Letter to Ndigbo, — By Promise Adiele

Th e perennial agitation for the actualization of Biafra has never been more intense in Nigeria since the civil war than now.

Th ese agitations are predicated on the perceived marginalization of the Igbo within Nigeria.

As a result, the tranquilizing mantra of marginalization has been bandied about by some of our people.

If we argue that fewer states are in the Southeast in comparison to other regions in Nigeria, if we argue that the Igbo are not adequately represented in federal appointments, then we have a valid point.

However, is that enough grounds for us to embark on a suicide mission of secession seeing that our people have perennated since the end of the war? For the records, let us quickly examine what it means for a race to be marginalized within a country.

If there is a law in Nigeria prohibiting the Igbo to vote, that is marginalization.

If there is a law in Nigeria stopping the Igbo to own a business; that is marginalization.

If there is a law which requires the Igbo to carry some form of identifi cation before they can enter the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; that is marginalization.

If there is a law prohibiting the Igbo youth from being admitted to universities in Nigeria, that is marginalization.

If there is any law in Nigeria stopping the Igbo from holding political offi ces, from being enlisted into the army or police, stopping them from traveling abroad, having a restricted time for movement, stopping them to represent Nigeria in sports or in any other capacity; that my brothers and sisters is the accurate meaning of marginalization.

In the absence of all of these, let us quickly exorcise the demon of marginalization from our consciousness.

Nobody owns Nigeria any more than the Igbo man. In fact, an Igbo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, under whose symbolic political shadow we all live, fought for the independence of this country.

Given all of this, it is not the best for us to continue to say that the Igbo are marginalized in Nigeria and I am sad about this.

Another word that has been bandied about to justify the continued agitation for Biafra is bondage.

Some people have gone ahead to give Nnamdi Kanu the undeserving accolade of liberator, one who has come to free the Igbo from bondage and I ask myself, which bondage? Th ose who are at the forefront of this macabre dance of death have sold a lie to the naïve among us that the Igbo are in bondage in Nigeria. I have never heard anything more banal and jejune. Consider the plight of the Israelites in Egypt as recorded by the Holy book.

Th at is bondage in its stark, naked simplicity. During apartheid in South Africa, the blacks in that country lived in perpetual bondage and that inspired a lot of creative works in literature, arts and music.

Th en, blacks in South Africa lived in bondage, never allowed to live in some areas, were only allowed to do menial jobs, and had set time for their movement around major cities.

Th e blacks in USA lived in untold hardship and bondage, serially brutalized, maltreated and insulted.

Signs like “whites only” and “blacks not allowed” daily robbed the black man of his humanness and self-worth.

In South Africa, the blacks didn’t attempt to secede. Th ey planned, came together, worked it out and one of them (Nelson Mandela) became the president of South Africa. Th e same also happened in US.

It was almost unthinkable that a black man will one day become the president of the United States.

When people like Martin Luther King Jr. and other freedom fi ghters emerged, they didn’t cry for a separate country for the blacks or seek secession.

Th ey mobilized their people, created awareness of their situation and through organized rallies, educated the black man about his potentials in the United States.

A black man (Barrack Obama) eventually became the president of America.

Nnamdi Kanu is very popular.

Let him form a political party or join an existing political party, play the politics and fraternize with prominent political strongholds in Nigeria, albeit in humility.

Other ethnicities will sympathize with us, the world will rise for our sake and then an Igbo man emerging as the president of Nigeria will become a reality.

Let’s remember that the Nigerian civil war led to the loss of about three million lives.

Although Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu led the war on the Biafran side, when he died, he was given a state burial by the federal government of Nigeria.

Many Igbo families will never recover from the dislocation caused by the death of their prominent sons during the civil war.

Instead of crying bondage and marginalization, let us come together and build bridges, play the politics and take a shot at the presidency, I am sure we will win.

Th e Igbo man will gain more in the continued existence of Nigeria as one entity having spilled blood and water for its development and growth.

Adiele writes from Department of English, University of Lagos


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