“QUIT the north by October 1st, or else”…. “Quit the Niger Delta, or else”… “We are quitting Calabar, for fear of being harmed”. “We are negotiating with the elders at the north. “The Ohanaeze Indigbo has met with the Arewa Consultative Forum, and a better talk is on the way”. “Nigeria is one. No one has the right whatsoever to give anybody notice to quit”. These and many more expressions have been trending like epidemic since last month. The media is awash with the news of some uninformed elements at the upper roof, who, after eating to their fill, knew not what to do but to call on some set of people to vacate a perceived area of their land.
That the Igbos should quit the north, on or before October 1st is not new to our hearing. The dust this call has raised at the dawn of the morning is blinding the eyes. The land of the rising sun….., Biafrans and Igbos have being jittering, swinging from right to left in the socio-political spindle of uncanny quandary – since the threat of eviction was made.
It is very pertinent to note that the call to quit is druggy in nature – plausible deniability of the fundamental human right, seem to be of a chameleon-like colouration of the intent and purpose of this summons –by some misguided youths, as the papers have reported. This is because the devil seems to be in the details. It is on record, no doubt that for ages now, the easterners have been agitating secession. The demand by the Igbos to part ways with the collective gamut of a common nation has been before I, who is writing here, was ever born. The androidic disenfranchisement of some major ethnic group in the project called Nigeria has been the bane for the outcry of having the state of Biafra.
It was the Nobel Lauret, Wole Soyinka, who said that “you can only kill a man, but you cannot kill an ideology”. The widow-like, a child-who-needs-akara cries for the half-yellow-sun and orange country, is an ideology, passed on to generations. Man makes history, and history makes man. History is replete with the men whose idea it was to have the state of Biafra, the warlord, Ojukwu, being the chief proponent. His disciples, with his chief apostle – Nnamdi Kanu, are still breathing fire and thunder – in the quest for the actualization of Biafra.
As ideologies, its tenets and principles are wont to be passed on, different aegis have been midwived with such names as Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, (IPOB) and other sundry movements which is a toga used in rousing the consciousness of those who have keyed into the righteous, but obnoxious demand for secession – fanning the ember of social-political and cultural inanities and sustaining, as it were, the dreams of their founding fathers.
Nigeria is a federation no doubt. Whether its federating federacy is federal, is a question whose answer can only be determined by those involved (?). From north to south, east to west, the country is laced with all manner of aegis – with nomenclatures peculiar to them, calling or rather demanding one thing or another for their regions. Nigeria, it’s believed is a creation of Lord Lugard and his wife. And this is why Sir Amadu Bello, critically analysed it and put a period in his salvo by saying that “it’s a mere geographical expression”. It is not a myth or a hoax that the different peoples and ethnic groups see themselves as different distinct peoples – deserving to be separate, managing their affairs, their own way.
The Coalition of Northern Youth is an umbrella under a bigger canopy. Hatched in the tone of the call to the Igbos to leave the north is buried an idea seating like a time bomb. Calling on the Igbos to vacate the north is not without, or unconnected with some hidden motive or agenda waiting to transmogrify, and snowball into resurrecting the pogrom of 1967-1970. It’s on record that during the war, a lot of the Igbos were butchered like cow. Charred in droves, they were petted with bullets and matcheted with a demoniac vigour. What the people went through, the mouth is too heavy to tell. The figures of the massacre are part of our history. Is it a doubt however, that those who are calling on the Igbos to leave did not witness the mayhem and genocide of 1967, which the country has not recovered from?
War has never been a pleasant method of conflict resolution. The underdevelopment of some of parts of Nigeria is a clinical testament and outcome of the 1967 bloodshed –as the relics of the war. I am saintly sure that as the papers reported on May 30th, and June 12th, 2017 and has kept pouring out every day, that the Northern Youth Forum has asked the Igbos to vacate the north on or before October 1st, that these youths are either misguided, uninformed, misinformed, or disinformed. Because I fall in the categorization of youth who never saw the war, but I am filled with chilling trepidation whenever I hear or read the tales of Biafra-Nigerian civil war. Hence, I am of the opinion that the call by the Coalition of Northern Youths is an errant display of ignorance. These crop of humans MAY NOT have any inkling as to the magnitude of that war, and what it cost the Nigerian state. Hence, they seem to be blinded and drunken with ideological move of exuberance – just as the new breed of Biafran agitators know not the head or the tail of their demand. While it is legitimate to want to separate from a union or a yoking together which may have gone strain, how that demand is carried out, cannot be void of criticism. Nnamdi Kanu and his boys are creating tension in the land, and heating up the political space. Those who have the penchant for drumming up some tribalistic sentiment – due to their whapped understanding of the complexities of the human species, should think twice.
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states categorically neat and clear that we are one nation, one people, one country; everyone and anybody is free to live, own, build and trade in any part of Nigeria. But this union or together as one, seem to be tearing apart with calls from different quarters on structuring, and not restructuring. Biafra, Arewa, Odudua, is all ideologies. Whether it’s a reality, judging from the document that binds us together as one is left in the rubrics and polemics of political science and sociology. Because, to undo the country, is to undo the constitution firstly! We know better. Don’t we?
Talking about Nnamdi Kanu – the kid, made a king, he’s raising dust mixed with gas. Kanu has said that there will be no election in Anambra, come November. What an effrontery! The Nigerian government should investigate the truth of the matter and see to it. As stated earlier, Biafra is an ideology. Whether it will be realized is dependent upon those who stand firm to pursue it, and the constitution’s position. But as they do so, they should not forget to rememer1967.
Kanu, having been released from prison, is busy gallivanting all over the place, making speeches that are inciting, and recruiting young minds, who like the Coalition of Northern Youth, know not what they are in for. Whapped up by youthful zest, no one seems to think aloof. All of the adult-youths who are calling for Biafra, do they have their children in the register? When it happens, who is going to bear the brunt? That’s a tale for another essay. But for those who are blindly in support of Kanu, they are treading a dangerous ground, because the sophistry of the Nigerian government has not waned. Where are the Igbos not domiciled? They have business enterprise scattered all of the land and beyond the continent of Africa. Instead of the elders, political juggernauts, business tycoons, academics, religious minds in the region to think on how to join forces together and bring human and economic development to the east, some are dreaming of the actualization of Biafra, in 2017, after 1967 loss of lives and properties.
The federal government of Nigeria seems to be in quandary as to what to do to the said Nnamdi, like what the Ghanaian writer, Ama Ata Aido described as the dilemma of a ghost. Kanu is released today, like a guinea pig, he goes back to the mire and the government considers re-arresting him. What a quagmire. But then, the government is trying to tread softly so not to infringe upon human right, perhaps.
Every single person in Nigeria from all the geopolitical zones has where their interest lies. Some people’s sympathy is for the Igbos, others to the Nigerian nation. Some will subscribe to Arewa, others to Odudua, or the cause of Biafra. Whatever the case, we should be mindful not to resurrect the pogrom of 1967. War is expensive. Let’s learn to tolerate one another as our Bibles and Quran teaches. Our constitution says we are one. Let’s leave as one, for when we urinate together, it will foam very well, but when we are disintegrated, defeat from external forces is bound to happen. I wish to call on all those in charge of our social, political, economic and religious affairs to mediate in this matter. The northern youths should sheath their sword. MASSOB, IPOB, should please, pursue other life and society- developing causes and throw away the chase of secession to the birds of the wind. My fellow youths, children died in their thousands in 1967. You and I were not there. Think of your today and tomorrow. Know who you follow and what following him or her is going to bring to you. We are Nigerians. Let’s remain as one united formidable people and shun marginalization, hate, tribalistic sentiment, and see how we can develop as a people.
Amaechi Emmanuel is a Student of English, University of Lagos. A United Nations Award Winner; he writes essays, short stories, poems, and most importantly, he is interested in political, social, civil leadership, youths and girl-child discourses.
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