Felix AmadiFriday, May 5, 2017
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Maputo, Mozambique




A path without obstacles leads nowhere (Anonymous)

have always read Mr. Yahaya Balogun's articles as published by Nigeriaworld, and I have no reservations concluding that he is a Buharist. There is nothing wrong with being one; after all, when Lucifer was thrown out of the heavenly abode, it is clearly stated in the Bible that some angels followed him (Rev.12:7-9). The power of choice, which emanates from the effective usage of the faculty of reason, is a living proof that man though belonging to the animal kingdom, is higher in status than those other members of the animal kingdom who operate under the thrust of instinct.

Unlike Mr. Balogun, I am not a Buharist, and with President Buhari's score sheet so far, I have no intention of becoming one in the foreseeable future. My problem with President Buhari's style of leadership stems from the fact that he scores "sumna" in his pursuit of sectarian and religious domination to the detriment of inclusive and cohesive governance in Nigeria. An attestation to this fact can be glaringly seen in his one sided appointments to key government positions, and his blatant disposition of sidelining the South-East in his administration to the detriment of national unity and peace.

This essay is my personal response to Mr. Yahaya Balogun's article, as published by Nigeriaworld titled "A Crucial Message To My Igbo Brothers And Sisters". And as my surname can suggest, I am one of his Igbo brothers from Mbaise in Imo State. I read his article with a sense of appreciation, because I strongly believe that the article was born out of his "love" for Ndigbo in particular and "patriotism" to Nigeria in general. This gesture is laudable and noted with utmost respect and regard for him. But I must not fail to subtly point out that I have problem(s) with some of his assertions and conclusions that I felt a response was necessary, before presumption and subjectivity are enthroned as worthy replacements for facts and objectivity.

In the first paragraph of his article, Mr. Balogun submits thus, "Secession from Nigeria is not the smart solution to regional problems. If Nigeria is a forced marriage or mere geographic expression that needs divorce, the dissolution must be done in a referendum that will bring all the stakeholders together to resolve the potent issue amicably". Secession might not be the smart solution to regional problems as opined by Mr. Balogun, but I dare to ask; what happens in a situation where the call for the implementation of the best solution to regional problems aside secession (restructuring Nigeria into federating units) has been met with deadly silence by the Buhari led administration? What is then left on the table of solution for consideration?

I presume that Mr. Balogun is very much aware that Nigeria had a National Conference in 2014 in which certain recommendations were made. It is disheartening to know that the recently suspended SGF, Mr. Babachir David Lawal, labeled it a "job of the boys" and unashamedly told Nigerians that he had not read the report of the Confab because of its voluminous nature that may require up to 7 days to finish. But this same man had the time to indulge in the alleged illicit act that got him suspended by the president. I call upon Mr. Balogun to map out time from his busy schedule to carefully read the report of that National Conference and see for himself how many of those recommendations have been considered or implemented by the Buhari administration.

Pastor Tunde Bakare, a diehard Buharist and participant in that 2014 National Conference, said in his 2016 Annual State of the Nation Address captioned "Road Map To Successful Change” "that the delegates of the 2014 National Conference unanimously endorsed the promise of true federalism (that is restructuring Nigeria into federating units) as contained in Article 14 of the Nigeria Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration as the basis of our union". To this he charged President Buhari thus “I appeal to Mr. President not to ignore the report of the 2014 National Conference. God went ahead of you Mr. President to provide a navigational map with which you can begin to steer the ship of State to a safe destination. The APC may have refused to participate in the 2014 National Conference but the report of that conference is completely in tandem with the promise of the APC manifesto".

Pastor Bakare concluded thus, "That report may have been produced under a PDP government, but it is not a PDP document. It is the Nigerian people’s document. All the delegates to the 2014 National Conference; East, West, North and South endorsed the report without a single (abstaining) vote on any issue". So my question is: What is preventing President Buhari from implementing the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference? My guess is this: may be the recommendations made in that report are deemed too favorable to the marginalized parts of the country by President Buhari and his cohorts that their implementation will rapidly liberate them from the clutches of oppression. So rather than see them liberated, it is better to allow the report to die a natural death. Does any critical thinker still need to look farther to identify one of the major sponsors of secession agitations in Nigeria?

I am very pleased that Mr. Balogun raised the issue of referendum in his article as the best route to an amicable dissolution of Nigeria. I am very sure that if a referendum is conducted to determine the future of One Nigeria, the scores will be settled forever. But who is that Nigerian President who will be man enough, in the manner of the former British Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron, to invoke this esteemed democratic mechanism in Nigeria? I always beckon on God Almighty to make the call for referendum a reality in the Nigeria of today. But it seems that the answer to my fervent prayers is being delayed by the cabal that is benefiting from the present draconic status quo in Nigeria, just as the Prince of the Persian Kingdom delayed the answer to David's prayers in the Bible until Archangel Michael intervened.(Daniel 10:13).

I cannot claim to be a prophet, but I can preempt the outcome of a referendum on the dissolution of Nigeria based on the submission of Remi Oyeyemi, in his article titled "Why Nigeria Must Break Up", thus: "It is my view that the silent majority are angling to extricate themselves from the contraption called Nigeria. It is obvious that every ethnic group wants deliverance from the bondage called Nigeria. It is evident that no one believes in the quagmire called Nigeria. None of us has any emotional connection to the country called Nigeria. It is not ours. It is not our making. It does not belong to us. No one wants it". The last time I checked, I found out that Mr. Remi Oyeyemi was not of the Igbo extraction, but a bona fide son of Yorubaland.

Furthermore, Mr. Balogun opined in his article thus: "The honest and unblemished truth is that Igbo people will not unite even if they had succeeded in this unholy fragmentation of Nigeria". First, I don't know the meaning of Mr. Balogun's definition of unity. If his definition of unity in this Biafran Case Study means that every Igbo person (man, women and children) should or must support the struggle for secession, then he needs more tutoring as regards to liberation struggles all over the world. Every liberation struggle encounters dissenting voices, but that doesn't diminish the strength or goal of the struggle. In an ethnic liberation struggle, there will always be people from the same ethnic group who benefit from the status quo, and will do everything within their power to see that change doesn't take place, and the Biafra’s case is not an exemption. There will always be the Joe Igbokwes of this world, who for reasons best known to them, constitute themselves into nuisance, all in the name of freedom of expression and association, against the general will and aspiration of their people. Even within the liberation organization itself, there are bound to be moles, who, while pretending to play the support game, are in actuality agents of destabilization.

An example can be seen from the South African fight against apartheid. There were black South African policemen arresting black freedom fighters. There were blacks who acted as informants to apartheid security operatives in their oppression of the black majority. One of those informants once shared a cell with the late Nelson Mandela. While not all blacks supported the ANC and other liberation movements in their fight against apartheid, same can also be said that not all white South Africans were in favour of apartheid rule. In fact, some of the staunchest oppositions to apartheid rule came from white people themselves. The Joe Slovos, Bram Fischers, George Bizos, Arthur Chaskalsons, Ruth Firsts, of this world, were white people who were at the forefront in the fight against apartheid. So, if Mr. Balogun's understanding or definition of unity, in the Biafra context, means an all inclusive Igbo support, then I am sorry to disappoint him. It doesn't work that way, and will never work that way.

I am also elated that his article raised the case of Mr. Philip Emeagwali, whom he rightly described as "one of the geniuses and blessings from Igboland". Yes, Mr. Emeagwali is proudly an Igbo from Anambra State, and I am happy he has remained a great ambassador of Igboland and Nigeria in general at the international arena. But I want to remind Mr. Balogun that there are many Philip Emeagwalis living in Nigeria today, whose only limiting factor to greatness and prominence is the mere fact that they are Igbos, and as such have been relegated to the second class status by the powers that be. How can you explain it to any critical thinker the kind of affirmative action that is being peddled in the educational sector in Nigeria, where people from the northern part of Nigeria are given a lion share enrollment into Federal Universities and Colleges, while others are subjected to stringent measures and conditions for admission into the same schools in a One Nigeria? Why was there no affirmative action on behalf of Ndigbo after the Civil War? Why were my people giving a paltry 20 Pounds to start life irrespective of how much one had in the bank before the commencement of the war? Is it the fault of the Igbos and Yorubas that many of our northern brothers and sisters don't place much value on western education? Is it not the height of stupidity and hypocrisy that Boko Haram is fighting a war with guns and ammunition that are products of the same western education they despise? Who is fooling who here? Thank God for people like the current Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, who have the courage to speak the bitter truth.

Mr. Philip Emeagwali is a shining star today because he played on a level field where one is judged not by his ethnicity or tribe but by his or her brain power. If Emeagwali was left in the present day Nigeria, with its antecedent injustices, he would have been swimming in the deep ocean of obscurity, or, worse still, nothingness.

I am at a loss comprehending the basis of Mr. Balogun's submission that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is "an opportunist, and an "ardent dent to the Intelligence and innovative acuity" of Ndigbo. Mr. Balogun added insult to injury by labeling Kanu a "manipulator". I think there is a very big difference between the language and conversation of the tavern or market place, where people are playing the game of draughts, and a well reasoned and intellectual discourse. With all due respect to Mr. Balogun, I strongly believe that the above mentioned submissions of his, on the person of the IPOB leader Kanu, belong to the category of beer parlour banter and draughts playing environment that they don't call for serious intellectual engagement. These submissions of his are more of the product of accrued but misguided emotion which require minimal response. More still, Mr. Balogun's conclusions might be the product of poverty of expression. If not, he should have known that if anyone or group qualifies to be called "manipulator" or "ardent dent to the Intelligence and innovative acuity" of Ndigbo, it is President Buhari and his cohorts, who think that they can continue to maintain the status quo of Igbo marginalization in Nigeria while at same time preaching the Pharisaical Sermon of One Nigeria.

Mr. Balogun's clarion call on "responsible Igbos to speak out now, and with one resounding collective voice" against Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB's agitation for Biafra independence sounds to me like a case of a visitor to funeral service crying more than the bereaved. It is my honest conviction that Ndigbo know when, where and how to caution Kanu and IPOB, if the need arises. I am sure that it will not be in the manner of Joe Igbokwe of Lagos State, Nigeria.

The manner with which Kanu's stringent and inhuman bail conditions were met within the shortest period of time should have demonstrated a point to Mr. Balogun and his like that may be the Igbos don't see Kanu from their angle of perception. I know of many Igbo people who indicated interest to perfect Mr. Kanu's bail conditions. Again, the caliber of Igbo people that visited him in prison or called for his release should force Mr. Balogun to take back his unkind conclusions on Nnamdi Kanu, and maturely tender an unreserved apology to him and Ndigbo in general. Will Mr. Balogun do that? Time will tell.

I am wondering as to what led Mr. Balogun into the thinking that the Biafra agitation for independence is principally premised on the lack of Igbo presidency since the civil war ended. And I humbly implore him also to put me to the know on why he thinks that an Igbo presidency in Nigeria will extinguish the fire of self rule agitation in Ndigbo. Is it in the place of Mr. Balogun to determine for the Igbos who to support or not support come 2019 elections? (That is, if the elections will hold). Who determined for him on his unflinching support for President Buhari?

I can see clearly that Mr. Balogun has problems with Mr. Atiku Abubakar's political machinations and his outreach to Ndigbo. That is fine. He is entitled to his opinion. But must the Igbos join him in his "campaign of castigation" on the person of the former Vice President of Nigeria, Mr. Atiku Abubakar? Must Mr. Balogun's political enemies necessarily become the political enemies of Ndigbo, because he professes a "love" and "respect" for us?

To Mr. Balogun's thinking that the Biafra quest for independence is an "unwinnable war", I will like to draw his attention to the motto of the code breaking National Security Agency(NSA), in Dan Brown's famous novel "Digital Fortress", which reads, "Everything is possible. The Impossible just takes longer". Biafra Independence is a possibility, may be it can only take a longer duration of time. Never write off the aspiration of a determined people. It can only lead to an unwanted surprise. If Mr. Muhammadu Buhari can become Nigeria's President, at the injury time, then, any attempt to term the Biafra quest for independence as an “unwinnable war" amounts to an exercise in self deceit.

In conclusion, I must reiterate that the conditions that gave rise to Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB's agitation for independence are still resident in the Nigeria of today. A crusade for self determination which Kanu and IPOB are currently championing is not a crime, but the fear of the truth, on the part of the Nigerian government, is putting a blockage to a referendum on this issue. I will like to suggest to the Buhari led government, like many well meaning Nigerians have done, that the nearest and best option to solving many of the problems facing Nigeria today is the restructuring of Nigeria into federating units, each left to develop at its own pace. But a situation where this reasonable suggestion is continuously met with deadly silence and utter rejection, as has been the case so far, will give rise to more admirers and followers of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB, of which this writer is a willing comrade.

I Rest My Case.