By Obasi Igwe
IGBO lives matter and nothing is bad in evacuating a killing zone. By that peremptory hate speech and expulsion order, which are being arrogantly repeated everyday without any bite from the authorities, except attempting to join the expellers in blaming the victim instead of the violent culprits, and pretending to narrow the Igbos down to their “landlocked” Southeast in order to blockade the central Igbos and seize those in the Rivers, Delta, Edo and other states as future slaves, Nigeria has already disintegrated spiritually, only awaiting a formal dissolution, which Southerners must ensure should happen smoothly on or before the October deadline.
The expellers know who the Igbos are, and confusedly interchanging “Igbos” and “Southeast”, serves little purpose except self-imposed brinkmanship. They also know that the Ohanaeze is for all Ndigbo, not “Southeast” alone, and that an Igbo referendum will be Igbo-wide. Most Igbos in the “Southeast”, “SouthSouth”, and in the diaspora, greatly appreciate the latest Northern attitude to self-determination, and wholeheartedly welcome their expulsion from the North.
Reactionary feudal system
They have invested a lot to develop the North, but Igbo lives are more important than the hundreds of trillions generated out of nothing. Below is part of the history that Igbos, most Southerners and Middle Belters would be teaching their offspring: Nigeria’s basic problem was the caliphate, a very violent and corrupt state-within-state that averred that the IPOB/MASSOB, OPC, Niger Deltans, Middle Belters, etc, didn’t have any right to seek their own states-within-state or, sovereignties-within-sovereignty.
The caliphate had its own independent Hisbah police, courts, laws, divers administrative set-ups variously decoyed armies (Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram, etc), all, unlawfully paid for by Nigerians. Their anger with the Igbos had been deep-rooted from day one, stemming from the fact that whereas each and every other Nigerian nationality seemingly shared with them or was part of some bits and pieces of their reactionary feudal system, they sawthe Igbos as the only people that had totally nothing to do with it and, therefore, “uncultured”.
Whereas moderate Islam is a religion of peace, the patently reactionary jihad was merely to achieve a Fulani territorial power base, and its tribal nature was maintained by the total exclusion of non-Fulani from the apex leadership of the moslem ummah in Nigeria. Thus, while the post-jihad caliphate often perfunctorily preached peace, it practiced violence as of necessity. Like other Wahabbis, they did not believe in a constitutional democratic secular state, and for long deployed state resource to fund private religious pilgrimages and other escapades, compelling other sects to also seek a cut in the pie.
The caliphate oppressed even the moslems they purported to represent, not to talk of others. In their homes were all sorts of Western gadgets, but in their minds, a limitless array of atavistic designs against progress. They built a large following of sycophants, beneficiaries and apologists who helped them spread violence, but, this could have been overcome, except that Nigerians were not courageous enough to do so.
The caliphate was not only economically wasteful, it was very politically and culturally corrupt; it served the needs of some extended families and endlessly strove to blanket the country with a 10thcentury darkness in a 21st century world of advanced civilisation and open society. They had nothing to offer any modern man other than tutelary offices and cultic “protections”, for those sufficiently betraying their people.
They were pathologically after military-political power and foreign allies, never competitive democratic discourse because, being always afraid of enlightenment, violence was the only means by which they could achieve or implement their unjust objectives against all and sundry. Chinua Achebe claimed that Nigeria’s basic problem was leadership, but it was mostly systemic for, there was no amount of “good leadership” that could operate effectively in contention with a parallel authority, or while receiving unwritten orders from it.
Since August 1966, the caliphate started desiring Nigeria to continue to exist, but on its own terms. It was very clear to everyhonest person that until it was totally abolished and wiped away from the country, in vain were the “lovers” of the nation labouring to have others see the exploitative anachronism as normal and acceptable. For the remnants that still believed in a rescuable Nigeria, there was some idea that a huge economic and other potential did exist within the Hausa-Fulani and other Northern masses, and unless and until that positive power was unleashed to join their Southern counterparts in a peaceful democratic context, which could not happen paripassu with the caliphate, Nigeria, even with a so-called Igbo presidency, would come to nothing.
Of course, there were progressive-minded elements within the caliphate, but the system overwhelmed them and, partly because of fear, hardly made their voices heard. Fear of change, of a truly democratic secular political revolution in an egalitarian society, was the major obstacle. In the alternative, almost everyone accepted with joy a renewed Northern offer for people to go their separate ways. End of history.
To Igbo elite and all: Igbos in various places and positions must be seriously mindful of their use of words and phrases, otherwise they would be suspected of colluding to destroy the Igbo peoples. The expulsion order is served on the Igbos, not “Southeast Region”, and Igbos have accepted it wholeheartedly, and the coming referendum (if it does), will also be Igbo-wide, in Abia, Anambra, parts of Delta and Edo, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Rivers, and other parts of Igboland, and not restricted to Gowon’s ethnic-cleansing, designer “Southeast”, intended to divide the Igbos and minoritise those in the Rivers, Delta, Edo and other states that are still being persuaded and pressured to abandon their kith and kin and become slaves to the caliphate or their agents, even as they have never been spared in any Northern killings.
Igbos must speak now with one clear and unmistakable voice: if anyone is in any doubt about who the Igbos and Igboland are, which pre-existed Nigeria, let him consult ethnological and historical texts and round it up with what everybody agrees was the most important document in Nigerian history, left to us by Her Majesty’s Government: the page 51 of the Willinks Report of 1957/58. Igbos remain happy that they were the only people so clearly and precisely defined by various explorers and Great Britain before their departure. The Ohanaeze Ndigbo, not Ohanaeze of “Southeast”, should know better.
A word also to Eastern minority brothers and sisters: Igbos would continue to love and need them as brothers, sisters and neighbours and, given the unprintable crimes committed against them in Nigeria, fully support the rights of the Ijaw, Efik-Annang-central Ibibio-Ogoja, Ogoni, Andoni, for self-determination, to the level of their desire in or out of the country. As Easterners, Southerners, and mostly christians, we need unity now, more than ever before. Statements suggesting an ambition to isolate the hinterland Igbos and carve out Opobo, Port Harcourt or the Rivers/Mbamiri, Delta/Anioma, Edo and other Igbos into an Eastern minority coastal republic or “Region”, whatever its other aims, might be seen as a continuing effort to divide, weaken, “landlock”,and hamstrung the Igbo nation and transform her from the victimised of Nigeria to the victimised of the Eastern minorities.
Anyone who likes or needs any Igbos should try and like and need all of them, and not spite any part or seek to pick and choose which Igbo species to treat in what manner. Igbos are a coastal nation, and their centuries-long coastal history generally served the East very well, sowing the seeds of the global civil rights movement.
Igbo priority is the consensual restoration of an enlarged Eastern Region and, if not possible, every Eastern/Southern nationality being on her united own, down to the coast, as was the case before, during and after colonial rule. Any Igbo agitator “unilaterally” drawing maps to embrace any non-Igbo in anything, might have meant well, but “forcing” anyone into liking or associating with any other group, is in no way part of Igbo enlightened thought process.
Igbos seek mutually beneficial relations of equality and justice with everybody, not the harm or oppression of any, whether inside or outside Nigeria. Whichever Easterner continues to attempt to tear the Igbos apart, or join in an anti “other Igbo” alliance, would raise the question of motive for such designs.
For the avoidance of doubt, it was through the Southern Igbos that modern Igbo maritime traditions developed; it was through them that Western civilisation entered Igbo hinterland, including the rise of the Union Igbo Bible Nso, which is essentially of Bonny, Ikwerre, Etche, Opobo, and other origin. On the one hand, it was also through them that the Igbos with Jaja, pioneered the struggle for African emancipation. On the other hand, it was mostly through the Ika/Anioma Igbos, led by Nnamdi Azikwe of Anioma/Eze Chima origins that the Igbos were mobilised to fight for Nigerian independence, and their Nzeogwu in the botched attempt to usher in an egalitarian and modern Nigeria. Therefore, if modern Igbos needed a hierarchy, these two peoples would be on top. Those attempting to cut off the head and leave the rump as “Igboland” in the guise of “Southeast” or “South-South” region or republic should, please, leave the Igbos alone. We are not unmindful of some individuals making a career out of a suicidal “Southeast” instead of Igbo-wide advocacies, since their selfish material objectives and hidden paymasters would one day be unmasked.
The North and October ultimatum: No Igboman should be used to rescue the caliphate from their internal contradictions. Their next move in this self-imposed quandary is likely to be an attempt to achieve a Yoruba support or a Fulani-Yoruba alliance against the Igbos, by hiring some fools or criminals to stage an altercation between the two civilised groups, and concocting a non-existent “war” or “conflict” between the Igbos and Yorubas.
Threat to civilisation
This could be in Lagos, Port Harcourt, or any other part of the West or East. They might also try to create an altercation in the East between any paid agent. Leaders of all the groups concerned should be alert to attempts to divert attention from the Northern threat to civilisation.
Except when used against the Igbos, they have absolutely nothing other than love against the talakawas, almajiris, and the host of other innocent Hausa-Fulani, peaceful muslims, christians, and so on being oppressed by the Fulani caliphate and their hirelingsthat present themselves as, and hereinafter called the “North” and, to whom the Igbo nation have for long been persevering to bring some light and development, and take some of their own back home, so that we could all join to build a great African society called Nigeria. This was the dream imposed by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, a contiuator of Olaudah Equiano, Africanus Horton, King Jaja and several other Igbos, and through whom they became the only African nation that was 100% mobilised and comprehensively united without exception for the struggle against colonial rule. The caliphate never liked that independence, delayed it as long as possible, until a “victory” was forged for them, which they never had even in the Middle Belt, let alone any corner of the South, but which nevertheless enabled them form a tortuous federal government with a declared aim of completing the atrocities of Othman dan Fodio and murderous wickedness of Alimi.
The chosen prince to continue that jihad was Ahmadu Bello who, using his servant, Tafawa Balawa, were responsible for thousands of deaths in the Middle Belt, killed and burnt others in the Western Region, and were planning to resume against the Igbos from where they stopped in 1945 and early 50s, come January 17, 1966. “No facts, no arguments, nothing under the sun can ever make these jihadists stop labelling January 15,1966, “Igbo coup”, and nothing would ever make them forgive the Igbos for preventing Ahmadu Bello completing his divine task of forcing the whole of Nigeria into the loving arms of Mohammed (PBUH).
To them, it was that 1966 coup d’état that justified the mass killings of the Igbo in 1945; it was also that 1966 coup that led to their massacring thousands of other Igbos and Southerners over a statement made by a non-Igboman in Lagos in the early 50’s. It was also that 1966 coup d’état that led to the eradication of the Tiv/Middle Belt and the killing and humiliation of the Yoruba in the 60’s. It was of course the killing of Ahmadu Bello that has warranted the systematic elimination of the Bakassi people in their own homeland, via a treacherous Maroua Declaration; the murder of Saro-Wiva and complete destruction of Ogoniland; the present total occupation of the Ijaw Niger Delta and other corners of the South in pursuit of a righteous “degrading” of the Ijaw etc youths and communities; the ongoing genocide in Southern Kaduna whereof sophisticated weapons are dropped to the Fulani advance army through official channels, with villagers complaining that the army and police are ready for “action” only after the deed has been done and the natives need be prevented from defending themselves. It was also the unfortunate assassination of Ahmadu Bello that warranted the murder of Abiola, a presumably fellow moslem, his beloved wife, and several others, mainly Yoruba, over a simple matter of an election lost and won. Agents of the violent caliphate authored the Boko Haram, and only started washing their hands off it, if they are indeed doing so, only when it seemingly turned a Frankenstein’s monster.
Nothing is meant to be said here about the murder of General Ironsi, Colonel Fajuyi and hundreds of Igbo officers and men, the series of pogroms that preceded the genocide, the genocide itself, the “post”-war ethnic cleansing in southern Igboland, all of which have consumed at least 4.5 million Igbo lives. Added to possibly 2 million lives of other Nigerians eradicated by the caliphate since independence, and presumably other 2 million since they set their feet on Nigerian soil early 19th century, it means that some people have in their red hands the blood of almost 9 to 10 million innocent human beings since the last 200 years, most of whom are of course, Igbo. With simple arithmetic means, if youcalculate that a country of 4 to 10 million people 200 years ago could be between 50 and 100 million people today, one may come a little closer to the understanding of what some feudal-minded people have done to the fraction of the black race called Nigeria. There arejust too many war criminals hovering around, and too many war crimes and crimes against humanity and against peace hanging over many people’s heads that it is clear that thecivilized world, including in Nigeria, have been taken for a ride for far too long. And, those that they are committing these atrocities against are people spoon-feeding them with trade, love, marriage, development and friendship, so that there could be a certain One Nigeria, forged from Lugard’s astral auguries.
Now, why is the caliphate North, with this history, suddenly expelling the Igbos? Answer: there is a very angry ritual which they enact every 15th January, since 1966. Not a single modest Igboman from 1966 till date wished Sir Ahmadu Bello dead, despite the murder of many in the West and Middle Belt associated with him, but that ritual is targeted at the Igbos, primarily as a means of issuing veiled threats and mobilizing bias against the Igbo nation. January 15 is a date set aside by the North for hate speech-making. Hirelings that present various papers deliver one hate speech after another hate speech in commemoration of the “Gamji”. You will wait for a single apology or at least sign of remorse over the atrocities associated with the great man, the many in the West and Middle Belt orphaned through him, and millions in Igboland and elsewhere by his followers, but in vain!
The Nigerian state, a euphemism for the caliphate, cannot after 50years, even think of erecting a memorial for the lives of 4.5 million innocent Igbos they have destroyed (think not about property). So, because of this and other cruelties by caliphate Nigeria, the Igbos for the first time declared a sit-at- home to commemorated their dead by themselves (and to some, if necessary, also achieve a Biafra by peaceful means). What the Northmeans by the expulsion order is that while they annually commemorate someoneassociated with the murder of so many, openly making hate speeches and inciting statements on each and every 15th January occasion, the Igbos have no right to sit quietly in their homes to honour the 4.5 millions murdered by them. Of course, whatever becomes of Nigeria, there is going to be a more general lockdown nationwide for the Igbo to commemorate those murdered by the caliphate and their agents, not only during the Biafran war but since 1945; the Yoruba, Ogoni, Bakassi, Ijaw, Tiv/Middle Belt, Southern Kaduna, etc would either join or separately conduct their own, and the possibility cannot be totally discounted that at some point in the future, even the almajiri and talakawa that the jihadist extremists dare educate may in remorse also join to commemorate the killingsof the Igbos and others. Therefore, as the caliphate, their caliphs and agents are numberingthe days of the Igbos and calculating the millions they will kill, throw into the Benue riveror seize their properties, they should also be numbering their own days.
Restructuring now overtaken: No one should take us back to restructuring, for that has been swept aside by events. All peace-loving people, above all, Igbos, must welcome the ultimatum to leave the North.But, this is also boom time for fifth columnists. Hence, there is a particular warning to Igbo, Yoruba and other Southern leaders : the caliphate and their officials would before or after October 1st, try to buy over some Igbo, Yoruba or other Southerners to try to help them maintain “one Nigeria”. Those Igbos in Yorubaland and elsewhere that love crime instead of honest business are specifically warned that they are on their own, and not welcome by the Igbos. It is roughly estimated that Igboland can effectively accommodate up to 100 million hardworking men and women; it will not be easy in the beginning, but after initial adjustments, Igbos will find their way in the world. It will constitute a crime for any Igboman to plead to stay in the North; in accommodating the returnees, in everything, this is the time to once again implement Onye Aghala Nwanne Ya!
Every Igbo family in every Igbo town and village should prepare one or two rooms to temporarily accommodate 5 to 10 returnees from the North that have no home of their own in Igboland. Other immediate practical steps should be taken to reduce the adjustment period of these innocent returnees. Igboland alone is going to become a big market for thriving investment, and prosperous import-export trade.
Appeal to the western powers: Igbos continue to appeal to foreign governments, especially the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Israel and other world powers and international community, not to continue to allow Igbos to be slaughtered. Igbos pose no threat to the West; if anything, Igbos are in all aspects more Western than those sponsoring terrorism and religiousextremism. The Igbos are very lucky that the British had before their departure clearly and precisely delimitated the boundaries of Igboland. The Igbo nation whole heartedly welcomes the expulsion order, and plead to the West to do nothing else than assist its peaceful implementation. Nigeria being divided according to the wishes of the North, which also coincides with the aspirations of others, will create more, not less friends for the West. Therefore, Igbos plead that Western governments do not dispatch “experts” and officials to advice Nigerians on the advantages of One Nigeria, or on matters of peace that leads to pieces, pogroms and genocides. The West should kindly help the Igbo nation now.
Various Igbo figures must respectfully know that they are on the watch list of everybody. We all have been reduced and humiliated, and no one is any longer afraid of anything. There is not a single square meter now available for mistake, treachery or betrayal. If anyone continues to spread the Gowonic ethnic-cleansing evil of “Southeast”,instead of Igbo and Igboland, all Igbos would start re-examining the god that he is serving. It is too late to accept double speak. It is Igbos that have been served the ultimatum, not “Southeast” alone, and postwar Igbo public figures must, please, respect the unity and integrity of the Igbo peoples and their ancestral homeland, and henceforth STOP pretending lack of knowledge of the difference between the two, and the catastrophic implications of any wrong direction. Igbo public figures should for a start, simply remind Igbos in the North of the need to carefully return with papers of their landed and other properties, preparatory to an eventual reconciliation of accounts. Above all, every Igbo criminal must be warned not to harm any Northerner, especially since they too have been ordered home by their people and, even if not, are human beings created by God.
Why the north will certainly strike: They pretend to be reacting against the agitations of IPOB and MASSOB, and that there should be no other sovereign state inside a sovereign Nigeria, when they themselves have been unilaterally and impudently operating a caliphate state-within-state, with the officialNigerian army and security agencies, deployed, controlled and teleguided by them. They will also strike because there is a pride that the capture of all military and security institutions of government is the highest point of their achievement under “another Northerner”, and need to make the fullest use of it before it slips never to return – because, this time, except there is a castrated Southerner in Aso Rock (and, they could be in millions), it may not return. They also need to strike now before anything happens that could permit a Yoruba professor to emerge a constitutional president of Nigeria, with the prospect of contesting and winning in 2019. There is also an internal ideological crisis within the caliphate. They know that their goal of turning Nigeria into a religious fiefdom and others as a milk-cow of parasitism is speedily coming to a close, with the Middle Belters getting wiser, and they need something dramatic to precipitate a reversal. There is also the calculation that the Igbos love property so much so that they could be blackmailed,insulted, killed and abused as they have been doing with no serious consequence. What ofthe simple annoyance over calls for restructuring, which would drag the entire edifice of caliphate economic, political, cultural and financial corruption down to pieces! Their operatives, leaders and ideologues are well-educated, and aware that centuries of feudalgovernance is not getting them anywhere; they cannot go on in that way in modern times and cannot come off it; it is a terrible negative contradiction, so, the only way they can “resolve” it is to provoke a major crisis, even if of a suicidal nature. The caliphate has passed the line and staked their honour by that quit order; they have imposed upon themselves an obligation to vindicate their manhood, and the fear that if the threat is not carried out they would lose all credibility before their slaves, will definitely pressure them to strike, even if the hour is uncertain. Indeed, right now, what is holding them against the Igbos is the lack of assurance from the Yoruba, the Eastern minorities and Middle Belters, to join in the annihilation of their enemy and confiscation of their properties. The gradual unity of the South is also complicating their calculationsAll Igbos should know that what these expellers need most is love, understanding, and yet more love and, while doing so, hasten home before October 1st. If this crime against peace and against humanity doesn’t re-unite Igbos, nothing again might. Igbos, from Igbo Akiri to Aba Omeghe, inland to the coast, would re-embrace each other; by themselves modernize Port Harcourt, etc., through which we trade with other nations, correct our past mistakes against each other, and move on, hopefully along with the Ijaw, Ogoni, Efik-Annang-centrral Ibibio-Ogoja, Andoni and the many willing others. Hundreds of trillions of naira investment to develop the North is not worth the blood of any other Igbo child. We created that wealth out of nothing, and there is greater prosperity elsewhere! Igbos coming home may not seem the best option in terms of preserving Igbo properties, but in the circumstance the best option for preserving Igbos lives.
- *Prof Obasi Igwe teaches Political Science at UNN