FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeSunday, September 29, 2013
eoeke@aol.com


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NIGERIA UNITED VERSUS IGBO DIVIDED

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ince the death of Ojukwu and the start of the Boko Haram terrorist attacks on Igbos and others in the north Nigeria, a battle for the soul of Igbos has broken out. Many people have reverted to separatist instinct and are calling for the actualisation of a sovereign state of Biafra. Biafra Mania has broken out with groups that were once thinking in terms of a better Nigeria now reverted to the pursuit of an independent Biafra state. In East Nigeria, the internal Igbo war between the old Anambra state and Imo state which resulted in the splitting of East central state has been rekindled in APGA. Like all wars, truth has become the first casualty and lies, subterfuge, deception and propaganda have become the official currency. Having weighed carefully and considered thoroughly, the issue of Biafra and how emotional it is amongst some Igbos, I would like to say that Biafra or a sovereign independent state for Igbos at this time is not the right response and that those who believe in Biafra should review their reasons, strategy and dream and first work for a better Nigeria.

This is because the real problems of Nigeria and many African countries stem from the human factors which we have failed to address. It is lack of justice as fairness, corruption, disregard of individual freedom, disregard of the rule of law, lack of honesty and transparency on the part of leaders, ignorance, impunity and inequality of opportunities that account for problems. It therefore follows that a government that would address these ills in a similar manner to the way some developed nations have addressed them, would create a conducive environment for a vibrant multi-ethnic democracy, where there will be no need for separatist aspiration or self-determination.

The five main problems that confront Nigeria today remains; the threat posed by Islamic terrorism, the struggle for power at the centre of Nigeria government to bring about a better Nigeria, institutionalised corruption, the role of religion and the ethnic prejudices in the thinking of Nigerians and actions of the government and people. These are the main problems which Nigeria government would need to address to give Nigeria a chance. It is therefore ironic that at a time some Igbos are clamouring for their chance to produce president of Nigeria, that the region is very divided and segregated in its politics along the most primordial fault lines. After many years of intra party squabble and conflict, APGA imploded as it attempted to stop the Registration of UPGA a party that was formed out of deep sense of injustice which the founder of APGA feels at the way he has been treated. For 8 years, Igbo leaders were unable to settle an intra-party disagreement and they hope to manage a better Biafra.

In Abia state for instance, the agitation for the creation of Aba state grows louder and considering the way the region has been treated in Abia state, one cannot but understand the justness of their aspiration. At the same time, one is painfully aware that state creation in Abia will only give rise to new minorities in Abia and Aba states that will see a state of their own as the solution. The question is, when Nigeria will stop solving problems that are rooted in bad undemocratic and corrupt government with creating more states. Recently Abia state expelled none indigenes from its civil service there by undertaking a form of ethnic cleansing. Those who see Biafra as the solution do not seem to understand how injustices like this can undermine the unity of the people on which the future of any independent Igbo land depends. The reality in Nigeria is that no region is ethnically homogeneous. The differences between Obosi and Onitsha are as deep rooted as that between Sunni and Shia Muslims, Hausa-Fulani and Kuramas or Ife and Modekeke. Every state in Igbo land has its minority who are marginalised and this will not simply stop with the creation of Biafra.

Those who believe that the future of Igbo land rests with Biafra should remember that Ojukwu was not buried with Biafra flag and consider the political implication and ramifications of the fact that Ojukwu was buried with Nigerian flag as a Nigerian soldier. Ojukwu was not buried as a Biafran soldier. It was not Biafran Soldiers that carried his casket. If he felt that the future of Igbos lies in Biafra he would have said so. Even then, Igbos are not obliged to do whatever Ojukwu said. Igbo leaders need to look at the current state of Nigeria and come out with an intelligent and just option for Igbos that addresses the main problems in the region. Igbos must realise that we cannot have it both ways. We cannot belong to Nigeria and at the same time belong to Biafra. It is either we focus on achieving independence for Biafra through democratic means by using the existing political structure in Nigeria or fight for our place and dignity in a united and democratic Nigeria where the rule of law, justice and social equality of all. What Igbo leaders should have been doing now is using the existing imperfect structure in Nigeria to fight for justice for victims of Boko Haram atrocities by holding the government that is supposed to guarantee their safety accountable through the Courts.

Instead of providing honest and sensitive leadership that puts the needs of the people at the centre; many Igbo leaders have kept quiet about the suffering of Igbos in north Nigeria because they nurse a political ambition which they think would be damaged if they speak out about the injustice against Igbos. The general impression in Nigeria is that Igbo leaders are for sale. In Abuja, Igbo politicians are often ridiculed because of their tendency to change their beliefs and position when induced with money. Many of the leaders move from one political party to another without evidence of political conviction simply because they believe that it would enable them achieve their personal ambition. They do not care about the long term damage their conduct does to their ability to represent the interest of Igbos in Nigeria. This is the Igbo problem; the tendency of Igbo leaders to put personal profit over and above public good. No one but Igbos can solve the Igbo problems. It is time to tell ourselves the bitter truth so that recovery journey can begin. I rest my case on Biafra.

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.

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