Biafra and the Igbo people of Nigeria: The consequences of the silence of our elders part 2

“I may be wrong but I strongly believe that the Igbos of Nigeria are the commercial hearts of Africa. Therefore Nigeria cannot afford to ignore our anointed entrepreneurial prowess and spirit”.

Now turning to Radio Biafra and Ndi Igbo in general, the big question on my mind is always, looking at some of our attitudes can some people be seen as justified in hating us or not wanting to have anything to do with us? Are we always right crying victim and wolf? Is there something that we need to look at in order to be understood and warmly accepted by others just as many of us accept and respect others for all their strengths and weaknesses?

Although many people may not agree with me, I think that there are conscious and unconscious failings on our own side. In life people have good and bad sides. The only difference is that many manage both in such a way that their good masks their bad and their bad do not outweigh and mask their good to the consternation of others.

Accepted that as a group, we are often misunderstood and therefore always subjected to hate attacks like Oba Rilwan and Dr Ariyo’s recent unfortunate sorry incitement of the people of Nigeria against Ndi Igbo, the big question is; what have we done collectively to prove them wrong? Two wrongs do not make a right. The Oba may have erroneously believed that he was speaking for the Yoruba people of Nigeria but given what I know about many Yorubas I know personally, I like to believe that he was speaking for himself. The same applies to poor Dr Ariyo. My big thing is, what have we, Ndi Igbo done about that and other gaffes that followed?

We have leaders including Royal fathers, governors and legislators who can call the attention of the government against behaviours like that. Unless I have missed something for which I apologise here, I do not think that I have seen any serious agitation, complaint or reprimand of these miscreants with demands for appropriate legal sanctions or usual traditional reprimands by the leaders of the people behind the unfortunate hate attacks against Ndi Igbo.

If this is the case how can we then pretend that we work collectively for our interest as Igbo people? Let us assume that the Oba spoke for Yorubas in his capacity as a traditional leader, what about other non-Igbos titled leaders and our traditional leaders like Emirs, Obas of benin Kingdom etc telling him off and demanding apologies? If nothing like that happened how do you expect a young despondent tout on the corner of the street waiting for an opportunity to do something with his time know that it is wrong to get up and attack Igbos and their interests around Nigeria without getting into trouble?.

“I may be wrong but I strongly believe that the Igbos of Nigeria are the commercial hearts of Africa. Therefore Nigeria cannot afford to ignore our anointed entrepreneurial prowess and spirit”.

This then often leads me to seriously think about the attitude of our leaders and conclude that Igbos may be naturally business people who are only capable of making money but not leaders who can lead themselves and others. Accordingly, the agitation for power in the centre may be unnecessary. We should therefore concentrate on making money and controlling the economy in such a way that we will be indispensable and people will learn to respect us for whom we are, what we bring to the big Nigerian table and what they will lose if we turn our backs on Nigeria. (Please do not slaughter me. I am “nwokpu” just thinking about us as a people and looking out for our best interests. We cannot continue crying wolf while others are helping themselves with whatever is available because we are distracting ourselves and pitching our interests and ambitions wrongly)

A typical example of my reason for this takes me to the bodies in Ezu River and that embarrassing deportation or expulsion of Ndi Igbo from Lagos by Lagos state government. At the time I did not wish to look at the act as an attempt to send Igbos packing from Lagos. I looked at it from the corner of the provisions of our constitution which guarantees every Nigerian the right to live wherever they like regardless of where they were born or our famous state of origin confusion. Many Igbos at the time were quite rightly angry because although Lagos state government denied that they were inspired by hatred against Ndi Igbo and were only trying to respect the victims’ wishes to reunite with their families, Upper Iweka junction is no Igbo man’s home. So they were blatantly lying when they said that they were reuniting them with their loved ones.

Not minding whatever the motive would have been, what was outstanding to me in the whole saga is that when the Senate set up a committee to look into the matter, an Igbo man was appointed the head of the committee. To my utter horror, he was bold to play politics with it. Without completing his investigation into the madness of Lagos state government or whole heartedly listening to and calming the pains of his people (the victims of that unlawful conduct and their families) who had been humiliated and degraded, he boldly lamented that the complaint and uproar against such poor and illegal behaviour was an attempt to destroy his political ambition or interest because he belongs to the same party as the Governor of Lagos state.

I am not sure if any other Igbo person keyed in on this or was as shocked as me because not many people said anything about it. Then this was followed by the usual sorry excuse that Lagos state has an Igbo man as a commissioner and Igbos will never allow that to happen in Igbo land (this may be right because if we cannot tolerate our own Igbos under the state of origin quagmire when we sent off teachers to their states of origin not minding that it affected the standard of education in the respective states plus separated families, then how can we tolerate others and let them hold such offices in our states) not minding that the constitution does not bar non indigenous people from living and holding offices in any part of Nigeria and such appointments must be more about competence than state of origin.

If this major event and the bodies in Ezu river have died a natural death with no Igbo leader rising to his feet to seek justice for victims, no wonder people like the Oba and Ariyos of this world were bold enough to embark on that dangerous journey which has the potential to cause the sort of carnage similar incitement by another traditional leader in South Africa caused.


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