A REJOINDER TO CURRENT OSIBANJO, ARKWRIGHT, OBASANJO, ETC, DEBATE ON BIAFRA
fter years of the fool's paradise of the perfect One Nigeria Unity, that is non-negotiable and merited an indivisible status, many seem to be suddenly realizing at last that there is in reality no Unity after all. Fool's paradise indeed if I may say.
In recent times, a lot has been said and argued about the past and future of the present Nigerian Enclave, but this time interestingly from even some of the major actors of the One Nigeria Unity principle like General Alade Akinrinade, who de-factor could now agree that if the Aburi accord was respected by the signatories, and the regional governments were to be upheld, the Nigerian Enclave would today be relatively comparable with Singapore.
Some not yet settled minds like Olusegun Obasanjo however maintain that the lack of a nationalist leader like himself, I should presume, was the major problem as the leaders after independence were ethnic oriented. Obasanjo however in recognition of the fact that the Biafran Agitators and their agitation have attracted his audience, has his simplistic solution of pleading with the agitators that there is still enough cake to be shared.
Basically presenting the project of Nation Building as a cake to be shared among its different entities, but as always, forgetting that he has single handedly oversaw the sharing of that supposed cake for roughly one fifth of the total years of existence of the Nigerian Enclave after independence. That would simply mean that if the sharing of the cake was what went wrong with his one Nigeria Unity project, he Obasanjo as the general overseer of this cake sharing for one fifth of the country's years of existence, should be squarely held responsible.
Obasanjo who still is convinced that he and his complots fought a war to Unite the Nigerian Enclave, making it imperative for them to be careful, described a situation where he prevented a fellow Nigerian Solder who had to flee without being shot at, from raping a Biafran woman. In his words;
"Civil war is more difficult than fighting in a foreign land because we are fighting to unite.
?"?Even a soldier of mine who tried to rape a woman… I had to chase him with a gun. He did not succeed in raping the woman, and I did not have to gun him down."
It is on this note that I humbly ask Obasanjo, were the other thousands of his soldiers, who rapped, maimed and took Biafran women captives, as their proceeds of war, unquestioned, during the same war, not fighting to unite the Nigerian Enclave?
Was the food blockade he and his fellow officers championed, to starve the Biafran Civilian population in its entirety, especially, vulnerable children, to dead, also a careful strategy to Unite their kwashiorkored dead bodies to your ghost Nation Nigeria?
Infact this could easily be comparable to the Nazi concentration camps of the Second World War, but with the difference that the world bodies were decisive in opposing the actions of the then German SS, but here, as unfortunate as it may be, they were full collaborators.
To this effect, Biafra remains a black spot on the world history and a shame on the international bodies (UNO, UNICEF etc) till date!
The present agitation for the revival of the sovereign state of Biafra has awakened this black spot, as the international bodies never deemed it necessary to ask the necessary question till date. Infact even denial seems to be more convenient to many. Thus it becomes even more imperative that only a sovereign state of Biafra would redeem the wrongs of the past.
After the war was over, was Obasanjo not part of the decision to confiscate all Bank accounts of the citizens of Biafran extraction while handing them only 20 pounds in return? Was this decision meant to cement that Union he claimed to have fought for?
All these to mention but a few does not take into account the major atrocities committed through the Barrels of the Gun, in the battle field, during this Episode that I have enumerated in one of my previous articles.
If these were, according to Obasanjo and his fellow autocrats and today's upholders of the status quo, actions deliberately taken for "Unity", I do not know what callousness, subjugation, vindictiveness and man's inhumanity to man means.
But very interesting was the utterances of the present British Ambassador to the Nigerian Enclave, Mr. Paul Arkwright, who in delivering a public lecture titled "Brexit: Lessons, Challenges and Opportunities for Nigeria", at the Federal University, Lokoja, affirmed Britain's support for a non-Negotiable one Nigeria Unity, maintaining, according to him, that "The strength of Nigeria is not in her money or oil, but her greatest asset remains her well-endowed and resourceful people."
One should simply ask Mr. Arkwright when it has become imperative on him and his Britain to pass verdict for the Citizens of the Nigerian Enclave on where their strength lies.
Again Mr. Arkwright being a native Brit, with English as his mother tongue and being a diplomat, should have been diplomatic enough not to confuse "Unity" with "Tyranny", which he deemed non-negotiable.
But behold Mr. Arkwright, in responding to the so called rumor of an impending military coup de tat, presumably to retain the Fulani control of the federal government following the uncertain conditions of their Fulani president Mohamadu Buhari, put it this way:
"The British Government believes that democracy is absolutely critical in Nigeria. There is a democratic process here; there are elections. If you are not happy with your leaders, then you should change your leadership process through your leaders and through elections.
"That is exactly what happened in 2015 and it is what the British Government will expect to happen in Nigeria. So, our position is very clear; we stand for democracy, we stand for the democratic process and we stand for change, if that is what the people of Nigeria want. It has to be a choice that the people make and not a choice that is imposed upon them."
Now my question to Mr. Arkwright here goes;
-Have you and your British government not instituted, nurtured and supported "Tyranny" in the Nigerian Enclave for the past years of its existence, with all extreme non-democratic means including Genocide against the citizens of the Nigerian Enclave?
-Was this not what you yourself had previously tagged "Unity" that is according to you Indivisible and non-negotiable, (but which in reality is non- existent).
-Was "Tyranny" which you had tagged "Unity" not imposed by your Britain on the Citizens of the Nigerian Enclave against their will?
-Are you and your British government not now stuck with the same "Tyranny" you created and so cherished in the Nigeria Enclave?
-Are "Indivisible" and "non-negotiable" words of choice or rather a democratic process? Are these not words of "Tyranny", imposed on the people irrespective of their choice?
-Have you, your Britain or your Autocratic local collaborators and upholders of the Status quo ever bothered to test that" non- negotiable and indivisible unity" you claimed to be flourishing in the Nigerian Enclave, through a democratic process of choice or a referendum?
But behold, the most interesting, at least on the basis of its debatable presentation in recent times, is that of acting President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, in his lecture at the Yar'adua foundation on Biafra, 50 years after.
Prof. Osibanjo's argument is however not new in content but new however in acknowledging at least the need for debate on how the citizens of the Nigerian Enclave co-exist among each other, thus making it worthwhile presenting a counter view to some of his assertions.
Prof. Osibanjo was arguing that it would have been wiser to forge Unity than to go for war which ever body I presume except the Autocrats would fully agree with. He said:
"As we reflect on this event today, we must ask ourselves the same question that many who have fought or been victims in civil wars, wars between brothers and sisters ask in moments of reflection…."what if we had spent all the resources, time and sacrifice we put into the war,
into trying to forge unity? What if we had decided not to seek to avenge a wrong done to us? What if we had chosen to overcome evil with good?'
But Prof., the war and the resources you are talking about that was vested in the war, was to the total conviction of the Autocrats and upholders of the Status quo, to foster National Unity which was then so perfectly fostered that it became non-negotiable and merited an indivisible status.
Are we now agreeing that despite the years of the fool's paradise of having fought and attained a perfect indivisible Unity, there is, in reality, nothing like war of Unity after all? As one does not fight for Unity!
In making a case for the diversity of the Nigerian Enclave, Osibanjo argued thus;
"Clearly our strength is in our diversity, that we are greater together than apart. Imagine for a moment that an enterprising young man from Aba had to apply for a visa to travel to Kano to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams, or that a young woman from Abeokuta had to fill immigration forms and await a verdict in order to attend her best friend's wedding in Umuahia. Nigeria would be a much less colourful, much less interesting space, were that the case. Our frustrations with some who speak a different dialect or belong to a different religion must not drive us to forget many of the same tribe and faith of our adversaries who have shown true affection for us. "
This line of argument has been consistent in recent times. Some even go a little further to specify that Igbos are enterprising everywhere in the Nigeria Enclave, that they will lose their Businesses and Investment if we should go our separate ways. This line of argument is consistent in pointing out that the Igbos being allowed to come in and invest their hard earned money, pay taxes and create jobs to the host communities are explicitly a sign of good gesture to the Igbos even under the present perfect one Nigeria Unity that they highly cherished.
However if the so called Unity is only there as an instrument of good gestures to the Ibos, why then should anybody claim to be united in the first place, since good gestures could always be shown without Unity. This becomes even more imperative when we take into account that the Igbos are not only flourishing with their Businesses in the Nigeria Enclave, but all around the world, even in countries that are not under the famous but non-existing one Nigeria Unity.
On the other hand, have one ever come to think about it, that by the time Biafra becomes a separate state, those Igbo businesses around the present Nigerian Enclave, one has been taking for granted or merely regarding as a good gesture to the Igbos, will automatically turn to become the highly sought and cherished international investments that every Nation, including the Nigeria Enclave, craves. And the professional ideas one had ignored over the years, for ethnic reasons, automatically turns to expatriate Services. Just for the reminder.
-The same people who have no problem, or rather who today are even proud to seek for visas for their children to go and study in neighboring Ghana;
-The same people who apply for visas, en masse, to go and perform the wedding ceremony of their children in London,
-And the same group who apply for visas, en masse, to attend medical holidays in London and elsewhere, suddenly have problem with obtaining visa to attend wedding in Umuahia or elsewhere. What an Irony?
At the same time, contrary to Osibanjo's assertion, people of different Nationalities could also have true and deep affection for one another.
Infact the only valuable argument for the continuous existence of the contraption called one Nigeria Unity Principle, as it is obtained today, would have been that it is working and catering effectively for the welfare of its Citizens, not its diversity, not its colour, and never its size.
But behold exactly that (Care for the Citizenry) has permanently eluded the present Nigerian-Enclave, within the present One Nigeria Unity principle, to the extent that the Autocrats and upholders of the status quo no longer border to mention it among their official assignments.
To be a little diplomatic, the One Nigeria Unity Principle, as it is obtained today, has become the greatest threat to life and wellbeing of its Citizens. Period
Professor Osinbanjo was of the opinion that many nations of diverse people find themselves also together out of circumstance. He put it this way;
"The truth is that many, if not most nations of the world are made up of different peoples and cultures and beliefs and religions, who find themselves thrown together by circumstance. Nations are indeed made up of many nations. The most successful of the nations of the world are those who do not fall into the lure of secession. But who through thick and thin forge unity in diversity. Nigeria is no different; we are, not three, but more like three hundred or so ethnic groups within the same geographical space, presented with a great opportunity to combine all our strengths into a nation that is truly, to borrow an expression, more than the sum of its parts".
However, if the circumstance of colonization that brought about the present Nigerian Enclave should be applied as being suggested here, then the whole of Europe to Constantinople (the present day Istanbul) all the way to North Africa should have been a nation today, following the circumstance of their Roman Colonization.
With all due respect, Irrespective of whatever circumstance, it is the collective will of the Citizens that at the end of the day decides to build or not to build a nation; and absolutely not the dictate of anybody or group.
And just a little point of correction, there is absolutely nothing wrong with strong ethnic nationalities in the Nigerian Enclave, as that would have been the basis from the beginning, as it is in those other countries Osinbanjo was referring to, for building a strong Union at whatever level and dimension.
If the different entities that form a Union are strong, the Union can definitely not be weak. But if in contrary a Giant Union, as in the case of One Nigeria Unity Principle, is based on an undefined foundation, anarchy and Chaos which we are presently witnessing is with certainty preprogrammed and such union remains unsustainable.
Osinbajo however agreed that a discussion on the terms of our existence is necessary but did not clarify on whether that should be deemed an official lifting of the ban on the non-negotiability of the One Nigeria Unity principle by the Status quo; when he said,
"Let me make it clear that I fully believe that Nigerians should exercise to the fullest extent the right to discuss or debate the terms of our existence. Debate and disagreement are fundamental aspects of democracy. We recognize and acknowledge that necessity. And today's event is along those lines - an opportunity not merely to commemorate the past, but also to dissect and debate it. Let's ask ourselves tough questions about the path that has led us here, and how we might transform yesterday's actions into tomorrow's wisdom".
Frankly speaking, it is exactly on this ground that we request for a democratic solution to the questions he is asking above in this 21st century, by putting your highly cherished Unity to test through a referendum as a civilized way of doing things today. Agitation is not and should never be misquoted to mean war in a non- anarchistic mindset of the 21st century. A responsible state does not send its military forces to shoot, in cold blood, its unarmed civilian populace, especially innocent youths on peaceful agitation. Such an atrocity has no room in this 21st century.
In that respect, it is only a constitution that removes Tyranny from its dictates by allowing the Citizens, the right to discuss through a referendum that can in reality, as Osinbajo is claiming, make the promise which he has sworn to uphold, namely according to him:
" that we would ensure a secure, and safe environment for our people to live, and work in peace, that we would provide just and fair institutions of justice. That we would not permit or encourage discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, beliefs or other parochial considerations! That we would build a nation where no one is oppressed and none is left behind".
- And by so doing, the quotation he is referring to from Dim-Odumegwu Ojukwu, who according to him, was making a case against a second Biafran Civil war, when he said; "We should have learnt from that first one, otherwise the deaths would have been to no avail; it would all have been in vain."
-Would have been totally irrelevant as even the first Biafran Civil War would never have happened, if the Autocrats had followed the tenets of negotiation accorded by the then Aburi Accord.
Incidentally today a civil version of such an accord, as an alternative, arrived at through the constitutional conference of 2014, is presently gathering dust in the shelves of the presidency, unattended to, as the Nigerian Enclave is being thrown into total chaos and Anarchy.
The problem here, as we can all see, has not been lack of ideas, but Tyranny, total lack of commitment and discordance of the Citizens rights and Interest, by the Autocrats and upholders of the Status Quo.