By Olisa Enebeli Imegwu
Heavenly Father, as I put these words down in letters, gives me the boldness to state the concerns and fears of my people not minding the pains and the sacrifice I may endure, although I am an Ambassador in Chains. Amen!
In 1914, when the North and South were amalgamated as Nigeria by the British, until 1963 when our founding fathers bequeathed to us a legal framework of governance based on Regional Autonomy, Fundamental Human Rights and the creation of the Midwestern Region, Nigeria was coasting to greatness. Looking back to July 27, 2014, when Prophet TB Joshua prophesied its greatness, though with a Caveat. That since nothing good comes without passing through some crisis, we will overcome, while the perpetrators, the Principalities/Rulers of the earth, will not survive the triumph. Today, rather than be triumphant over the crisis of division and distrust, reverse is the case.
Beginning from 1966 to 1979, and then to 2022 APC/PDP National Conventions, the march to Nationhood has been a tale full of woes. It occasionally comes with spots of Hope, disappointments, patience and perseverance. What is the hindrance? Our problem is traced to the suspicion and mistrust of the Ibos harboured by some sections of South-west and Northern Nigeria, mostly occupied by the majority tribes of the Yoruba and Hausa/Fulanis.
The relationship has degenerated to jealousy and resentment of the Ibo, a condition as old as Nigeria. If it has reached a point where they cannot live together with the Ibo, is there any need seeking their allegiance in a country where they are unwanted and unloved?
The condition has become so bad that a minor misunderstanding with an individual of Ibo descent or of a matter national in scope, the Ibo’ civil and business interests are threatened or destroyed in these regions. The unguarded and condescending utterances and arrogance of few of these political leaders, and the constant isolated acts of victimization against the Ibo in these regions, are evident.
These acts against the Ibo by some Northern leaders such as Rabiu Kwankwaso, Alhaji Galadima, Jubril Abdulmumini et c in published interviews and video conversation between Alhaji Kashim Shettima and ex-Governor Amosun of Ogun state, if substantiated, are undesirable.
If Shettima denies the video interview, he is yet to deny the allegations by President Jonathan that he appeared to have stood in the way of the fight against Boko Haram when he was the Governor of Borno State. derogatory remarks that the Ibo should concentrate on trading and business and leave politics to the North and South-west, their mastery of it, and demanding that Ibo convert to Islam, as allegedly stated by Jubril, to have a chance to become the president of Nigeria, is provocative to say the least.
Second, and very worrisome, is the recent specific act of victimization of the Ibo during the INEC Voters Registration where in some parts of the South-west and the North, the Ibo were prevented from being registered. One of such incidents, for example, allegedly happened on the 29th of July, 2022, at Saint Bridget Catholic Church, Ijesha, Surulere, Lagos State. It was reported on a video that went viral on one the social media platforms by Dr. Ambassador Princess Okojie Igbemudia.
It was alleged that some unknown persons forced their way into the Church during the Voters Registration exercise and made away with the registration machines preventing prospective voters from registration and aborted already registered voters from collecting their PVCs. If the Ibo are so resented, they deserve the right under the circumstance to seek comfort, safety and participation in other ways, including seeking the Right to Self-determination/peaceful separation/divorce.
With the mindset of a critical section of the country, as described above, particularly a dominant one for that matter, flowery concepts or notion of a united and indivisible Nigeria, may not morally and politically be sustainable. Such concepts are convenient metaphors used by these bad leaders, the agent provocateurs, to perpetuate themselves in power. They are not there to elevate a moral value nor advance the cause of Justice, Fairness and Equity, as is enshrined in the nation’s constitution as well as their parties’ Constitutions. The leadership of the major political parties, APC and PDP, is no more, no less, a conspiracy to seize power. Beware of TB Joshua’s prophecy of 27th July, 2014 and what bad end it portends for the political class, the Principalities and the Rulers of the earth.
Because these leaders are not going to relent from their angst against the Ibo, the Ibo’s culture of receptiveness to change, individualism, competitiveness and entrepreneurship, is, either, not going to give way. As was the case between 1914 and 1966 post Independent Nigeria, this culture will continue to thrive. It, of course, gives the Ibo unquestioned edge over their counterparts/competitors in the South-west and North for advancement in modern Nigeria. The resentment and distrust of the Ibo could not have come at the time because the leaders then, our founding fathers’ overriding concern and interest, were determined to elevate the cause of Justice, Fairness and Equity. It was their sensitivity to these core values that was responsible for the assuaging of the cry, then, of the oppressed and marginalized minority groups as is now the case against the majority Ibo. The report of the Willink’s Commission of Inquiry, Regional Autonomy, Fundamental Human Rights and the Creation of the Midwestern Region, were codified and formed the major planks of the 1954, 1960, 1963 and Lyttleton Constitutions, were products of their patriotism and statecraft.
Today, as was the case between 1914 and 1963, the cry by Nigerians for a Constitutional framework of True/Fiscal Federalism, Balance of States Creation across the regions, State Police, Power Shift/Rotational Justice/Equity in the distribution of major elective and appointive political offices, have fallen on the deaf ears of our political Leaders, particularly Neo-Northern Political Warlords and their Co-conspirators in the Southern part of the country. For their selfish and inordinate ambition, Justice, Fairness, Equity, which they all embraced and swore to in the Nation’s Constitution as well as in their parties’
Constitutions, no longer mattered. These leaders, for the sake of posterity and love for our race, should disprove Trump’s description of Africans as shitholes, hence rendering the self-fulfilling prophecy toga inapplicable. If not cast away, it is an epitaph that our founding fathers would be made to grieve uncontrollably in their graves.
The resort, therefore, to the defence of Justification to promote the rejection of our core democratic values of Justice, Fairness, Equity, as enshrined in Sections 13, 14 and 15 of the nation’s constitution, the grundnorm, should be discouraged. Unlike what was obtained between 1914 and 1963, attention to the cry of Nigerians for Rotational Justice/Equity, the balance of States Creation across the regions, True Federalism/Regional Autonomy, State Police, Financial Autonomy for the State Legislatures and the Judiciary, a true Independent Electoral Commission, both at the State and Federal Levels, a part-time Unicameral legislature et c, should be accorded the urgency it demands. If between 1914 and 1963, at the primitive stage of our march to Nationhood, our founding fathers acceded to our yearnings, what is the hindrance today to these demands, at least, of Rotational Presidency, Balance of creation of States across the regions and True Federalism.
Failure for a peaceful and democratic negotiation to address the issues raised above, gives currency and bite to Bishop Hassan Kukah’s and Chief Dele Momodu’s lamentations. Bishop Kukah lamented thus, “…I have never been unsure of Nigeria’s future as I am now… it is time to end Nigeria so that the people who want development can go ahead… “as was the case with skilful handling of the separations of USA from UK, 1776; Belgium from Netherlands, 1830; Singapore from Malaysia, 1965; East Timor from Indonesia, 2002; Ireland from UK, 1921; and Eritrea from Ethiopia; South Sudan from Sudan; and pUSSR broken into Russia and several countries. These countries since their separations have lived and developed peacefully with one another.
Momodu, on his part, admonishes Nigerian Voters thus, “…to no longer sell their votes for money “… and dent their conscience… exorcise the demons of democracy and rid ourselves of the manacles and shackles of the depressive state and oppressive nature…” lorded over us “…by the much vaunted…” occult “…demi-gods and political warlords, particularly in the North, and of course, their Co-conspirators in the Southern Region. However, appealing to the conscience of the few willing, patriotic noble statesmen in the North and South, the torch bearers and the KEEPERS OF FAITH of our founding fathers. Although overwhelmed with the obscene wealth and coercive powers of the Occultic-Demi-Gods-Political Warlords, the Principalities/Rulers of the earth, rise and accept the challenge to rescue Nigeria.
History shows that the developed and advanced democratic nations of the world, whether in Europe, Asia and America, did not get there by the defence of Justification. Drawing from their history and backgrounds, they put down in written forms legal frameworks embodying their values, beliefs, principles and adhering to them. The reverse is the case with the Nigerian political Warlords, at every election circle, with the defence of Justification, they reject the core values of Justice, Fairness and Equity, written down in the Nation’s Constitution, the grundnorm, and which their parties’ incorporated in their constitutions. Beware of TB Joshua’s 2014 prophecy, particularly the certain end that awaits you.
The upcoming 2023 election is going to be a test case. An experiment that will show whether those riding the moral high ground in the North and in the South, would be overcome by the obscene and coercive forces of the Political Warlords, the Principalities/Rulers of the earth, described above. Except that the PDP/APC get their acts together, the Peter Obi’s movement may be a credible challenge, a Beacon of Hope that may test our partisan loyalty in either of 2 major parties.
Can the few capable, well-to-do, noble, patriotic, Statesmen of the North and the South, if any, the torch bearers of our founding fathers, coalesce around it to give it the impetus it requires to succeed? Are these noble leaders going to be persuaded not merely on the basis of sentiments alone, but on Justice, Equity and his record of achievements while in office. Only Time will Tell if Chinua Achebe’s book titled, “There Was A Country” is true and time to negotiate a democratic peaceful separation for those who want to leave.
*Hon Imegwu, is a former speaker of Delta State House of Assembly