Since 1970 when the Civil War ended, the Igbos have had it tough surviving in Nigeria under every administration.
The Igbos have not in truth been well received back into Nigeria after declaring to be a republic of their own. Every policy has somehow been skewed against the region, whether it is economic or political. It is not the same kind of investment, infrastructure or human treatment that you find in other regions that you find in the South East. That of the South East region is usually of low quality and ill treatment. The South East is not considered for key political positions like other zones are. It was only in Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan governments that the people of the South East region began to feel well represented in government. In fairness to these people, the Nigerian government has not been quite tolerant of the peoples of South East and, that is most unjust. The Igbo communally restored back the destroyed glory of the Igbo land. If not the indefatigable and indomitable spirit of the Igbos, they would have been swept under the Nigerian carpet.
No doubt, the complete sidelining of Ndigbo worsened in this government under President Muhammadu Buhari. He has practically treated the region with disdain since coming on board in 2015, like a conquered territory that must obey and pay allegiance to its lords. And of course you do not expect the proudly Igbo, the hardworking and patriotic people of the region to accept such inferiority treatment in a country we all claim equality. Certainly, the Igbo will not welcome such in a place where they make more economic contributions than most other ethnic groups. If the country belongs to us all then, the Igbo, in their words and actions are demanding for equal stake, nothing more, nothing less!
However, one would not fail to condemn the modus operandi of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, becoming a clog in the wheel of our political demands from the Federation called Nigeria. If we continue in the path that IPOB has chosen we are doomed. Today, as it is, many of our brothers and sisters of the South East are afraid of IPOB freedom fighters that they no longer feel free travelling to Ala Igbo. We are indirectly shooting ourselves in the foot thereby incapacitating ourselves. If something drastic is not done to correct this, where we engage in wanton destruction of our brothers and sisters’ property and public property in the region, and indulge in the killing of our own people, then we have arrived where our enemies want us to be. We are known republicans, people who respect and tolerate divergent views without fear or favour. That practice cannot be killed because it is inherent in us.
Those who are busy destroying people’s businesses by burning and forcing them to sit at home, have they wondered who is actually affected, Nigeria or Igbo? How will both Igbo and foreign investors come to the zone to invest under such an unsafe atmosphere? How are we sure some businesses in the region are not beginning to consider relocating? There is no advantage in making our place ungovernable, none at all. It is all hogwash, economic slavery and political suicide. There is no real sense in it. We are rather destroying the little we have gained all these years. Now, which federal government will come and rebuild the destroyed property in the next 5 – 10 years?
The children who were stopped from writing their exams last week Monday by members of IPOB will automatically re-register for the same exam next year. They are not eligible for admission into any of our tertiary institutions owned by the private, state or federal government of Nigeria while their counterparts in other regions will be entering higher schools next year. Here, IPOB members displayed ignorance, illiteracy and brigandage. This is not any self-determination struggle. It was painful, sinful, for this group to have done such to these young ones. If they were organized and structured and understood what they were doing, this was an opportunity for them to have popularized themselves among their people. They would have, above every other thing, suspended their sit at home action for the sake of the students, supported and encouraged the students to go for their exams; assisted in mobilizing transport to convey the students to their various schools for the exams. Rather we had people who failed to consider a very critical group of the society when it mattered most. IPOB failed to understand that no social or political action against children, the aged and sick, pregnant women, peoples with disability, school, old peoples home, hospital or religious centres can be justified. It is a sacrilege for anyone to and that was what members of IPOB did.
IPOB must realize that if they continue in the obstruction, destruction of businesses and killings of people who oppose them, then they have the masses to contend with before long. I have warned before; no group such as IPOB can survive without the peoples’ full support. Once the people rise against them that is the end. Same with communities, realizing that IPOB have derailed will mobilize themselves against any attack within their territory. What could have warranted the killing of an Anglican priest just because he tried securing his students to write an exam? So, there is no value attached to life by this group? So, opposing the group is now a death sentence? How will members of the Anglican Communion in the South East accept the demands of IPOB for a republic? Will the family of the slain priest and all those killed by IPOB members ever crave for Biafra? Is this group for us or against us?
The leadership of IPOB must go back to the drawing board for assessment of its actions and tidy up the organization before it is dusk. Every political group must have a structure, leadership and organization that controls its members. The leadership must not be a one-man led group; that in itself is dictatorship. Every mass group must have a structure that encourages assignment, policy debate and agreement before implementation.
This article was authored by Uzodinma Nwaogbe