ast week a number of Igbo politicians were in London to rub minds with Igbos in diaspora. As usual there were a number of engagements one of which I attended. Unfortunately, as I later found out on the night of Saturday 3rd November at APGA meeting in Barking London, such meetings are not meant for people to attempt to find out what the politicians are doing at home but to massage their ego. It would seem to me that the revered leaders did not come to give account of their stewardship but to lecture the exiles to come home and declare that they have donated 10,000 pounds not Naira, for the organisers of the meeting. I would not want to waste time describing the meeting, but suffice to say I left the venue wondering if I should have spent my evening in a different way. However, it enabled me to come to one conclusion, which is that such meetings will remain a waste of time, until Nigerians embrace democratic and due process.
Nevertheless, there were some highlights at the meeting, like when the president of Oha na Eze in London, arrived at 6:45 for a meeting scheduled to start at 4 pm and was apologised to by the organisers that they were sorry he came too early and was asked to sit on the high table with a Nigeria counsellor from Kent. They sat there for another two hours looking ridiculous because the governors they were waiting for had not arrived. Another highlight was when the two investors who had waited since 4 pm were called to the high table to meet with the governors and I noticed from their body language that they would have preferred to meet the governor in secrete. One of the things I have learnt from such meetings, a numbers of which I have attended in the last two years, is that Many Nigeria communities behave as if they are trapped in 18th century mind set but living 21st century. The complete disregard of time is something that seems to defy any remedy in Nigerians and the apparent inability by Nigerians to realise that it is their duty to hold politicians to account and not to massage their corrupt and over bloated ego.
As an Igbo and Nigerian, I often wonder what type of leadership and country would bring about the peace and development we need. Nigeria is in a meltdown. We are practically in the last days of Nigeria as a united country unless a miracle happens. Igbos and Christians are being massacred in north Nigeria and Igbo politicians prefer to pretend that all is well because some of them nurse the ambition to rule Nigeria. Psychologists call this type of behaviour denial. Igbos are made to pay tolls on one of the worst roads in the world, the now failed Enugu Port Harcourt express way. Even Israel has not done that to the Palestinians and we are supposed to be living in one Nigeria. Igbo leaders seem oblivious of the fact that it is glaring injustices, oppressions and calculated attempt to subjugate and brutalise like this, which water the seeds of resentment, and rebellion; and drive young Igbos to MASSOB and Biafra Zionist movement. Igbo politicians in particular seem obsessed by their own selfish political ambitions, while the country they wish to rule slid into anarchy and their people brutalised by injustices. This is not leadership but crass opportunism. There is no evidence that Igbo leaders are preparing the people for what is happening and or may be coming.
The questions which Igbo leaders have so far, failed to answer are:
- What are Igbo leaders and politicians doing to protect Igbos living in the north Nigeria from Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen?
- What are Igbo leaders doing to rehabilitate Igbos who have been affected by Boko Haram?
- What are Igbo leaders doing to unite Igbos?
- What are Igbo leaders doing to stop MASSOB and BZM from continuing to give the Nigerian army and police the excuse they need to continue the occupation and brutalisation of the people?
- What are Igbo leaders doing to reach out to the Ibibios, Effiks, Ijaws, Ogonis, Binis, Ishekiris, Tivs, etc., and Hausas and Flulanis in north Nigeria who do not share the dream of an Islamic state to address the injustices which have created the problems in Igbo land ?
- What are Igbo leaders doing to address the real reasons for the high level of criminality, armed robbery and kidnapping in Igbo Land?
- What economic master plan do they have for development of Igbo land and the restoration of Aba to the economic power house it once, was?
- What alternative survival plan is in place for the Igbo land, should Nigeria go the way of Yugoslavia?
- What are Igbo leaders doing to ensure that the federal government of Nigeria does the minimum for Igbo land which is ensuring that federal roads in Igbo land are built and Enugu and or Owerri Airport made international Airports?
- What are Igbo leaders doing to attract the best of Igbos once again into politics?
These are questions which any honest leadership in a country like Nigeria should be answering for the people it claims to lead. However, what one sees in Igbo land is a leadership immersed in corruption, greed, selfish individualism, pride and high mindedness. One sees a leadership obsessed more by titles than performance. Suddenly every Igbo politician wants to be called Eze Igbo gburugburu, a title invented by Ojukwu. They love titles but unable to provide the leadership that would justify such accolade. It would seem that Igbos have forgotten that our best came out when we had our leaders from amongst the best, and not the worst of us. We like to deceive and make ourselves laughing stalk, and wonder why others do not take us serious.
Why should the oldest republican nation in the world suddenly be embracing the language of monarchy and autocracy? ‘Igbo amaghi Eze’ is our political philosophy and those who want to be kings in Igbo land do not understand the people and culture. Without stopping the corruption of our culture and politics, we have no future no matter who claims to be Eze Igbo gburugburu and whatever it means. We are a stubborn, hardworking, and independent minded race. Only a truly democratic government and enlightened leadership will give Igbo land a chance to develop. Our leaders have failed to embrace transparency, accountability, honesty, democratic and due process. They have refused to put the people, their future and survival; well above their selfish and individual political ambitions. Only a leadership prepared to govern on civil values, principles and respect for the rule of law, individual liberty and due process will give Igbos a chance. The idea that having a lot of money automatically makes one a leadership material is a concept that must die, before Igbo land will develop. We must search for people with the right leadership qualities and realise that such rare qualities do not often enable the individuals to become obscenely rich; which seems to be the only qualification for leadership in Igbo land and Nigeria. We seem to have forgotten that Nnamdi Azikiwe, Michael Okpara, Akanu Ibiam, Mazi Mbonu Ojike, Sam Mbakwe etc., did not become Igbo leaders on account of their great wealth.
I look at Igbo land and see a people wondering as a sheep without shepherd. I see a leadership consumed by selfish individualism, hubris and greed. Igbo land is a disaster area today because the worst of Igbos have been in power for too long. Successive government have only stolen from the people. Many of them are indicted for corruption, yet they have the audacity to lay claim to leadership and we all keep quiet and honour their criminality. Where is our sense of outrage as a people? Where is our sense of morality? Where is our sense of probity? Where is our sense of decency? Where is our sense of justice as fairness? What kind of values and principles are we prepared to fight for, and if necessary die? Every people who have survived answered these questions. Sometimes I am ashamed to be Igbo because of the behaviour of my brothers who call themselves the leaders of my people. Many times I am even more ashamed to be Nigeria because of the pogroms against my people, the corruption of its ruling class, and the silence of those in positions to speak out and provide leadership to stop it. I am appalled at the lack of shame which wrong doing should evoke in the offender and the absence of outrage expected from the people to show their rejection and abhorrence of corruption.
My question to Igbo politicians who come to Britain to seek relevance and ask those in diaspora to come back home are:
- What are Igbo Leaders doing to secure the future of Igbos in Nigeria?
- Where is the Igbo survival plan?
- What are the leaders doing to help our people understand what is happening in Nigeria?
- How will those who return to Nigeria protect themselves from Kidnappers, ruthless armed robbers, Boko Haram terrorist activities, Fulani herdsmen, Kill and go police, MASSOB and Biafran Zionist movement Nationalists( BZM) and lack of roads and power infrastructures?
- How much bribe will they be expected to pay to get a job where the salary will not paid at the end of the month because the politicians have embezzled the money?
- What incentives exist for those who would like to go into private enterprises?
The politicians who come to Britain to ask diasporas to come home can afford private security in Nigeria, drive bullet proof cars and able to maintain their families abroad where their children attend English privates schools that charge at least Ten thousand pounds a year; yet they have the temerity to tell self-exiles in diaspora to come home. This is hypocrisy and dishonesty. They recognise that the schools and hospitals in Nigeria are not good enough for them and their families but want those who have escaped to come home while they continue to feed to afford a better life outside Nigeria for their families. No country has a future with leaders who behave in this manner to say the least.
I speak out because this is not a time to keep quiet. This is not a time for government to be issuing press statements meant to deceive and hide the facts and truth. This is a time to meet to plan for our survival as a people in a fast changing Nigeria. Biafra failed for one simple reason: lack of proper and prior planning. Abraham Lincoln said that, if he had 10 years to do a job that he would spend 8 years planning for it. Igbos seems to have no plan for what is coming and history may repeat itself. ‘Mberede, nyri Dike’ is a concept we have taken too far and out of context and have paid dearly for it once. We do not seem to have realised that grasses do not fight for one no matter the magnitude of the injustice that compels one to fight.
As the days go by, the break up Nigeria seems inevitable as the government continues to dither on Boko Haram and institutionalised corruption. One expects that a leadership that is alive to its responsibilities will reflect this realities in its vision for the people, but there is no sign that Igbo leaders factor the Nigeria reality into their plans and ambitions. Igbos remain in a relationship where we are abused but fail to take steps to gain our freedom or assert our rights and liberty in a legal way and manner because of fear. Today it is clear that Nigeria is incapable of producing the leadership that can save her. Every sincere political analyst, student, organisations and government is aware that Nigeria is not viable in its present form, and that the only arrangement that can give it a chance is a loose arrangement in form of a true federation that grants greater autonomy to the different regions and enable it bring corruption under control. Considering the injustices Igbos have suffered in Nigeria, Igbos leaders should be at the fore front for the actualisation of this new, fairer and safer Nigeria. Unfortunately, so far, Igbo leaders have been silent. At the moment: North Nigeria is already an Islamic Republic. What it wants, is to dominate the rest of Nigeria by terror, divide and rule and exploiting the greed and selfishness of politicians from other parts of the country and it seems to have found willing allies amongst some Igbo politicians who seem ready to do once again the dirty jobs of their masters. This would seem to be the North’s strategic plan. Intelligent people will look at this strategy, and produce a counter strategic survival plan. This is what we have not done and not seems to believe is necessary, which is very sad to say the least.
What Igbo leaders do is misappropriate the little revenue they get from the federal government by globetrotting and consuming themselves in the struggle for power. Governor T A Orji of Abia state has presided over the decimation and destruction of Aba and no one says a word. He makes regular trips abroad and provides lavish life style for his family but the people and town he swore on oath to rule in honesty and good conscious is a disaster area. It is the silence of Igbos in the face of this type of evil taking place in Abia state that breaks my heart. They give money to some people abroad to drum up support for them and then come to masquerade as leaders when they are in fact the problem. If Igbo politicians love Igbos as some of them claim, they would put the future, unity and survival of Igbos over and above their selfish political ambitions and it would not matter who is the leader because he will be accountable to the people and do what is in the constitution. Sadly this is not the case at this time.
However, because they do not believe in democracy and accountable government, they kill each other for political positions because it represents unaccountable power and shortest route to obscene riches. Igbo leaders should first sit down and figure out the real reasons why Biafra failed and realise that every people lay the foundation of their failure either by what they do or fail to do. They should then accept that Igbos did not prepare well before they declared war. Igbo leaders should eschew corruption and deception of the people and unite for the future and our survival as a people and country. Otherwise what happened to the Tamils of Sri lanker may happen to us. Our people face extinction, unless we produce a coherent plan for our survival. Anybody who doubts this should please visit Aba. It will only take an epidemic of a very serious disease to finish of Aba because it is fast becoming unfit for human habitation. Meanwhile one of the titles of the state governor is ‘Ochendu’, what an irony in a state where it is obvious that he is presiding over the death of a town.
Finally, Igbo leaders should realise that one of the strategic aims of Boko Haram is to drive Igbos out of north Nigeria so that they will no longer take part in elections in north Nigeria. This will make it impossible for any Igbo or anybody the north does not approve of, to win presidential elections in Nigeria as there will be no other people to vote for a candidate other than the one Boko Haram wants. In effect, Buhari’s aim of making Nigeria ungovernable, if he did not win the presidency has already been achieved because the Igbos in the north who voted for Jonathan last year will not be there in 2015.
I hope that our leaders will begin to think and not continue to see people who speak the truth as they see it, as enemies. History tells us that those who truly love their country and people speak the inconvenient truth. God bless Igbo land. God help Nigeria