, the APC brought deep political animosity, bias, unjust intimidation, etc. Theirs was a clear case of igniting crises. These dangerous substances, after being administered, angered the majority, leading to agitations from different zones of the federation clamouring for sovereignty. The reason Mazi Nnamdi Kalu and Sunday Igboho are championing the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Oduduwa Republic, respectively.
However, I need to re-echo in the minds of every Igbo person one phrase in the National Anthem: “The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain.” It is a call to action, a commitment to unite us for the future of our children and those yet unborn.
But the question is: Can we really as Igbo say that the labour of our heroes past can never be in vain? How committed are we, as citizens of this country, to ensure that the sacrifices of our founding fathers do not become a waste?
We are speedily going into extinction. We have fallen from being the first indigenous Governor-General to President, Senate President, SGF, Chief of Army Staff, IGP, Deputy Senate President, to the current degrading office of a Senate Minority Leader for an Igbo man. One of the three major components of the federation called Nigeria!
Blessed are the peacemakers and blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. For a steady journey into prosperity and development, we should use our wealth of talents, wisdom and knowledge to transform untapped resources in our land, before we become a laughing stock and an object of pity.
We should strive to pave the way for others, especially the younger ones, to succeed us, using every available opportunity and position we hold.
It is disturbing to see or hear some cliques in our country claiming to be in charge of affairs and, as such, must call the tune always.
They forget that they cannot be there forever. Besides, what legacy are they leaving for the younger generation? Charity, they say, begins at home.
Ndi Igbo, we need to take a bold leadership step to reconcile ourselves at all levels by forgiving those who have wronged us. This is a key to personal peace and a fruitful life. Let us strive to work together as a formidable team, knowing that, without forgiveness, life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation. The time for rebirth is now. A word is enough for the wise.
•Ogbuefi Akwudoleze Ray Ifeme is Odogwu-Abii Ezinifite