FEATURE ARTICLE

Thursday, February 23, 2017
eoeke@aol.com
UK
THE GAIN THAT IS LOSS

s Nigerians respond to the ruffling up of Senator Ekwerenmadu in far away Germany by members of IPOB, I recall a piece I posted in an Igbo forum two years ago. This regrettable, but understandable incident would suggest a deepening of the fracture of Igbo society. I fear that what started as a protest, will become a common feature of Igbo society as the people finally turn on a corrupt, incompetent and amoral leadership that have failed them.

The gain that is loss. 23/02/2017

One of the stories the Bible recorded Jesus told is titled 'the gain that is loss'. It is a story about the real cost of what we strive to gain in life. In my view, Jesus was discussing what economists later called, opportunity cost. The real cost of anything we gain in life.

As I watch the evolving political situation in East Nigeria. The increasing militarisation of the region. The number of military road blocks, where soldiers, police and so called road safety corps engage in extortion intimidation and harassment of Igbos and others people going about their business. The continued discrimination against Igbo region in infrastructure development by the Buhari administration and the infighting amongst Igbo leaders and their indifference to the suffering of the people. I ask my self, do Igbo leaders really know, what they are doing? Are they able to read the signs of the time?

Are Igbo politicians taking Igbos for a ride in order to achieve a political objective in a country, which is constitutional unfair to Igbos and is steadily falling apart?

Are they relaxed in a country, where those who murder Igbos in cold blood in the north are told they have no case to answer?

The behaviour, conduct and attitude of many Igbo leaders at this time, brings to my memory, the attitude, behaviour and conduct of the French monarchy and aristocracy, just before the French revolution.

I wonder if Igbo politicians have counted the real cost their greed, achieving their selfish objectives and indifference to the plight of Igbos, within the present Nigerian contraption?

Consistently, Some Igbo leaders have asked people to prepare and join them in a journey they know they do not wish to make because it might be ominous to their selfish economic interests and political ambitions.

They have promised, better life and delivered pain and misery. They have promised to fight corruption, only to steal and become millionaires. They have promised to pay salaries, only to force the workers to forfeit half of their wages.

They have promised to serve, only to become emperors, once they gain power. They have promised to confront those behind the marginalisation of Igbos, only to collude with them to continue the discrimination.

They have failed to prepare Igbos for what is coming. Many of them attended university free of charge, while they preside over governments, where only the rich are able to educate their children in good schools and universities.

They fail to speak up, when the fundamental rights of Igbos are breached and Igbo youth slaughtered in cold blood, for fear that it may jeopardise their economic interest or their plan to occupy Aso Rock or government houses.

No honest leadership will keep quiet in the face of the atrocities the government of Nigeria, her army and police have committed against Igbos in recent time.

Yet, northerners do not care a donkey's hoot, when they pursue their sectarian interests, as the speed at which legislations affecting them are passed, has demonstrated.

The north is single minded in pursuing whatever it considers to be in its political and economic interests. This is once again seen in the speed with which it wants to commit Nigeria to huge debt to rebuild what Boko Haram they set up destroyed.

No true reconstruction has taken place in Igbo land since the end of the civil war. It is unbelievable that not a single political party in Igbo land nor an individual politician has made it an election or political issue in Nigeria.

How does anybody think this makes the average Igbo youth to feel? Does saying this or asking for justice for your people mean that Igbos hate Fulanis?

Now and then, I read a piece by an Igbo leader and my heart sinks. Then I asked myself, do my brothers, who are in position to speak up and lead our people, understand the real meaning of existential threat and crisis? Do they understand what injustice does to the human psyche.

They read the Bible and go to church and it is not too much to expect them to know that the Bible says that injustice makes a man mad.

I hope they know that when our people go 'mad', as they would soon do because of injustice, no one who they think has played a part in it, would be safe.

Many of our leaders spend their time pontificating on, why we should understand and accept the right of the Fulani herdsmen to graze their cows on the grasses on our land and crops in our farms, but ignore what our response should be to the killing of our people, burning of our villages and ethnically cleansing our people from our ancestral land.

They wax lyrical on Fulani herdsmen being one with their cattle and their cattle being their only means of livelihood, as if our farmers, whose farms are destroyed, have any other means of sustenance and those killed by Fulani herdsmen, second lives.

They talk about climate change, as if it does not affect the farmers, whose crops the Fulani herdsmen's cows destroy. Why are Igbo politicians doing this?

I ask myself, do these leaders and aspiring leaders love Igbos or do they just want to use Igbos to achieve personal political ambition, the way many before them have done?

Is their love for our people love with dissimulation? Where is their honesty and patriotism? Where is their humanity and integrity?

We have been through this Fulani problem before. A committees were set up. I was asked to be chairman of the one on Nnamdi Kanu and I contributed to that on Fulani herdsmen.

Ohanaeze produced an excellent position paper with 34 action points and the elites disowned the report. Most of what I said were in the Ohanaeze paper.

We produced a document, and since then nothing has been done.

Few days ago, I was asked to join another committee to do the same thing and I agreed.

Suddenly, the same pattern is repeating itself. Concerted effort to impose the views and perspective of the perpetrators of the crimes on the victims so that they can find good reason not to do what they must do. I do not yet know what to call it. It wearies my bone, aches my heart and dampens my spirit.

I have no money. I have lived honestly all my life and at 54, I am unlikely to change or ever be corrupted by whatever this world can offer. Not because I want to go to heaven, but because I have come to accept certain values and principles as the right one on which a good, contented and peaceful like can be lived.

I thought life is service and I only wanted to be a medical missionary and spent the prime of my life serving 'God' in north Nigeria. I ran away from the north in June 1993, with only my six months old daughter, wife and my dog.

I know how the feudal north think and the plan they have for Nigeria. I understand extreme Sunni Islam and their modus oparandi. The feudal Sunni Muslim north has been killing and cleansing Christian minority villages in the north for many years. I am sure we know about Samaru Kataff.

What the Igbos have endured in Nigeria has pained me for years. I have seen Igbos beheaded in Nigeria for the only reason that they are Igbos. I have seen markets bulldozed in different parts of Nigeria for the only reason that it is seen as Igbo market. .

I have see Igbo traders subjected to unjust tax for the only reason that they are Igbos. All these in a country they call their own. Such things change men with conscience. I am one of those who would rather die fighting for liberty, than live as a happy and well treated slave. I am loyal to principles and values and not to men. Freedom is the most important thing God gave to man.

Every person and people must have the freedom to live their life the way they want, as long as they do not threaten the life and security of others.

No one should have the right to impose his Will on those, who have capacity to decide for themselves.

Persuasion, debate, dialogue and tolerance are the ways of civilised people. When a man's way of life does not cause me any harm, I have no right to object or do anything to impede him.

No man has a right to obstruct my way, unless it interferes with his freedom. Our freedom, must end, where other people's noses begin. These are the foundations of peaceful and civil societies.

This is a fundamental position. The Fulani herdsmen threaten the life, security and way of life of other people and they are in the wrong. Igbos do not hate Fulani herdsmen. Fulani herds men commit terrorist acts against Igbos and there can be no excuse for what they are doing.

Igbo leaders may also be aware that those who undermine the people make themselves enemies of the people.

Already, a number of Igbo youth have paid with their blood. It would be naive to ignore the significance of the innocent blood that have been shade already and it is our solemn duty to ensure that they did not die in vain.

They did nothing wrong. They were killed for who they were and for the reason the same people may kill any of us tomorrow, if they so decide.

They were standing up for freedom and no person, people or power has the right to kill or keep in servitude, a people who wants to be free. This is the sum of the lessons of history of man.

Very soon, the line will be drawn and Igbos will divide into two. Those who love Igbos and those who want to use Igbos.

Those who want freedom for all and those who wants to exploit the servitude of their people. It would be up to us, which side we will choose.

It would seem to me that some Igbo leaders have bought a narrative and a story line of those paid to justify what the Fulani herdsmen are doing. It may also be that they really want us to get it right in a situation, where our opponent must have their way for peace to reign.

What will you do, if a man comes into your house and tells you that the condition for peace with you is for you to surrender your wife to him?

This is of course, if the man loves his wife, the way men should love their wives. This is the situation we face with the Fulani Oligarchy in Nigeria. What irks me about them is their arrogance, contempt, lack of respect and consideration for others and. sense of entitlement.

Climate change is the excuse. The question is: What is the political objective of the people, who own the cows, buy the guns and bullets, provide the transport and sustain and protect the militia?

What have Fulani herdsmen achieved in other places, where they have been allow to do what some Igbo leaders seem to be advocating? How can one share a house with a man who wants to own it alone?

Have we forgotten the people of Darfur in South Sudan? They were kind and accommodating to the Janjaweeds. They saw them as Normads with no territorial ambition.

They gave them grazing grounds for their cows. They were happy to live and coexist peacefully with them.

One day, when the Darfur people no longer considered them as strangers, the Janjaweeds started killing them and burning them out of their villages.

Today, the people of Darfur live in refeguee camps, while the Janjaweeds roam their villages on horse backs, and their cattle graze, where once their farms existed. The Janjaweeds are the equivalent of Fulani herdsmen.

Why should any people for that matter, pay the blood price of the survival of the Fulani herdsmen and their cows?

Why would Igbo leaders seem to put such a low premium on freedom and survival of Igbos?

There is nothing spiritual about a people, who hold other people and civilisation in contempt and are single minded in eliminating others for the sake of their own existence. It is the way of the natural and primitive world.

If Igbo leaders think we should do nothing, should't it be better to simply tell our people to submit to the rule of the fulanis so that their Emirs would abduct young Igbo girls they like as brides and send their cows to graze on any farm of their choice?

Sometimes, I am compelled to think that some Igbo leaders know what we should do, but are compelled by political and economic expediency.

Under such circumstances, do you think that they are the right persons to lead our people at this difficult and perilous times?

When I look at What some Igbo leaders are doing, what came to my mind is one of the parables Jesus told. The gain that is loss.

My question is what shall it profit an Igbo politician, if he gains 8 years as a senator, governor of his state or in Aso Rock as president of Nigeria and his people remain in servitude in Nigeria?

Have they wondered what the true value of what they want to achieve in Nigerian politics is and the real cost of the price they may pay to get it?

What is the real value of their profit?

Does a man make a profit, when he exchanges gold for brass? No people who have ever sacrificed higher principles for personal gains make real profit in the end.

What does what a man gains by selling his people, worth? A man who sells his father's compound, loses the right to belong to the community. Certain things should simply be marked not for sell. The freedom of Igbos should be priceless and nonnegotiable.

What is the worth of what men gain by selling their Jewel of inestimable value?

What could be more valuable than freedom and dignity? The freedom Britain enjoy today is because millions of men gave up their lives willingly so that their children can live in freedom. Freedom, might have free in it, but is is not free. It is not given. It is not a gift. True freedom is won.

In the larger scheme of things, what is 8 years as governor or president, when your people are enslaved, endure extrajudicial killings, military occupation, and discrimination?

What value is a political position in Nigeria for an Igbo man, when Igbos are marginalised, our region under military occupation, our culture destroyed, our youth cut down in their prime, cows graze, where once our farms stood, our women covered in black cloths and our place in history erased?

Those who think that Fulanis can learn to compromise and regard other ethnic groups as equals and accord them equal and the same rights they accord themselves, or that Igbos would forget the innocent blood of those, who died for freedom, should remember the words of John Milton in paradise lost and those of Thomas Pain in rights of man and common sense.

'Never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.' Satan, in John Milton's Paradise lost.

'As relationship expires , affection decrease. The cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf and we ought to be equally on our guard against both'. Thomas Paine, rights of man and common sense.

The price of freedom, we were once told during the Biafran-Nigerian civil war, is eternal vigilance. How can we then, convince ourselves that the leopard can change its spots, because it would seem to serve the immediate ends of a few?

It is an inalienable truth that those who sell the most important things, the freedom and dignity of their people to gain any other thing, will in the end find out that, whatever they have gained or achieved is nothing, but the gain that is loss.

I rest my case.
23/02/2017. A plea to Igbo leaders

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