FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeSaturday, August 12, 2017
eoeke@aol.com


NORTHERN NIGERIA BEATS THE DRUM OF POGROM

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he regression of Nigeria into primitive collectivism continues with the emergence of hate poem by some northerners, which makes Igbos objective of hate. This is as regrettable as it is frightening.

It is another step in the continuing disintegration of civil values and rule of law in Nigeria. It suggests that Nigeria cannot survive in its present form and that the country must restructure or faces disorderly, if not violent disintegration. We are watching evolving before our eyes the condition that results in genocide and the federal government does not seem to be addressing it with the seriousness it deserves.

Hate is the foundation of most human evils. Passion and greed are the other two major reasons why men do evil. Once a country segregated on the basis of religion or ethnicity, a flood gate of hate, which gives men reason to commit unspeakable atrocities, is opened. This is why hate speech is a poison, which must be eliminated, wherever and whenever it is identified.

Hate speech fractures societies, destroys interethnic relationships and lays the foundation for intractable conflicts. Societies fractured by hate on the basis of a primitive identities like ethnicity or religion, would require a lot of work to heal it and ver few nations have survived it.

Moreover, when hate is mixed with toxic ethnic nationalism, religious intolerance ignorance and greed, as is the case with the northerners, who have given Igbos notice to leave the north and now produced a hate poem, it brings out the worst in humans and the reason for evils like murder and genocide. Such hatred anchored on sectarian prejudices, represents the prelude to the worst kind of evil humans are capable.

In the last seven years, I have chronicled the descent of Nigeria into oblivion, in the hope that the country could be saved. It is becoming obvious that Nigeria has not been investing in its future and may not survive the kind ethnic hatred expressed in the poem from some northerners. It is horrifying that in the 21st century, some people can find reason to justify the kind of hateful and dehumanising speech emanating from North Nigeria.

It is no longer, if there will be ethnic motivated killing of Igbos in the north Nigeria, it is when it will happen. It would therefore be foolhardy for any southerner to continue to believe that he can live safely in the north with the type of people, who wrote or sanction the hate poem about Igbo. The challenge is to prevent the planned genocide and address the issues used to excuse it and the mentality that justifies it. However, igbos and other southerner must leave the north and never return, until a lasting solution is found for this perennial problem.

Nigeria government has a duty to stamp out this kind of ethnic hate speech by Arewa Youth because they are the prelude to pogroms. Igbos and others at risk should make it clear that it will hold the state and federal government responsible should Igbo or any other Nigerians be subjected to pogrom in any part of Nigeria.

These disgruntled and sectarian minded northerners want to precipitate a problem to appropriate investments of Igbos in the north. Their leaders refuse to enlighten, but instead, feed them toxic Islam, which makes their minds a fertile ground for hate and prejudice.

The fact is that Igbos do not have problem with any ethnic group in Nigeria. Igbos are the most dispersed of all ethnic groups in Nigeria. Igbos have problem with federal government of Nigeria, which has pursued a policy of discrimination, marginalisation and subjugation against them, since the end of the war and their own leadership, which failed to confront the federal government, within the existing legal and constitutional frame work. This is what gave rise to the discontent which IPOB is exploiting.

Igbo leaders did nothing about discriminatory scores for getting admission to colleges and universities. They did nothing about discrimination against Igbo land in federal infrastructure and employment in federal civil service, army, police etc. Igbo leaders lack the courage to fight for Igbos within Nigeria and fought only for themselves and their families.

In fact, it is not really an Igbo- Hausa-Fulani problem, even though some people may like to see it that way. It is a problem of corruption in a multiethnic country, where the leaders play ethnic and religious cards to survive. It is a class struggle, where the elites of all the ethnic groups and religions gang up against the poor. How I wish Nigerians, Igbos, Hausas, Yorubas, Fulanis, ijaws, Ibibios, etc., will understand this and unite.

The ordinary Igbo has nothing against the ordinary, Hausa, Fulani etc., man or woman, who goes about his normal business, but those who exploit their identity as Hausas, Fulani etc., to pursue discriminatory and sectarian agenda. The Nigerian problem is problem of corruption, impunity, inequality of opportunities, injustices and weak institutions. It is a problem of abuse of power and a criminal constitution, which protects those who abuse their powers.

By allowing the problem to reach this point and refusing to restructure the country into viable regions, the federal government of Nigeria has given legitimacy to those who seek independence from Nigeria. It is therefore understandable, why a rational person may decide that independence from Nigeria is the right response.

My concern is that approaching the problem the way IPOB has done, has turned it into an ethnic problem, which will see the federal government, the same entity responsible for the whole problem coming in as an arbiter. Unfortunately, the agitators have ignored the complexity of the problem and the way it is sustained by the political elites of all ethnic groups. This is their grave mistake. It is a complete mess and takes us no closer to a reasonable resolution.

The solution is simple. Igbo leaders must rein in IPOB and northern leaders Arewa youth. Then, they should give federal government ultimatum to produce a plan that will deliver a new constitution and a restructured Nigeria. If the government fails, Igbos should then focus on achieving independence, having given the federal government the opportunity to do the right thing.

Igbo governors should stop stealing and attempting to build a family political dynasty. They should begin to make the social investment needed to give Igbo youth, who now see their future in Biafra hope in Nigeria. The only thing that can now stop this agitation, is a change in leadership in Igbo land, which focuses on what is important to the people and single minded in ending the marginalisation of Igbos in Nigeria.

If a concerted and honest steps are not taken towards the restructure of Nigeria, the agitation for independence will become stronger and more extreme in its attempt to force issues and may precipitate another preventible mess.

Already, the evidence suggests that the federal government is looking for reasons to justify violent crack down. The federal government is saturating Igbo land with soldiers subjecting the region to a military occupation unprecedented in peace time. The result is that the economy of Igbo land is suffering and Nigeria tethers on the precipices. It is only a matter of time, before there will be a spark and the whole region will go up in smoke, God forbid.

As usual, the poor are paying the price and will continue to pay the price, while the actors will continue to benefit from it and will escape abroad, when the chips are down. It is clear that Nigeria is on borrowed time. It cannot be business as usual. It is either the government embarks on orderly restructure of the country into six regions or a disorderly balkanisation will follow. Will Nigerian government read the hand writing on the wall and do the right thing? The clock is ticking.

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