We went on a trip a while back, to Jama’are local government area in Bauchi state, for the turbaning ceremony of my cousin as the Ubandoman Jama’are. Jama’are is a two-hour journey from Bauchi metropolis.
On our way, we ran into one of the potholes and we got a twisted tyre. After our event, we proceeded to Azare, another local government area in Bauchi state, which is a 30-minute drive from Jama’are, with the hope that we would get a tyre to replace our damaged one. We were directed from one shop to the other, and each time we arrived at any of the shops, we met them all locked up. We got the puzzling explanation that one of the shop owners lost his father and that he and all his brothers had gone for the burial. Now what they meant was that all the shops were owned by Igbo and they were the only ones that sold the size of tyres that we were looking for. We had to manage the twisted tyre all the way back to Bauchi, because Chinedu’s uncle had died and nobody else sold proper tyres in Azare, a whole local government headquarters deep in the North-east!
At Emab Plaza in Abuja, I dare not step in to buy even a memory card, and my ‘customer’ NG, who is Igbo, would jokingly hound me, for not telling her that I was coming to buy a phone! She was a shop attendant to her brother who is a friend of mine. He had opened new outlets and she became the CEO of the Emab division. I dare not buy what she sells from elsewhere. I’m off the hook and free to spend my money at any other shop, only if she doesn’t have what I’m looking for. My relationship with my Igbo friend’s shop is not less than 15 years old!
There’s a car service place at Wuse2, on the popular Adetokumbo Ademola Crescent in Abuja. They usually get your tyres checked, balanced and aligned; and all car check routine. An Igbo guy, Pat, hangs around there and in the event you have to get a new tyre, Pat is there, ready to get you all the brands, from Korea to Japan, China, France you name it and he’s got it. Even when I’m in far away Bauchi and I need to get the real market prices of tyres from different brands, Pat is the go-to guy. This is a ‘customership’ that has spanned over 15 years as well!
So goes with the guy at the barbing salon. Chike is about the nicest hairdo guy I’ve ever known. Courteous, jovial, hard working and good at his job. For the entire corona lockdown year, I left my clippers with him. A good one year after I hop into town, and there was my clippers, safe and sound. It was serviced and polished, looking even newer than I left it. Chike’s courtesy leaves you scraping through your pockets to get something for him, aside the shop’s charges. From working in his oga’s shop, he had moved to his own place, with a few of the other barbers he worked it.
An estimated 60 per cent of land, property and businesses in Abuja are owned by Igbo. There is no denying them being industrious, hardworking and very enterprising. They are all over the country, manning numerous businesses, and bossing most of the trade they engage in. That is why it is super difficult to understand the meaning, purpose and direction of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Biafra is all over Nigeria and it is just silly to try to corner it to a cranny as small as Niger state! If you alienate yourself from Nigeria, and create your own country, do you expect to keep all the businesses all over Nigeria and get patronage from Nigerians? Isn’t this a money wise, pound foolish idea? The whole idea of self determination and the attendant superiority complex, is what is eating up the UK now, albeit they may not accept it publicly. It is the same trap that awaits Biafra, should it see the light of day.
The Nigerian Army recently rolled out Operation Still Water, an ember months programme, to maintain security during the festive period. It is a continuation of previous operations such as Crocodile Smile, Python Dance, and so on. In the midst of it, popular actor Chiwetalu Agu was arrested at Upper Iweka Road, Onitsha, Anambra state, for inciting members of the public and soliciting support for IPOB.
He was donning an IPOB attire when he was arrested. The army denied manhandling him as was widely reported. A video surfaced later which gave a snippet of what their interaction with him was like. He said that the sun showing on his cloth, was a rising sun and that the colour combination was just coincidental and didn’t signify IPOB. He said he was educated enough to know where to go to, and where not to go to. He squarely denied IPOB and said he had nothing to do with it. So many Igbo are coming out of their shells to publicly deny IPOB and give their activities a dressing down.
The Igbo we relate with everyday are not the ones that IPOB represents, right? The barbaric activities of the group need to be clamped down by the Igbo themselves. They must make it clear that the narrative of that movement is not theirs and is not in their own interest. Joe Igbokwe’s house was razed in his hometown of Nnewi, Anambra state. Dr. Chike Akunyili was killed in Idemili North local government area of Anambra state. A fire that seems to rage on from a distant neighbour’s residence is a clear indication that your own house is not insulated from the same kind of fire. A proverb in Hausa says, “If you see your neighbours beards in flames, you must hurry and rub your own beards with water.”
The tiny flame that started in Borno has spread like a cancer to the entire North. South-easterners should not allow this in their backyard. The earlier the Igbo rise up against this so called rising sun, the better for us all. We have a risen sun to be grateful for already. There is no need to go looking for another sun. The heat would definitely be unbearable!
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.