By Emeka Mamah
The National President of Igbo Youths Movement, IYM, Evangelist Elliot Uko has given reasons MASSOB and IPOB would not give up the fight for the actualisation of Biafra Republic. Elliot said that the over six million MASSOB members were protesting what he described as the “shameful bootlicking and crumb picking culture of a large section of Igbo elite,” which they believed was largely responsible for the pitiable condition of Igbo land.
He further said that Ndigbo had been aggrieved against Nigeria for over 45 years now due to marginalisation in all spheres of life, pointing out that MASSOB and IPOB leaders were afraid of bringing up children that would be treated as slaves in their own country. He spoke in an interview with newsmen in Enugu, weekend.
Enugu—The Pro-Biafra boys are alleged to have burnt down a mosque in Onitsha; don’t you think this ongoing protest is getting out of hand?
My dear brother, I am as worried as you are, I find it difficult to sleep at night when I remember what will happen if this protesting army runs into Fulani herdsmen or if they match through Lokpanta near Okigwe or Amansia near Awka where Northerners live and do business. These are troubled times indeed, I have just talked to their leaders, but they denied burning the mosque in Onitsha. All the same, I together with some respected Igbo elders plan to meet with them this week in order to plead with them to give peace a chance.
Everybody agrees that violence is not the way to go and that the Federal Government must sit down with the authentic leaders of IPOB and MASSOB immediately. These boys really feel unwanted and isolated by Nigeria. For 40,000 people to march on the street day in day out means that they believe in something unique.
The silence of Igbo leaders and elders is a source of worry to everybody.
People are unfair to Igbo elders, the elders are more afraid than anybody else. They do not control these boys; besides, everybody knows that Ndigbo have been aggrieved for 45 years. Every Igbo man or woman knows that Nigeria is merely subsisting at the expense of Ndigbo.
Ndigbo are deliberately excluded in Nigeria. The boys mobilized themselves and grew into millions over the last 15 years. It is a delicate and dangerous enterprise confronting them. If you ask them to calm down they call you a traitor, if you openly identify with their grievances Nigeria will brand you their sponsor, everybody is scared.
You said Ndigbo have been aggrieved since 1970, how, why?
The code of silence over the usually undiscussed reality of the Nigerian political equation is not helping matters. Nigeria thrives at the exclusion of one zone; others pretend that is fine and all right as long as the youths of that zone have not taken up arms. Everybody knows that the delineation of federal constituencies was specifically designed to favour and disfavour certain zones.
The creation of states and local governments were also designed to cage and hold down Ndigbo because they lost a war. Discerning people always knew that a generation will rise someday to question that injustice, may be that day has come. These young people are clearly saying that the present structure of Nigeria is unacceptable to them. The present government also chose to rub it in to Ndigbo that they are lost and finished.
Every commentator mocks them to no end that they put all their eggs in one basket and therefore, they are in trouble. One Junaid Muhammed advised them to go to war again if they are still bitter. Mr. President himself announced to the world in far-away America that he has a formula of governance known as 5/97 per cent. Everybody painted gloom and hopelessness to the Igbo, laughing at them.
The youngsters now believe that they have no stake in Nigeria, that they would rather fight and die for freedom than remain eternal slaves. These are self-evidence truths that Nigerians shy away from, assuaging aggrieved Ndigbo through affirmative action.
Instead of initiating genuine attempt to restructure Nigeria along the line of true federalism, Nigerians of all ages and status choose only to mock and remind them: that your zone is landlocked; you have investments all over the country; you are not sure southern minorities will flow with you; and we will fight you and conquer you again.
Nigerians justify the injustice against Ndigbo for two main reasons: They believe secession is difficult to attain, therefore, the injustice against Ndigbo should continue. The fierce envy towards the Igbo man because of his God- given talent makes it difficult for others to empower him politically. Therefore, everybody seems comfortable with the oppression of Igbo man, as everybody conveniently pretends that they are not aware that the Igbo man has been denied his rightful place in Nigeria since 1970.
These are the roots of the birth of an army of five to six million young men who say they want to be out of Nigeria. Everybody knows the solution to this insanity, it’s just that some people believe Nigeria is their property.
What is the way forward?
These boys, who are so well organised with branches all over the world, told me that they are clearly tired of Nigeria. They believe Nigeria will never give them justice, they are afraid of tomorrow, they don’t want to give birth to children, who will remain political slaves in their country and despised by all.
They are angry at the fraudulent census figures where states who give themselves five and six million population in the North East and North West, produce only 10,000 candidates for West African School Certificate Examination, WASCE, while the states they gave 2.8 million population here in the South East produce 350,000 candidates for WASCE yearly. How do you reconcile that?
The disparity in Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, cut off mark between the north and southern students embitters South East students. They strongly believe that if the oil wells that sustain Nigeria were located in the North East or North West that Nigeria would have split decades ago.
They believe that the peace of 1970 was forced on them with the help of Russian jets, Egyptians pilots, British military advisers and the wicked blockade that led to starvation, everybody knows that the peace of Nigeria is the one that is forced on people by the force of arm, but peace that endures is agreed by consensus and built on true federalism; peace that gives everybody a sense of belonging where nobody is born to rule and no section is oppressed, that is the peace everybody wants.
And the peace Nigeria needs, these boys are angry because some people in Nigeria have sworn that they will block every attempt at amicably addressing the unresolved national question.
What actually is this unresolved national question?
A willingness to address the fears and grievances of Nigerians across the six zones. I can only talk about the South East where I know that the younger Ndigbo are so bitter with Nigeria and the formula which Nigeria applies on Ndigbo for decades now. For instance, *Erroneous application of the very wrong strategy of compromising large sections of the elite of the oppressed zones in the false belief that they could be useful in holding their own people down in the event of a rebellion.
*The mindless and single minded commitment to the breeding of quislings and vassals in the oppressed zones, who are deliberately empowered by external forces just for the sole purpose of weakening the elite base of Ndigbo. The idea is to make a large number of them to own allegiances and loyalty to power bases outside Igbo land
*The abuse and talking down of youth activists, who genuinely believe that it is better and more honourable to die fighting for freedom than to remain in perpetual slavery. The truth is government can only succeed when the Federal Government gets down to reality and acknowledges and regards them.
*The dangerous and false belief that secessionist agitators can be intimidated by threat of military action. In actual fact, the use of force can only result to pouring petrol to fire. *The continuous insistence that the lopsided structure of state, local government and delineation of federal constituencies based by land mass is iron cast. As this remains the root of much bitterness to those, who genuinely feel short-changed by the military creations.
*The refusal to create and adopt a people’s constitution based on true federalism, as the majority of Nigeria do not have faith in the 1999 military constitution. *The shameful boot-licking and crumb-picking culture of a large section of Igbo elite, something the young generation, not only believes is disgraceful, but largely responsible for the pitiable condition of Igbo land.
*They believe by 99 per cent of Ndigbo that most Igbo organisations are merely tools designed by the elite to achieve relevance as opposed to the great need to protect and promote group interest. Nobody believes they are interested one bit in group interest.
*The continuous encouragement by the oppressive Nigerian state to practise carpet-bagging on Ndigbo, thereby, successfully dividing the masses and the so-called leaders. Imposed leadership, has remained the biggest problem facing Ndigbo. As the queer political structure of Nigerians makes it possible for external forces to influence, who and who emerges as leaders in Igboland.
*The blunt refusal by Nigeria to face the reality that someday, a generation of Ndigbo will arise, who will reject the unending humiliation of Igbo race. Worried about the future of their unborn children. This generation will fight for their honour. That day has come.
*The ongoing Pro-Biafra agitation has clearly split Nigerians, and Ndigbo along three and six broad groups respectively. Amongst Nigerians, the first group are angry at Biafran boys and want them crushed even if it means spilling blood.
The second group wants Federal Government to reassure the East, by addressing infrastructure decay and draw the East closer to Federal Government through appointments and other incentives that will give Ndigbo a sense of belonging to avoid crises of any sort.
The third group wants Nigeria to use this opportunity to find lasting solution to the lingering unresolved national question. They want Nigeria restructured along the lines of true federalism. They know that when Nigerians agree peacefully on how best to stay together that Nigeria will unleash her God given potential towards true greatness.
For the Igbo, the first of the six groups are the Pro-Biafra boys, who believe Nigeria hates them with passion, that salvation lies only in actualizing a separate state, where no one will oppress them again. The second group is afraid of and averse to bloodshed, they don’t want anything that will lead to violence, they pray for peace and harmonious co-existence.
The third group are quisilings and opportunists, who as always are only out for their own pocket either way, they don’t care about the future of the country, they work against everything good as long as they pick crumbs that fall off the table. They exploit every situation just to advance their self-interest. They ruthlessly take advantage of every situation to benefit themselves. Their philosophies is me, myself and I.
They are usually everywhere in situations like this, running up and down as informants and agents of oppressors while pretending to mean well. The fourth group are selfish leaders who try to cash in on the situation to achieve relevance. Pricked always by their conscience that they are neither respected nor accepted by Ndigbo as their leaders, they always form convenient cabals in their struggle to present themselves as the leaders.
They run to Northern leaders, Presidency and organisations of all sorts, pretending to have the answers to the problem, they claim they control the Biafran boys which is false, they hustle to put themselves into and inside every arrangement, their desperation for relevance knows no bounds. They don’t believe in anything.
The fifth group are clearly the majority, they empathise with the Biafran boys, but they don’t believe secession is the only solution. They are sitting on the fence, they will only throw in with the Biafran boys if the Federal Government applies force. The Biafran boys are their sons, cousins, brothers, among others. They believe in the justice of the struggle, but they lack the courage to join now.
The sixth and final group are honest Igbo men and women, who know that only a presentation of the truth will save the country. What is the truth? That Nigeria should return to true federalism in order to give every section a sense of belonging. This group, where I believe I belong, is standing up for truth, knowing full well, that they will not be popular with the oppressive elements of Nigeria who want to sustain at all costs this unsustainable unitary structure.
They also know that elements within the F.G. are only interested in those Ndigbo who will help to crush these boys without addressing the real root of the problem, the root and the truth is that Nigeria must be restructured without delay. Not heeding to the truth is only postponing the evil day.
What is your final word?
Mr. President must as a matter of urgency meet with authentic leaders of IPOB and MASSOB. That meeting is the only way forward now.