Editor’s note: A lot of Igbos have been championing the agitation for an independent Biafra state and the agitation seems to have increased since Goodluck Jonathan lost the presidential election.
In this opinion, Joe Igbokwe argues that Igbos are being fooled into believing that Biafra is the solution to their problem and blindly following those calling for secession when they have no idea what the Biafra war was like
Silence is something not golden
Let me start by appreciating Mr. Churchill Okonkwo for this thought-provoking piece. I have read the piece like this from wonderful Igbo like Prof Ozodi Osuji, Peter Claver, Chike Okonkwo, SKC Ogbonna, CDon Adinuba, Zara Gift Onyinye, Geo Uguru, etc who see what other Igbo cannot see. Churchill Okonkwo has in this piece taken the debate further on what Igbo is losing by the hate they preach every day and the rude celebration of ethnic bigotry at a time like this. I cannot thank Churchill Okonkwo enough for this courageous exposition when men who should know better are shamelessly and cowardly maintaining a grave silence. They know the truth but cannot speak.
When a writer is silent he is lying. Churchill, I join you to raise my hands for the world to see where I stand at a time like this. Real men take a stand in the days of trouble. Twenty-one years ago, I wrote my first Book, Igbos: 25 YEARS AFTER BIAFRA. In that book I wrote that it is true that Igbo have been marginalized in every sector in Nigeria be it at the Federal level, State, Local Government, Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, House of Reps, Senate, and even in Revenue allocations, Appointments, Infrastructure distribution, National institutions, etc. I acknowledged the fact that even as painful as it is our people marginalize themselves even further without knowing it.
Learning from history
I had thought that 46 years after the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War, Igbo would have been matured enough to throw persecution complex, leadership complex and defeatism attitude into the dustbin of history knowing fully well that the victors of that Civil War are really not better than Igbo today in Nigeria, everything considered. I have even justified this claim from the world-class research conducted by The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council “that all forms of indignity against human lives, against human persons, debase the perpetrators more than the victims.”
Today Igbo are at it again just like what took place before pogrom in 1966. Immediately after the 16years struggle for democracy ended in 1999, a coward and lily-livered Igbo clown called Ralph Uwazurike who could not raise a voice against IBB or Abacha in the days of the locust began to call for the State of Biafra.
He was ignored because it was seen as a business venture to raise money for himself and his family. Soon it became a big business for carpenters and bricklayers. Soon suspicion came in, and the center could no longer hold. The rest is now history.
Before the 2015 elections, I warned Igbo that a President Jonathan will not fly in 2015 given the obvious and painful fact that Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani have formed an alliance which left South East and South-South to a miserable minority. Igbo did not listen because they believed so much in the power of incumbency. When it became obvious that Card Readers and PVCs will be deployed to checkmate rigging and falsification of results, Jonathan’s handlers bribed OPC and MASSOB to stage a protest against Prof. Jega in Lagos, Umuahia, Anambra, and Abia. The rest is not history. TAN had planned to give Jonathan 25 million votes by all means possible.
Soon we began to hear of one funny character called Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB, abusing other Nigerians and calling Nigeria a zoo. It soon became another huge business as this unknown, untrained and gullible boy flew First Class to travel all over the world preaching hate and ethnic bigotry, deceiving gullible Nigerians like him in diaspora, including economic refugees and cultural savages. Like every other business, the lowest of the low in Igboland keyed into his useless and brainless project.
Anger across Igboland due to Jonathan’s failure to clinch the presidency grew like wildfire and our people found solace in Kanu's brigandage.
The Biafra cry today
Today we hear Biafra, Biafra on the internet; we hear it in Igboland, but one thing is certain; we have to debate this one. We did not discuss the 1966 to 1970 Biafra and the 1967 to 1970 Civil War, and we all know the consequences. Now the Biafra of 2016 will be hotly debated, every option weighed, every 'i' dotted and every 't' crossed.
The self-evident truth is that I have 25 reasons why Biafra cannot stand in Nigeria again. But will my people listen to me? Did they read Churchill Okonkwo’s hot potato? Did Kanu witness the Civil War? Where did they tell the stories? Did they see the pictures? Do they know the Igbo investment in Nigeria? Do they know that Biafra is too small for Igbo enterprise? Do they know about the ethnic war in Rwanda? Do they know about the state of South-Sudan Republic? Do they know about our children flown to Gabon and other places that never returned? Do they know anything? I can go on and on.
A bright Igbo son Prof Ozodi Osuji has described Igbo mentality these days as one saddled with a childish sense of superiority and paranoid grandiosity, but we can do better than this. Igbo are not the best God ever created in Nigeria. Every ethnic group in Nigeria has its champions and stars. The North of Hausa-Fulani feeds the South. This is huge power, SIMPLICITA. The people of Southern Nigeria have their own prodigious power too. This is the power of diversity.
My take is that sensible Igbo in Nigeria must begin to speak out like Churchill Okonkwo and others. They are the real thinkers in Igboland who see what other Igbo cannot see. Let the real debate start and let all the sides be heard loud and clear. I throw my hat into the ring, and I am ready to go the whole hog. Let the real men stand up so that charlatans, crooks and biafrauds will disappear.
This opinion first appeared in Sahara Reporters
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