By Collins Ughalaa
The Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria are independent minded, travellers and very industrious. Their travels have brought them in direct contact with all civilizations all over the world which have enriched the Igbo culture and world view. It is natural these contacts would strengthen their republican status and the desire for justice in a globalized world where democratic values of equity and fairness are constantly becoming the norm among civilized people universally. Not few people know that the Igbo people who are free thinkers frustrated the indirect rule of the British Colonial Government in their land, so much that they abandoned the indirect rule structures that were already rated a success in the Northern and Western parts of Nigeria.
The Igbo people are very friendly and accommodating. The fact that they settle easily with strangers in their many sojourns makes them highly receptive to visitors on their land as well. They mind their business and expect you to mind yours. They are a proud people and always want to work to earn their living in dignity, because they believe in hardwork. It was because of their hard work that they were able to survive the horrifying periods of the post-war Nigeria.
Not many believe that the Igbo man you see today as a success was handed a miserly £20 at the end of the war no matter how much they had in the bank. But God blessed their hassles.
With the above qualities, the Igbo man would be easily loved and hated in equal measures at the same time. That is the crux of the matter. Some people have argued that but for the amalgamated Nigeria in 1914, the Igbo man would have been so technologically advanced today. The devastating effects of the civil war and the setbacks suffered by them in great human and material loss was not enough to dampen their entrepreneurial spirits or cowed them into submission. Rather, they combined to energize them.
I am of the view that in relation to the obvious political disadvantages they suffer in present day Nigeria, especially since independence, Ndigbo calculate better moving forward, because ako bu ije (your intellect guides you in life’s journeys).
This popular maxim of the Arochukwu is the central idea behind Igbo travels and development. They believe they are mentally prepared and smart to face all challenges they will meet and smartly avoid the obstacles with their eyes focused on the prize. In doing this, patience is key. The question remains, are the Igbo Nation the only race that have suffered one form of persecution or the other?
The answer is No. Some overcome persecution and use it as building blocks while others are destroyed by it. In looking at the history, strength, resilience and the intelligence of the Igbo man, what do they need to do to avoid entering into the paradox of the proverbial egu (catapilar) that was strong and held firm on the tree branches as a child but fell to the ground at adulthood when it should be stronger.
Having gone through the most horrifying experience of military invasion since after 1970, Ndigbo should be stronger at adulthood. Staying stronger is the best bet for the Igbo race. It therefore gladdens my heart that Ohaneze Ndigbo has showed that the best way for Ndigbo is to remain in a restructured Nigeria. This is in line with the position of the governors of the Southeast and other elected officials from the Igbo land, including former governors, etc. Ohanze Ndigbo has taken the restructuring debate higher with a visit to the North where it preached the gospel of peace, unity and a restructured Nigeria.
In reiterating my support for Ohaneze and the governors for their moves for a restructured Nigeria, let me once again thank the five governors of the Southeast for the decision they took in Enugu and for standing out for Ndigbo when it mattered most, despite their political differences. All over the world, the primary essence of politics and governance is the protection of life and property.
By what the governors of the Southeast have done, they have demonstrated that they can act for the overall interest of the Igbo nation in critical situations.
I know that I got a lot of attacks and insults following my last article captioned: “The Biafra agitation from a third eye,” but I am still convinced in my conscience that what the governors did was the right thing to do. Since their last meeting in Enugu State, even the blind can see that security of life and property was achieved in the Southeast. And people now go about their duties without having to be disturbed by the Army even in their operation Python Dance II, despite the fears expressed before it began.
Does this mean that I believe that IPOB is a terrorist organization? No. I don’t believe that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) comes close to being a terrorist organization. Do I believe that Ndigbo are marginalized?
Yes. I believe we are marginalized. But in the face of all this, we cannot forget the saying of our elders, that a man who lives in the midst of his enemies always guards his life. This is why we must continue to thank the governors for their decision which saved the Southeast from becoming a theater of war and a field of human bodies. Only God knows whether I would have written this article at all, or I would have written it from one Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp if that human debasement and carnage that started in Umuahia was allowed to go on.
I, therefore, challenge the governors of the Southeast to move beyond the IPOB/Army case and leverage on their position to address the critical needs of the people of the region. In a federation, all eyes should not be on the federal government. Perhaps, if the state governors had lived up to their responsibilities, the Southeast would have been a better place for all and the agitations might not have come.
Ughalaa writes via [email protected]