By Vincent Kalu
Chief Joseph Okpala has said that the reason Nigeria was not making the expected progress was because the British colonial rulers laid a dubious foundation for the country, adding that separatist agitations remain the trump card for one Nigeria.
What is your assessment of the state of the nation?
With all the noise about change, the indices have shown disaster, and we are being consoled that we have to make sacrifices. Can those sacrifices be matched with honest policies that can move Nigeria forward or sacrifices to be made on alter of political expediency?
You are asking the citizens to make sacrifices, and helplessly they obey and you then make policies tailored to suit a fraction of the society- either the tiny elite group or a section of his people. Like the United Nations Common Country Analysis observed, many things in Nigeria are governed by narrow-minded or myopic approach. There is no nationalistic approach to Nigeria’s governance; it has been all about lip service in the past 50 years; parochial approach to issues.
In recent time, it is only former Vice President Atiku Abubakar from the North, who has seen the reason to call for the restructuring of the country. I don’t know what pushed him to make such a timely statement, maybe, to further his political career. If he made it out of sincere observation that gives hope that Nigeria could be salvaged eventually.
Where did we get it wrong?
We got it wrong from the foundation of corruption the British government laid in Nigeria, whereby they gave undue advantage to the north. They manipulated the census figures to give the north undue advantage, and the result is why it is difficult for Nigeria to know its population, which is a sine qua non for planning for development.
The first census was rigged by the British government in favour of the north. The result is contrary to all existing demographic theories. They claim that the desert region is more populated than the forest region. It is only in Nigeria you have this arrangement. Mali and other desert countries that have the same landmass as Nigeria, what are their population figures? Festus Odimegwu came in as National Population Commission (NPC) chairman, and said Nigeria has never had census, and this drew the ire of Northern politicians who demanded for his immediate removal, and former President Goodluck Jonathan caved in.
Nigeria fought a civil war that ended in 1970, and everybody thought that Biafra was a foreclosed issue, but recently some young men started agitating for Biafra, what could have given rise to it?
When you are oppressing a people and cheating them. No sane society can thrive under such arrangement. You are sowing a seed of trouble, and the fruit it bears is the renewed agitation for Biafra. When America was oppressing the Blacks, it gave rise to agitation championed by people like Martin Luther King Jr, but because they were dealing with intelligent people that wanted their nation to be great, the wall of segregation broke down, and they opened their door that later gave rise to Obama becoming the President of US. People had to pay the price, like Martin Luther King. Nnamdi Kanu is an Igbo hero, hero of Eastern Nigeria, and Nigeria’s hero. Let nobody make mistake about it. Just like in one of my write ups, where I described Ojukwu, as an Igbo hero, Eastern hero, and Nigeria’s hero. Such people with courage, guts and nerves make every society to move forward. Martin Luther King suffered all forms of incarceration, and finally paid with his life. Eventually, about half a century after, one of the most conservative Presidents in American history, Ronald Reagan, signed into the law, a national holiday for Martin Luther King.
In his speech, Reagan said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, here we are standing on the shoulders of a great American, I hereby sign into law, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr national holiday,’ can such thing happen in Nigeria? Nnamdi Kanu is the equivalent of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned for 29 years, and he was treated like a criminal, and after he came out, he became the President of the same country, South Africa. The same White people, who conspired to mess him up lined with other European leaders to have a handshake with him, because they never knew that a Blackman could be so resilience.
People like Buthelezi, the leader of the Zulus, who compromised Black majority interest, where is he today in South Africa, and who remembers him? Kanu shouldn’t compromise. The more he is there; the more it is becoming dangerous for Nigeria, because the world’s conscience would be aroused. He is the conscience of the society, and Femi Fani Kayode, recently said so when he had a chat with him. He said Kanu is Ojukwu and Nzogwu combined.
He is the soul and conscience of Nigeria today, and when he comes out, he will shake hands with heads of states. Through him, the Nigerian authorities are trying to break Igbo’s best attributes – resolve, tenacity and resilience, which was what they did by shooting unarmed Biafra agitators in Onitsha, Aba, Asaba, Port Harcourt and other places.
I’m happy that Amnesty International has written reports of some of the activities of the Nigerian security operatives against those unarmed protesters. Britain did Brexit, no one was shot. Britain feels it has a choice to be in the European Union, but it feels that Black people don’t have the right to determine where they want to be. That is hypocrisy. What makes me happy is the attitude of Kanu’s family members, who are staunchly behind him. In the fullness of God’s time, they would be so proud of their son, likewise the Igbo. These separatist agitations remain the trump card for one Nigeria.