By Donu Kogbara
Nigeria is an arranged marriage. Packaged by conniving British colonial officials who were not strong on emotional intelligence and possessed pretty dire matchmaking skills, this marriage of convenience has always been troubled and convenient only for certain groups.
But while some Nigerians are tired of inter-tribal tensions and keen to dismantle the status quo – Igbo members of IPOB (Indigenous People Of Biafra) being the most vocal separatists at the moment – others love Nigeria as is and want it to remain intact.
Today, I will focus on the views of passionate unionists of Igbo extraction (even though I don’t totally agree with them, for reasons I shall explain at a later date!). Next week, opposing separatist and secessionist sentiments will be aired.
A patriotic poem by Nkiru Asika (whom I regard as a sister because her super-sweet late mother Chinyere, with whom I lived when I was shakily finding my feet in Abuja, treated me like a daughter) has recently taken the internet by storm.
The poem expresses a pro-unity position very eloquently and has not only attracted a lot of praise from like minds but converted a few wannabe separatists:
I am a Nigerian.
I am one in 5 Africans.
I am one in 8 Black people, anywhere in the world.
I am a Nobel Prize Winner.
An Olympic Gold Medallist.
A Grammy Award Winner.
A Soccer Champion.
A Prince of the Vatican.
An Oscar Nominee.
A Giant of Literature.
A Distinguished Scientist.
A Musical Icon.
My roots lie in the dusty Sahel of the North; in the rich rainforests of our Atlantic coast;
In the rocky hills of the West; In the oil-filled swamps of the Delta;
In the flat-lands of Mambilla; In the vast savannah plains;
In the warmth of our villages and the vibrance of our cities.
My strength flows from the waters of the Niger and the Benue.
My joy springs from the rush of Gurara Falls and the natural wonders of Yankari.
Nigeria is my rock.
Nigeria is my hope.
Nigeria is my home.
I am the voice of two hundred tribes, speaking three hundred languages.
I am the dance of the circle of life.
I am the laughter of the world’s happiest people.
I am nourished by the crop of the soil, fed by the bounty of the rivers.
I am your neighbor.
I am your friend.
I am a warrior, priest, king.
I am a mother, teacher, queen.
I am my brother’s keeper.
I am a sage from an ancient civilization.
I am a child in the youngest nation on earth.
I am the beauty,
I am the sound,
I am the vision,
I am the spirit,
I am the passion,
I am the soul of a Continent.
I am a Nigerian.
I am the Heart of Africa I am a Nigerian
Nkiru says that she was inspired by her late father, Ukpabi Asika, “an unflinching nationalist, whose decision to accept the seemingly suicidal role of Administrator of East Central State at the height of the Civil War in 1967, was summed up in his words: ‘I am a Nigerian. I was born a Nigerian…and I hope to die a Nigerian.’”
Meanwhile, another Igbo friend of mine, who prefers to remain nameless, believes that if we go our separate ways, we’ll wind up with Balkanization (dictionary definition: division of a country into small, quarrelsome, INEFFECTUAL states).
“I truly believe,” he says, “that Ndigbo on their own are not and will not be spectacular. But allow Ndigbo truly equal and full citizenship in Nigeria, and Ndigbo are capable of combining with the rest of Nigeria to make this place truly great…
“…Ndigbo are like Armenians. Within the Soviet Union, the Armenians dominated science, mathematics, beverage plus hospitality business, sports and the arts, relative to their population. Since they gained Independence, apart from the Kardashians (Armenian-American reality TV stars), Armenians haven’t given the world much.”
Meanwhile, I’ve just received an email from Emmanuel Emeke Asiwe,
Convener and Publisher of Huhuonline.com. He is organising a “One Nigeria” summit in September, in the United States. The sub-titles are: “Towards A More Perfect Union” and “Can’t We All Get Along?” Here is a summary of Asiwe’s position:
“Forty-seven years after the end of the war, Nigeria has yet to coalesce as an invisible nation-state. In the last two decades – and more so in the last decade – groups…in all the six geo-political regions have been calling for and working towards the breakup of Nigeria into four or five autonomous nation-states…
“…Of grave concern are two recent events: the activities and pronouncements of IPOB; and the ultimatum given by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum to Igbos to vacate northern Nigeria by October 1, 2017…the country is seen to be drifting towards another round of anarchy, and perhaps, civil war.”
Interestingly, Asiwe feels that Restructuring – the sacred mantra of some reformists – “will only degrade the legitimacy of Nigeria and create instability.”
Finally, a few words from a lady who requested anonymity because she fears reprisals from Igbo radicals:
Many of us Igbos, especially those of us that witnessed the Civil War, do not want
to hear secessionist antics. Some prominent Igbo politicians kept mute as these young
IPOB agitators are representing their interest, as if a reserve force to pressurise the Federal Government and heat up the polity.
Some Igbos have openly said that we are envied for our financial successes. This opinion smacks of gross arrogance and crass ignorance. And their attitude is reminiscent of the evil spirit of Hitler’s Aryanism and smacks of an unjustifiable superiority complex – Biafra uber alles!!!
I seize this opportunity to urge the Federal Government to see to the protection of patriotic and hardworking Igbo Nigerians for whom Biafra ceased to exist 50 years ago and who refuse absolutely to be taken on the road of chaos and anarchy.
The small urchin from London [Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB leader] cannot tell us what to do. Our destiny is in the hands of Jesus Christ our Lord.
However, one must recognise that the youth of this country, north ,south ,east and west, are angry because they have neither been provided for nor given a good sense of direction nor good examples. they are therefore terribly frustrated.
may this government invest in our youth without looking back, make it an urgent national priority. poverty , unemployment which are among the unintended consequences of corruption, are Nigeria’s major problem. The heinous crimes presently being perpetrated by young people are too heart-rending. We cannot continue like this. Something has to be done. Nigerians who have carted away the commonwealth must make reparation to our youth.