“Whenever brothers emerge from closed-door family meeting wearing smiling faces, they did not tell themselves the truth at that meeting.” – Anonymous African proverb.
December 26, 2021 (about two weeks ago) was an uneventful day that set the dramatic sequence of occurrences in the last days of that year. It was a day when the world stood still, as it contemplated the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, whose demise was announced in the wee hours of boxing day. While mourning his passage, an unpalatable news greeted our media spaces with reprehensible motion pictures of Sen. Rochas Okorocha’s son-in-law who doubled as his former chief of staff being ‘arrested’ (abducted) in gestapo style by men who would later be identified as policemen.
While that was being digested, the news of the inferno that consumed Next Cash and Carry Supermarket in Abuja stunned the country’s information highway.
It was supposed to be a denouement, but those unbecoming events threw it into anticlimax. But as the year wound down, we arrived the dawn of the New Year 2022, bearing the scar of indelible memory of happenstantial horror of 2021.
However, while it is human to encounter hazards or havens of everyday life, it takes wisdom to ruminate over them and profer ways of benefiting from them.
A thorough introspection into the three incidents implicates several lessons for Ndigbo as a tribe in a poorly federated contemporary Nigeria. With a lot of incongruitous government misgivings heightened by stark Igbo-phobic exhibitions in the past seven years, marginalisation has become chorused songs among the people of the south east. It got to a point that they started drawing sympathy across the divide from both state and non-state actors like former President Olusegun Obasanjo detesting the labelling of Ndigbo as 5% in the national sharing formular. Many editors and publishers of our national dailies from other regions also condemned the description of the same tribe as an encircled dot during presidential interview.
Igbo should see in all these hostilities against them a reason to rethink, reposition themselves, and restore the past glory of their region.
The holy book of Christian religion was thematically set on the salvation of man prefigured on the people of ancient Israel. This salvation was carried out in two covenantal stages — the old and new testaments. The old testament showed how the Israelites were able to use their wits to escape the excruciating stint of slavery in Egypt which threatened their existence with extinction.
They sought their freedom against ravenous Pharaoh through illustrative leadership of their theocrats led by Moses, Aaron and Joshua. This was the greatest miracle of the book of Bible story till the greatest showdown of the new testament, on Mount Calvary when Jesus of Nazareth defeated Satan, conquered death and offered the path to salvation to man. The success story the Israelites were made possible by the compliance of the generality of the people to follow without hesitation, the lead of their anchormen, their leaders.
Igbo had always prided themselves as being a splinter of the Jews. Time is now to act like their ‘compatriots’ from the ancient Middle East. It is time to tell themselves the truth like our opening quote above suggested.
In the current Nigerian status, where true federalism and regionalism is resisted and secession is anathemised, Igbo need to think home.
Fraternal love need to be reinforced. This era of antagonistic apoptosis within the South-east political family should be given a funeral march. Imo state is in war of attrition with its political actors with Governor Hope Uzodimma and Rochas’ cliques at daggers drawn. The political instability that perennially bedevilled the zone since the return to democracy should be quashed in the interest of the entire zone.
Leaders of Imo political bloc should hold olive branches and seek a way to make Oguta lake and its tributaries a mega tourist sites for the state. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state can double the state’s IGR by repositioning the South-east manufacturing hub called Aba to be an export market. Adani Rice and Abakaliki Rice in Enugu and Ebonyi states, respectively, can feed the East if their governments take special interest in it.
Consider the second Niger bridge. If the South East Governors Forum decides to pursue it, with determination, they can get it done without waiting for the federal government. President Musa Yar’Adua made honest effort to dredge River Niger but at his death, President Goodluck Jonathan (a southerner) could not muster the political will to carry on with it. Imagine the economic boom its could be for the zone if it is dredged and Onitsha seaport sees the light of day.
We all see and feel the import of airports cited across the states in the zone. It will be meagre compared to the seaport. Imagine if former Governor Peter Obi had established Next Cash and Carry supermarket in the east. Imagine if Ebeano Supermarket was located in Igbo land. Imagine Coscharis Motors in Anambra. They would have had more socio-economic impacts on the zone.
Aku-luo-uno principle compels the Igbo to Invest ample portion of his/her wealth within one’s home community. In fairness to the immediate past leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo had visited various Igbo business hubs across Nigeria preaching the Aku-luo-uno philosophy.
Simply put, Aku Luo Uno as a development concept means setting-up medium and large scale commercial and manufacturing ventures in the investor’s indigenous home region. It is a productive strategy which if rightly applied enhances speedy and lasting industrial development of the investor’s indigenous region.
Those who advocated the creation of South East Development Commision were not in tune with history. The NDDC that is more than 20 years has done virtually nothing other than colluding with locals to execute white elephant projects. Two years down the line, we have seen the forlorn hope it entailed.
Another important point is the fact that blaming the federal government for the socio-economic and infrastructure woes of the zone is a waste of time. The federal government is overwhelmed by its own missteps. It has found itself in a helpless situation that it has turned Nigeria into an obligate parasite to People’s Republic of China in loans.
In the minds of critics like Mr. Chidozie Okafor, the amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates by Lord Lugard is not the reason no city or town in Igboland has effective public water supply system.
The 1999 constitution is not the reason some Igbo governors are wickedly refusing to pay the entitlements of thousands of workers and retirees.
Our loss in the Civil War did not provide the enablement for a certain governor to allegedly steal land belonging to poor pensioners and ordinary people in choice areas in the zone, the docility of the people is the greater reason.
There is nothing in the Nigerian constitution that mandates some governors to always take the lead in foolish governance, the greed of the elite in the zone does.
Biafra may not be actualised in the true sense of the word. But we can actualise with ease the Biafra of the mind. Like Prof Wole Soyinka would say, “it is an ideology, which cannot be killed.”
If Biafra ever happens the Nnamdi Kanu way, in less han 10 years, every autonomous community in Igboland will seek to secede from Biafra and be its own sovereign nation.
Since neither the federal government nor Biafra, nor Igbo presidency (which from the present standpoint, without prejudice to Sen. Anyim Pius’ genuine aspiration, looks unrealiseable) can save us, it is only South-east economic empowerment that can answer the Igbo question.
Ka Chineke mezie okwu.
May daylight spare us!