Awolowo and the forgotten documents of the civil war, by Odia Ofeimun (4)
This is the concluding part of Odia Ofeimun’s treatise on the Awolowo?Achebe civil war controversy. He makes useful suggestions to his Igbo brothers and sisters as well as other Nigerians on how to dump the self-righteous mentality of ‘WE AGAINST THEM”.
What is interesting in this regard is that well known acts perpetrated by other leaders during the war are actually now being credited to Awolowo by postwar propagandists and are being made to stick beyond lines of collective responsibility while actual performances that he made are smudged out of acknowledgement. For a man who could be said to have done more than any other single individual to have garnered the out-of-the-war-front intelligence to keep Nigeria as one country, it is actually a surprise to see how little Federal cover has been given to Awolowo by Federal agencies and establishments.
Generals who were worried that Awolowo might convert his proficiency in the management of the country’s finances and general affairs into political power certainly preferred that the war story be told against him. For ex-Biafrans who believe that Awolowo disabled their war efforts through his many ploys, including the change of the currency, the refusal to devalue the Naira, and the ordering of a stop to food corridors, Awolowo deserves to be sent to the International court even post-humously.
The concentration on Awolowo as it turns out is such a fixation that many are prepared to believe that even if Awolowo was still in prison when the pogrom took place, he should be arraigned for it. It is very much unlike the position taken by the Jews who not only went after exposing the perpetrators of the holocaust after the Second World War but took extremely inter-subjective care to ensure that no innocents were punished for crimes that others committed. The reverse, clearly, is the case with the Nigerian crisis and civil war. It is quite interesting in this regard, and perhaps, a mark of Achebe’s forgiving nature that in his The Trouble with Nigeria, he grants the status of arch-nationalist to Mallam Aminu Kano, of whose faction of the People’s Redemption Party, PRP, he became a member, even after knowing of the Mallam’s mobilization of the resistance to feared Igbo domination after the January 15 Coup. Or he did not know it?
Allan Feinstein, Mallam’s biographer, had given enough leads to explain the radical leader’s mobilization of the North before the pogrom. On page 225 of The African Revolutionary ,the autobiography of Mallam Aminu Kano, he writes that his subject “had to decide what was right for his country and his North ……..Aminu Kano’s smouldering fear of Southern domination had finally culminated in what he considered a genuine and serious threat to the development of his first love, Northern Nigeria”. As it happened, Aminu Kano was arrested in connection with the pogrom in the North but was promptly released for want of evidence. Decades later, as the issues are being memorialized by key actors of that era, the post-coup mobilization has been coming under new lights. As happened, it was Alhaji Ahmed Joda, a top aide to Major Hassan Usman Katsina, Governor of Northern Region, who was sent by “top civil servants” in Kaduna to meet with Alhaji Maitama Sule in Kano to “initiate leadership in getting the people of the North to understand the aims of government” after the January 1966 coup. On pages 211 -212 of the biography, Maitama Sule. Danmasanin Kano by Ayuba T. Abubakar, it is told of how it was Maitama Sule, an NPC stalwart before the coup, who “suggested that Mallam Aminu Kano was the most suitable, because he was widely respected, never held a government leadership appointment and had the people behind him. Again, he was a leading figure in UPGA……So Maitama arranged for Mallam Aminu to meet Alhaji Joda the following day.
Thereafter, Mallam Aminu Kano became the leading consultant for the government and top civil servants and their link with the rest of the North”. In The Story of a Humble Life: An Autobiography, Tanko Yakasai, an Aminu Kano deputy in the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) authenticates the story: “At the beginning, most NEPU members were happy with the military take over. It was only after some few days that they started to think twice about the situation……the way some Igbo traders at Sabongari market in Kano started to treat Northerners”.
A meeting was then held in Aminu Kano’s house in Sudawa by old NEPU stalwarts. Aminu Kano “drew the attention of the meeting to the apathy pervading the political scene in the North and urged those present to rise up to the occasion; otherwise it would be difficult to rejuvenate political interest in the people. The meeting then decided that a tour of the Northern Region should be undertaken to make contact with opinion leaders with a view to alerting them of the danger posed by that situation. The tour was to be undertaken under the guise of paying condolence visits to the families and traditional rulers of those killed during the military take-over. ……….
We started from Sokoto, followed by Bauchi and Maiduguri. Within a few weeks, we covered the whole region”. (page 221). Although accused of having joined the NPC, “we continued with our mobilization campaign”, writes Tanko Yakasai. Of course, there were different contact groups mobilizing, sometimes with cross-cutting memberships. They were all to make what seemed a consensual response to Major General Aguiyi Ironsi’s Unification Decree which according to Tanko Yakasai “created a lot of fear in the minds of the civil servants and traditional rulers….”. A protest rally organized in Kano against the Unification Decree turned the seething anger into a region-wide prairie fire that grew into the pogrom against the Igbo and those associated with them. As it happened, the pogrom preceded and accompanied the Revenge Coup of July 29 1966.
The matter of interest is that Awolowo was still in prison at Calabar when it all began to happen. But it was after the exodus of the Igbo back to the East and of many southerners from the North; and then, the failure of the various leaders of Thought meetings, including the Aburi meeting in Ghana, to resolve the consequent loss of faith in the idea of a united country, that secession was declared. And war began. In the narration of the crisis and the tragedies of the war, different partisans have chosen what to emphasize between the grisly images of the pogrom and the guitar-ribbed and kwashiorkor ridden children in Biafra and the direct casualties in the war front. Who to blame from the perspective of those who suffered the dire consequences? To ask is to put history in a quandary because in the situation of organized anarchies that preceded the war, it is the botched January 15 Coup that takes the rap. All murders are bad but it was the unrounded nature of the violence, the lopsided regional accounting, that Nigerians, North and South, will always remember.
It turned jubilation into self-questioning angst. The truth is that the years of distrust already on the ground, allowed for an interpretation which was incorrect. Otherwise, it did not start as an Igbo coup. It was turned into one by successive acts of commission and omission which could have been averted by greater exercise of cultural empathy. This was, unwisely knocked aside; not just by the arrogance of power that all military rule insinuates, but the inability of the new rulers at the centre to see Nigeria as a family of different nationalities needing an effort of mind and a lot of civility to turn into a nation of shared conversations.
Admittedly, the leaders had their prejudices; but the necessity for shared living called for learning how to let people govern themselves irrespective of how unprepared they appeared to be. Education for leadership needed to have begun from having laws that were not tilted against any part of the polity. Unfortunately, once violence became the definition of the terms of association, it was not going to be easy to retract. As violence led to more violence, whoeveot on top sought a draconian hold in order not to be sucked into its quicksand and boil. Hence those who began by detesting a unitary system of government ended up creating a unitary hegemony. Trust and a basis for stability became goals to be achieved through a lopsided cut.
The point is that nothing could replace the effort that needs to be made in every society, even one that is uni-cultural rather than multi-ethnic and multi-religious, to let decision –making come from within a community rather than as an imposition. It so happens that the failure of the first coup, as with all succeeding ones in Nigeria’s history came from pursuing the opposite of what they claimed they wanted. By being generally of a lopsided cut, all of them morphed into preparations for a genocide of sorts. Thus, once the pogrom in the North created the basis for a war, or at least some form of return violence, the word genocide had become regionally or ethnically positioned to account what would follow. Specific to the period of civil war: those who used the term genocide tended to do so in the sense of a propaganda pitch to rev the cause or score points in the competition for international alms, arms, and domestic power. Not distinguishing the pogrom in the North from the actual deaths and derangement of life found in the war situations was quite a grand strategy of Biafrans. Truth is, once war was declared, both sides were on a mutual genocidal binge. Put the word to some test and it turns out to have been so much a ploy to attract support for Biafra, as the rebel stronghold shrank from all of Eastern Region to the closed-in Igbo heartland. The weight of Federal might, against the fast diminishing rebel territory, could not evade the sheerness of it: that the pounding of one identifiable set of Nigerians, had the implication of a geno-factor. A war in a multi-ethnic society poses this execrable frame. Only those who love war may try to deodorize it by pretending that it does not yield forms of genocide. On both sides of the Nigerian civil war, the genocidal instincts were quite alert. And knowing that genocides are such bad things, propagandists reached for international support by playing it ur down. This is why talking about the starving children of Biafra as an incidence of genocide turns out not to be such a straightforward matter. Biafra lost much international support, except for the sentimentality of Caritas, when it was discovered, and discussed across the world, that the General of the People’s Army was engaged in unethical profiling of starving children in order to attract international sympathy.
In his letter of resignation from his $400,000 contract and his post as Public Relations Representative of Biafra in the United States, Robert S. Goldstein, who had helped to build up much international concern for Biafra wrote to the Biafran Commander in chief as follows: “It is inconceivable to me that you would stop the feeding of thousands of your countrymen (under auspices of world organizations such as the international Red cross, world council of churches and many more)via a land corridor which is the only practical way to bring in food to help at this time………..I cannot serve you any longer. Nor can I be party to suppressing the fact that your starving thousands have the food, medicine and milk available to them….it can and is ready to be delivered through international organizations to you. Only your constant refusal has stopped its delivery.”
This piece of archival material may well have been a propaganda coup for the Federal side but, as its publication in Nigeria’s Morning Post showed, it cannot be excluded from the story without missing the real flavor of the times. It therefore be claimed without fear of contradiction that, around the much-trumpeted genocide, was a Biafran proto-state that was prepared to send some well-placed children out of harm’s way to havens in Ivory Coast and elsewhere in the world but was using other people’s children in Biafra as guinea pigs for propaganda purposes. The truth, bitter, as it must sound, is that once war was declared, both sides were on a genocidal binge that no post-war leveraging can undo.
For that matter, the reverse side of the Biafran charge of genocide against the Federal side is that the charge can be firmly and rigorously laid that Biafra sent people into combat who had no weapons to fight in a real war. And there was a vast civilian population whose food needs were not considered an issue either in the initial promotion of war frenzy or in the course of the war. Those who continue to trip on the propaganda of war, and are probably hoping that they would be given food stamps and reliefs if they manage to plunge Nigeria into another war with their unthinking fictions, need to be told that it will not be called a war if one side must feed the other side. As actually happened. That such considerations were always there, and were seriously entertained, is why many writers call the Nigerian Civil war a phoney war. Or a brother’s war. The gleeful latching upon Awolowo’s statement that starvation is a weapon of war as a means of raking up old inter-ethnic animosities or winning a prosecutor’s slot in a Nuremberg-type trial, wont change this reality.
Even the Federal side which allowed and then stopped food shipment to Biafra knew it was merely trying to fulfill all righteousness. Who has yet found a way to stop soldiers in any theatre of war from hijacking the food meant for the civilian populations? Who does not know that soldiers move on their stomachs and are more likely to hijack food meant for civilians than not? Starkly, the question is always there: whether or how to to allow a welfare package to the other side without committing suicide. War may thereby be prolonged.
But this is talking about a war between brothers. Sad, it is, that the truly brotherly elements that characterized the waging of the war on both sides of the Nigerian civil war have not been allowed to surface by the spoilsports of the propaganda Ministries who do not allow accounting for the foods and beer shared across battle lines between the combatants. Not to forget the egregious observance of eight-hour war-day on the Federal side and the deliberate slowing down of Federal aggression which, sometimes humanitarian but based on scheming for power in Lagos, lengthened the period of warfare and may unwittingly have been responsible for the many civilian deaths through hunger.
Talking war as war, when Biafrans made the famous incursion into the Midwest State, were they thinking of the convenience of Midwesterners? Their strategic exigencies had little place for the sensibilities of a region that had shown much sympathy for the Biafran cause up to the point of not allowing the region to be a staging post for launching an attack on Biafra. But Biafrans treated the region as mere faggot for the fire. It turned out that the military Governor of the state, David Ejoor had been out-numbered and out-gunned by Igbo-speaking elements in his cabinet who actually out-voted him, six by three, when the pressure came for Biafrans to be allowed to come in. So we can argue, strictu sensu, that Biafra did not invade the Midwest. Biafra was invited into the Midwest State.
Hence, as many writers on the war have reported, no shot was fired. The food and other resources, including hard currency, for whose sake the incursion was made, may have been a good enough bargain for the incoming army. It ended up however, exposing a lot of untoward factors including ethnic arrogance, which told the minority ethnic nationalities in the war-torn South what could continue to happen to them if they remained part of Biafra. To think of it, the easy indifference to the rights of the minority ethnic nationalities who itched to take their own lives in their own hands was what horridly vitiated the whole idea of the Biafran enterprise. And it was this that gave the Federal side such moral authority, egged on, since the Revenge coup, by the release of Adaka Boro and his co-partisans who had been sentenced to death, awaiting execution, for pushing secession for a Niger Delta Republic. It was this that kept the creation of new states on the hot burner even without the threat of a Biafran secession to grant its inexorability. The bottom line is that the evidence of people seeking freedom for themselves without considering that others also needed it was what provided the moral fuel that routed Biafra, even as much as Federal guns and the idea of starvation as a weapon of war.
Let’s face it: it rankles. I mean, the long-standing and brazen refusal to recognize that there were others in the Eastern Region and in the Midwest who also lost a lot of relations in the pogrom, and who deserved to be treated like the proper nationalities that they were, rather than as pariahs in their own country! What may well be taken as a factor in this is that it was Awolowo’s fate, from early in his career, to have earned the dislike of so many whose region, including his own, he had continuously slated for splitting into their ethnic fractions in pursuit of his brand of federalism. The creation of states, along ethnic lines, his lifelong pursuit, sought the turning of Nigeria from a mere geographical expression to a cultural expression, a nation, through the establishment of a common access for all and sundry to free education, free health, full employment and pensions and the freedom of the press and judiciary. No question about it: Awolowo was a very ambitious man. He believed in becoming the leader of a great country that could lift Africa up. He felt it would be a belittling of his project if he stood by to allow an energetic and ebullient nationality like the Igbo to excise themselves through the fecklessness of those who would send people to death in their millions rather than prepare them for the future with the calculating gumption of true generals.
For him, it was sad to hear people talk about how much the masses in Biafra wanted war, as if Generals are not supposed to be specially trained to see beyond anger and bitterness and therefore to be able to appraise situations objectively, and thus to obviate feckless projecteering in the name of war. Do you send your children to commit suicide because you are angry with an enemy? Where went that proverb which says that you do not ask who killed your father until you are firmly holding a matchete from the right side? So what was Biafra’s handle on the basis of which the world was told that no power in black Africa could subdue her?
These, I must add, are questions that I think we should all bear in mind, as we confront situations such as when those returning home to Nigeria after Biafra found a country not too different from the one they left. Unhappily, the Biafra they knew maltreated Biafrans as much if not more than Nigeria kept maltreating Nigerians. To be borne in mind is that much of it came more from improper organizational setups, plain incompetence, rather than sheer wickedness or hatred as we are all being made to believe when we come to it.
Rather than describe the problems with a clarity that allows for seeking genuine solutions, we get all manner of exorbitance, which push away answers and solutions. For instance, as a way of laying a basis for more disharmony between ex-Biafrans and fellow Nigerian siblings, we are not told about the many who returned to find that their properties were intact and that people actually protected their rights in those properties in their absence. We are not told about the many valiant efforts that were made by other Nigerians to rehabilitate the East. It may not have been more competently done than all the other things that were happening in the country.
But quite a brave effort it was, making it possible for General Yakubu Gowon, whatever his many lapses, to be seen internationally as doing a yeoman’s job, personifying his unitarian precepts including an immediate representation of the East in the Supreme Military Council after the war. For that matter, there were too many elements of a siblings war, at least from the Federal side, in spite of the inevitability of both sides seeking and using the most deadly weapons that money could buy. Take it from the start of police action to full scale war; the charge to soldiers to a close observance of the Geneva convention during the war, the implied necessity to treat all the captured fairly and decently – and many were court-martialed who broke the rules – right through to the post-war rehabilitation and reconstruction.
The No Victor No Vanquished code may have had flabs but the re-absorbtion of former soldiers back into the Nigerian military, many of whom soon became high flying, and civil servants , who were granted special three weeks leave and granted ‘mercy pay’ to help them settle down, all these are not heard of in the post-war propaganda. Nor is it heard enough about the special clearance for ships bringing in post-war reliefs.
After the war, there was clearly more than a silver lining which ought to be acknowledged even in the face of the harsh circumstances that existed. It is in the fact declared by SG Ikoku, the Commissioner for Economic Development in East Central State in the Daily Times of May 22, 1971 that “the Federal Government had made available 21.505 million pounds grant and 10.620 million as advances and loans. It was part of the accumulated amounts saved for the East Central State during the war by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Commissioner for Finance and Vice Chairman of the Federal Executive Council, on the basis of population distribution of revenue. No one, these days, is ever allowed to know this little matter even if the point is to show how well those who wanted the Biafrans dead followed the financial regulations that guided the Federation and so kept what was due to the East in reserve for them till they returned to the fold.
This is not even to ask about how the money was actually spent, which I am sure must be blamed on those who had saved the money. Besides, there really ought now to be a cross-check of Awolowo’s claim that he saved African Continental Bank post-haste in order to help shore up the economy of the East. Or how quickly the Niger bridge was rebuilt, the cement factories rehabilitated and the African Development Bank cashiered into rehabilitation work with agricultural loans that Federal authorities had to look away from appraising on strict terms. Such things were left in the way that those who took monies from Biafra to buy food and ammunition but failed to deliver have been forgotten with their loot of war.
This is why, across the social media, it is painful to encounter the many angry discussants of the civil war years who see it only in terms of what needed to have been done for the East. We hear so much so much about the absolute deprivation of Biafrans through the granting of N20 ex-gratia payment (slightly more than the equivalent of a third class clerks monthly pay) to every survivor after the war. It is forgotten that it was meant as a short-term welfare package to enable many get back to their homes from wherever they were at when the war ended. It was not meant to be payment for being rebels or as an exchange for Biafran money. That was why it was called ex-gratia. It was supposed to be a provisional payment while sorting out those who could still find the papers to prove how much they had in their accounts. Accountably, the system collapsed. Only a few could have managed to keep their papers who had not already emptied their accounts while they were leaving a country they did not intend to come back to.
Admittedly, the whole matter called for a special exercise of leadership on all sides.
It called for genuine brokerage techniques, of lobbying and even muzzling of whoever was in authority to act beyond the rule of law and to find a way of resolving the clearly confused circumstance of so many people having Biafran money in a country where it was impossible to regard it as legal tender. But just as in the planning for the war, there was so much left undone even in the manner and mode of surrender. After the war, I used to wonder why the leaders dissolved into atoms. I am saying this partly because I am yet to meet someone who has vouchsafed a formula that could have resolved the matter of the ex-gratia payments without rancor. Even today, no one is volunteering how it could have been done better. The same goes for the issue of abandoned property which no longer had a public advocacy once Sam Mbakwe who had briefed Awolowo to take the matter to court was importuned to withdraw it on the awkward reasoning that if Awolowo won the case in court he would make political capital out of it.
It became a case of better not fight the abandoned property issue for the masses, if some old enemy would share in the glory. Hence the matter festered till it became a case of everyone for himself. The General of the People’s Army had to wait till as late as the last week of General Ibrahim Babangida in office in 1993 to wrest his own abandoned property. We don’t know about those who never had that luck. We don’t know about the soldiers who could not get their pensions after the General got his. It is the way the post-civil war atomization of demands got covered up by a rev of self-interest that many like to present as the interest of the whole nationality.
The truth is that those to whom things happened, and who hardly had a chance of happening to anything, but suffered all the same, never had champions. It left many grumblers in the public space who are wondering why others wont fight battles they themselves have been obliged to abandon.
The shame of the moment is that, unable to look the history of our differences in the face, we allow ourselves to be flattered or incensed by sheer serenades of ethnic and regional fictions. Even those who know that it is bad for their ethnic groups to seek to live like islands unto themselves are gleefully developing discrepant moralities: a benign one for themselves and a pernicious or predatory morality for others. It is usually based on bad logic and poor thinking, as much of this narrative has shown. The point is, when people think badly they want to hide it by putting the rest of us in situations where, if we disagree, we can be accused of being haters of their ethnic group or nationality. So I may be told that a proverb belongs to an ethnic group so that if I disagree with the bad thinking that goes with it I may be charged with pushing for ethnocide or genocide. It is a form of blackmail that yields backwardness for a people.
It something that deserves to be back-handed off. We should feel free to show our dislike for it. When people are being roughed up by their own, we should all cry out as when they are being roughed up by other people. By the same token, if bad logic is claimed for or by an ethnic group, we need to see it as self-immolation on everyone’s part to sit quiet and say it is their business. It is not just their business. Because their bad logic will not let neighbours live well or rest in peace. It obliges us to be always our brothers’ keepers. Even then, we need always to contest the veracity of what is claimed against other perceptions of reality. Until cultural empathy is achieved or approximated. I mean: not even the disabilities and pains of one life authorizes that life to deny other lives their due.
This makes it truly odd, to see it being suggested so incongruously, at the end of the war, that it was those who hated Igbo people who were working so hard to bring them back to Nigeria by force! Or who were threatening to leave Nigeria if the Igbo were ever to be allowed to go; and going the whole hog to plead with Igbo leaders not to go to war! It does not add up. It may be good for war propaganda to tone the hatreds that shored up the conflict . But it does not make good post-war logic. Irrespective of the polemics and rhetorical afflatus that, since then, have bedeviled public arguments with notions of how Nigeria has no future, it is clear that a Nigeria together, as it is, even with all the poor quality of the quarrels that we all have with one another, is a better country than the fractionized mayhem, each acting like a mini anarchic Nigeria, which we would otherwise have to deal with, in the event of a break-up. On this score, it is such a fantastic deal to have an Awolowo, solid, disciplined, thoughtful, far-seeing, on the right side. He believed in the country and showed it during the civil war. He deserves to be truly lionized for it, not left in the brambles of the fiction-mongers who wish to turn the re-uniting of Nigeria into ashes in the mouths of all succeeding generations. The truth is that, even without the benefit of a poll, it can be safely asserted that there are too many Nigerians who agreed and still agree that Nigeria deserved to have been saved from disintegration and kept as one country. Some may be having second thoughts because of some recent events. But Nigeria as one country was a business well worth doing. The mode in which the Igbo are all over Nigeria proves it. We must not allow ourselves to be intimidated into regressing in the tripe of those who do not agree. No question about it: this country is still the closest that Africa has to one that is able to stand up to the rest of the world and thrive for the good of all Africans. Even the supposed differences that some people deplore, and Awolowo spent his life seeking to re-engineer in creative directions, are actually part of the strength of this country. Who wants to live in a country that is all winnowed ethic, one monochrome, without arguments and debates, and all dead matter, mere ornament! The point is to prepare all concerned to work for a defined future rather than merely grumbling, seeking scapegoats for our own failings, dousing it with cynical rhetoric, while waiting for an undefined future like manna from heaven.
My grouse, in this regard, is that the issues, as they concern the civil war, are not being discussed in terms of what the leaders of the East owed the people but failed to deliver. Most of the intellectuals and leaders of opinion go about seeking to entrench fictions that merely disable the capacity of the ex-Biafrans to build with other Nigerians. The good thing is that the average Igbo man and woman is way ahead of the griping ones who do not know that the civil war ended long ago. They are everywhere long gone beyond sweating talk about how to become Nigerians. They have proved it that they are just bloody Nigerians like the rest of us. Others, instead of helping the people to think through the necessity to get empowerment through education, industry and genuine employment, are busy reproducing fictions that landed the country in the current mess of incivility. Adding no value to existing answers beyond the fluff of ethnic nationalism that masquerades as highmindedness, they are blaming neighbors for the mess they helped to create by not caring or standing up for an identifiable principle.
It is certainly no way to go. Similarly, the habit of shouting my people my people has become a way of not caring for or about the people. This can be proved by simply asking why all the governments in the zone contrived so much helplessness for forty years while the roads in the East deteriorated to war-time conditions. In a region where trade is an eze with feathers on a red cap, you would have expected that all the governments in the zone would come together as a matter of emergency to tackle the monster that was ruining the ethic of commerce. A people so energetic and gutsy, pumping so much enterprise across the country ought really never to be seen so self- neglecting as to be waiting for others to raise or de-maginalize them. Unless as a strategy for getting more and more in the national spoils system! I mean, it is plain bad manners to blame other Nigerians who have not found answers to their problems and with whom cooperation is a fitter strategy than the politics of the gripe. At any rate, which part of Nigeria is in a good state? Where have industries not collapsed and public schools not been mired in a sorry state?
As I see it, a distracted individualism which some people prefer to describe as republicanism, is being priced above a genuine sitting down to plan with and for the people. What it calls for, instead of inventing enemies, and seeing competition in zero-sum terms, is a mobilization of affect and resources to rise above the disabilities that we all share as Nigerians. We do need to bring the civil war to a proper end by looking into the past without flinching and wresting ourselves from the goblins of pernicious fictions. The bottomline, as I have argued in Taking Nigerian Seriously, is that there is no Igbo solution to the Nigerian problem; no Yoruba, Efik, Hausa, Fulani, Edo, Ijaw, or Kanuri solution. Until we allow cultural empathy to govern the roost, and we learn to work consciously for the much maligned geographical expression to accede to heightening the cultural expression that it has already much become, the tendency to take refuge in pernicious fictions will not abate.