THE OIL JIHAD: SHOULD THE IGBO SECEDE OR CONTINUE TO AGITATE?
his is a sequel to my recent article entitled “The Cry of My People: Biafra and the Fist of Nigerian Oppression.” The responses I received suggest that some misconstrued my position or the thrust of my argument, provoking this sequel to clarify and address the critical issues of whether the Igbo should secede, the enabling arguments on agitation, and the fallacy of being landlocked as an impediment to secession.
The Reasons For the Unrelenting Quest for Secession
The thrust of my argument was six-fold. First, that the same Nigerian military that Gowon used in perpetrating genocide against the Igbo is the same Nigerian military that President Muhammadu Buhari is using in his present ethnic cleansing program against the Igbo. In essence, history is repeating itself while other ethnic groups acquiesce by default. Second, the same issues of equitable co-existence redounding in Tribalism, Marginalization, Quota system instead of Meritocracy, corruption, resorting to gun rather than dialogue to resolve issues, systemic disenfranchisement of the Igbo in the polity, greed and killing for oil in the name of One Nigeria that does not exist, etc. that provoked the 1967 secession are what caused the agitations for secession led by Ralph Uwazurike and his MASSOB and now Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB. Third, the Nigerian government has failed to address these volatile issues or realize that they will not go away until addressed by applying the civilized rules of the day: Dialogue. Fourth, that the Nigerian government under the Northern leadership has consistently treated the ethnic groups unequally when responding to issues, even though Nigeria has Equal Protection Clause, as does the United States, in its Constitution. I cited four examples, questioning why the Nigerian government did not deploy the military to stop Hausa Youths, Northern Muslims, and Fulani herdsmen raping, maiming, indiscriminately killing, burning down communities, and unlawfully grazing on the farms of the Easterners and Westerners. Fifth, that a people’s right to self-determination is inalienable, which the greed for oil has abrogated. Sixth. I enunciated that agitation is a democratic apparatus for airing grievances. In this regard, I wrote: “Agitation is an intimate part of democracy because it is a veritable tool for reminding those in power of the pervading injustice and invidious discrimination against an insular group in the polity… In civilized democracies, agitations of this nature are meant to start a conversation that inveighs or affirms the validity of such a campaign. But in Nigeria, it becomes a provocation to unleash the corrupt Nigerian Police and ruthless Nigerian Army to silence the victims attempting to cry out loud.”
Should the Igbo Secede?
No. And that for many reasons. First, the Igbo have no leaders that can valiantly lead them through the wrenching process and overarching experience of secession. The telltale list of voodoo politicians representing the Igbo are soulless thieves, political twerps, dotards without conscience, and predators who are using their offices to perfect their greed and robbery. They do not push for the Igbo issues or agenda and collapse at Northern browbeating and prefer to take bribes than stand for the interests of the people they represent. They are little dips fueled by female blood that like to sing in the choir in the morning and spend the rest of the day with a witch doctor to make sure they win re-election. None, certainly none, has fiercely opposed the North, to maintain their aspiration to become president of Nigeria. No leader led a match to the site of the genocide to mourn our youths. None of the governors condemned the actions of the military. No sane governor would agree to the deployment of the military to his state when the police had not tried and failed. Because the Igbo have no leaders, let alone brave leaders, Kanu saw the void and stepped in with his IPOB.
Second, the Igbo is not ready for the ravages of war. The Igbo are just steadily emerging from the ruins of the civil war that set them back many decades. Buhari is an Islamic militant who is looking for an opportunity to wipe away the Igbo or reduce them to an insignificant coma in the sentence called Nigeria. Going by the way he deployed the military to crush a civil gathering, with orders to kill our youths at sight, it is certain he is intent at genocide. The Igbo should not tempt fate. Buhari talked about injustices in Palestine and Myanmar at the United Nations while he sent the Nigerian military, instead of the police, to execute ethnic cleansing. This is jihad.
Third, the Igbo have not made adequate preparations for secession, and it will be certainly foolhardy to do so. For starters, the Igbo should set up Igbo Defense Fund, establish diplomatic relations, engage continental and international organizations and secure their support, and set up structures that will transit to governing body if the secession succeeds. Where is the blue print for secession? No consultations have been with the leaders of thought. No one has engaged our historians and political scientists.
Fourth, the Igbo must start applying tactical political initiatives that seek to diffuse resentment while cultivating support and friendship with those around us. In this regard, Igbo leaders should have a rapprochement with the ethnic minorities around them, assuage their fears, discuss the reasons why the hate the Igbo, assure them in writing of a rotational presidency and other bona fides of a sustainable political unity or engagement.
Fifth, the Igbo must embrace the Yoruba and purge themselves of any organic distrusts of the Yoruba as duplicitous, subtle, crafty, and exhibiting irresistible tendency to betray. The Igbo must unload. The Igbo formed these impressions because Obafemi Awolowo, a Yoruba icon, breached his promise to Odimegwu Ojukwu to declare Oduduwa a nation if Ojukwu declared Biafra. Awolowo doubled down on his duplicity and craftiness: he not only did not hold his end of the stick, he aligned with the Nigerian Military Government upon offer to become Finance Minister. He then orchestrated the blockade that led to the death of more than 2 million Igbo by malnutrition and crowned his efforts at genocide against the Igbo by condemning the Biafran currency instead of exchanging them. These atrocities by Awolowo are recorded in The Making of the African Legend by Frederick Forsyth and Because I Was Involved by Odimegwu Ojukwu. Awolowo never refuted them and they haunted him politically till his death. These atrocities remain an albatross on his legacy. Unless the Igbo let go, they will not kick out of the mold and begin to form new relationships and understanding with the Yoruba because, for every Awolowo, there is a Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, a Yoruba man who gave his life protecting his guest Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi; and for every Brigadier Victor Banjo, the Yoruba man that was one of the organizers of the Jan. 15, 1966 coup, who enlisted in the Biafran Army and betrayed them at Ore and allowed Gov. David Ejoor to escape and arm Gen. Gowon with tactical and strategic plans of the Biafran forces, there is Noblee Laurette Wole Soyinka that was jailed for 22 months for the Igbo cause. All Yoruba are not untrustworthy. No. It will be egregious to so conclude. The Igbo cannot win any political war, let alone secession, without imbricating the Yoruba and the ethnic minorities around them in their political calculus. With such alliances, the Igbo need not secede but move forward with concerted agitations: as the Igbo is agitating, the Yoruba and ethnic minorities are agitating. The result is a national dialogue aimed at restructuring Nigeria and balancing the inequities.
It is true that daily experiences by the Igbo continue to reinforce their negative impressions of the Yoruba, they must accept that they cannot change the Yoruba and must accept the Yoruba for who he or she is and turn those perceived negative attributes to political profits. Indeed, the Igbo must accept the Yoruba for who they are because politics is not only a game of alliances, it is a game of strange bedfellows, especially bearing in mind that there are no saints in politics nor permanent enemies. Those alleged character deficits, real or imagined, have not inhibited the Yoruba from excelling in various disciplines. The Yoruba forgot that the North humiliated them by jailing Awolowo, whom Ojuku freed from prison, but continue to form alliances with the North. Rigidity is the order of the fool.
The Igbo should remember that they have invested heavily in Hausa and Yoruba lands and must first weigh the losses before proceeding with secession. No amount of property is worth our lives by remaining in a country that has no value for our lives and properties. We must strike the delicate balance after due deliberations and planning, rather than jump and look afterwards.
For these reasons and more, I do not support secession, and it is highly unlikely to happen.
Should the Igbo Continue To Agitate?
Yes. Agitation is a viable apparatus of democracy for venting inequities that become staples for national conversation and resolution. Taking high handed measures, such as deploying the military to a civil gathering, is censuring free speech for which all of us will pay dearly for, even though some ethnic groups harboring deep-seated hated against the Igbo glow with mockery in feast. Democracy died the day IPOB was proscribed as a terrorist organization, which scholars, SANs, and jurists criticized as a terrible decision.
Voters were warned and warned that Buhari was a closet militant, a brute, a dictator, a tone deaf Islamist whose sole agenda was Northern hegemony and Islamization of Nigeria, but many were fooled into believing that, like the proverbial Igbo wily tortoise, he had changed. He was dressed in suits to launder his image. He was dressed in an Igbo attire with a titular cap called Okpu Oku and was given Okechukwu as his Igbo name. Many warned about buyer’s remorse, but we got trapped in the eddies of our emotion and lost use of our head. No sensible Nigerian, except his fellow Muslims, will vote him back in office, but he is most certain to rig himself into office. He rose from the deathbed and showed this unimaginable degree of wickedness and atrocities when everyone expected him to be humbled by God’s grace. The new agitation should be led by Igbo organizations such as Ohaneze, World Igbo Congress, Igbo World Association, etc., otherwise Buhari’s court lackeys will proscribe them as terrorist organizations while the Fulani herdsmen are viewed as eminent compatriots as they go about raping, maiming, killing our people and being blessed with a grazing bill on our farms. Just as the Right of People to Peacefully Assemble is in the United States Constitution, so it is in the Nigerian Constitution, but Buhari, in destroying the democracy that brought him into office, has made civil protest a treason for some ethnic groups, especially the Igbo. Muslim Youths constituted themselves and issued a Quit Notice to the Igbo living in their territory as if they are the justices of the Supreme Court and nobody labeled them as terrorists, but IPOB, solely organized for self-determination, was proscribed by a judge. Buhari refused initially to label Boko Haram as a terrorist group, arguing that people should not rush to judgment, but was quick to proscribe IPOB as a terrorist group, using a corrupt judiciary.
The Igbo Is Not Landlocked
Many induced by visceral forces of their mind talk glibly that the Igbo cannot secede because they are landlocked, and some Igbo have bought into that fiction. The Igbo is not landlocked, not at all. Japan and Israel were said to be landlocked before, but not anymore. They maximize their available lands and space using technology and land reclamation. People live in skyscrapers. Israel has turned arid lands to arable farmlands using technology. They are feeding the world. Dubai has turned their desert to resort centers and arable lands, just as America turned the desert land of Las Vegas to the entertainment capital of the world. How many of the lands in Lagos are reclaimed? There is at least 1,000 hectares of arable farm between Egbuoma and Oguta as one fetches a compass southwest to the Atlantic Ocean. Many years ago, I sailed from Oguta Lake to Urasi River to the Atlantic Ocean and saw the Nigerian warship that the Biafrans capsized lying against the bank of the river. One thousand hectares is sufficient to feed a nation under mechanized agriculture. Dams can be built to reclaim more lands. The Igbo can harness the individual or community farm lands. We are only landlocked by the limitations of our mind and the levity of our hands.
Why Nigeria Cannot Be A Nation
Nigeria cannot be a nation welded together by the ideals of a republic because of two highly neglected facts. First, while the Igbo and Yoruba are interested in forging a federated republic, the Hausa is only intent at creating a caliphate or theocracy, as exemplified by Buhari’s August 2015 directive to the Federal Ministry of Education to include two Islamic books written by the late Justice Muhammad Sambo in the high school curriculum for all federal government colleges and the recent plot of making Islamic Study mandatory while removing Christian Religious Knowledge from the high school curriculum. Nigerians should not forget that Buhari made his Sharia intentions clear when he said, “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria.” He added, “God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.” Buhari moved to actualize the reign of Sharia law with House Bill 530 that states, “The Sharia Court of Appeal shall . . . exercise such appellate and supervisory jurisdiction in civil and criminal proceedings involving questions of Islamic personal law.” House Bill 530 sought to amend the Nigerian constitution in order to expand the jurisdiction of Sharia Court of Appeals. With criminal jurisdiction, Christians will be swiftly brought under its adjudication. Is anyone listening? It was Buhari who filed an application to make Nigeria, a secular state, a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference. Babangida completed the process that made Nigeria a full member state.
.If theocracy succeeds under Islam, there will be the Shai of Nigeria and the ideals of election and democracy will be forever lost. Any Northern person that takes office will start from where Buhari and Babangida stopped. One Nigeria is slogan to build the Islamic Caliphate of Nigeria.
The second reason is divide and rule or playing two ends against the middle. The Yoruba teamed with the Hausa to produce Abiola and he won. This time the Hausa teamed with the Yoruba and Buhari won, taping Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a Christian from the Redeemed Christian Church of God, the most populous church in Nigeria. As long as this continues to happen, Nigeria will remain a fractured state and a recurring expression of tribal politics.
If we circle back around, we see that Nigeria is caught in the eye of the hurricane of tribalism, quota system, marginalization, disenfranchisement, corruption, hatred, indifference, crude oil money, etc. that has given impetus to the jihad against the Igbo. The sole reason for fighting the Igbo not to secede is the oil. The sole reason for killing the Igbo is the oil. This is jihad.
Mbakpuo is a freelance writer and the author of *The Horns of Africa*; *Chance Encounters*; *The Conscience of a Nation: Clinton, Sex and Politics around the World*; and *Fight Back and Win: How to Fight Foreclosure, Short Sale, Loan Modification, Personal Injury and Other Matters*. He has two upcoming books entitled *The Marriage of Islam* and Terrorism and *Protecting the Presidency: From Washington to Trump*.
Bio: Mbakpuo has a BA (1986) and an MA (1987) in journalism and a juris doctor in law (1990). He has written over 200 articles. He taught English at some colleges.