Last week, yours sincerely wrote on the angst of Biafra agitators, canvassing the need to look into their genuine grievances and foster national cohesion. One Yoruba man, Samuel Oni Afolayan, from Apata in Ibadan, Oyo State (09021507822), reacted to the article with downright disdain for the Igbo. He was sarcastic and mocked the Igbo, as he gloated over what could be termed his privileged place in Nigeria. According to him
“Nobody marginalise (sic) Igbo people, rather Igbo marginalise Nigeria, by occupying everywhere in Nigeria. If truly they want Biafra, let every Igbo citizen in South West and North pack and return to Biafra, nobody hold anybody. You can’t eat your cake and still have it.”
I pointed out to him that “If your conscience tells you it is right and fair, so be it. But I tell you, you are not being honest to yourself, if you really mean that nobody is holding anybody. That Igbo are everywhere shows their openness and love for Nigerian peoples… Maybe you are a stranger in this country or you just returned from a journey; that’s how come you don’t know that Nnamdi Kanu is in detention for asking that Biafra be let alone for which he is facing treasonable felony charge in court. Soon, there will be implosion, if Nigeria continues on this pernicious path with your kind denying the truth, then many Biafras shall burst forth, including Odua Republic. Ask venerable Pa Ayo Adebanjo, if you’re are actually just returning from your journey…”
I warned him that a slave feeling unconcerned when a fellow slave is being buried alive should watch it because his own date is already fixed. Little did I know that I was being prophetic because it was not quite long after that about 20 Yoruba natives were snatched from their heartland and herded into detention in faraway Abuja over communal crisis between them and the Hausa in Ile-Ife, the cradle of Yoruba civilisation. Surprisingly, not a single Hausa was arrested.
It was now my turn to mock my brother Yoruba, and, quite frankly, I am laughing; not because I am not hurt by the sad development but because some ostriches that bury their heads in the sand while Rome burns, simply because they are beneficiaries of the ills in the land, need such stunning treatment to revive their self-subdued conscience. That was exactly what happened to this Yoruba brother and he now confessed my writing was well researched and full of the wisdom of Solomon.
Let us first condemn in clear terms the carnage in Ile-Ife. It does not matter whether it was Hausa or Yoruba that died, every life is precious and man must not descend to that bestial level of killing one another. We have wasted so much blood in this country over nothing.
I had urged Afolayan to contribute in saving this country and I am making the same appeal to all. We cannot keep living like this…However, until the wantonly spilled blood of the Igbo, crying for vengeance on our blackened earth, is assuaged, much more savagery will yet happen in the land. That is the root of Boko Haram, murderous herdsmen, southern Kaduna pogrom, occultists and ritualists ravaging the land.
How do you assuage the Igbo? Simple. Nigeria should admit its sins against the Igbo and, of course, the Igbo too should admit theirs in this process of healing. Tagging the Kaduna Nzeogwu coup as “Igbo coup” was most reprehensible and even those that did so knew it was not but they only needed something to justify their predetermined decimation of a rising people they were envious of. Unfortunately for them, the Igbo are a beetle, e no dey easy, the more you kill them, they more their resurgence Secondly, there must be compensation for all the atrocities against the Igbo. No amount of money would be able to truly compensate for the millions of lives pointlessly lost and property destroyed, but a little token would suffice, once accepted by the Igbo.
The demand for compensation is not misplaced. After all, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, former governor of Kano State, has seen the light and realised its imperativeness. It is no issue that his sensibilities are now only tickled because his Hausa people are holding the wrong end of the stick for once. He has asked the Yoruba to compensate the Hausa for their kith and kin lost in the Ile-Ife mayhem. Ironically, millions of Igbo lives have been lost even in his home state but Kwankwwaso never saw the need for compensation. In his native Kano, Gideon Akaluka, an Igboman, was beheaded and his head propped on a stick and used for grisly display around the ancient city. Nobody was arrested, nobody was prosecuted, and nobody was punished. Of recent, septuagenarian Ma Bridget Agbahime, wife of a Deeper Life pastor, was murdered in her shop by bigots who accused her of blasphemy, because she requested that a Muslim man doing ablution in front of her shop should shift from there. This time, some people were arrested, prosecuted but, in the most bizarre twist of judgment, set free, probably because Agbahime did not die? Kwankwaso did not also see the need for compensation.
I must advise the Yoruba to pay the compensation as a matter of urgency. They should also not pursue the case of the 20 suspects held over the Ile-Ife crisis. The ultimatum given the Inspector-General of Police to also arrest Hausa suspects is an affront and you dare not touch the tail of a tiger. The Yoruba know that they are merely barking and cannot bite. It would be interesting to see how this plays out.
All these years, the Yoruba had allowed the Hausa to manipulate them against the Igbo and vice-versa. Nonetheless, I honestly think this is the time for a rethink on southern unity. This is time to extend hands of comradeship across the Niger and bond for this conjoined fight against our common oppressor. This is the time to forget the divisive politics and mistrust foisted on us by our past leaders, who themselves played into the hands of the very devious Hausa Fulani.
It is time the Yoruba, and, in fact, other oppressed peoples of this country in the Middle Belt and elsewhere, teamed up with the Igbo to salvage Nigeria or allow it to rest in pieces. It has happened elsewhere in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, etc. Even flourishing Taiwan was part of China, so were Pakistan and Bangladesh parts of India. There are many more instances of such partitions and the heavens did not fall. The much-touted South Sudan failed because the people chose to fail, as even Nigeria today has chosen to fail by remaining impervious to reason.