FEATURE ARTICLE

Wednesday, July 14, 2021
foborji@hotmail.com
Pontifical Urban University, Vatican City (Rome)
THE PRESIDENT'S ANTI-IGBO PROFILE AT A GLANCE
n his classical book, entitled, "Because I am Involved", Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the Biafran leader, made the following revealing truth why it would be difficult to achieve justice in Nigeria:

"It would be difficult to achieve justice in Nigeria because of our perception of the true meaning of Justice. Nigeria's perception of justice is definitely not in line with the 'us all' concept, but rather it is to be found in the context of 'us' and 'them' dichotomy. Anything goes for those who belong to 'us'. Our perception of justice is influenced by our territorial imperative and not until we accept the 'us all' concept can there be any form of social justice. 'Us' as the thesis and 'them' the antithesis, 'us all' is the synthesis." - (Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, "Because I am Involved", Spectrum Books Limited, Ibadan 1989, p.19).

In the same context, Prof. Chinua Achebe in his award-winning book, entitled, "The Trouble with Nigeria", spoke of the unfortunate 'reign' of tribalism, nepotism, social injustice and the cult of mediocrity as the major problem with Nigeria:

"The major objection to the practice of tribalism is that it exposes the citizen to unfair treatment and social injustice. Less advertised but no less damaging to social morality is the advantage which tribalism may confer on mediocrity… The greatest sufferer is the nation itself which has to contain the legitimate grievance of a wronged citizen; accommodate the incompetence of a favored citizen and, more important and greater scope, endure a general decline of morale and subversion of efficiency caused by an erratic system of performance and reward."

Continuing, Achebe said,

"Social injustice is therefore not only a matter of morality but also of sheer efficiency and effectiveness. … Nigeria, on the other hand, is a country where it would be difficult to point to one important job held by the most competent person we have. I stand to be corrected." - (Chinua Achebe, "The Trouble with Nigeria", Fourth Dimension Publishers, 1983, p. 19).

In the same book, "The Trouble with Nigeria", Prof. Chinua Achebe went further to speak of what he called the "anti-Igbo feeling" in Nigeria. According to him, "Nigeria has an Igbo problem." As he puts it, "Every ethnic group is of course something of a problem for Nigeria's easy achievement of cohesive nationhood. But … Nigerians of all other ethnic groups will probably achieve consensus on no other matter than their common resentment of the Igbo."

Explaining further this anti-Igbo sentiment in Nigeria, Achebe adds:

"Modern Nigerian history has been marked by sporadic eruption of anti-Igbo feeling of more or less serious import; but it was not until 1966-7 when it swept through Northern Nigeria like "a deadly hate" that the Igbo first questioned the concept of Nigeria which they had embraced with much greater fervor than the Yoruba or the Hausa/Fulani. The Civil War gave Nigeria a perfect and legitimate excuse to cast the Igbo in the role of treasonable felon, a wrecker of the nation." - (Chinua Achebe, "The Trouble with Nigeria", p.45).

Achebe concludes by saying that, "Had the Igbo been a minor ethnic-group of a few hundred thousand their menace might have been easily and quietly contained. But they ran in their millions! Like J.P. Clark's fine image of "ants filing out of the wood" the Igbo moved out of their forest home, scattered and virtually seized the floor." - (Ibid. p. 46).

I have decided to premise our present article with the above citations from Ojukwu and Achebe, in order to drive home the main thesis of this essay. Some may think that President Muhammed Buhari's untoward attitudes to anything Igbo is something recent, or because he did not win many votes from South Eastern Nigeria (Igboland) during the 2015 and 2019 Presidential elections? No. With every due respect to the person and office of the President, however, we have many evidences to show that his anti-Igbo behavior has always been there.

This is why all hands must be on deck to save the situation before it is too late. Especially, now he has all the government machinery and power under his control as President to carry out whatever he wants against any ethnic-group he perceives are 'irritating' to him, like the Igbo nation in Nigeria. As the saying goes, "A stitch in time saves nine."

Buhari's Anti-Igbo Profile at a Glance

In what follows, we shall present few examples of President Muhammed Buhari's "unhealthy" attitude and resentment to anything Igbo, which we need to take into serious consideration in the light of his recent 'civil war' verbal threat to the Igbo nation and renewed militarization of Igboland. Added to it, is the ongoing travails of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB, at the hands of Buhari regime.

1. In 1985, Buhari voted against an Igbo man becoming OAU Secretary-General

As Nigerian Military Head of State (1983-1985), Buhari voted against the candidature of Peter Onu, an Igbo becoming Secretary-General of the Organization for African Unity - OAU (now African Union - AU). Between 1983 and 1985, Peter Onu of Nigeria was the Acting Secretary-General of the Organization for African Unity - OAU. At the 1985 Summit in Addis Ababa, Statesmen like Julius Nyerere, President of Tanzania, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Felix Houphouet-Boigny of Ivory Coast, and others, lobbied for his election as substantive Secretary-General.

However, there was a major stumbling-block to Peter Onu's candidature: 'his Head of State, Major General Muhammed Buhari was campaigning against him. Buhari claimed: "This generation of Nigerians and future generations have no other country than Nigeria." But when 'the crunch came, his allegiance to Nigeria disappeared.' "In the election of the OAU Secretary-General in 1985, Buhari voted against Nigeria and was for Niger Republic instead. 'He secured the election of the Oumarou, a Fulani man from Niger Republic, as opposed to an Igbo man from Nigeria. By so doing, Buhari became the first and only Head of State in the history of modern international relations to vote against his country in favor of his tribe." - Vanguard Newspaper, February 3, 2015).

2. He staged a Coup to Stop Dr. Alex Ekwueme from becoming President of Nigeria

It is a well-known fact that the main reason for which Buhari/Idiagbon staged their military coup of 1983 was to make sure that the Vice-President Dr. Alex Ekwueme, an Igbo, did not succeed Alhaji Shehu Shagari as President of Nigeria. President Shagari had just less than two years to the end of his second-term tenure, and there was every probability that the ruling Party NPN was poised to choose Dr. Alex Ekwueme as their Presidential flagbearer after Shagari, a Fulani. However, Buhari/Idiagbon military coup of 1983 stopped all that.

Moreover, after ousting Shagari/Ekwueme civilian government in 1983, accusing them of corruption, the first person Buhari/Idiagbon military junta imprisoned was the Vice-President Dr. Alex Ekwueme, whom uptil today, nobody had found guilty of any corruption charges or something of sort against him. Yet, this was the man, Buhari sent to prison as military Head of State, but never touched the President Alhaji Shehu Shagari, his tribesman? This reminds me of the song of the music icon, Fela, which he composed in that regard: "Driver don cause accident, police come catch conductor."

It did not end there. Buhari/Idiagbon military junta went ahead and imprisoned Ikemba of Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the world-acclaimed Igbo leader, who just came back from 13 years post-Biafra War exile he spent in Ivory Coast. Ojukwu never held any political or elected post to warrant his arrest and imprisonment by the military junta. Yet, he was incarcerated and left to languish in prison throughout the years Buhari was military Head of State (1983-1985).

Some in defense of Buhari may say but he chose Dr. Chuba Okagbue as his Presidential running-mate, when the latter fell out with former President Obasanjo in PDP? However, what people who think in this way forgot is that the man ran to Okagbue not out of love or respect for an Igbo man, but because he wanted power by all means to return to the North. Moreover, he wanted to rubbish the then President Obasanjo who because of him, Dr. Okagbue was forced to leave the ruling PDP party. Mind you, Dr. Okagbue did not survive the first electioneering campaign he held together with Buhari in Kano that year. He was infested with poisonous chemical at the rally arena, which eventually sent him to his early grave. In that way, the Igbo nation lost one of its brightest, most intelligent, and most astute politicians of our generation.

3. President's 'Civil War threat' and Renewed Militarization of Igboland

Fielding questions from journalists after his decoration by President Buhari last week, the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, a Fulani Muslim from the North, was asked what message he had for the agitators in the Southeastern region and in other places, given President Buhari's declaration that "they would be treated in the language they understand." The answer the new Chief of Army Staff, Gen Yahaya gave would shock any person with sense of decency and value for human life and dignity. Gen. Yahaya replied the journalist who asked him that question thus, "That's what we have started doing already and many of them (pro-Biafra Igbo youths) have been sent to God to go and answer for their crimes. And we will continue to do that." - (Vanguard Newspaper, July 7, 2021).

In other words, President Buhari's 'civil war' rhetoric is not just only a threat but also his government policy and military strategy the regime is using already in executing, though silently, a systematic war of genocide against the people of Southeastern Nigeria, the Igbo nation. President Buhari has maintained his stance after he uttered that 'civil war threat' against the Igbo nation. Even the way he reacted swiftly by banning Twitter in Nigeria, for deleting his Twitter post of that particular civil war genocidal threat he made against the Igbos, tells you exactly, that the Nigerian maximum ruler himself had no regrets at all for making such a threat against an ethnic-group under his watch!

The only reason for all these being that the regime is not happy with the rising tide of protests and agitations for self-determination and independence of Biafra going on in Eastern Nigeria, which is being championed the pro-Biafra youth movement, IPOB. Especially with the formation of a regional Vigilante outfit ESN, which the IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu inaugurated last December to guard the farmlands and forests in Eastern Nigeria and protect the local population from attacks and killings perpetuated against them, on daily basis by Buhari's kinsmen, Fulani killer-herdsmen. These Fulani killer-herdsmen roam around the towns and villages in Igboland and other parts of the Eastern region and the country, with AK-47, destroying farmlands and villages, killing people, raping women and kidnapping people with reckless abandon, while the government and its security operatives careless!

Furthermore, it would be recalled that President Buhari had on Tuesday May 11, 2021, held a meeting with his Service-Chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, telling them "to adopt specific security measures in the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones of the country" (Biafraland). Mind you, the South-East is the only geopolitical zone in Nigeria that has no representative among the five service-chiefs of the Federation and Inspector General of Police.

In other words, there is no representative from the South-East at the nation's Security Council meetings. The perception today among many, is that each time President Buhari and his service-chiefs or Security Council members meet, they discuss nothing else other than how to deal with the Igbos in South Eastern Nigeria. Experience has proven this to be true, as the on-going military offensive in the region shows.

4. A Lopsided Federal Government based on Igbo Exclusion

It is a well-known fact that President Buhari is running a lopsided and nepotistic government dominated by members of his Fulani ethnic group and other Northern Muslims and few allies from elsewhere. There seemed to be a deliberate effort by the regime, to apparently, exclude the Igbo from the running of the government and in the scheme of things in the country. All the three-arms of the federal government, executive, legislative and judiciary, are headed by Northerners, Buhari's Kinsmen. In the same way, almost all the Military Service-Chiefs, including the IGP, Immigration, Customs, in fact, Heads of all the security operatives and paramilitaries come from President Buhari's Kinsmen. This is in addition to them controlling also all the principal federal ministries, parastatals and companies. A few, of course, they conceded to their collaborators from the South-West and Middle-Belt geopolitical zones.

Mind you, we have only hinted randomly, on what some authors have rightly described as 'political Jihad' of Buhari regime against the Igbo. We have not touched on the most insidious of it, which is the regime's 'economic Jihad' against the Igbo nation. It is all round war the regime has, subtly, but very insidiously, declared against the Igbo nation. Unfortunately, out of fear of being killed, or just to sound 'politically correct', most people on the know, and the media, in particular, are afraid of speaking up against these evil going on in the land. The world powerful nations, also, have because of their interests in Nigeria's Petroleum and Gas Oil deposits, are not helping the matter as well.

In other words, the most populous African ethnic-nationality in Nigeria, the Igbo nation with an estimated population of 70 million people, has now been systematically, excluded from participating as equal partner and stakeholder in Nigeria's governance structure and in the scheme of things in the country? They have being reduced to the status of second-class citizens in their own fatherland. What a painful situation?

5. 'Five-percenters' and a 'Dot' on the Map Rhetoric

Who has forgotten the recent characterization of the Igbo nation by President Buhari as a "dot in the circle" in the map of Nigeria? An anti-Igbo outburst coming from the President of Nigeria, simply because of his disapproval of the pro-Biafra youth movement, IPOB agitating for Biafra self-determination and independence through the legal means of referendum. Self-determination of indigenous peoples are guaranteed by international laws and by all the known laws of the civilized world. How it came to become 'treasonable felon', a pretext for arresting, jailing and killing Igbo youths in Nigeria of President Buhari, is beyond human imagination. This is the only reason for which Buhari as President of Nigeria, had to insult the Igbo nation of over 70 million people, whom he called a 'dot' on the map of Nigeria, which, according to him, "even if they want to exit have no access to anywhere"?

Moreover, President Buhari had in 2015 at Washington DC, during a Press Conference, referred to the Igbo nation, as '5%' (five-percenters), that is, against those he called '97%' (97-percenters), his Northern Kinsmen that voted for him overwhelmingly during the Presidential election that year! In other words, because of this, according to him, 'Igbos do not deserve equal treatment like the rest of the people from other regions that gave him '97%' of their votes during the Presidential elections.' Quo Vadis?

Considering all these, it is legitimate for all well-meaning people across the globe, to be worried with the present travails of Nnamdi Kanu at the hands of Buhari regime. In fact, many fear that Buhari and his Aso Rock Cabals are ready to vent their anger of hate on Nnamdi Kanu, use him to set an example, as a warning to Igbo people in general, and to any other Igbo person that may arise tomorrow to challenge the Fulani dominance and conquest agenda of Nigeria.

Already there are celebrations in the North, especially, among the Fulani ethnic-nationality over the inhuman treatment, torture, and the eventual abduction and re-incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu in Nigeria by the Buhari administration in collaboration with the Kenyan government of President Uhuru Kenyatta. The North is celebrating the present travails of Nnamdi Kanu at the hands of Buhari regime as a major victory for them. This is why every hand must be on deck to save the life of Nnamdi Kanu and get him released immediately from the dungeon of the hangman, before it is too late.

The Source of Mr. President's Anti-Igbo Profile

One good thing, however, is that the present travails of Nnamdi Kanu at the hands of this regime has helped to bring to the fore, the major problem with Nigeria. The problem is what Achebe, in his book we cited earlier on, had called, "The Igbo-hate and resentment in Nigeria." But in all fairness to President Buhari, coming from the Northern Fulani Sunni Muslim ruling Oligarchy, he is merely a victim of that 'Igbo-hate and resentment' in Nigeria. He was born and bred into that narrative. Especially, as someone coming from the North, participated as a young military officer of the federal troops in killing the Igbos during the Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1970).

This means that the source of the mindset guiding President Buhari's hateful relationship with the Igbo nation is deeper than some may think. His characterizations and hateful language against the Igbo are born out of the way ordinary Northerner under the influence of Fulani Sunni Muslims of Sokoto Caliphate has continued to view the Igbo as the greatest stumbling block against their age-long agenda of Fulani conquest and Islamization of Nigeria. Igboland is the only place in Nigeria where over 90% of the population are Christians and the rest are followers of African Traditional Religion. Igbo people, so to say, have decided for Christianity. They are also ready and prepared to defend their land and Christian faith, if the need arises.

This is something those driving the Islamic agenda and Fulani herdsmen terrorism and Northern domination of Nigeria, hate to hear. It was part of the reason for the Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1970), even though, not many Nigerians were aware of this religious and ethno-political dimensions of the war then.

Another thing is the way Buhari himself has continued to blame the Igbo for the killing of Sir Ahmed Bello, Premier of Northern region, during the January 15, 1966 Military Coup. This has remained very pivotal in molding Buhari's mindset and perception of the Igbos in Nigeria. It suffices to cite from Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, former minister of aviation, what he told the nation of what Buhari himself told him why he (Buhari) cannot 'forgive' the Igbos:

"It is a cultural problem which most Fulanis and other Northerners of North-West and North-East geopolitical zones hold against the Igbos, whom they accused of the 1966 military coup that killed their political godfather of Sokoto Caliphate and Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmed Bellow. … That Northerners have not forgiven the Igbos for that coup."

That is, in spite of the fact that the North, in their so-called revenge killings of Igbos, killed over 700,000 Igbos, massacred by Hausa-Fulani soldiers and ordinary citizens, between July and October 1966 Igbo pogroms in the North. During the Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1970) that followed, another estimated 3.5 million Igbos were killed by Nigerian troops and through federal government's anti-Igbo policy of starvation and blockade against Biafra. None of these massive killings of Igbos by the Nigerian State security agencies and federal government's anti-Igbo state policies have been able to assuage the North and President Buhari, in particular?

Moreover, it is a lie to call the 1966 military coup, an 'Igbo Coup.' In fact, those who carried out the military coup of January 15, 1966 comprised officers from different ethnic-groups and their mission was simple: "To get rid of "corrupt" politicians and install Awolowo (a Yoruba) as Prime Minister. It took Igbo coloration because those sent to the East failed while Nzeogwu succeeded in Kaduna where he grew up." This is contained in the book of Major Adewale Ademoyega, a Yoruba, one of the officers that took part in the January 15, 1966 Coup. His book where he gave the account of what happened, is entitled, "Why We Struck."

Major Ademoyega himself was of the same rank as Nzeogwu. He was an active participant in the coup. Other participants in the coup include, Major Ifeajuna, Lt. Fola Oyewole, Lt. Tijani Katsina and Saleh Dambo who were both Hausa/Fulani. There was Lt. Hope Haris Egheagha among the Igbos, and others.

Again, Nzeogwu himself is a Deltan, and not a South-easterner Igbo. In today's perverted narrative of Nigeria, 'I am sure those who subscribe to the modern day warped history will say he is not "real" Igbo, when it fits their narrative.' How the "sin" of such a person has turned around to be the collective guilty of Igbos living in the East of the Niger, is difficult to fathom. But in a country such as Nigeria, everything is possible. Even a "saint" could be categorized as a "sinner", and a "sinner" celebrated as a "saint."

Another fact, which most people who discuss this matter choose to ignore, is that the same Coup was foiled by two brave Igbo men, Aguiyi-Ironsi in Lagos (West) and Ojukwu in Kano (North). In fact, "it was Ojukwu who stopped Nezogwu in Kaduna and Kano." These facts are not difficult to read up; they are all there in Major Ademoyega's book, "Why We Struck." "Yet, it is the pogrom against the Igbos in the North that followed that compelled the Igbo to opt out of Nigeria, a fact that now turned into, they wanted oil."

Conclusion

The federal government and security operatives' high handedness and show of force in the Southeast each time Igbo people try to observe 30th May Annual Remembrance Day, to honor all those killed during the Nigeria-Biafra War, is becoming unbearable that keeping silence over such thing won't help anybody. Most of the military killings of Igbo youths since 2015, under Buhari regime came as a result of the regime's response to Biafra Remembrance Day anniversary celebration, the sit-at-home order in Igboland, which is meant to honor those who died during the war!

Why the regime does not want the Igbos to honor their beloved ones killed during the genocidal Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1970, is difficult to understand. If truth be told, the present regime of President Mohammed Buhari is not helping the matter at all in his relationship with the Igbo nation. In fact, it would seem that the President came to power simply, to suppress anything Igbo, especially, about the memories of the genocidal Nigeria-Biafra War among the Igbos. This is very unfortunate!

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