FEATURE ARTICLE

Tuesday, October 8, 2019
ifeanyi_mmoh@yahoo.com
Jos, Nigeria
BIAFRAN STATE OR IGBO PRESIDENCY: THE CRITICAL ROLE OF THE YEAR 2023

ll of a sudden and then it happened on 10th September as the EU parliament granted audience to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu – leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – to shed light on the plight of the Igbo-speaking tribe of Nigeria. That was unbelievable. It was the most shocking news that ever sounded at the ears ofthe average Nigerian especially those who applauded the malicious proscription ofthe group a few years ago.

The suddenness of thisincident reminds me of the biblical story of how Jephtha was restored to hisproper place in his father’s house and among his brethren. Jephtha was a manwho destiny had singled out to rule in his father’s house but who wasmaliciously driven away by his brethren upon the death of their father on theaccusation that he was the son of a prostitute who was not properly married totheir father.

Until the time appointed byheaven came for him to take his proper place of honor; Jephtha mingled withvain men and what could be called riff raffs. Though a warrior who was fearedby many; he had no such honor among his brethren and in his father’s house. I haveadvocated for attitudinal change in most of my writings because for me; thereis no other enemy that was poised to destroy Nigeria but the average Nigerian.

Those who have followed myarticles in the past can be sure that I have told and retold the Jephtha storytime and time again; that a constitutional crisis will arise that will forcethis federation to give the Igbo man his due as far as political gains wasconcerned. The same way I wrote about where Nigeria was missing it in thismatter is the same way I wrote about the Igbo side and where they were missingit too.

Yet it grieves me to saythat despite these personal efforts, Nigeria still determines to continue herinjustice against the good people of the southeast. One wonders why the suddenshow of interest by the EU; have they been aloft and nonchalant all thesewhile? The answer I think is a NO; they have been aloft alright but watchingthe drama all the while. Believe it or not, Nigeria’s predicted break-up isjealously followed!

As a strategic partner evenwithin the African continent, Nigeria will be living in delusion if she thinks herrelevance is intact and not plummeting. Baby countries-turned-nations are nowoffering better options; if Nigeria cared to observe. Look at the recentxenophobic attack on Nigerians in South Africa. If Nigeria’s pride of place wasstill tenable; our citizens wouldn’t have suffered such ill-fortunes.

And to cap it up; noapologies or explanations has been offered so far. Not even Ramaphosa’scomments upon our president’s visit to South Africa convinced any! In fact theSA president talked more of ways to include Nigeria in their economy but whatthat really meant was the south Africans would’ve first taken charge of theireconomy before foreigners could be given a place. That’s what the president ofSouth Africa meant, really.

But Nigeria surely took thestatement to mean that another xenophobic attack wouldn’t arise in the future. Nigeriansin Ghana are facing their own hell over there and, same treatment goes forthose in Libya who are even sold as slaves! Now, can these ills happen to an Israeliand the villain country will not have been facing serious fire by now?

Can these ills happen to anAmerican and the villain country not be jittery by now? Anyway, let’s leave thosefor another day. The Igbo situation in Nigeria since the ill-fated Civil war shouldhave been addressed long ago; if we had a forward-thinking mindset. As I perceive,the year 2023 is going to be a decider for the federation of Nigeria and forthe Igbos for several reasons; some of which I shall highlight here.

Beyond the fact of being anelection year; it pretty much is also going to be a make or break year as faras the struggle for the actualization of Biafra and the efforts to keep Nigeriathe way it’s always been was concerned. In the 20 years since the 4threpublic, the federation has produced a president from the southwest Nigeria – PresidentOlusegun Obasanjo – who reigned for a 2-term that lasted for 8 years.

The south-south has alsoreigned for a 6-year period with President Goodluck jonathan in office. The northwestfirst produced President Umaru YarÁdua now late; who reigned for 2 years beforehis death in 2010. The northwest again has gained their share of the federationwith President Muhammadu Buhari who has been in office since 2015. If nothingstops him, he’ll be leaving office by 2023; giving the northwest a 10-yearspan.

Now, there are 6geopolitical zones in the country (although they are not constitutionallyrecognized) and if fairness and shared prosperity is a mindset, we should havegiven constitutional backing to the phrase ‘Rotational Presidency’. Without shameor even remorse for how they have held the reins of power since independence –a feat that has not translated to positive development in the north – the northhas started another funny argument that they should retain power beyond 2023.

What happens to the other geopoliticalzones some of which have never tasted power at all? The north has no answer togive. What happens to the disgruntled sections of the polity who has beencrying foul play as per neglect? The north has nothing to say to that. What aboutthe overbearing influence of the north in employment into federal jobs? The northkeeps mum.

What about the demand toconcede the powers to control resources to state or to out-rightly restructure?The north prefers to have a dysfunctional country without a national vision letalone common grounds that could promote unity. A significant percentage of Nigeriansare very poor today; not because they are lazy but because they are trapped ina system that richly rewards criminality more than the sincere and honesteffort.

And so, we now have moreyouths turning to crime because they believed it pays more. Now, rather thanconcentrate on the ‘Next Levelz’ agenda, the ruling APC thinks it was best to kick-startthe confusion that’ll produce their preferred successor to President MuhammaduBuhari and while on that, the IPOB has started another phase in their peaceful agitationfor the sovereign state of Biafra.

The stage is therefore setfor what may well translate into a constitutional crisis and eventual break-upif nothing is done to assuage the angry feelings of many. Though, it appears,by the way, that not many in Nigeria or the ruling APC gave a thought to theoverall impression of IPOB’s latest moves. This is not a surprise when we considerthat most of the leaders in Nigeria – particularly the one in power now –lacked the cognitive ability to interpret simple diplomatic maneuvers.

That is why they – in theirunder-estimation of potential land mines – made a monster out of the Boko Haramgroup; made a hotspot of the goldmines of Zamfara state; and practicallyerected the armed herdsmen etc. to impoverish the entire country. The billions ofnaira that should go into alleviating poverty are now used to buy arms fromfactories that are located abroad in another man’s country and economic space.

Donald trump once said thatif America were to be a corporation she would’ve filed for bankruptcy as sheloses a whopping $200B USD annually on foreign policy defense spending. How doesthis statement relate to what I’m saying? Here is the connection: If Nigeria wereto be a partnership business concern, there is no way the business would’vesurvived for a long period of time if one partner operated as if he had sole ownership.

So if relationship matteredin business so also it does matter in politics and government and; particularlyin peaceful co-existence. True federalism and rotational presidency are thethings we see in countries with the world’s biggest and oldest democracies. Theydo these things – and we (Nigerians) think they are foolish – because they knowthe alternative which was either civil unrest or insurrections was mostexpensive.

Back in Nigeria, some thinkthat by populating and controlling the air force and the army, it was easy tosubjugate the other tribes. They forget that the cost of revamping an economyespecially after a civil war was a herculean task. Up till date, the economy ofonly Borno state still limped despite the tons of monies that has gone intothat economy so far. The government has not done anything meaningful beyondjust pumping the oil wealth from the Niger Delta into that economy.

People that know have beenasking: Does economic resuscitation beginand end with just injecting billions of naira into the system? How aboutworking on the mindset of the people – resetting it to become ready to tap intothe economic value of peaceful co-existence? Such is the leadership we havein Africa that know how to polarize the polity and cause a wildfire to spreadbut understands NOTHING about how to put out the fire!

The proposedre-introduction of toll gates – for me – is practically dead on arrival and letme show you why: 56 toll gates are proposed for the SOUTHEAST; 21 toll gatesare proposed for the SOUTH-SOUTH; 22 toll gates are proposed for the SOUTHWEST;14 toll gates are proposed for the NORTHCENTRAL; 12 toll gates are proposed forthe NORTHWEST and 9 toll gates are proposed for the NORTHEAST.

In all, a total of 35 tollgates are designated for the 19 states of the north while 99 toll gates aredesignated for the states of the south. Yet political leadership is not goodfor the south particularly for the southeast? That’s a huge joke on display! Whoeverproposed that list has only accomplished one thing; namely: They’ve providedanother concrete evidence to prove the reality of Igbo marginalization in Nigeria.

Imagine what is building upagainst 2023? Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s latest moves to court the attention of theinternational communities is the best thing that happened in 2019 for theIgbos. Remember how the South Sudan exercised from the Sudan? Many scorned atthe efforts of the freedom fighters up to the time the referendum took place. Gbam!And suddenly the South Sudan appears from out of nowhere.

Q: Where is the Sudantoday?

A: In trouble.

Q: Where is Omar Al-Bashirthe tyrant?

A: Out of power, miserableand to be pitied.

Q: Where has HUNGER madeits headquarters today?

A: If you say it’s theSudan, you may have educated me.

The Igbos are serious aboutchanging their situation and if 2023 should for any reason slip out of theirhands; it will be clear enough to all that they are not wanted as equalcitizens but needed as slaves despite what they bring to the tableeconomically. My advice is for the powers-that-be – the Omar Al-Bashirs’ of Nigeria– to consider the implication of Mazi Kanu’s recent audience at the EU andagencies of the UN and to do all it takesto allow power to come to the southeast in 2023. This is not a threat.

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