June 12: Gowon’s RRR policy introspection and SE exclusion for Nigeria unity – an elder statesman’s view

…fingers Britain in Nigeria’s economic and political malaise

The seeming endless wasting of  lives all over Nigeria under whatever guises has attracted severe admonition from an elder statesman and manufacturing giant, Dr Chike Obidigbo.

In a 7-page treatise which he presented to journalists in Awka late this afternoon in commemoration of 2024 Democracy Day, Dr Obidigbo while commending President Bola Tinubu for his bold steps in confronting certain areas of our national life, he took a cursory look at key issues bedevilling the nation’s unity, economic/socio political advancement as it concerns the Igbo nation especially.

Describing the presentation as his “personal views on the current dilemma of the Igbo Nation, with the prevailing socio-political and economic challenges defying Nigeria’s continuing search for economic stability, social harmony and political unity”, Dr Obidigbo noted that “the most painful thing about all these deaths, whether of our security personnel or of our civilians, youths or women, is that they are all our people being destroyed;our youths,our so called leaders of our tomorrow. When we wilfully and ignorantly wipe them off today, who then will lead our already bleak tomorrow out of the current darkness we created through our ignorance and foolishness? 

“This is the only country I know that does not value the lives of her youths, infact of anyone, infants, youths, men and women. Our people are killed anyhow, everywhere, on the streets, inside praying houses, in their farms, in the markets, inside their houses. Infact, one can meet brutal death anywhere. 

“I have therefore invited you to this meeting to share my pains and ideas about the current situation in our country, especially as it concerns our dear Igbo community.  Renewed attention has been focused on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who, in 2014, started calling for the highest level of democracy, which is referendum.”

The former Zonal Chairman of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) pointed out that “commentators and critics have tried to condemn the IPOB methodologies, especially the suggestion for the possible secession of Biafra from Nigeria in protest against the continued Igbo marginalization . Even the worst enemies of Ndigbo acknowledge that we are still very much marginalized in this country. There is no doubt about it. 

“Needless to say that the IPOB agitation gave room to a lot of attention to Southeast from both allies, friends and enemies of Igboland. Either out of distaste for the methods adopted by IPOB or as a continuation of both social and economic blockade against Igbo, attention shifted away from the self help efforts of NdIgbo to renewed plots for subjugation of the people.

“No attempt whatsoever was made to evaluate the level of implementation or otherwise of the General Yakubu Gowon’s promise of the Three Rs-Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Restoration,- which was made to the Eastern Region immediately after the civil war.

“Rather, a semblance of renewed war is still  being waged against NdIgbo and even the entire former Eastern Region, but with particular emphasis on Igbo land. The orgy of violence and bloodshed in Igbo land began on a massive scale, putting a seeming lie to the famed Igbo respect for the sanctity of life…”

He noted that “there have been allegations of false flag operations and fifth columnists using the cover of the agitation by the mainstream IPOB for a referendum to determine the basis of Nigeria’s unity, to cause mayhem, violence and criminality in the Southeast.

“Let me state here that I condemn unequivocally any attack on security agencies and indeed, violence of any kind. The assassination of five soldiers in Aba Abia State some days ago is unwarranted, stands condemnable, and I agree that it is right for the military authorities to thoroughly investigate the matter. But, that should not be taken as excuse or impetus for rash martial actions in the name of reprisal.

“Recently, the members of the National Assembly celebrated 25 years of democracy in this dispensation. But no mention was made about the issue of equitable distribution of political powers or spread of social amenities and economic opportunities.

“The killing of the soldiers at Obikabia in Abia State reminded of the breach of Owerri Maximum Security Prison in Imo State,which led to the massacre of several innocent youths of Igbo extraction….

Obidigbo blamed the enthronement of insecurity on otherwise secure and peaceful South East geopolitical zone as part of a broad plan of economic strangulation of the region. He stated, “Businesses that tried by every means to thrive, despite official intimidations,multiple taxations, infrastructural deficits, very hostile business environment, and several other forms of economic disincentives are now being  literally  forced to migrate in droves out of South East to nearby states and elsewhere,  otherwise to close down their operations in South East.  I am a living example,and a witness.

“On the political terrain, it is worrisome that despite the creation of six geopolitical zones, which was expected to provide equal opportunities and inclusive leadership, the Southeast has not been supported to produce the president of this country. This imbalance in the leadership of the country underscores the other sore political points of lopsided allocation of number of states per zone. While other zones have as many as seven and six states each, Southeast is being punished with just five states. This is sad when you consider that National Cake is shared out  on state by state basis. 

Obidigbo a manufacturing guru with factories in Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra wondered why the Nigerian state has continued to behave in such a way as if isolating the Igbo is the best policy option to guarantee the country’s unity. “You must have noticed from the recent reconstitution of Governing boards of federal tertiary institutions and Polytechnics how one state produced as many as 25 candidates while the entire Southeast was allocated only 12.

‘It is gladdening however to note though, that President Ahmed Tinubu refused to endorse that obvious slight, but the development goes far to reveal the reality of continuing marginalization of NdIgbo in the Nigeria project.

“Not long ago, Mr. Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho, regained his freedom and re-joined his fellow Yoruba people after the Federal Government dropped all charges of treasonable felony against him for calling for the separation of the Yoruba nation from Nigeria due to the murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen in Yoruba land under President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Also, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, the former Presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC), was allowed to breathe the air of freedom after the Federal Government dropped charges against the young man for calling for Revolution Now in Nigeria to address poor governance and bad leadership in the country.

“Just last week, the President of Myetti Allah, Bello Badejo, was declared innocent from the charges of terrorism after the Federal Government withdrew charges against him for setting up a nationwide Fulani vigilante to secure the country despite the existence of Nigeria security agencies.

“In all these gestures of peace and reconciliation, the Attorney General of the Federation, Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, came out boldly to declare that the only way the leader of mainstream IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, can regain his freedom is through the court,despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Nigeria had made a judicial pronouncement dismissing his trial for treasonable felony.

As an elder statesman, all these and more are  agitating my mind and I decided to invite you so that through you I will make my feelings and opinion known to Nigerians and others elsewhere.

Nigeria Democracy And Ndi-Igbo

There is a popular saying that absolute vigilance is expected from any sane person surrounded by enemies. Like Chinua Achebe stated in his great work, ‘There was a Country’, “Nigerians will probably achieve consensus on no other matter than their common resentment of the Igbo.”

” Tomorrow Nigeria will be celebrating Democracy Day. Going by what happened recently in the presidential elections in Senegal and South Africa, Nigeria’s celebration of democracy comes as another example of official deception. June 12 as Democracy Day is a reminder of the abortion of hope and desecration of the people’s will.

“Some observers have drawn a parallel between what happened on June 12, 1993 and the recent events of February 25, 2023. The annulment of the 1993 election was not different from rigged or violent elections. The question that arises is, when will Nigerians truly say that they elect their leaders,as happened recently in Senegal and South Africa ?

“In the South East, despite the 25 years of unbroken civil rule, elections have always provided opportunities for those who are interested in the internal subjugation of Igbo land to impose leaders on the people. This undemocratic programme, which started from Anambra State and manifested in Imo State has always defined elections in the South East zone.

” I say this of a fact because I contested governorship elections in Anambra State and I knew the level of interest shown by powerful individuals from outside the zone on who becomes governor of every Igbo state.

“The political emasculation of Igbo seems to be the most proficient political strategy handed down by the British to ensure their continued influence on the socio-political life of its former West African colony.

He accused the British government of remaining steadfast in intervening in Nigeria’s internal affairs as if Nigeria is her entitled source of livelihood, and NdIgbo her major obstacle to drawing those her entitlements and benefits. “This undue antagonism against Igbo is not limited to politics, but goes down to economic activities, especially trade, commerce and industry.

What to do as way Out

“Having identified some of the various obstacles to Igbo progress, it behooves on our leaders, particularly  Igbo political leaders, (which I doubt genuinely exist); Igbo Socio-Cultural Organisations and Igbo Think Tanks, to sit down and fashion out a workable course of action to free us from these heavy man made burdens.

“First, we must realize that the progressive nature of Ndigbo elicits envy, jealousy,suspicion and outright hatred,which could culminate in deaths. The British sees the growth of Igbo economy as detrimental to theirs and so are ever prepared to do all in their power to arrest it,and at all cost.

“While the British tends to believe that it is only Ndigbo that are opposed to their complete takeover of Nigeria’s economy, the Fulanis have been schooled into nursing similar interest. The Fulani has recently shown interest to overrun the entire country, introduce Islamic religion as a ploy to enthrone their oligarchy over Nigeria.

“Sadly, Ndigbo have been identified as the only stumbling block and so deserve to be decimated, and if possible, wiped off the face of this earth. Interestingly, both British and Fulani are joined by a common objective, which is the elimination of their common enemy – Ndigbo. This has made it easy for both to partner to checkmate all prosperous activities of Ndigbo in Nigeria.   

“As Britain and Fulani work out their plans, other Nigerians watch helplessly in the false belief that Igbo marginalization and mistreatment is in the best interest of the country they are all forced to belong.

“Sometimes these other ethnic nationalities get manipulated into believing that the Ndigbo are their problems and so they get co-opted to join forces with the Igbo haters.

Unfortunately, it has not yet occurred to them  that total silencing of Ndigbo will render them vulnerable and prostrate before their overlords. Its only a matter of time. Yakubu Gowon, T Y Danjuma and several others of their type are now realising the futility of their past actions against Ndigbo.

“Every move by Fulanis is dictated by the British. All the dangerous economic plots against Ndigbo are intended to benefit both parties. All the immoral politicians being supported into top political positions by the duo  are there to do their biddings at the detriment and total disadvantage of Nigerians, especially Ndigbo. 

“The planned Constitutional review would produce another master plan to further delay Igbo emancipation in an open society and egalitarian country. The suggestion of one single term of six years for the Presidency, unless it is clearly stated that the rotation will begin from South East would mean that another pathway for violent confrontation and continued friction in the country has been created.

“Both the constitution review and planned national census would test the leadership acumen, historical understanding of the present crop of Igbo leaders, if only  they could limit their appetite for primitive accumulation and engage themselves in deep and creative thinking about the enthronement of a just society,especially for Ndigbo. 

“Unfortunately, Igbo has allowed itself to be demystified by internal wranglings and ungodly behaviours. The involvement of our young people in get rich quick,at all cost schemes, including yahoo yahoo, rituals, drug trafficking, sex trafficking and other anti-social practices have helped to redefine Igbo identity.

“We seem to have forgotten our resolute belief in God and the primacy of love for neighbour. It was this total belief and faith in the Almighty that enabled us to survive three years of agonizing genocidal civil war,the degree of which has neither been seen nor known elsewhere. . That spirit was captured in the theme song of Biafrans during the war: Bia nulu onu anyi nna bia nulu onu anyi, onwero mgbe ike mmadu ka akali ike Chukwu, nna bia nulu..

In the beginning

Nigeria’s history of being a country is usually traced to the amalgamation by Lord Lugard, of the Lagos, Southern and Northern protectorates, which took place in 1914. Unlike the northern protectorate, the Southern protectorate had two large and distinctive ethnic nationalities that were subdivided into Eastern and Western Regions.

The Igbo is one of the about 250 ethnic nationalities in the country. Found majorly in the Southeast and neighbouring geopolitical zones, Igbo have been credited with hardwork and enterprise.

But, amid those special gifts of industry, it has been discovered that Ndi-Igbo have some shortcomings and experienced some setbacks in Nigeria. It is therefore necessary to review some additional problems that confront the Igbo nation, especially in their attempt to make positive contributions in the Nigeria’s development.

 The prominent challenge that Igbo face is the issue of self-imposed mediocre political leadership as well as outside influence on leadership recruitment. 

After achieving political independence in 1960, Nigeria had three Regions; the North, the East, and the West. It was in 1963 that the fourth, Midwest Region, was created through a plebiscite. 

The Eastern Region was predominantly Igbo with neighbors comprising Ibibio, Anang, Efik of Akwa Ibom,and Cross River, including Ijaw and Ikwere of today’s Rivers and Bayelsa States, in addition to few other minor ethnic groups. 

The West was predominantly Yoruba with some of them mischievously carved out,and joined to the North, as could be found especially in the present Kwara and Kogi States. The North was a motley of ethnic nationalities and nation states lumped together principally to protect, enlarge, and prosper British interest in the political creation called Nigeria.

The Igbo-dominated Eastern Region under the premiership of late Dr. Michael Okpara prospered so much economically to the point of being considered as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and the fastest-growing economy in the entire Sub-Saharan Africa.

This Prosperity of Eastern Region raised so much animosity against Ndigbo . This bitter animosity lasted all through the war period,and has unfortunately not subsided  even till date, clear Fifty Fours years after the war. States were created in such a manner to cause mutual distrust between Igbo and her closest neighbours, especially  former members of the same Eastern Region.

 The height of the siege on Igbo is that even ethnic nationalities with their roots in Igbo land began to alienate and even distance themselves from Igbo. This goes a long way to prove the saying that while success has many siblings, failure remains an orphan.

Although the civil war officially ended 54 years ago, it continues to rage against the Igbo in very subdued but very aggressive manner, giving the clear impression that the war may not afterall has ended. Or has it ended in your consideration?

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