Monday 24th April, 2017
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Ndigbo: Nigeria's Unity And The Voice of Reason

Ndigbo: Nigeria's Unity And The Voice of Reason

It is a good news that Nigerians are beginning to shop and submit themselves to the voice of reason about the supremacy of love, brotherhood in one nation and most profoundly, unity. I ceased to comment on the affairs of my country years back, because I was unimpressed with the manner individuals and groups impinged their idiosyncrasies on others and gave it the false identity of the collective. My voice was muzzled, especially, as my own region of birth, the Southeast was also guilty of such misjudgments.
 
However, I was  excited  when I heard of the decision of students of Igbo extraction, who voted for a unified Nigeria, when they congregated in Awka, the capital of Anambra recently. These young men and women unanimously rekindled, reaffirmed and  pledged loyalty to Nigeria and the indivisibility of the country. This action limitlessly gladdened my heart.  
 
It refreshed my memories about the Biblical prodigal son and I heaved a sigh of relief that at long last, my kinsmen are coming back on track. As we all know, the Igbo students, who are youths representationally, define the future of every community in Igbo nation. They are the leaders of tomorrow; they are the productive workforce of the Southeast; they are those who blow the trumpets of war and they are harbingers of peace. The essence of the entire Southeast rests on their wisdom, competence and or, incompetence to clearly distill the fog of today for the benefit of a progressive and rewarding tomorrow. And if they have opted for the peace and unity of Nigeria, I think no opposing voice can be stronger. 
 
Yesterday, this worthy heritage of peace and unity was mindlessly traduced by some youths in multiple ways in the cause of seeking vain self-glorification. The proliferation of unfocused secession groups like Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the  Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) represented for me the worse brand of the campaigns for a Biafran state. Much as a people’s quest for self-determination in a broad sense is not a bad idea; the proponents today neglected the key essentials.  
 
It is not enough for you to beat the drums of war simply because you have hands and the drum. Calling out people for a cause means much more than violent confrontation of government; invocation of coercive powers on the people to extract compliance or resentful protests that leads to vandalism and looting. I feel anyone who embarks on a populist cause should have a sound ideological base and the capacity to drive this dream.  
 
The mission and actions of both MASSOB and IPOB have illustrated clearly a lack of an ideological base and capacity to propel the dream of an independent Biafran state now. They disappointingly manifest more in brigandage and hooliganism. They have lost steam among the majority of Igbos; their own people scorn and resist them because of the failure to properly articulate their agenda and the preparedness to get to the destination. They have no community engagement and approval of the people on whose behest they claim to fight a cause; the absence of external consultations with friends and sympathizers as well as the proper intellectual and lawful engagement of the Nigerian state have mocked rather than attract appeals to their cause. 
 
Over the years, these shortcomings have cumulatively haunted us as a people. And the natural option remained that we must perish the idea of separatism in the mould. If the existence of Igbos or Southeasterners in Nigeria was a bad idea four decades ago, I do not think the realities of yesterday are the same with the prospects of today and the brightness of the future. Democracy has availed us with innumerable benefits and opportunities our patience and guided focus would allow us consummate in the nearest future. 
 
Nigeria holds this promise for Igbo people now than ever before. This is why I assessed the famous Awka declaration by students of Igbo extraction as a roadmap for the prosperity of Igbo nation under a united Nigerian confederation. I may be faulted by a few brethren who might perceive my position as adverse. But the verifiable truth is that the chances of equal opportunities opened to the Igbos under the sovereignty of Nigeria currently, surpass the benefits or attractions of a Biafran state as presently conceptualized and canvassed.
 
 I believe this is the basis of the new thinking as reflected by the Igbo students. They believe this is achievable on the strength of the unity and oneness of Nigeria, as against the distractions of separatism. And I lend my voice in support wholeheartedly.
 
Already, there is a foundation for a prosperous Igbo nation in Nigeria. We have invested immensely in the country Nigeria since independence. Agreed that in the course of the journey to nationhood, there have been hitches and disagreements, but they are not beyond amicable resolution through dialogue.  And our experience is not unique or exclusive to us. More to it,  from time to time, Nigeria offers solace to the Igbo nation to make us feel their share in our pains and tribulations. 
 
For instance, let’s not forget the general restitution former President Olusegun Obasanjo granted to all former Biafran soldiers. It is an indication of the willingness of a country to resolve grievances peacefully and to give equal opportunities to every Nigerian or region. Let us not be blindfolded by personal aspirations.
 
Therefore, the few belligerent voices in the Southeast still chanting disenchantment with Nigeria are dishonest even to themselves. But the will of the majority of Igbos points to preference for a  co-existence in Nigeria as opposed to a Biafran state, as practically expressed  in the presence of Igbos in every little community in Nigeria trading or doing business. It is a loud statement that we are more comfortable living in Nigeria than a Biafran republic.
 
Contrary to the negative stereotyping, an average Igbo man hates corruption. But we have carried this tag this long because we are shielded by disreputable and selfish politicians in Abuja, who are not concerned with the manner they collectively defame us. We can make more astonishing progress and break new grounds if we overcome these enemies, by suppressing them to create the prosperous future we seek in Nigeria.  
 
The Igbos like any other tribe in Nigeria wants to live freely in the country; build their skyscrapers not only in Onitsha, but also in Abuja and every other megacity in the country. We must tell Nigeria that we hate lies and our kinsmen who connive with others to cheat and confuse us would henceforth be checkmated. We all want the goodies enjoyed by other parts of the country and no one should again be allowed to sow the seed of discord.  
 
I dare say, the Igbos want separation from embezzlement of public funds; but not the  construction of roads in the Southeast like President Muhammedu Buhari is massively doing at the moment in the region. In fact, the Southeast wants everything good the government is offering to other regions of the country. Our continuous stand-off with government under the fake illusion of a Biafran state will lead us nowhere.  
 
We must conduct internal checks on ourselves and amend aspects of our lives we adjudge as indecent and inimical to progress. Once this is done, nothing can prevent us from fully reaping the benefits of nationhood in Nigeria. Again, like echoed by the Igbo students, no self-serving politician or ethnic warlord should lure us into the fake illusion of a phantom Biafran state. In Nigeria, we shall remain. This is the voice of reason.
 
Ogwu, a psychologist writes from the National Open University of Nigeria {NOUN}, Awka Study Centre.

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