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Can Obasanjo & co-horts conquer Ndigbo?
By Engr. S. Ochonma
( Thursday, June 21, 2007 )
On January 15, 1970, after about 2 years, 7 months of intensive warfare, the Nigerian Civil war officially came to an end. The war had consumed millions of souls on both sides in the conflict. It had been such a useless war, a war that was completely avoidable but which the major actors had allowed to engulf the nation owing mainly to their selfishness, ethnic bigotry, hatred for one another, as well as the immaturity and naivety of the boys who were at the helm of affairs in the country at that time.
The Head of state was about 29 and most of the governors and commanding officers were all youths, under 40. They had not been exposed to the real world of governance. They had not learned neither through their own experience nor that of others before them, the art of governance, yet they dabbled into leadership at the highest level.
The only true soldier and General in their mist had been consumed in that foolish counter coup of 1966. Neither the first coup nor the ones after it were necessary. There were other better means of dowsing the political tension in the country then. General Aguiyi Ironsi and his friend Col. Fajuye had to pay the supreme price, of recklessness from over-ambitious young and inexperienced officers.
Ironsi had proved his worth as a soldier in Congo and other places and would have given the country a better leadership and direction after that stupid 1966 coup, by the five majors. He was neither a part of that coup nor benefited selfishly from it. In answering a call to duty to provide much needed leadership, he had risen up to the challenge and intended to provide a unity government to smoothen frayed nerves, but his patriotism was what left him vulnerable to his enemies. He was not only killed but disgraced even in death by a mere Captain Danjuma and accomplices. That was the beginning of Nigeria’s dilemma till today. The events that followed this most gruesome and callous act moved so swiftly and out of control beyond what the coup plotters bargained for, and darkness enveloped the nation. Such dark clouds that have refused to go away 41 years after.
The defunct Biafrian Republic was to be declared at Ahiara, Mbaise, by Col. Odumegwu Emeka Ojukwu, to protest the deceit, pogrom and conspiracy, and well structured annihilation of the people of Eastern Nigeria. People were receiving the severed corpses of their loved ones from the Northern part of the country. Those people had gone back to pursue their legitimate livelihood on assurance from the Federal government for their safety. What a betrayal, what a deceit from one’s own government.
In as much as the writer acknowledges that the Government in Enugu at that time would have provided better leadership than it exhibited, the government in Lagos was altogether irresponsible and insensitive.
It is not our aim to arouse emotions here or to give detailed account of our disgraceful past, but we need to remember where we are coming from in order to know where we are going or should go.
The same Major Olusegun Obasanjo who had worked closely with his friend Major Kaduna Nzeogwu, prior, during and after the first coup in Nigeria had schemed his way up to receive the ‘plaque of surrender’ from the Biafrian Army Chief, late General Philip Effiong. The same Obasanjo a few years later assumed the leadership of the nation in 1976 after yet another coup, d’tat that claimed the live of a fine soldier, General Murtala Mohammed. He (Obasanjo) had become a General, less than ten years of associating fully with the plotters of both coups in 1966. And yet again the same Obasanjo was in 1999 released from prison custody where he was serving a 15 year jail term, pardoned, revived both physically ad financially and made president of the nation one more time, by the same military junta that have always held the rest of us hostage since 1966.
How luckier and smarter can a man be? What a privilege Obasanjo had had. Yet in all these he chose to go down memory lane as a huge failure. No matter what the pro-Obasanjo elements would say, posterity will always present Obasanjo as a failed leader, he has contributed immensely one way or another in the failed Nigerian Project. What is left for the new leadership in the country now is to tow a new line or follow the same old part that has always ended in disaster.
At the end of the Nigeria civil war, General Yakubu Gowon, the then Head of state, who had become a General overnight from a Colonel, Gowon who had been the chief benefactor of that counter coup of 1966, and who had not been prepared for the kind of leadership he usurped, proclaimed a “No Victor, No Vanquished” slogan to the admiration of the international community. The Easterners who obviously had been vanquished, totally traumatized, and who had surrendered to a superior power and international conspiracy, were deceived into believing that the war was over. Certainly the battle of 1966-1970 was over, but not the war to reduce them. The war is still raging 37 years after that proclamation of ‘no victor, no vanquished’.
Separation from Ndigbo, disloyalty to an Ibo superior in government, change in identity which includes names, states of origin, denial of ones igboness, etc, have attracted rewards and promotions. The abandoned property saga, the conspiracy to never allow igbos rise again, to never allow igbos rule the country or assume a place of prominence and command in the Nigerian state, the 20 pounds in exchange of all igbo wealth policy, the non establishment of federal industries, parastatals, ministries, the non availability of any seaport, international airport, major government command, and so many other issues have been to conquer the Ndigbo. But unfortunately only the igbos believe in the no victor, no vanquished nonsense. Many have forgotten so soon that Biafra was not all about Ibo, other tribes fought on the Biafran side too, just like some Igbos were on the Nigeria side. These igbos on the Nigerian side were to be labeled Saboteurs by their Biafran brothers. The rest of the country especially our Northern and Western brothers are obviously the victors and they are having field day enjoying the spoils of war from the former Eastern Nigeria.
Obasanjo in his characteristic manner of taking every joke too far had a few months ago extended the unofficial 50 years allocated by the “Victors” to 200 years after which the Ibo community in Nigeria should raise their heads from shame of losing the war, before aspiring to lead the country. My advice to him and his foot soldiers is that “He who holds one down holds himself down too”. My people say that what one is wearing on his wrist, does not need a mirror to be seen. It is a well known fact that the igbos are being intentionally marginalized. But let me ask, how can one be made to pay for the actions of others? Those who fought on the Biafran side have paid their dues to the Nigerian Nation, even with their blood. So why should their off springs continue to pay forever. This is totally unacceptable and cannot continue without end. It should end and must end. I believe that every youth in igboland today will go to any length to ensuring that this nonsense stops. If it stops in peace the better, otherwise one way or another it must stop. The memories of the war is almost gone and its fear are unfounded, so whatever it takes, true freedom must come today, not tomorrow.
Every government policy, programme, scheme and project that have been intended to marginalized and terrorize Ndigbo must be dismantled as a manner of national importance. Those in authority should stop instigating Nigerians against one another on the basis of tribe either by words or deeds. Whatever brews love, unity and peace across the country should be encouraged. We need peace, equity, justice, freedom, and unity to prosper in Nigeria, and we all must work towards these.
The new government of Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has started on a bad note. But corrections can still be made now. The Obasanjo’s administration tried to conquer Ndigbo but failed woefully, and so would any other government that has such a myopic mindset. The privatization policy of Obasanjo’s regime was one big joke taken too far as well. He tried to sale the Nigerian nation to a handful of friends and relatives. Less than ten persons who are mostly of Western and Northern origin and who are close to Obasanjo bought over our national treasures, how do they think that it will work. Let’s see how it all unfolds sooner or later. The Nigeria people have a right to these national assets and at the right time will act, to reverse this neo-colonization plot.
Under Obsanjo’s presidency, we saw the manufacturing of the word “Costal States” of the Niger Delta, all in a bid to scheme out the two igbo oil producing states (Imo and Abia) from the presidential largesse for the Oil Producing States. This plot is not only senseless but shows how people can deviate from sense of reasoning in order to achieve a self-serving purpose. In the first place Niger Delta is a region, not a coast. It consists of coasts, so many. And all the nine oil producing states are coastal states but not all falls within the Niger Delta.
A lot of people are erroneously interchanging south- south region for Niger Delta. This is nonsense, only Imo, Bayelsa, Delta, Abia, Rivers and Akwa Ibom falls within the Niger Delta, region geographically. Others fall within the Atlantic coast or other river coast.
Secondly majority of Nigeria’s oil is produced onshore not offshore, or off-coast. So whatever criteria was used in excluding Imo and Abia states from Niger Delta, whether as a geographical region or coastal entity is ill informed. By the way, Niger Delta stands for River Niger Delta. Some may argue that Edo and Cross River States fall within this region but a careful and sincere investigation will reveal otherwise. On the other hand Ondo state has nothing to do with Niger Delta in any form. It is only an oil producing state. So how can any right thinking human being say that Ondo is a “coastal state” of Niger Delta and Imo and Abia are not? For instance, Oguta and Azumini are all coastal towns within the Niger Delta so what are we talking about. This injustice has to be reversed if we want to go forward in this country.
Time and space will fail us to go on and on to expose how naïve the champions of the marginalization plot against Ndigbo are. The want to make themselves Lords over us but it is not possible. No man receives anything unless it is given to him from Heaven. So just play the role God has given to you. And if God gave you a role it will be manifested in helping others not suppressing them. And because you have exalted yourself, you shall be abased.
Ndigbo cannot be satisfied with buying and selling motor spare parts, cement, textiles and the rest. We are also cut out to own Banks, Refineries, Oil exploration companies, cement plants, fertilizer plants, Airplanes, etc. We are imminently qualified to occupy any position in Nigeria, be it in government, private or public sector. A new face of igbo race is emerging, those whose visions and aspirations are to play leading global roles not just in Nigeria.
In Nigeria and beyond we shall shine forth, so stop wasting your time figuring out how to stop Ndigbo. It is an effort in futility. Ndigbo may have lost some battles but we cannot loose the war. Make no mistake about this. Can you conquer the indomitable and enterprising spirit of Ndigbo? Can Obasanjo and co-horts colonize Ndigbo? They have tried so hard, but will they succeed? I think that is not possible, but if you thing otherwise, then keep a date with posterity and see how things unfolds.
The harder they try, the more we are encouraged to come together the more they reinvigorate our spirit to fight to the end. Any freedom that is not free is not freedom at all. The world learned a bitter lesson from its isolation of Germany after First World War. Today America and her allies are working relentlessly for the well being of other nations. Americas have realized that the prosperity and peace of others is interwoven with theirs. But unfortunately those in the helm of affairs in Nigeria think otherwise. Do not mistake our peaceful disposition for weakness. “The coward holds the key to his life and that of his challengers”. But things will not always remain the same. They are bound to change, so we better prepare for that change now. The best preparation is love, equity and fairness. “A stitch in time saves nine”. So let us shorn all self-defeating schemes and policies that will certainly end in doom and disaster and go beyond the limit of ethnic interest and consideration, into the realm of national interest not only to kick start development, by to sustain it for Nigerian generations of tomorrow.
Engr. S. Ochonma writes from Miami Florida, U.S.A.
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