I have followed His Excellency Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State since he assumed office in 2015 and to all intents and purposes, this governor has common sense though common sense is not common. The above statement credited to this educated and wise governor shows that he is a well brought up child who does not speak from the two sides of his mouth. He always speaks my mind anytime he ventures to make a public intervention in matters of Nigerian politics. I celebrate this governor. I adore this governor. May his tribe continue to increase without measure.
I have been shouting from the rooftop, from the highest mountain and from the tallest building in the world that even though Igbo have been structurally, systematically, and officially marginalized in the project Nigeria since the end of the civil war in 1970, the quest for Biafra may not be an option at this stage and age.
I have written that even though South East gets the least in everything being shared in Nigeria, we are not the last when you place all the six zones on a scale. This is because historians and the fathers of the Second Vatican Council have proved beyond a reasonable doubt through years of research that all acts of indignity, marginalization, suppression, oppression, and repression against human persons debase the perpetrators more than the victims.
I have stated time without number that Igbos have made humongous and gigantic investment all over Nigeria so much so that it is difficult, if not impossible, to support our present quest for self-determination and division of Nigeria. I have also felt that given the tragic situations in Somalia, South Sudan, and some other flash points in Africa and the world, separation from Nigeria may not take us to the Promised Land, rather it may initiate strife, struggle for power and division in Igboland.
I have maintained that separation is not a tea party and any just quest for separation must be anchored on a well-articulated roadmap that will even convince others that we need to stay apart. I have maintained that no act of separation could be anchored on the temporary loss of political powers as the present Biafran quest is. Some of us have warned also that hate and ethnic bigotry from IPOB leadership may endanger Igbos living in other parts of Nigeria and even hurt those other Nigerians living in Igboland.
Some of us also feel that all Nigerians have paid bloody sacrifices for the unity of this country during the 1966 – 1970 Civil War as there were casualties on both sides. We have also argued that Nigeria provides a big market for Igbo enterprise taking into consideration that great economies all over the world are looking for countries that provide the big market. Igbos are largely traders, and no ethnic group benefits more from the large size of the Nigerian market than Igbos.
We have also considered the inter-ethnic marriages among the diverse cultures and tribes in Nigeria and insisted that history will not forgive us if we ignore these huge bridges that took more than 100 years to put in place. We have also argued that dialogue and playing of better politics will help Igbos to get the attention of other Nigerians in order to begin the process of redressing the imbalance in Nigeria’s political equation.
We have advanced so many other reasons why we have to maintain the status quo but they called us names, abused our late fathers and mothers, our children, and even ‘banished’ us from visiting Igboland. They called us slaves and the rest is now history.
Even in the face of cheap blackmail and intimidation people like us stood our ground and continued to speak out. When the South East governors and the federal government saw the real danger and threat nobody told them to proscribe IPOB.
Again, the rest is now history. In one fell swoop, what would have been a monumental tragedy of unequal dimension was technically and systematically averted. It could have been worse. Every sane voice in Igboland has risen to acknowledge this fact.
Nobody is beating his or her chest for the proscription of IPOB. Those who opposed IPOB are fighting for Igbo interest. I also assume genuine agitators in IPOB are also fighting for Igbo interest. But time has come for us to find a middle course and then move on. I have watched personally the videos that come from the various sides on the Python Dance II and the lawless acts against Hausas in parts of the East, and I make bold to say that nobody should celebrate these but we must note that he who brings ant-infested firewood to his house invites the lizard to dinner.
But then, how could anybody, in a haste to justify the lawless actions of Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB, forget that there was Python Dance I last year? Why did they not raise equal hoopla about that if the intent in politicizing Python Dance II is altruistic? Let other Nigerians labor now to bring Igbos questions and other questions to the fore. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Let us reason together in order to solve our common problem.
As for his royal majesty, Nnamdi Kanu, and IPOB, history remains our witness. Empty bravery leads to nowhere but destruction. Chinua Achebe says “it is from the coward’s hut that one points at the ruins that was once a brave man’s house. But great soldiers, great journalists do not die on their beds.” I had thought that the leader of IPOB, and Supreme Leader of Biafra would have waited in his father’s house in Afaraukwu, Umuahia for him to be picked up. We would have respected him more given his utterances in recent times.
Joe Igbokwe wrote from Lagos.