OPEN LETTER TO FELLOW NIGERIANS
A truth repeated millions of times remains a truth – ”The Truth”. It is the truth, that Nigeria is a gem of a country. All glory to God for crafting this His creation and making it home for us Nigerians – the largest concentration of blacks on the face of the earth. That Nigeria is bountifully gifted by God is without doubt.
Our climate is equable. Round the year, our climate is never too hot or too cold. We do not have extremes of weather – not even in Gembu or in the mountainous regions. We can stay outside, in the open space, even naked, and not get frozen to death by cold nor roasted by the sun, anywhere in the country and any time of the year. We do not experience hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes and other aggravated natural disasters! Indeed, any semblance of disaster in Nigeria is man-induced, like our mismanagement of the environment which lead to flooding, and minor landslides; like the death of conscience in our polity and society unleashing political, justice and security tsunami in our land!!!
God endowed super-abundant resources on Nigeria. Any plant that can grow on earth, can be grown in Nigeria. Most of the animals found on earth are in Nigeria. Our mineral resources are surplus: from gas, crude oil and iron ore to gem stones: silver, gold, diamond etc. We may not be aware of some of our mineral deposits but foreigners, especially, the Chinese, are helping us with them. Talk of the most important resource of all – human resource, and Nigeria, should boast of many talents from many tribes. Our intellectual gifts are only now manifesting, as we advance in education, leading to our children making waves at the frontiers of science and technology in foreign lands. One group of Nigerians is named among the four greatest achievers in the world. The same group is among the four groups honoured as the builders of the United States of America.
Fixing Nigeria is in the Interest of All
Is this the country we are pushing to disintegration? In truth, no group in Nigeria can happily walk away from Nigeria if things are made to work, and in fact, things can be made to work. I come from the most humiliated, most marginalized, most excluded zone in Nigeria, ”the Southeast”. This is the zone whose people have suffered the worst genocide, yet, I believe that Nigeria can be fixed. I pray for Nigeria to be fixed and that is, in spite of what looks, clearly, like the consistent efforts of the present Administration to pull my people down and push them out of Nigeria. I am still hoping that Nigeria can be fixed. Why do I think this is still possible? My people are very appreciative of Nigeria’s very large market and we seem to have voted, with our feet, for one Nigeria, every part of which we have been developing without thinking home!!!. Yes, these are quite good reasons but they are not why I believe that Nigeria can and should be fixed. Why then?
I believe that God does not make mistakes!!! I believe also that the Will of God will dominate man’s will and God can rectify man’s mess up. I believe that God endowed superabundant resources on Nigeria for a purpose. I believe that God has prepared Nigeria for a task, ”An Assignment”. I believe that God’s assignment to Nigeria is to develop into a Super Power among nations and raise the respect and dignity of all blacks on earth!!! This, I believe, is the manifest destiny of Nigeria. Nigerian man’s mess up is responsible for the suffering of all blacks on earth. Should Nigeria wake up to her responsibilities, there will be no need for ”Black Lives Matter”, because, what gave rise to that slogan, would not have been contemplated. Nelson Mandela saw it clearly: that as the world sees Nigerians, so will all blacks be seen. And I believe the time is now for Nigeria to resurrect. Today, Nigeria is not even, any longer, seen as a geographical expression, but virtually as a thing of the past. You look at happenings in Katsina, in Daura and in Aso Rock, and you are forced to conclude that the end has, indeed, come!!! No! God works in mysterious ways and there is nothing He cannot do. God can and will fix Nigeria!!! The Almightiness of God is about to be shown in Nigeria. And that is for the benefit of every group in Nigeria, including mine. The long term interest of every group in Nigeria is best served by the survival of One Nigeria, restructured for things to work, as they did before the coup of 1966. When people talk of ”restructuring” they mean, principally, returning to the pre-1966 structure – the political structure we had when the World Bank declared that parts of Nigeria were growing faster than the rest of the world. (We may use the six zones as federating units). One Nigeria preserves the size advantage. Size matters!!! That’s why Rwanda, in spite of the great efforts of her leaders, cannot play the role that God ordained for Nigeria. That is why Sweden, even though she is doing very well and, at the per capita level, she may be doing better than the USA, China and most developed countries, she is not, and cannot be, among the Super Powers of this world. The USA, China and even India will be competing for that role. Sweden is just too small!
Is Nigeria retrievable? Can conscience be resurrected in Nigeria? The death of conscience, leading to comprehensive corruption, is responsible for virtually all the problems of our country: injustice at every level, inequity, unfairness and total failure in every respect and at all levels. A repair or correction sounds like mission impossible! But our traditional religions and our imported religions preach that with God, nothing is impossible. The God, who prepared Nigeria for unmatched greatness – in the interest of the blacks (His first human creation) is poised to surprise the world. Yes, it is by God that Nigeria will bounce back and God will open the eyes of every group in Nigeria, to see their long term interest in the survival of Nigeria.
The Fulani People
Most Nigerians, today, see the Fulani, especially, the herdsmen, as Nigeria’s greatest problem. The Miyetti Allah is reported to have claimed that Nigeria is God’s gift to them, that they will rule Nigeria forever etc. And that report has not been denied. If this is not fake news, what can Fulani gain from antagonising most of Nigerians? And they are reputed to be strategic planners. The Miyetti Allah is said to have declared war on Nigeria many times. Surely, it cannot be in the long term interest of the Fulani to antagonise the rest of Nigeria. How many are they? Nigeria needs Fulani, but Fulani needs Nigeria more than Nigeria needs Fulani! The Fulani will lose most, should Nigeria disintegrate. The long-term interest of the herdsmen is in developing ranches in Nigeria, not in their ancient, antiquarian roaming with cows. Education is the most important resource in today’s world and it is not possible for Fulani children to get enough effective education if they are to be pursued in the forests with it. And there is the danger that the market for their cows may disappear as, especially, Southern Nigerians, go for ranching.
The Igbo and Yoruba
A Yoruba (Oodua) Group has been accepted as the 45th member of a United Nation-related organisation. The Igbo (through MASSOB) have been registered as the 46th member of the same organisation. This means that the Yoruba and the Igbo are both looking for ways out of Nigeria. This defines, not the success, but the dismal failures, of the two groups whose mutual understanding and cooperation would have stabilised Nigeria, and this is still possible. Nigeria’s colossal failure is the result of very unenlightened and myopic competition between the two groups as to which should carry the brief case for the Fulani (to whom the British handed over the leadership of Nigeria). I submit that it is not in the best long-term interest of either group to leave Nigeria. Both the Yoruba and the Igbo are educated enough to know their long-term interests. Their looking for ways out of Nigeria can be called the greatest folly resulting from their ancient history of competition from the Zik/Awolowo era, which has brought Nigeria to this brink of disintegration.
The Yoruba are seen as very politically sagacious, and they have managed to gain a lot from Nigeria, even while they were out of central power (not holding the office of President or Vice President). Now, they have held the Chief Executive Office of Nigeria for 11years and Vice President for Five years. The true long term interest of the Yoruba is in a stabilised New Nigeria returned to the political structure that worked in the past and can work today. It is my belief that Nigeria cannot arrive unless Igbo and Yoruba purposefully, sincerely and effectively cooperate and work together politically. I also believe this is possible but very difficult, because of the habit of suspicion that seems to defy education and intellectual achievements. One serious contribution the Fulani is making to Nigeria’s development is forcing the Igbo and the Yoruba to think of the feasibility of their desirable long term political achievements with their current lone ranging strategy. Effective cooperation between Igbo and Yoruba can salvage Nigeria and lead her to explosive growth and development, making Nigeria a world Super Power, thereby raising the respect and dignity of all black people on earth, which, we believe is her manifest destiny!!!
The IPOB followers and, to some extent, the MASSOB people also, are very surprised that many of their Igbo Elders are still hoping for the continuation of One Nigeria, and their surprise is justified. What I see as ‘The-pull-Igbo-down and Push-Igbo-Out-of-Nigeria’ policies of the current Federal Government”, makes it surprising that any Igbo should be hoping for the continuation of Nigeria. A few examples of Pull-Igbo-Down policy are: the most prominent Nigerian in cement importation business was Mr Ibeto. He was pulled down. Attempts were made to pull down Innoson, the first and the only car manufacturer in Nigeria. Ifeanyi Uba (now senator) has been attacked and harassed. He has the largest petroleum products storage outfit in the country. Emzor Pharmaceuticals was closed down for no justifiable reason. Many less well known manufacturers and business men suffered and are suffering the same fate. Many importers had what they imported seized and they had to buy the goods back from favoured persons from the North. Evidence of Push-Igbo out of Nigeria policy abound. The Southeast has been excluded from the National Security Council, we are excluded from the highly publicised national railway project, currently being executed. We were the only zone excluded from benefiting from a most jumbo loan Nigeria is taking. We were virtually excluded from the palliatives for COVID-19. Just a few days ago, the roads to be built by the Federal Government were listed, the Southeast is the only zone in which no road will be built. We dominate the lists of terminated or retired persons, especially, those removed or retired from the army and other security services. We are largely absent from any lists of new appointments. Everybody knows about the slaughter of Eastern youths in Aba, Onitsha etc. Everybody knows about Operation Python Dance and the accompanying humiliation and slaughter of Eastern youths. Unarmed IPOB group, pleading for human rights and begging for a referendum, is declared a terrorist group in Nigeria where genocide, banditry, callous blood wasting is the order of the day. The final push-out will come (but God forbid) when, after we have done all that is expected of us to produce the next President: we get quite united, we lobby and beg the North west, we lobby and beg the North East, the North Central, Southwest and Southsouth, we lobby and beg most groups in Nigeria yet, because we are Igbo, we do not get our person as the next President of Nigeria after Buhari. We must take it that the rest of Nigeria have rejected our citizenship of Nigeria. Of course, as our people say, ”one rejected does not reject oneself”. The consequence is obvious. And we are the people who, having voted with our feet for one Nigeria, give the country the semblance of a nation, by being everywhere in Nigeria. Furthermore, by applying our dictum that ”ebe onye bi, ka ona awachi” (where a person lives, there he mends/builds/develops) we have vastly developed every state in Nigeria – dominating the development of the capital cities. It is also clear to everybody that we are the only zone that has not produced an elected Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria.
The Southsouth Peoples
The treatment of the peoples of the Southsouth is not much better. The Chief Justice of Nigeria, who came from that zone was undeservedly removed with impunity. In his Democracy Day Open Letter to The President, Chief Edwin Clark, the leader of that zone and also the founder and Chairman of South-Middle Belt Forum, listed a number of unfair treatments (denial of topmost offices for which they were most qualified) meted out to senior Federal officers from the zone. By far what is most painful to the people of Southsouth is the virtual denial to them of the benefits of the crude oil extracted from their territories. Eighty percent of the oil wells in Nigeria are said to belong to the Northerners. What percentage is owned by the people on whose land the oil is located?
North Central (Middle Belt) and Northeast
The Northeast and Middlebelt peoples are busy burying their sons and daughters who are frequently slaughtered as if their lives don’t matter, and the killers are usually never brought to justice. An articulate Middlebelt person put their grief this way: ”we were deceived into believing that we were authentic northerners and we bore the northern cross, killing and antagonizing other peoples, especially the Easterners. We were, indeed, deceived, used and abused”. It was no surprise when a group of Middlebelt persons solemnly declared that they were no longer Northerners. The Northeast people are not as bitter, about Nigeria, as the Middlebelt people. However there was a big shock and surprise when, in a meeting in which all zones were represented, a 75 years old Northeast person broke down and cried like a child while he was narrating the abuses, insults and inhuman treatment meted to his people in the zone. Neither zone is happy with the Fulani domination and control of Northern Nigeria – and Nigeria. The resentment of the Fulani by peoples of the Northeast is from much earlier period, but it is, to some extent, doused by a religious factor. The peoples of these zones, however, have not shown any strong interest in leaving Nigeria. Not even the Bornu peoples are anxious to leave Nigeria, the devastation of the state by Boko Haram notwithstanding.
Both zones crave for Gideon Okar’s Nigeria – Nigeria without five northernmost states. Okar’s Nigeria is also desired by all southern Nigerians. She (Okar’s Nigeria) is quite large and can develop to become a major Power among nations. Her greatest attraction is the acceptance by all the groups in her of the idea that ”all men are created equal”, and there is no ”born to rule” psychosis. Yes, Okar’s Nigeria may be viable. It may also have other attractions and positives. But because size matters, it is only a ”second best”. Should we leave the ‘first best” and go for the second best, if the first best is retrievable?
God created Nigeria – not Okar’s Nigeria, using the instrumentality of British imperialism. God had in mind a manifest destiny for Nigeria and armed Nigeria superbly for that destiny (of lifting the image, respect and dignity of all blacks on earth). Man’s mess up of Nigeria seems to have passed the point of ”remediability”. But there is nothing our God cannot do. He is all knowing. His Powers are infinite. Fellow Nigerians, let us all go on our knees and beg our Almighty God to Arise! Resurrect Conscience in Nigeria!! Unveil New Nigeria!!! Let not man prevail.
Okwadike, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife CON.
Garkuwan Fika, Akintolugboye of Egbaland.