Dr. Emma Enekwechi.
Few weeks ago Dr. Nkwocha and I published Biafra Foundation response to the Ohaneze document detailing its stand on behalf of Ndigbo with regard to Nigeria Constitution Review. Several people reacted both privately and publicly to the BF response. So many people including some non-Igbo agree with the view expressed in the document that it is time for the Igbo and other Easterners to start thinking and working towards post Nigeria rather than wasting time beating the dead horse called Nigeria. However, there were a few misgivings depicting feelings of pessimism, despair, and even resignation. It is these feelings that I want to address and also use the opportunity to reiterate that it is imperative for the Igbo to begin immediately to think and work towards post Nigeria. Delay will be dangerous.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that almost all Igbo share the belief that they have suffered and continue to suffer terrible degradation, deprivation, and devastation at the hands of Nigerians and as a result of being part of Nigeria and so want to get out of Nigeria. But a tiny sliver of Igbo politicians and elite believe that the Igbo should do nothing to remove themselves from this devastation and that even if by some magic Igbo people are extracted or ejected from the scourge that is Nigeria they must strive to get back in because Nigeria is the only hope and future for them. This absolutely incomprehensible and nonsensical logic pervades the thinking of this tiny piece of Igbo elite. Their belief may partially account for the fact that you always find them positioned prominently in the vanguard of every silly and futile effort at “fixing Nigeria”. I believe that if suddenly crude oil is discovered in commercial quantities in Northern Nigeria and the Northerners slaughter massive numbers of Easterners and drive the rest out of Northern Nigeria, then declare an independent “Republic of DanFodio”, the same tiny piece of Igbo elite will preach to Ndigbo and other Easterners to beg the government of DanFodio State to admit them into their country, even as slaves. That’s how low some Igbo have sunk. In the past fifty years Ndigbo and other Easterners have been slaughtered in massive numbers all over Northern Nigeria; their property and goods have been burned, looted, and smashed; their homes, businesses, churches and schools have been demolished and bombed to smithereens; their children have been orphaned; wives and husbands widowed and families torn apart. They have been told in clear, unmistakable language: “You are not welcome here; we don’t want you here.” Why do these Easterners keep begging the same people who massacred them in tens of thousands, looted and destroyed billions of dollars worth of their property, destroyed many of their families, rejected them as infidels, and are hell bent on converting them to radical Islam by force – why are these Easterners begging these same people to accept them into a country that the same Northerners see as their private estate bequeathed to them by Allah through the instrumentality of Uthman Dan Fodio? Why?
One person wrote, “I believe no honest African can deny the humongous loss (both in terms of lives and wealth) the Igbo have suffered for being citizens of Nigeria. I do not think any statistician can give accurate facts as to the details of loss which ethnic hatred has led other Nigerians to cause on Igbo people for more than four decades now. The grand design has been to put Igbo down in any possible way everywhere including their own natural enclave.” The question I keep asking myself is, “what would a reasonable human being expect of someone who finds himself in this situation?” Fold his hands and do nothing? Crawl on all fours in submission to the oppressor? Be on his knees twenty four hours every day praying to God and ancestral spirits to magically deliver him from this hell called Nigeria? Stand up straight and firmly demand his freedom, and work to liberate himself from this persecution, and tyranny? What will you think of a person who chooses the first three options but not the last one? What will his neighbors think of him? What will the world think of him? And finally what will his oppressors think of him? Really, what will you think of this person?
Another comment ran thus: “The fact that the entire SE is bereft of federal government investment, has the lowest number of states, local governments and consequently representation at the national assembly is a clear pointer. This is irrespective of the fact that Igbo clearly are the most populous single ethnic group in Nigeria …..” This statement is very correct and the point is well taken. However, anyone trapped in the web of systematized oppression and tyranny and who at the same time expects his oppressor to shower him with liberty, justice, equity, and fairness is a fool, or an irredeemable coward. Even children will tell you that the best way to stop the ceaseless haranguing of a bully is to banish fear, take the bully on, and give him the fight of his life. You may be bruised and battered, but thereafter, you will have your freedom. Crawling on hind legs and sweeping the floor with ones butt never buys freedom from bullies whether internationally, inter-ethnically, or interpersonally. Go back in history to Yar A’dua, Obasanjo, and Abacha; then back to Gowon, Ironsi, and Balewa; then back to 1945 and earlier. You can even go further back to before the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates. See if you can point at one Nigerian government constitutional arrangement that transparently guaranteed freedom, liberty, justice, equity, and fairness for the Igbo and other people of Eastern Region. Mention just one political arrangement that guaranteed these and produced acceptable outcome. Was it the Census, Federal Elections, representation in the House of Representatives, Revenue Allocation, Federal Government Establishments, Federal Character, Northernization, and even Sports? In the early 1990’s General Muhammadu Buhari was put in charge of a huge reservoir of funds by General Abacha, then Head of State of Nigeria. The fund was called “Petroleum Trust Fund.” Buhari was charged with the responsibility of using this vast resource to develop infrastructure in the six geographical zones of Nigeria. Which zone benefited least from this fund? It was the South East. Which was the second least beneficiary? It was the South-South. These are the two zones where infrastructure was decimated during the Nigeria-Biafra war. Yet they received the least funds and least infrastructure benefits from the PTF. Interestingly these two zones also produce 80% of the resources that fund Nigeria’s budget every year. Strangely, you hear some Igbo begging that Buhari be made president of Nigeria. Strange, isn’t it!
There is a handful of Igbo elite that have deeply entrenched financial interest in Nigeria. They know that Nigeria is not and will never be a just, free and safe place for the Igbo but they are blinded by their slavish attachment to their financial interests in Nigeria. They constitute the tip of the “fix One Nigeria” arrow. They are the ones that are very quick to accuse anyone talking about separation from Nigeria of planning to instigate another war. They pretend to love Easterners so much they would rather have them live as slaves in Nigeria than struggle to separate from their oppressor. When you point out to them that the situation Igbo and other Easterners find themselves now in Nigeria is worse than being at war, their eyes glaze over and they pretend not to understand what you just told them. But come to think of it, how many Igbo were slaughtered in Northern Nigeria between 1980 and today? I know you don’t have an accurate count, but just guess. You will be shocked when people who have kept fairly accurate records give you the number. It is in the tens of thousands. President Obasanjo ordered military campaigns at Odi and Onitsha during his latest administration. Do you know how many innocent civilians were massacred in these two military campaigns? What is the total number of Easterners recklessly killed every day in towns and cities all over Eastern Region by the Nigerian police and army? What do you think will be the total number since 1980? How about JTF’s repeated invasion of communities around Warri and other parts of the Delta – how many innocent civilians do you think perished in those invasions? And while you are at it, try imagining the number of Easterners who die every day on the death traps we call roads, and morgues we call hospitals, all because of purposeful underdevelopment and tyrannical, oppressive governance. And now if you care, imagine the cost in billions of dollars, of houses, businesses, goods and property belonging to our people and destroyed in those incidents. Many of those who survived these massacres were made to “start afresh”. Without a doubt we have been at war for a very long time but some people just can’t see it.
The most common comment you often hear is this: “Biafra will be nice but you know our people, they can’t govern themselves; and they are always arguing among themselves.” Horrible! This is what Nigeria has done to the Igbo and indeed other Easterners. Nigeria has made the Igbo lose faith, and trust in themselves, their relatives, community and Igbo land itself. Nigeria has made the Igbo lose faith in their talent, ingenuity, creativity, competence and abilities. It is shocking, but it is true. Fear and doubt are now our bedfellows and our greatest enemies. Our people have been programmed to believe that they cannot govern themselves successfully and effectively; in fact that they cannot live together peacefully. Our people have been programmed to hate themselves, their children, their extended families and their communities. This poison has been fed not only to the Igbo but also to other ethnic groups in the Eastern Region. In many of our communities, especially in Cross River State people are torturing, and killing their children, calling them witches. False prophets are making money branding innocent children witches and programming parents to believe that these children are responsible for their poverty, hardships, and illnesses. Thousands and thousands of Igbo people troop to Lagos and Ogun State to hand over millions of hard earned dollars given to them by their relatives to charlatans and con men who claim to be prophets and evangelists. The con men then “prophesy” to them that it is members of their families, and their best friends who as witches are the cause of their poverty, joblessness, suffering, failure to have a husband, failure to have a baby, illness and other misfortune. Then they go back home and literally set their families ablaze. We have become a society that is cannibalizing itself. The elders are selling our youth up North for money. The youths are kidnapping the elders and demanding huge ransom money. This is the tragedy that has befallen Igbo society. It breaks my heart to watch magnificent Igbo Nation become degenerate in just one generation. Nigeria has almost destroyed the Igbo and her sister Nations in Eastern Region.
Our people have lost contact with the reality of their history as they are continually fed garbage by Nigeria. In 1965 and just before the first coup, there were four regional governments and the federal government of Nigeria. Of these five governments the government of the Eastern Region was the most stable, politically and fiscally. The next was the government of Mid-western Region. Don’t take my word, check the records for yourself. Who said that our people cannot govern themselves? Ask your elders about Igbo Union and Ibibio Union Organizations dispersed all over West Africa. These Unions organized our people wherever they lived all over Africa, channeled resources home and became one of the engines of development throughout the Eastern Region. Most of our political leaders Michael Okpara, Akanu Ibiam, Mbonu Ojike, E.O. Eyo, Dennis Osadebay, H.U.Akpabio, Eyo Ita, Jaja Wachuku, Alvan Ikoku, Nwafor Orizu, M. C. K. Ajuluchukwu, Nyong Essien, Margaret Ekpo, Oyibo Odinammadu, Muokwugo Okoye and so many others were men and women of vision, and transparent honesty who transformed Eastern Region into an enviable model of political stability and economic empowerment.
Fast forward into Biafra; the Biafran government was never a dictatorship even in war time. General Ojukwu stated very clearly that his government will never be a dictatorship. This is why at every turn of the war he consulted regularly with the Eastern Region (Biafran) Consultative Assembly and the Advisory Committee of Chiefs and Elders representing all the communities in Biafra. The administrator of each province in Biafra was a native of that province. Think of the marvelous job done by the administrators of the twenty provinces of Biafra as well as the Biafran cabinet. Check the records and see for yourself. Yakubu Gowon on the other hand never consulted representatives of the peoples of Nigeria even once or sought their input into any matters whatsoever. During the war, Biafra was blockaded by land, sea, and air by Nigeria. Biafrans went ahead and built their own armored cars, petroleum refineries, refined their own salt, manufactured break fluids, automotive lubricants, batteries for running radio and other electronic equipment, etc. Biafrans manufactured their own rockets and rocket launchers as well as the famous Ogbunigwe (missile) which they eventually refined to be launched. Biafrans even tried to build their own airplanes. Read the report of the ingenuity and efficiency of the Biafran government and people by a team of experts from the United States led by senator Goodell that visited Biafra during the war. That report is in the Congressional Record in the United States, February, 1969.
Yes, we argue and criticize our leaders. But so does every progressive, open, democratic society. Legendary Israelis are reputed to argue endlessly about anything and everything more than anyone. But they have the only stable democracy in the Middle East. Threaten their freedom by attempting to undermine the State of Israel and they take your head off. Why? “Freedom!” All said and done, it is the same Igbo, Efik, Ibibio, Ijaw, and Ogoja who did all these things before and during the war that still inhabit Eastern Region today. The only thing that has changed is that Nigeria has corrupted their values, beliefs, attitudes, confidence, and culture; rendered them impotent, and ground them into self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-hatred. Remember this wise saying: “A person who stays too long in a garbage dump starts feeling and smelling like garbage.”
Here is how Father Joe, one of the Irish Rev. Fathers who worked in Igbo land for a long time and stayed in Biafra throughout the Biafra-Nigeria War, described the Ibo (Igbo) to a team of reporters from Life Magazine in 1968: “Life (Magazine) has been dispatching teams to Biafra since June 1968, and now September, the beginning of the hot season, was on hand, we noticed a profound change. Wherever we went, people tugged at our sleeves and held out their hands, hoping for a coin, a cigarette, or a kola nut. This begging was altogether new.” “The Iboman never begs.” Father Joe said. “He’s much too proud, he wants to pay for what he gets. The Ibos are wizards at saving money. When one of them gets a job, he starts saving right away; first for a bicycle, then a transistor radio, and next a bit of land. Then he builds a house on it, gets a wife and before the first child is born, he is already putting money by for the kid’s school fees. The Ibos are mad for education.” He continued, “Ach, you should have known the Ibo before the war, shrewd, clannish, competitive – exasperating and proud. Some called them the Jews of Africa and others said they were as bad as the Irish, and I‘d consider it a compliment either way. You know that we Holy Ghost Fathers all ran schools here before the war? The way we played on the Iboman’s competitive instinct was absolutely shameless.” “What kind of parish is this? I would say to the elders. The school of the other village has an upstairs – Ibo talk for a second story – so they’d build me an upstairs and then I’d say, how can I be the Father here? There is a village not five miles from here that has a primary school and a secondary school as well. Do you expect me to spend the rest of my life rotting in a village that has no secondary school? So, up would go the new school and then I’d really put the screws to them: There is a settlement down Owerri-way that sent one of their boys to a university in Europe. Wouldn’t it be a grand thing to have a university graduate of our own? And by God, somehow the village would scrimp and save until they had one: All that seems a long time ago now.” The determination and resourcefulness that once characterized the Ibo also preoccupied Father Joe. We were driving out for a last look at Emekuku Hospital when Father Joe remarked: “There was a time when it was impossible to have a car breakdown in Iboland. You’d find yourself stuck somewhere way out in the bush and first thing you know, three loafers – two of whom had probably never peeked under the bonnet of an auto in their lives – would saunter up to see what was the matter. In no time at all using rags and string they’d have you on your way again.” Father Joe shook our hands before we boarded the flight out through the flak and said, “Remember now: however this thing is settled militarily, somehow, somewhere, something called Biafra will continue to exist.”(Breadless Biafra). This is the Igbo the world used to know and which has been destroyed by Nigeria.
The problem that our leaders and elite have is that they have steeped themselves so deep in Nigerian corruption that shame does not permit them to face the truth about Nigeria’s collapse as a political entity. Nigeria entices them to partner with her in the diabolical act of robbing their own people; their own communities, of the resources needed to improve the lives of the people. They fall for this cheap trick and dive headlong into the mock of corruption. Once fully plastered with the stinking filth of corruption, they lose the moral authority to stand up for truth, justice, and freedom and for what is right even when the person or community that is being destroyed is their own. Then from Abuja Nigeria provides security and protection for them so they cannot be held accountable by their people. This is why our politicians and elite take up permanent residence in Abuja and only visit their home communities occasionally. And when they visit, they are protected by lorry loads of mobile policemen and soldiers. They are supposed to be the representatives of their people; they are supposed to serve their people, and protect and defend their interests; and yet they have to be protected from the same people by a battalion of soldiers and policemen kitted as if they are going to war. Why would an honest servant of his people need that kind of heavy security blanket in order to travel from Abuja to his village in the Eastern Region? Why? It is because they are not representing anyone but themselves as they serve their masters in Abuja.
Some have commented that the Igbo must learn to respect their leaders and allow them to speak for the Igbo and never criticize Ohaneze. Well said, but part of this statement betrays a lack of understanding of the fundamental principle underlying Leadership in Igbo society. The Igbo do not believe in feudalism, dictatorship and divine right of kings. Igbo do not have rulers; Igbo have leaders. In Igbo society a leader derives his or her authority and power from the people. He is accountable to the people at all times and in all circumstances. The leader’s actions are perpetually open to scrutiny by the people he is leading. Any time the people believe that the leader is leading them astray, they call the leader’s attention to it and demand that he retrace his steps. He has two choices: (1) convince the people that he is leading them to a goal that will guarantee their best interest, progress and survival; (2) retrace his steps and do what the people he is leading demand. If he fails to do either of these the people will withdraw the mandate they gave him, take back the authority and power bestowed on him and give it to another leader. This is the philosophy, and practice of leadership in Igbo society. This is what made Igbo nation very stable and progressive for centuries. You can see this clearly articulated in the famous “Ahiara Declaration” and “Igbo Leadership Series” both of which are available on the internet. This is also why the Igbo do not have all powerful rulers like Emirs and Obas and sometimes name their children “Ezebuilo” just to remind themselves of the danger of having “Eze” with unchecked powers. The all-powerful warrant chiefs the British tried to impose on the Igbo were challenged and deposed by Igbo and Ibibio women in 1929.
It is wonderful that every Igbo dreams that he or she can be a leader. That’s great. It is a sign of internalized sense of competence and freedom. Only free people think like that. It should be encouraged. People who live in feudal states and dictatorships do not have this dream. Ndigbo, young and old have made it quite clear that they do not see any future in their continued membership of the contraption called Nigeria and that they want out. Ohaneze must listen to the Igbo and articulate this position to the rulers of Nigeria and to the world without fear or equivocation. Then, follow this up with concrete action to separate the Igbo from the mess called Nigeria.
There is a new psychedelic drug; a different kind of opium that is killing Igbo and indeed all Easterners today. It is religion. There are more prophets, evangelists, pastors, bishops, etc. than anyone can imagine. They are so many that they can actually establish a large city of their own which could be aptly called “Prophetstown”; and all of them have one message – pray, fast, and give me your money and all your troubles, poverty, joblessness, childlessness, insecurity, corruption, stealing of public funds by civil servants and government men, illnesses, etc. will disappear. Religion is good but when it stops you from thinking, reasoning logically, and taking action to change your unacceptable social condition, it becomes a problem. Christ told His followers that prayer without good works is totally useless. When money changers took over His father’s house (the temple), Christ didn’t kneel down and pray. He picked up a whip, beat the money changers, overturned their tables, and chased them out of the temple [Mark 11, 15-17]. That was Jesus himself, the Son of God. He didn’t pray to His Father to remove them. He did it himself. So, Ndigbo who are overwhelmingly Christian should worship God. But they must also realize that the onus is on them to take action to change the unacceptable social condition imposed on them by their fellow human beings whether this is at the neighborhood, town, community, local government, state, or national level.
Let me summarize with these few points. God did not put Nigeria together. The British did. As colonialists they tied together people who have little or nothing in common. They did this purely for their administrative convenience, and to maximize the economic exploitation of the peoples. Our people have suffered incalculable devastation as a result of this amalgamation. It is our responsibility to separate ourselves from this sinking ship called Nigeria.
Other people who found themselves in similar circumstances worked to separate themselves from their oppressors. The people of South Sudan did so one year ago after years of war with Khartoum. South Ossetia and Abkhazia separated from Georgia few years ago after a brief scuffle. Czechoslovakia split into two. Yugoslavia split into seven countries. Europe and the United States militarily forced Serbia to relinquish her strangle hold on the emerging nations. The former Soviet Union split into 15 separate countries without anyone firing a shot. Decades ago India and Pakistan split. Now they live as neighbors. Bangladesh then split from Pakistan. The Caribbean federation broke up into independent countries. The East African federation did the same. Examples are too numerous to mention. One principle underlies all these developments – the people themselves persistently agitated for separation on the principle of “Self-determination” (the right and freedom to determine what they want for themselves). The world paid attention and then helped broker the separation.
Now, ask yourself why Ohaneze sees these expressions of Self-Determination as “unsavory examples that we must strenuously strive to limit in Africa, already politically over-fragmented.” Really ! Unsavory examples!! Africa, politically over-fragmented!! Are you kidding me? How many countries in Europe have population more than 15 million people; how many have population less than one million? This is a tragic stand taken by Ohaneze, the “leaders” of a people who have complained bitterly for decades that they are persecuted, marginalized, dehumanized, and now threatened with forced Islamization. How many members of Ohaneze would like to relocate to Maiduguri? How many of them would like to move to Damaturu, and start a hotel, or restaurant business there? How many of them will ask their children or grandchildren to move to Potiskum, Bauchi, Sokoto, Zaria, Jos, Kano, Katsina, and Kaduna, open up businesses and take up permanent residence there, build churches and worship happily and peacefully in those churches? How many? Why do our people like to deceive themselves about the reality of Nigeria – reality that is literally poking them in their eyes?
Do you sometimes wonder whether the life of an African means anything to other Africans, or do we now regard African life as disposable human waste? Biafra broke away from Nigeria and Britain convinced Yakubu Gowon, Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro, Hassan Katsina, Benjamin Adekunle, Olusegun Obasanjo, and others in charge of the government in Nigeria to starve to death (not shoot them so they die without too much pain – no, starve them to slow, painful, excruciating death) three million innocent babies, children, pregnant women, old men and old women; and they did. Many Nigerians still cheer them for this heinous crime against the most vulnerable, innocent, non-combatants in the Nigeria-Biafra war. Despite this massive loss of human life, Nigeria’s problems have multiplied ten-fold. “One Nigeria” is still as much a mirage as looking across the Sahara Desert on a bright sunny day. The Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda have slaughtered each other in an orgy of violence that cycles every few scores of years. African leaders think it is heresy to talk about separating them into different countries. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo more than six million people have been killed in the past few years in their never ending internecine war. Don’t ever talk about breaking that country up into manageable units or African elite and leaders will bite your head off. Yet all of them watched and applauded when in 1990 ethnic, religious, and economic tensions exploded into violence in Yugoslavia and a few thousand people were killed. Europe and American quickly got together, forced Serbia to stand down, quelled the violence, and split Yugoslavia into seven independent countries, ending the carnage and saving “precious” European lives. They didn’t talk about Yugoslavia as a big market with huge population, or some other silly economic excuse. No, they only talked about saving the lives of fellow Europeans. If that had happened in Africa, African elite will be shouting themselves hoarse about meaningless “sovereignty” and “unity” as millions of their fellow Africans are slaughtered.
The truth is that leadership is about vision – what will happen ten, twenty, fifty, and even one hundred years down the line. It is about what life will be like for several generations of our people not yet born. Every discerning soul knows that the greatest threat to peaceful and progressive social intercourse in any part of the world today and for the very foreseeable future is radical Islamic terrorism; not Islam, but radical Islamic terrorism. Sensible leaders all over the world including some Islamic leaders are doing everything in their power to isolate, and remove this scourge and where possible separate their people from it. What are our leaders doing? You tell me. Everyone is now fretting about Boko Haram which has been bombing churches, markets, and schools, and blowing up thousands of people. Recently it stated clearly and without equivocation that the only condition for peace in Nigeria is if every Nigerian converts to its radical Islamic beliefs. Boko Haram did not drop from the sky overnight. On May 16, 2000 Ahmed Sani Yarima Bakura, then governor of Zamfara State went to the United States and at a symposium hosted by the Voice of America (VOA) titled “Nigeria’s Quest for Democracy” sold the dummy of peaceful Sharia Law and English Common Law existing side by side peacefully in Nigeria to the American audience and to gullible Nigerians. He assured the listening audience that Sharia law will not be applied to Christians in Nigeria and that it will in no way affect the lives and businesses of non Moslems in Nigeria. President Olusegun Obasanjo called in from Abuja to congratulate him on the nice job he was doing. Then vice president of CAN, Archbishop Onaiyekan also called to congratulate him and offer his support. Nigerian elite were falling over one another in their stampede to send messages of congratulation and solidarity. And this was despite the fact that just six months earlier, on November 8 1999, Champion Newspaper had reported that the same Ahmed Sanni had reportedly stated in an interview: “We will Islamize Nigeria”. Biafra Foundation sent a team to that symposium in Washington DC to challenge Sanni; to tell him that he was lying, and that it will be extremely difficult if not practically impossible for the two legal systems (British Common Law and Sharia Law) to exist simultaneously in Nigeria without violent conflict. Less than one year after the introduction of Sharia Law in Northern Nigeria, the elected deputy governor of Kano State led a team of Sharia Law enforcers through the streets of Kano destroying businesses and establishments that he identified as not in compliance with Sharia Law. It didn’t matter that the businesses belonged to Christians and non Moslems. Then the flood gate opened. June 2, 2000 the Chief Justice of Nigeria Mohammad Uwais demanded that Islamic Sharia law be taught in all Southern universities. June 23, 2000 Guardian reported that the government of Kano State had stated clearly that Sharia is for everybody – Moslems and Non-Moslems alike. July 6, 2000, Comet reported that former president Shehu Shagari asked Moslems to rise for Sharia. July 5, 2000, Post Express reported that Nigeria police flouted Federal Government instruction on Sharia as Nigeria police arrested innocent people relaxing in beer parlors in Sabon Geri, Kano for using alcohol. August 1, 2000 Guardian reported that drinking joints in Katsina moved to army barracks as the Emir had decreed that everyone in Katsina State will live by the laws of Sharia. April 28 2001, Comet reported that Sharia court jailed two Christians for selling alcohol in Gusau, Zamfara State. May 24 2001 Guardian reported that Government officials in Bornu state arraigned non Moslems in court for transporting alcoholic drinks. August 27 2001 Guardian reported that former head of State Muhammadu Buhari called for the implementation of Sharia law in all the states of Nigeria. September 11 2002 a bomb exploded at the Church of Christ in the Laranto suburb of Jos. And so the incidents kept growing until you could count scores of incidents every few months. February 24 2007 it is reported that Moslem fundamentalists set nine churched ablaze in Niger State. February 16 2007 it is reported that Kano State was seeking support to train 100 enforcers of Islamic Sharia law. May 17 2007 several churches are marked for demolition in Zamfara State. May 17 2007 Compass reports that Christian children in Sokoto in Northern Nigeria are kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam. It gives the name of a recent victim as Victor Udo Usen from Cross River State. May 20 2007 agents of Bornu State government demolish several Christian churches in Maiduguri. December 12 2008 it is reported that six Christian pastors were murdered and forty churches burned in Northern Nigeria in post election attacks by Moslem fundamentalists. March 30 2012 Sahara Reporters reports that Malam Adamu Ciroma stated as follows: “God will bring new Usman Dan Fodio to clean up Nigeria – just as happened in Hausa kingdom over 200 years ago”. Is there anyone who does not understand the meaning of this statement by Adamu Ciroma? There are more than 100 recorded incidents of attacks on Churches in the Sharia States of Nigeria to date. So why is everyone acting as if Boko Haram, the declaration of the total Islamization of Nigeria, and forced conversion to Islam just started in 2012?
At independence on October 1 1960 Nigeria was a secular state. Few days after Nigeria’s independence on October 12, 1960, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the premier of Northern Nigeria said, “This new nation called Nigeria, should be an estate of our great grandfather, Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the North as willing tools, and the South as conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us, and never allow them to have control over their future.” In 1964, the West African Pilot of December 20 reported that Mallam Bala Garuba had proclaimed: “The conquest to the sea is now in sight. When our God-sent Ahmadu Bello said some years ago that our conquest will reach the sea shores of Nigeria some idiots in the South were doubting its possibility. Today have we not reached the sea? Lagos is reached. It remains Port Harcourt. It must be conquered and taken.” By the way remember that when the British secretary for the colonies, Oliver Lyttleton chaired the constitutional conference of 1953/54 which essentially defined the relationship between the federal and the regional governments in Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello demanded from him: “If you want us (the North) to be part of this Nigeria you have in mind, then we want fifty percent of the membership of the House of Representatives.” Guess what – he got it, and this was irrespective of the population of the North or any other criteria. The North just demanded it and got it. When Yakubu Gowon was head of state of Nigeria he sent a delegation to the Organization of Islamic Conference (now known as Organization of Islamic Cooperation) holding in Morocco. The delegation was led by Abubakar Gumi. Nigeria was given “observer status” at the OIC. Gowon is still alive and should tell Nigerians who authorized him to change Nigeria’s secular status to “observer status in OIC”. In 1986, Ibrahim Babangida changed Nigeria’s status from “observer” to full membership of the OIC. When Ebitu Ukiwe his deputy challenged him on why he would do that without discussion or authorization from the Nigerian people he dismissed Ukiwe and retired him ignominiously. Once Nigeria became a full member it also joined the affiliates of the OIC such as the Islamic Development Bank. Babangida is still alive and should tell Nigerians who authorized him to change the status of Nigeria from secular to Islamic. In 2001 Olusegun Obasanjo enrolled Nigeria as a member of the D8. The D8 (D-8 or Developing Eight) is a group of developing countries with large Muslim populations that have formed an economic development alliance. It consists of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey – all Islamic countries. The D8 is essentially an Islamic Organization. (Omo Omoruyi wrote a beautiful appeal to Obasanjo titled “An appeal to President Olusegun Obasanjo: Nigeria: Neither an Islamic nor a Christian country”, published March 7 2001). Today, Nigeria is a full member of the D8 and President Jonathan actually hosted the D8 meeting in Abuja in 2010. Obasanjo is alive and should tell Nigerians who authorized him to join D8, an Islamic Organization. By the early 1990’s top Islamic leaders in Nigeria were declaring openly that they will Islamize Nigeria. From 1999 onwards the program of total Islamization of Nigerian went from being a small stream containing a handful of fish, to a mighty, roaring sea full of man-eating sharks and giant crocodiles that were destroying and sweeping away anything that looked like obstacles in their path. As all this was going on what were political, and Church leaders as well as the elite in Eastern Region saying and doing? What did out Christian Cardinals, bishops, and clergy especially those from the Eastern Region do? Will it surprise you if tomorrow you hear that Nigeria is now a member of the Arab League? I ask again, why is everyone fretting about Boko Haram as if its demand that President Jonathan and all Nigerians convert to radical Islam suddenly dropped from the sky when there is clear history of its growth, development and metamorphosis?
There has been talk about Igbo elite who built mansions in different parts of Nigeria and set up giant businesses in those places while neglecting their home towns and cities. Ask those of them who built mansions and estates in Maiduguri, Sokoto, Kano, Jos, Bauchi and who are now hustling to sell them what offers they have been getting lately? Ask those who are attempting to do the same thing in Abuja what offers they are getting. For years Biafra Foundation through Voice of Biafra International warned the Igbo and other people of Eastern Region about the danger of investing outside the Eastern Region and advised them to take their businesses to the East and invest them in their home towns and cities. How many of them listened? Watch what will happen in Lagos a couple of years from now. These Igbo wise sayings might be instructive sometimes: Fly that does not listen to advice follows the corpse into the grave and gets buried with it. Chicken with headstrong attitude learns its lesson in the woman’s soup pot. Grasshopper that is killed by the bird “Okpoko” has nobody to blame but its ears. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear; those who have eyes to see, let them see; those who have brains to think let them think. For many years VOBI warned our people to divest their holdings from other parts of Nigeria, move their businesses to their homeland and develop their homeland because that is really the place where their investments will be safe. What did they do? If a drunken chicken runs into a schizophrenic fox the drunken chicken becomes sober in a hurry.
Finally some people have suggested that Igbo leaders and the elite are behaving the way they are doing because we lost the Biafra-Nigeria war. I really don’t buy that. That we lost a war does not automatically translate to losing the sense of who we are, our moral compass, our values, beliefs, philosophy of life, our respect and admiration of talent and skill, our love and admiration of sound education, our love and respect of hard work and enterprise, our respect for private property, our admiration of achievement, and most importantly our age old belief in freedom and the sanctity of democracy. Germany and Japan lost the Second World War but they did not lose their identity, and their sense of who they are. They did not lose their souls. Look where they are today. Germany is practically Europe’s banker, propping up flailing European economies. Japan is an industrial and technological giant; an economic powerhouse. If Igbo and other Easterners want to survive and join the developed world they must first of all regain their freedom by separating themselves from decrepit Nigeria, then reestablish those values, beliefs and practices that made them great in the recent past. The Igbo must come to grips with the fact that they just can’t achieve greatness in the context of One Nigeria, crude oil or no crude oil. If Nigeria was not too stupid, Biafra would have provided the fuse for its technological revolution. Nigeria is and will continue to be a chest-thumping moron for a very long time. The Igbo and their brothers in the East better get out of there fast before they drown with this sinking ship.
The world is not waiting for us to finish sharing the “national cake” that none of the thieving leaders baked; to quit wobbling about in federal character that rejects the best and brightest while choosing and rewarding the worst, and the dumbest (thieves, buffoons, idiots, certificate forgers and con men); to end the idiotic practice of cutting corners and teaching children how to be criminals, cheats, forgers, and lazy, unthinking loafers. No! The world is moving on. If the Igbo want to join the world they must do so by joining the progressive world while leaving retrograde Nigeria to wallow in her own filth.
All development is local because all politics is local. Your politics and your economic development are intricately intertwined. If your politics revolves around stealing, fraud, corruption, killing, feudalism, nepotism, anti-intellectualism, anti-education, anti-creativity, anti-talent, anti-skill, and anti-efficiency, then your economy is doomed to be mired in the filth that this process produces. If your idea of development is to wait for someone to develop your area for you, then you are an indolent fool condemned to perpetual underdevelopment. News headlines in Nigeria are already pointing to this outcome. As young people of the world are basking in the glory of Olympic Gold Medals, their counterparts in Nigeria are reading these headlines: “Boko Haram – Jonathan must embrace Islam and resign”; “Jonathan – I won’t resign”; “ IBB – I have no hand in Boko Haram”; “Gunmen kill 20 worshippers in Okene Church”; “Police recover 35 bombs, 34 guns, and ammunition from hoodlums”; “Boko Haram executes two policemen in Bauchi”; “Gunmen kill four in fresh attack in Kogi State: Nigeria on the brink of anarchy”; El Rufai: “Insurgency not alien to Nigeria”; Ikechi Okologo: “Corruption – Nigeria’s 37th State”; “Ogoni declares self-government”; “Baylesa plans autonomy with flag, coat of arms, and anthem”; “ Jonathan commends US for stabilizing Nigerian polity” etc. Maiduguri is already Mogadishu. Soon Nigeria will become Somalia. Easterners who think that the bombing and chaos that has engulfed Northern Nigeria will be restricted to the North are living in a fool’s paradise. It will not be long before those bombs start exploding in Enugu, Onitsha, Asaba, Agbor, Nsukka, Abakaliki, Owerri, Umuahia, Awka, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Ikot Ekpene, Uyo, Degema, Abonnema, Warri, Sapele, and Benin. The question all political and religious leaders, intellectuals and indeed elite from Eastern Region must ask themselves is, “Do we have to wait until we become Somalia, or must we take action NOW to separate ourselves from this madness going on in Nigeria before it consumes us?” This is the challenge that Ohaneze, Igbo Women Organizations, leaders of all the Churches in Igbo land, Igbo Youth Organizations, Igbo Intellectuals, and leaders of all Liberation Movements in Igbo land, face. The same challenge faces similar organizations in all the other Nations in Eastern Region (Ijaw, Efik, Ibibio, Anang, Ogoja and Bini). Your destiny is in your hands. Take it, or be doomed.
Dr. Emma Enekwechi