Every problem introduces a person to him or herself. Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro, is no longer a story but a study. His life story cannot be written with pen, but with actions. He can best be appreciated as a study, and be celebrated for his revolutionary philosophy. But, Boro had been celebrated for mere political gimmickry. This is very deceptive and hypocritical. It stands to reason why Isaac Boro, had not been biographed by those celebrating his memory.
Boro-ism cannot be anybody’s guess. Isaac Boro is a storied revolutionary. In situ, his revolutionary zeal has prototypicality. He remains the first secessionist in Nigerian political history. Boro-ism is not historically questionable. It is not an editorial addition, but a philosophical analysis of a revolutionary mind. Isaac Boro has a tremendous reasoning power. His logic and arguments encased the revolutionary philosophy call Boroism – a social morality – which tugs at the heart of oppressors. It is tied to history and to an event with some elements of mateyness. Isaac Boro was co-active with Samuel Owonairo – a living revolutionary legend of the Niger Delta.
Yes! The unfinished business of Boro-ism, is resource control and ownership. Isaac Boro is not a mob-orator. He is an actionist. Celebrants of Isaac Boro, had reduced resource control and ownership, to becoming mere political slogan. That is, it had become a political and diplomatic language for the purpose of harvesting votes at elections. Isaac Boro is not given to guarded understatements. Insensitive politicians in the Niger Delta, had committed error, of judgment, because; they lack understanding of the intellectual content of Boro-ism. They are practitioners of Ijaw-ism.
Contradistinctively, Boro-ism is a selfless philosophy that promotes egalitarianism, welfarism and human right activism. It is the antithesis of Ijaw-ism; which is an elitist philosophy of self service, self seekingness and exploitation of the masses. Boro-ism, is a subset of Marxist socialism. Ijaw-ism, is a subset of brazen capitalism. Isaac Boro defined Boro-ism at page 75 of his autobiography titled “The Twelve Day Revolution” that “The aim of an emancipation was neither for the privileged nor for the reticent, but for the poor and oppressed, although, all might at the long run enjoy the outcome”
In points of fact, Boro-ism is anti-political. Politics is the Machiavellian sphere of power. Anti-politics is the sphere of the mind and the spirit. It is practical morality of service to the truth, care for fellow humans. It is the politics of the powerless. Politicians need to dirty themselves with the business of winning support, building alliance, conciliating with old enemies, holding together societies that threatens to pull apart under the pressure of class, ethnicity and nationalism. Politicians in the Niger Delta are finding it difficult to adopt Boro-ism as a governance principle. They are trying their hardest to using Boro-ism as a catch phrase to reaching out to their constituents, through “Boro Day” celebration.
But, the political class of Niger Delta extraction had refused to adopt Boro-ism as an ideology. At page 79 of his autobiography, Isaac Boro compared himself to Fidel Castro of Cuba, whom he regarded as the hero of modern revolution. And, when referring to Fidel Castro, Boro said “in fact, he started like me with similar motive”. The proof thereof is that, Isaac Boro is a disciple of Marxism – the revolutionary philosophy of Karl Marx (1818-1883), a Prussian theorist; who condemned the wide gap between the rich and the poor population in Europe. He focused his criticism on capitalism. Isaac Boro, got his revolutionary inspiration from the same intellectual genealogy as: Mao Zedong of China, and Joseph Stalin of Russia.
There were preconditions and triggers that stimulated the revolutionary zeal of Isaac Boro and his co-revolutionaries. The Ijaws detested regionalism, and demanded for a state in the Eastern Region. The Ijaw Rivers league, was formed in 1947, under the leadership of Chief Horold Dappa Biriye. The Ijaws were scattered in Warri, Owerri and Calabar provinces without adequate representation. The Ijaws have 4 members in the 110 member Eastern Regional House of Assembly, and 2 members of the 58 member mid-western Assembly. The Northern political oligarchy was sympathetic and supportive of the agitation for state, by the Ijaws and other minorities in the Eastern Region.
Evidently, Isaac Boro, is an intellectual militant. Boro-ism has intellectual content. Ijaw-ism is basically a product of contractual or political opportunism; with anti-people tendencies. Boro-ism is a pro-people ideology. It is therefore, no surprise that, the Ijaw-ist thinkers, celebrating Isaac Boro, had not deemed it expedient to establishing Isaac Boro Foundation. They have chosen to make a political jamboree of the event. Isaac Boro deserved a foundation, named to his memory. This can only be possible when Isaac Boro, is celebrated by Boro-ist thinkers. It is my hope and prayers that: the Ijaw National Congress and the Ijaw Youth Council would purge themselves free from Ijaw-ist tendencies and begin to embrace Boro-ist philosophy.
The Twelve Day Revolution was a reactionary event in our political history. Isaac Boro was politically sensitive. He was not the alter-ego of the political class of his time. He did not speak political language. Isaac Boro, was an independent minded political, thinker, Ijawist-Niger Delta activists, are the voice of their political pay masters. Boro-ist-Niger Delta activists, would speak the voice of the oppressed in the Niger Delta.
Nonetheless, Isaac Boro was a disciplined revolutionary. Tontonbau camp was his holy ground. He sees the revolution as a salvation, as he swears the fighters of the Niger Delta Volunteer Service to oath of allegiance. The revolution was like a spiritual call for the emancipation of the Niger Delta for Isaac Boro. The Ijaw-ists cannot feel the spirituality of the Isaac Boro’s revolution. Therefore, Tontonbau camp had not been opened up as a tourist destination. This is not a mere oversight.
In conclusion, Ijaw-ists are the products of political gamesmanship. Boro-ists are emergent leaders of their people at different strata of governance. The pioneer members of the Ijaw National Congress “INC” and the Ijaw Youth Council “IYC” were Boro-ist thinkers; who started the second phase of the Niger Delta struggle. The enthronement of the fourth Republic in 1999 changed the architecture of the Niger Delta struggle. Politicians hijacked the INC and IYC, and planted Ijaw-ists therein. Consequently, the Kaiama Declaration – a Boro-ist document – became a mere paper tiger. And, the Niger Delta struggle began to reflect the political character and image of Ijaw-ist politicians in the region.
Accidental leaders only want the glamour of office, the honour of status, rather than the labour of obligation. Emergent leaders are the products of circumstances and situations. Isaac Boro was an emergent leader. When he was dismissed from the Nigeria Police, he said to himself that “nature had a higher calling for me”. Isaac Boro prayed to God thereafter for strength to fight injustice. Isaac Boro said at pages 76 and 86 of his autobiography that: “However, we did not flag in our belief that whenever a people are outrageously oppressed even when aid is remote it will be offered by providence, provided the people are bent on setting themselves free”. Also, he said “The revolutionary spurs in me know no rest”.
Indeed, Isaac Boro was a committed revolutionary. On the 23rd February, 1966, Isaac Boro called for sincerity of purpose and self restraint on the part of his fighters. He warned them not to violate the principles of the revolution and demanded that, they defend and uphold the natural right and integrity of the Niger Delta people. Isaac Boro expressed joy at the creation of Rivers State. He felt fulfilled at it. He said at page 157 of his autobiography that “I could not resist the joy of the fact that, I was still alive to see the Rivers state created, thereby vindicating and justifying our stand”.
Undoubtedly, Isaac Boro was a fulfilled revolutionary. He was posthumously honoured or awarded a National honour – Order of the Niger (OON) in 1983. Nations are built, countries are created or formed. Nigeria is a country challenged in its nation or state building. The selbourne committee of 1898, set up by Joseph Chamberlin, the British colonial Secretary recommended the amalgamation of Nigeria into one administrative unit. Lord Lugard was appointed to unify administrations, not people. Lord Louis Harcourt, the colonial secretary, who appointed Lord Lugard to initiate the amalgamation of Nigeria; said in a colonial service dinner of June 17, 1913, that “Unification of Nigeria demanded both a method” and a man”.
The Niger Delta is a victim of elite conspiracy. Gowon reduced derivation from 50% to 20%. The pretext was for post civil war re-construction of Nigeria. President Shehu Shagari reduced derivation from 20% to 2%, and yet, he got landslide victory in the 1983 presidential election from the Niger Delta. Our Ijaw-ist politicians performed the magic.
Forcebray I. Inegha
Writer/Public Affairs Analyst