By Prof. Obasi Igwe
Forever the Igbo will keep on mourning the first Black-on-Black Genocide committed by organized terrorists who happened to be in government between 1966 and 1970 in Nigeria, and since they’ve refused to do so, one day some Igbo shall erect a befitting Memorial in honour of the millions cruelly murdered.
But the Igbo should not permit their legitimate anger to becloud their reasoning, in order not to once again fall into the new, emerging traps such as was set for us by the Aburi treachery and pogroms that built up into the war. Many are silent probably concerned of being misconstrued, but we cannot live in fear of others and also in fear of ourselves, for what is at stake is the survival of our peoples.
This is not the first time of making this humble appeal as a concerned Igbo elder and presumed part of the intelligentsia. After this, one or two of previous appeals will be reposted over the presumption of self-sufficient capacity by some Igbo in the era of coalition warfare. Other Nigerians – Yoruba, Middle Belt, Southern “minorities” who presumably also need freedom from Fulani caliphatism – are once again getting smarter than us; they, especially the West, are moving far ahead of the Igbo in all spheres, reinforcing the gargantuan leaps they already gained on account of the Biafran war.
Even before I was National Coordinator of the Igbo Civil Society Coalition (ICSCO) we had exhaustively examined the Nigerian situation and returned to many sad truisms:1. There is an agenda to impose a sahelian Fulani coast-reaching homeland in Nigeria using islam to enlarge the radius of support. This is not a hidden agenda; from Dan Fodio to Sardauna to others today, there is a relentless drive to dip the Koran into the Southern coast, meaning contiguous ownership to the sea. There’s no other reason for grazing routes, areas, water resources, untouchability of AK-47 terrorists and so on.
Now, who and who are being “concessioned” the coastal ports; has the “Koran” not been dipped into the sea? The Igbo knew and trumpeted it since 1966; other Nigerians who would join to kill the Igbo didn’t know or care. Now they do.2. We rightly or wrongly noted that some ethnic nationalities’ elites seem to love slavery more than freedom, and ready to cooperate in the subjugation of their peoples either so long as their temporary joys are met or so long as the Igbo are at the lower rung of the enslavement ladder.
3. We also noted that the January 15 attempted revolution was sparked mainly by an ongoing genocide against some of these brothers and the imminent “walloping” of the rest of Nigeria as was already going on in the West by those intent on “concluding the jihad”.4. While the Igbo clearly saw the caliphatic agenda in the genocidal war, many of these ethnic groups already set free by January 15, instead of standing free and firm with the Igbo for the Aburi agreement, went behind to consort a war to resubmit themselves back to Caliphate servitude, competing with each other in murdering the Igbo and other Easterners in millions.
5. We noticed that series of 20th century Igbo leaders (Zik, Ironsi, Nzeogwu, Ojukwu, Ekwueme, etc) had made terrible mistakes, the worst being the assumption that their interlocutors really loved Nigeria, or that an oppressed necessarily defined his oppressor correctly and seriously desired to be free therefrom.6. We saw in this political naiveté the crux of the Igbo tragedy, and realized that we should never again be too trusting or presumptive about the good, rational or wonderful intentions of others! It’s not that past Igbo leaders were not aware that one shouldn’t fight without coalitions, but the naive assumption that others would exactly know what was best for them and stand firmly for it was a major weakness.
The Igbo are not automatically better, but they at least love freedom more than anything else: it’s in their DNA. Take everything but leave civilized freedom to them. Others know this.7. We severally noted the boasts and threats by some groups that they regret not having “concluded” the genocide, because they see some Igbo still hovering around and annoyingly arguing about justice and fair play, which in their culture are a privilege and not a right.
They also regret not having renamed Igbo cities and hamlets as being done in central Plateau/Southern Kaduna. They need an opportunity to “conclude” something, and the killings and abductions are mere probes into openings for massive war.8. Fastforward to 1999 “democratic rule”: because of their wrong definition of “enemy”, myopic selfishness and lack of a strong will to overcome caliphatism, Obasanjo from 1976 allowed more states and LGAs in the North, and unlawfully permitted the Sharia; while Jonathan who wouldn’t develop Eastern ports to prosper all of the East surrendered even before the battle was concluded. Both myopic men couldn’t even learn from the Ironsi past to realize that they needed a permanent restructuring of at least the military-security services to prevent their ever being used to subjugate their peoples again; and then, what is called “Igbo leaders” is hardly anything more than the isolated and heavily protected people we see today doing what they are doing.
9. There is no mystery in what the present federal government is doing; almost everyone has noted that they simply dumped the APC Manifesto and Nigerian Constitution in preference for a different agenda. And very interestingly they no longer harbour the pretence of concealing it, because they have prepared for “any eventuality” military-security wise. This is why they confidently talk down on others, hobnob with terrorists who eradicate villagers and farms with no consequences, while furiously bombing “the bandits” without killing a single soul.10. We noted the need to learn from history, especially our own history, especially that a just cause does not guarantee a just outcome, and that sometimes “two steps forward and one step backwards can win a chase game.
Any interested youth may read two old books: Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the oppressed” (1970) and Vladimir Lenin’s (1905) “Two tactics of social democracy in the democratic revolution”. With the above and other observations in mind, we realized that to survive:(1). The Igbo must continue to wage a peaceful democratic struggle, but never again fight alone. Yes, because of our democratic culture, we are least disposed to kowtow to oppression, but if other Nigerians wouldn’t join the Igbo to fight for their freedoms or at least a modern democratic secular state, we can “endure the unendurable” and see who comes out worst.(2).
Despite other weaknesses, we lost the Biafran war mainly because of the absence of world power military support. There was no way we could have defeated the NATO and Warsaw Pact, Arab/Islamic powers, the OAU and others. We need know that that situation has not changed much today, except that on the pretext of fighting terrorism Nigeria has amassed more deadly weapons that are already being used against innocent Igbo/Eastern populations.(3). We know that the kidnap, arrest and tortures that Nnamdi Kanu and others are undergoing are unlawful, immoral and hypocritical, and that is why we insist on their unconditional release, but it would be a cruel strategic and tactical mistake and unwise political calculation to destroy the Igbo economy and further impoverish and weaken our people in doing so. It’s doubtful if Nnamdi Kanu himself would even approve of this.
(4). When Government Tompolo, Asari Dokubo, Saro-Wiwa, Abiola and now Sunday Igboho, were/are being oppressed, the Ijaw, Ogoni, Yoruba, didn’t start destroying the livelihoods of the very peoples they were fighting for. Therefore, why should we be different, punishing our people in a struggle to benefit them, with absolutely no effect on the oppressors, including their “security votes”, etc.?(5). Destroying the Igbo economy is exactly what those ruling Nigeria are working hard to achieve; why should anyone help them in doing so? Igbo have been denied their ports and historical economy since 1967, and their industrialization locked down for half a century: must we add another level to that 54-year lockdown?
(6). Nnamdi Kanu is a worthy son of the Igbo nation and he is suffering beyond description, but will his help come from our weakness? Why don’t we coordinate with other nationalities in order to make it very difficult for anyone to think of further harming him?(7). There are millions of Igbo families that cannot eat any day they do not sell and buy. Should their daily needs be ignored or, are we to apply starvation to make them “cooperate”? Should these genuine supporters of their Igbo cause be allowed to add to their sufferings and start thinking twice? This is another reason to cancel the sit-at-home practice.
(8). Factions of the government and security services that do not wish the Igbo or even Nigeria well can exploit the sit-at-home to ensure a permanent suffocation of Igboland and asphyxiation of its people. If UGM can kill in the name of Igbo and IPOB/ESN, what prevents people in IPOB/ESN “uniforms” coming out to “enforce” sit-at-homes, invade schools and stop examinations, or attack traders and travellers on the highways? Only God knows the chaos that would ensue, with a repeat of the “saboteur” syndrome in which anyone that offered a different suggestion even if a better one became enemy. Should Igbo not bbe wiser now? We know that injustice has frustrated many of our youths, but it should not becloud our faculty.
(9). If the Igbo are firmly united there is no worthy objective they cannot attain. Let everyone work for this unity in all the 13 or so contiguous states of Igbo major and “minor” native preordination or provenance. Whether restructuring on the basis of existing states, nationalities, or proper regions; or a genuine modern democratic secular state of whatever constituent units; or absolute self-determination into a Biafra, there is nothing a united Igbo cannot achieve especially if in coordination with other like-minded Nigerians. If we don’t, others know this, and that is why they invest everything to ensure Igbo disunity.
(10). Therefore, let today, Tuesday, September 14, 2021, be the end to sit-at-homes, except and until the West, Niger Delta, Middle Belt, and other oppressed nationalities interested in freedom from domestic enslavement join in them! The Igbo have a good cause but should not expose themselves to more slaughter in Nigeria. They are killing the Igbo on every pretext; we have no weapons to fight back; but there is a superior weapon lying dormant: “never going it alone, but coordinating with others nationwide”.
You are up against people who kill human beings like animals and have no stake in a Nigeria they brought nothing civilizational into, but with a strong international coalition to destroy its people if need be. Your sit-at-homes and lone rangings only promote their divide-and-rule and enhance their power vis-a-vis yours. Please, Ako n’Uche! Thanks greatly, compatriots.
*Prof. Igwe is an erudite professor of Political Sciences.