Saturday, 09 October 2004
What Do Ndiigbo Want? From Biafra To MASSOB
By Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
I am a strong advocate of Nigerian Unity and I abhor any action that would lead to the disintegration of Nigeria, as presently constituted.
Having said that, I would like to attempt to answer the question I posed above, as the header, what do Ndiigbo want? The Igbos in Nigeria like all other Nigerians! They get born and they live and die, just like the rest of humans, and like the rest of humans, Ndiigbo have economic, political and cultural pursuits and aspirations, which could and should be capable of being realized within the confines of our darling republic of Nigeria.
But history, Nigerian history has not been even-handed with Ndiigbo, as Ndiigbo have been at the receiving end of animosities and vile anger actions; Anyone familiar with the colossal loss, that resulted from the so-called "abandoned properties" which were Ndiigbo's properties that were converted and greedily appropriated by others, during and after the war, would understand, these vile actions that I speak of, among many others.
But after the fateful and unfortunate events that led to the declaration of Biafra as a republic, and the consequent brutal civil war, the cessation of hostilities led to Mr. Gowon famous speech of no victor no vanquished, even as Ndiigbo were promised full integration in our dear republic of Nigeria, with full rights, obligations and responsibilities.
Ndiigbo have done the best than could have been expected of any marginalized group, particularly, with the peculiarities of a people recovering from the vagaries of a brutal civil war; Ndiigbo, through dint of hard work, resourcefulness imbued in self-reliance, have rehabilitated individually and collectively, Ndiigbo rehabilitated through self-help, and this have been so, notwithstanding the unspeakable neglect by every apparatus of government.
Despite the deprivations and abject poverty created in Igboland as a consequence of the civil war and its aftermath, Ndiigbo have thrived in the professions, in academia, in business, in politics and all callings of human endeavor. The ubiquitous “Igbo-man” is everywhere in Nigeria, creating wealth and contributing to national development.
Many Nigerians have often stated that political leadership in Nigeria have been dominated, in a lopsided manner in favor of the North, these circumstances, coupled with June 12 agitations, culminated in the Southwest producing a candidate as president of Nigeria in 1999, which translated into the election of Mr. Obasanjo as a sort of compromise candidate, a candidate, a healer and as unifier with all other appellations.
Many Nigerians had thought and assumed, that it was only fair to naturally expect Ndiigbo to take turn, (the next turn, that is,) as a natural course of events, and as the third largest ethnic group in Nigeria, (Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, the so-called three majors) would be called upon to produce Nigeria’s president or a candidate that becomes our president in 2007.
But now, we have Mr. Babangida who is only a south-south/south-east citizen through marriage, who now seeks to usurp, south-south/south-east region’s turn, at Nigeria’s presidency. There are some other potential presidential candidates, who are not from Ndiigbo-land, but Babangida stands out, as he is reputed to have immeasurable or limitless wealth, just as he does political connections. Babangida was an absolute monarch and center of the universe of Nigerian politics for about nine years 1985-1993, the most warped and twisted years of Nigeria’s existence, in both economic and political sense.
Now as Nigerians grapple and struggle with and from the lingering brutal effects of SAP, and other Babangida-era policies, (which are proof enough of his ineffectiveness and ineptitude); Babangida seeks to be president of Nigeria again? He surely cannot convince anyone that he expect to accomplish in a democratic and contentious civilian government settings, what he could not, even when he had absolute unfettered power, all to himself?
He is lecturing the rest of us, with the air of finality and matter of course, that only God can stop him from becoming Nigeria’s president in 2007 and with this, Mr. Babangida reminds me of the late Mr. Abiola who ended one political statement with “over his dead body” and he died, God in turn, will stop Babangida.
Mr. Babangida has become very powerfully wealthy in every sense, with money and connections to the politically powerful. And all this boasts, and self-assuredness, stemming from arrogance, calls the sanctity of the ballot in Nigeria to question, why are some so sure of victory, if not their heavy reliance on foul means and plans to surmount of the will of the electorate?
Why is it that Babangida and his praise-singers are unaware that a majority of Nigerians are still reeling from the brutally painful effects of Babangida asinine policies foist on Nigerians during his nine years at the helms of Nigerian affairs?
Babangida and most presidential candidates and their acolytes have so far, been talking over our heads, most especially so, in complete disregard to the genuine and heartfelt political aspirations by Ndiigbo, within the Nigerian scheme of things and within the confines of Nigeria as a single political unit and entity.
Those who are currently posturing in self-aggrandizements, are simply playing with unquenchable fires, as the fire next time in Nigeria, will engulf them and cremate them to smithereens! They may now be posturing as if 2007 elections is merely 24 hours from now, even as they talk over our heads? They must accept the dictum, “those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent revolution inevitable” There are so many people in Nigeria these days, drunk with money and powers, acting literally drunk, as they fiddle with explosives, oblivious of obvious dangers, because of their drunken stupors! They will self-destruct and be consumed by their willful ignorance, as they pretend to be completely ignorant of the suffering of other. This is their folly.
It is ominous that some are already grandstanding in lieu of the crumbs that will filter out of Babangida’s sumptuous table, they are therefore willing to sell their conscience, their sense of fairness, justice and decency, as they pretend that all will be well with Nigeria, if Ndiigbo is denied a rightful turn and a rightful place, in Nigeria's political scheme of things; If Ndiigbo is not made secure and comfortable and assured of a timely and orderly realization of their genuine aspirations, Nigeria will no longer be at ease. Last year, I wrote that the time to address Ndiigbo's political grievances was nigh; it has even become clearer by the minute. Nigeria must learn to trust Ndiigbo with political power, with the presidency.
Biafra and its later imitation, MASSOB, resonates with a lot of people, because there are genuine yearnings for the actualization Ndigbo’s aspirations, these yearnings and genuine aspirations, have been repeatedly ignored or treated with impatience, disdain or even contempt. Ndiigbo has repeatedly bore the brunt of Nigeria’s brew of ethnic, religious and political fractiousness and these are the fuels that led to the declaration of Biafra and now, its imitative offspring, MASSOB, Igbos are not mindless trouble makers, Igbos are reacting to perennial political second-class citizens status conditions.
Mr. Ubitu Ukiwe was second-in-command to Mr. Babangida, the former, suffered a cruel fate in the hands of the latter, Mr. Alex Ekwueme and few others, are among the very few Ndiigbo who have been close to Nigeria’s presidency or seat of power, during the past several decades Nigeria must trust Ndiigbo with power and responsibility of full citizens of Nigeria.
PDP as the dominant political party in Nigeria, without viable opposition, appears to have a lock on Nigeria’s political calendar, the PDP has not informed us, why Mr. Abubakar Atiku, the VP, has not earned his pupilage, training, experience as an occupant of Aso Rock, a heartbeat-away from the presidency, or why has the PDP adjudged the VP unsuitable? How can the VP be unsuitable when he is certainly part of the current government adjudged by PDP to be good? PDP has no interests in the VP becoming president come 2007. Babangida is PDP default candidate?
And the PDP has not shown any indications of ensuring that a PDP member Nigerian of Igbo extraction is who gets nominated and offered for elections to be president of Nigeria in 2007; But instead, the PDP has admitted new members with veto powers, persons awash with money and political connections? This lends more credence to the allegations of political decadence, in which the present government was sponsored and paid for, or godfathered into office, by the man, who now wants to succeed his godson’s government? Is Nigeria a personal estate to these characters? Are the rest of us Nigerians this powerless, gullible or both?
All Nigerians ought to be interested in fairness, justice and equality of all ethnic groups in Nigeria.
I wish it is the case, that any Nigerian citizen, with legal or legitimate disqualifications, could offer herself or himself for election to be president of Nigeria, regardless of state, region or religion and notwithstanding, whether such Nigerian is from any of the majors, (Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani) or the multitudes of our citizens from the minority ethnic groups of which Nigeria is comprised; I was roundly criticized last year, because I wrote, “2007 Presidential Elections In Nigeria And Ndigbo's Genuine Aspirations” However Nigeria's democracy has not matured enough to a point where the ethnic composition of Nigeria is not considered a major factor or criteria for determining candidates for Nigerian presidency; hence my arguments and points for Ndiigbo’s genuine aspirations.
Some day in the future, all Nigerians, including ethnic minorities, must be able to aspire to and actually become president of Nigeria, but, right now, ethnicities remains one of the parameters, Nigeria's democracy and development will mature to a level, where the best candidate, based on stellar qualifications, the issues and what are considered from time to time, to be in Nigeria's national interests, best interest, would be the only worthy measure, but alas, we are not there yet.
Ndiigbo’s political situation in Nigeria, is similar and comparable to a group of adults in a house (Nigeria is likened to such house) a house in which these groups of adults are “trapped” while trapped in the same house, the adults are presumably endowed with same or similar attributes, qualities including of course, all human frailness and foibles, some of these adults, in this Nigerian house have enjoyed perpetually dictating what the other adults have had for breakfast, lunch and dinner or whether to install air-conditioning as the days get hotter; But we are all aware that it is in human nature not to want to eat same type of breakfast, lunch and dinner without a change of menu or a role in deciding what is eaten at meal times?
Human nature to reject the abrogation of rights and privileges; We also know, that some humans want to leave or get away from a house, where they have no rights or say-so; Some bad humans may even set this proverbial house ablaze or asunder to disintegration? Could you blame marginalized and tormented adults for wanting of the house, or burning the house that represents oppression? This is the Ndiigbo situation in Nigeria today, as we approach 2007 presidency.
Nigerians should collectively ensure the actualization of a Nigerian president of Ndiigbo in 2007, to do otherwise will be tantamount to murdering sleep, in 2007.
Does Nigeria want to be sleep-deprived?
All Nigerians must stand up in support of Ndiigbo’s right to produce a president for Nigeria in 2007. To do otherwise, would have earned all of us, any and all the crises that could ensue, which we will deserve. Agitations by groups such as MASSOB and other groups will multiply, anarchy and worse, disintegration occur as a result of the festered hopelessness that Ndiigbo have endured in Nigeria; It is as if, Ndiigbo is being passed-over once more, in the jostling frenzy to produce a president for Nigeria in 2007, Ndiigbo have genuine grievances that Nigeria must address and resolve now and by 2007. What do Ndiigbo want? Nigeria must emphatically answer the Ndiigbo question.