Igbos have big problems at the moment, and the biggest of our problems as a people is not that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is leaving us in no doubt about his agenda against us. The biggest of our problems is that those upon whom nature and chances have entrusted the duty to speak, fight and defend the Igbos at this moment in history have all abdicated on that responsibility. Most of those who are elected, appointed or holding some other positions; political, social, religious and economic within Igboland seem to have abdicated on their responsibility of providing leadership for the Igbo people, either out of fear or ignorance of what these responsibilities should be. If it be fear, I do not know what it is for.
The reality of our misfortune as a people became clearer to me when we had to rely on a Governor from the Southwestern part of the country to speak out on our behalf on the series of injustices being meted out to the Igbo people, while our own Governors and other elected officials hide in their cocoons, afraid of their own shadows. Governor Fayose of Ekiti State is one man who has shown the real quality of manliness. Fayose has defeated fear and is not withheld by anything in voicing his opinions and taking his chances in whatever he is convinced about. The Yoruba, where he hails from have little reasons to complain about the Buhari government, hence he can afford to keep quiet. Also, being one of the two Governors in the entire Southwest who is of the PDP and the most persecuted of all the 36 Governors in Nigeria, Fayose has many reasons to keep quiet and possibly begin to sneak in and out of Aso Rock looking for a safe-landing. The Igbos say that ‘Mgbe A muru dike na mba, ka amuru ibe ya’. No one individual is too strong that he won’t get his match sometime, someday.
I grew up believing that the Igbos are the most courageous people on the surface of this earth. Having read lots of books on the Nigerian-Biafran war, read up on the courageous feats of many Igbo men and women who stood up against any form of persecution or intimidation from external forces, I am surprised at how much we have lost over the last few years and sometimes I doubt if we are still that Igbo that I read and heard about.
There are times when the only option open to a people is self-defense. The present Federal Government has not hidden its disdain for anything Igbo, while I will not subscribe to a declaration of war or investment in violence, it will be foolhardy for us to keep quiet and watch our people completely relegated from the scheme of things and if care is not taken, frustrated into political and even economic extinction. The present federal government does not pretend about its intentions about us. The President himself had made it clear even without being asked that those who gave him five percent votes during the elections will be treated like second class citizens. If it is just by denying the Igbos of certain political appointments, many of us will not complain, because the average Igbo is hard-working enough to survive without political patronage. But when the punishment for our political choice as a people goes beyond political to threatening our fundamental right to exist among others, then those who can must rise up in defense or await bitter sanctions from posterity.
Governor Fayose of Ekiti State is saying it as it is when he raised the alarm that the Igbos are not just being marginalized but are being endangered. Members of the Boko Haram terrorist groups who have killed thousands of innocent Nigerians, abducted more thousands of our girls and other innocent people, destroyed public assets worth billions Dollars, embarrassed Nigeria before the international community are being pampered by this administration and hundreds of them are being rehabilitated with our money, while many others are said to have been secretly released from detention, while our Igbo brothers and sisters who do not bear the smallest arms are being waylaid by members of the Nigerian armed forces and killed like chickens or some commoner animals for daring to ask that they be set free from the bondage of inequity and injustice.
Farms owned by innocent Igbos and our neighbors are being invaded by terrorist Fulani herdsmen, while our innocent brothers and sisters are being mauled down with bullets, sticks and arrows of these devilish herdsmen and our government does not as much utter words of condemnation, while members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) are being blackmailed by the same government as if they are terrorists or some criminal group, while they are no more than activist asking for equity. Government is not looking the way of these Biafran agitators but is talking about a grazing bill which seeks to forcefully take away our small lands from us and have them converted as grazing reserves for the Fulani herdsmen.
It is more worrisome that our leaders in the Igbo nation are not talking. The other time, a Governor went hats in hand, brimming with smiles while the blood of his siblings at Nimo were still dripping.
We have over 180 elected political office holders from the Southeast and well over 200 others holding political appointments at various levels. These individuals should know that they owe the people who elected a duty to protect them. I do not believe that the silence of these Igbo political leaders is as a result of cowardice but rather selfishness. There is nothing to be cowardly about, but there is everything to be selfish about. For instance, one of the members of the Anambra State House of Assembly who was elected under the platform of the PDP chose the same week in which some of our Igbo siblings were shot dead by officers of the Nigerian Army for holding a peaceful procession and church service to mark the commemoration of the Biafran struggle to defect to the same Party that ordered the killing of his brothers and sisters in Onitsha. This defection has nothing to do with the people of Anambra State, but with his personal political ambition, as he is said to be warming up to run for the governorship of Anambra come 2018. The same week, some other Igbo politicians went on a visit to Aso Rock to see the President. they were all bowing before the President and smiling like they just won lotteries, just as the bloods of their brothers still dripped from the trucks on which their remains were taken to God-knows-where. To Tony Nwoye, Ken Nnamani’s Southeast Change Group and many of our Igbo politicians, it does not matter if all the Igbos are killed, as long as their personal political interests are being protected.
We used to have Dr. Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe as Governor of old Imo State who would cry to the presidential villa just to attract attention to the plight of his people. He understood the importance of working for the development of his people and gave his heart to the job. He did not fire a single bullet, neither did he slap anybody, but he was able to the best of his ability fight for the Igbos to be well positioned in the scheme of things as he attracted lots of developmental projects to Imo State. In very recent history we had Mr. Peter Obi who ruled Anambra State for eight years and used those eight years to fight for the economic freedom of that part of Igboland, he set up industries, created jobs and provided the right infrastructure for the people of Anambra. Most importantly, he invested massively in improving the education of the people. He reached out to the government at the center and extracted some good deals for the people of Anambra. We also had Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu in Abia State, who stood like the iroko that shielded the entire Igboland during his eight years reign as Governor of Abia State. Kalu showed strength, grit and wisdom in dealing with the many troubles that the then President brought his way for standing up against the marginalization of the Igbo people.
From 2007 to 2011, Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State pursued political programs and agenda that were targeted at liberating the Igbos from any form of political slavery. Even though, he had so many battles to contend with at home, with more than forty court cases brought against his election, Dr. Ohakim still found time to work not just for Imo’s development, but for the development of the entire Igbo nation. Having come to power on the platform of an opposition Party, he was seriously courted by the then ruling Party, and he made demands that were for the general interest of the Igbo nation as conditions for his defection. Some of those demands included; the siting of the Osemotor seaport which would have greatly improved trade and imports within Igboland. This particular proposal was granted and work would have commenced on the project, including many other Igbocentric infrastructure had death not snatched President Umoru Yaradua at the time it did.
Our present governors and other political office holders must rise to the occasion and save the Igbo nation from imminent extinction. They must find ways to reach out to the man in charge of Aso Rock to ensure that we get the best deal for our people and most importantly stop the reckless massacre of our Igbo brothers and sisters. An elder does not stay at home, while the she-goat delivers its kid, tethered. There is no other way to say it; the Igbo nation is in serious trouble and those who have the capacity must begin to act before we are all consumed by the vendetta of a man who has classified all of us as being worst of the five percent, who must be dealt with.