Published On: Fri, Jun 3rd, 2016

Who Will Rescue The Igbos? – By Onwuasoanya FCC Jones

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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.

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  1. Just Me says:

    FCC Jones,
    Udo diri gi.
    Where a child is pointing and running towards, if his father is not there, his mother is. Your observation is very true with its grave consequences. The disaster is already happening. Yes.
    However, I have concerns with your title and a few of your postulations that may not be quite right. “Who will RESCUE the Igbos” is not a suitable title nor statement and should never be a banner to be flown by Ndigbo to the public at any time and for any reason. It connotes total despair, submission and a sense of loss, surrender and displays the worst kind of weakness that is completely self-defeating that emboldens your enemies and arrogates to them undue confidence in their attack and aggression. Which Igboman can be ever be inspired by that statement or be motivated to lead the course under such a banner?
    Our focus may not only be to toe the style of Fayose alone, rather people like you and me should start by identifying Igbo elements of sound minds and strength of character who possess the zeal and enthusiasm for a course of this nature to form a formidable think-tank for the emancipation of our people. We should at this point begin to device logical strategies to not only defend ourselves from the apparent present and impending disaster doom, but to position ourselves to anticipate the actions, reactions, and inaction of our aggressors and self-declared enemies to be able to quell the disaster or transfer the disaster, anarchy and doom to our aggressors and enemies. It must never be like in the 60s when we were taken unawares and could not rally ourselves well nor garner international support and alliances. We must begin now to dissect our past similar situation and encounters to see what factors that worked against us and where we went wrong as well what aided our failure in that quest and struggle that decimated our people and broke the will of some of our people that you now see in the cowardice of our politicians (not necessarily leaders).
    One of such factors that worked greatly against us were our unpreparedness for war that came upon us, the widespread government propaganda machinery turned used against us by the Yorubas and Nigerian government such that international community did not know the truth nor about our plight until it was too late and over, improper information and education of our people at all level on what was going on and how to respond to it, lack of an astute/stoic think-tank group, and mostly the lack of strong dependable foreign/international allies, etc. Today, it is different. The war provides us a the benefit of hindsight and affords us a better foresight into what is likely to happen which is already happening. It is for us to decide whether to let that unfortunate history repeat itself. We need to assemble and articulate all that transpired before, during and after that war and the lessons therein to prevent a re-occurrence ever again. Taking a cue from Israel. Today is different. We must defend ourselves and our future much better, more effectively and resolutely than ever before, because we now know better. With a think-tank in place, our fortunes and destiny would begin to be better defined and moulded with effective strategies for defending, providing, protecting our people and launching calculated attacks and counter attacks against our aggressors. You and I need to start putting the problem in proper perceptive and by firmly countering any and every widespread falsehood with facts and truths, even at the slightest or smallest level and laying it bare for the world to see and to figure out the conspiracy of our northern and western neighbors who turned against on all fronts because of our natural resources, which they plunder.
    The other area your write up erred was in re-echoing Buhari’s internationally aired falsehood about the 5% that did not vote him which was a huge lie no one bothered to clear for international audience. The statistics of the votes cast despite APC massive rigging, never showed that only 5% was the votes that did not vote for Buhari. The records are there in relation to the number of PDP seats, in the parliament, as well as the number of PDP states. We needed to emphatically counter it bringing the falsehood to the attention of the world; We need to emphasize the fact that Buhari lied to the world and did not win by 97% votes as he claimed; it was not 5% that did not vote for him; and that he does not know even simple kindergarten math: 97% + 5% does equal 100% of votes cast. This single overlooked fact casts a shadow of doubt on Buhari’s integrity and exposes the lies that brought him to power as well as the earlier rumor about his lack requisite academic qualification, not to mention that he does not even know the meaning of the word “inclusive” which had to be explained to him by the American interviewer.
    We should get our bearing right from our personal thoughts, strategies, words, actions and reactions to our collective resolve, strategy, statements, policies, actions and reactions.
    For now, we need to address the current aggression and issues that are jeopardizing our overall efforts and purpose in the struggle and putting our existence in danger.
    The international community will be drawn when our methods and efforts are coordinated, cohesive with a various strategy plans including but not limited to changing the current negative perceptions already created by our enemies and aggressors through lies, falsehood and propaganda.
    This situation may actually be a blessing in disguise or providence handing us our saving grace from the enslavement in this contraption called Nigeria.

  2. Dr. Francis Ositadinma Onukwuli says:

    Thank you my brother Onwuasoanya FCC Jones. I hear you loud and clear but the Igbo problem we have today is self-inflicted. The major problem that is facing us today is what I discussed in the paper that I presented at Obi Igbo during the 2015 Igbo Day Celebration in Atlanta, Georgia titled: “Leadership and Followership Behaviors of Igbos – Impact on Economic and Political Stability” Here is interesting excerpts from the presentation:

    Leadership and Followership Behavior of Igbos: Impact on Economic and Political Stability

    Presented on November 13, 2015 Igbo Day Symposium at Igbo Community Building
    [OBI IGBO] 5912 Mableton Parkway, Mableton, Georgia 30126

    By
    Dr. Francis Ositadinma Onukwuli

    The issue of economic and political stability of Igbo States have always been on the front burner of her citizens and especially in the Diaspora whenever the matter of the progress of any of the Igbo States, people and communities are discussed and envisioned. For Igbo States, economic and political stability are two sides of a coin that must be understood and pursued as germane values. One cannot be pursued without the other. But the fact is that both economic and political stability can only occur in an atmosphere that is equitable, just and has mass distribution of economic wealth, political freedom, and where poverty is generally non-existence and consciously resisted as an enemy by leaders and their followers. Economic and political stability also happen only in a society where human security is guaranteed and vehemently pursued. In an atmosphere of extreme poverty, human security or life becomes vicarious and engendered if not impossible. Hence the absence of general insecurity to human life in one of Igbo States, Anambra State in particular (thanks to HE Governor Willie Obiano) manifesting in the form of a state free of kidnapping, ritual killings and murder, political assassination, deaths, and cult violence etc are attributed in one way or the other to the notable economic and political development in Anambra State.

    Therefore, the aim of this presentation is to trace the relationship between leadership and followership behaviors in ala Igbo, and how both have affected the economic and political stability therein. It will suggest honest ways of spurring economic and political growth long cherished throughout ala Igbo.

    The Neolithic man’s existence in Igboland dates back to 3000 BC. Since then, Igbos have been very progressive and in the forefront of leadership in all of their community endeavours. The list of outstanding political leaders of Igboland and Nigeria cannot be complete without mentioning the name of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe who was the first President of Nigeria after our nation gained independence from the British Empire in 1960. Many Igbos were first and trailblazers in academia; Prof. Kenneth Dike – First Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan; Prof. Eni Njoku – First Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos; Prof. Chike Obi – First Nigerian Prof. of Mathematics and the man who solved Fermat’s Last Theorem. Prof. Chike Obi’s leadership in Mathematics was followed by another Igbo man named Prof. Ezeilo – Prof of Differential Calculus and the founder of the Ezeilo Constant.

    The first Nigerian Professor of Anatomy and Physiology is Prof Chike Edozien who is also the current Obi of Asaba; Prof. Okoye Anigbo – First Nigerian Prof. of Physics; Prof. Frank Ndili – Prof. of Nuclear Physics and Chemistry earned a Ph.D in his early 20’s at Cambridge University in the early 1950’s. Other Igbo Leaders and trailblazers in the academic arena include, but not limited to the following individuals: Professors Adichie, Kodilinye, Ntukogu, Okonjo, G. D Okafor, HE Senator Dr Chris N. Ngige, and one of my uncles Dr Pius Okigbo, and my mentor Prof. Austin Esogbue. The list goes on and on.

    The common aim of these leaders was to build a great and united Igbo nation that is capable of leading Nigeria in all works of life. But where are we now? We have not been able to build Igbo organizations that are free of in-house fighting, hide and seek accounting practices, mushroom management (keeping members in the dark and feeding them with manure). It has always been them vs. us – us vs. them mentality, and internet wars. We have taken our focus away from building an egalitarian and prosperous society that would be respected in the comity of our Igbo towns, local governments and States; States where everyone would be his/her brother’s and sister’s keeper, speak the truth on all issues regardless of the consequences, and a people who would respect their leaders and their leaders respect them.

    Since the creation of Igbo States, we are farther from the these dreams than we were at the formation of our States. As a concerned citizen who is not only tired of where we are, knowing pretty well where we could have been, but who is also tired of hearing the older generation tell the younger ones of an epoch of prosperity, peace, decency, transparency and accountability in our town’s and States life that many of them never knew, I’m dedicating this reflection to building Igbo States of our collective dream.

    Today, let me categorically state that we all need to undergo attitude adjustment and mental deprogramming in the ways we as Igbo people live our lives and do business with others. We must embrace a positive mind-set CHANGE which is one of the most important elements in realizing the Igbo States of our collective potential and dream. It is universally known that no one can be doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. The only way to get a different result is by changing the approach. If you don’t like the way Igbo States are, “Just commission yourself to be an agent for their Change.” Help us Invest in Igbo States; especially now that some of our governors like HE Governor Willie Obiano have chased all the crazy baldheads out of town. Thank God that today some of our States are no longer under the chokehold of hoodlums, criminals, and kidnappers. The power to change Igbo States lies within all of us, yet the change must begin with you and me.

    Unfortunately, our Diaspora Igbo Organizations are unquestionably at a critical crossroad where all that we desire now is nothing but a change in the positive direction. Up till now, it’s a misnomer that the more we need change, the more it eludes us and the more we hope for it, the more we remain the same. Let us just take a quick look at a good number of our Diaspora organization – ASA USA, WIC, and many of our town organizations, and even our apex Igbo organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo. In all these Igbo organizations, you will find the terrible and the despicable divide, struggle for power, lies, innuendos, blatant disregard of leaders for their followers, the unimaginable disrespect and total disdain of the authority of the leaders by their followers.

    Now, the crucial question I want to ask all of us as umu Igbo is“Ebee ka nmili si we ba na opi ugbogulu?” We all know that “Onye jelu agha welu gbuo nwa nkita, ofu nmadu obeluya isi.” How in the world did we get to this point – a point where we have seized to be our brothers and sisters keeper? Chukwu ama ekwe ka anu di na nmili gba aji. There is hope for our resurrection but we must change our ways now and not later.

    The kind of change that we need will not come from the West or from the East. Will it come from the North or from the South? No it must come from within Igbo States. If you think that the change will come from the class who are benefitting from the current rot, it’s certainly an illusion! Nobody benefits from a system and wants it to change.

    We have been looking up to some of our mediocre and corrupt leaders for too long for this change to come without exploiting the real instrument of change that lie within. The real and lasting change will not come from up down, it will be forced from down up. The presidency that claims several lofty accomplishments in fiscal management, school infrastructural development within two and half years of being elected without having to adequately account for it will not push for a change and neither will some of the executive arm of any Igbo Diaspora organization leadership that enjoys almost an absolute power as it has now carpeted our Unions. Do you think that the executives who have unrestricted access to any Diaspora organization funds will cause the change? No way! Do you think that a President who illegally confiscated and altered any Diaspora organization’s Constitution without gaining approval from the Constitution Standing Committee and General Membership to do so will cause the change? Do you think that a President, who awarded/endorsed school building contracts in their Organization’s hometown, without obtaining and presenting, at least, three bids to the general membership, will cause the kind of change that many disenfranchised members are yearning for? No, it’s impossible! Is it some branch chairmen that were illegally or unconstitutionally elected to office and still go ahead to singlehandedly run the affairs of their branches with their cronies or supporters? No way!

    People get the kind of leaders they produce and our state and town organizations, ASA USA, WIC, etc. in Diaspora, are not exemptions. A leader is just a reflection of the society. A president do not start corruption as a president, neither does a VP start manipulation as a vice president. Nobody starts stealing as a leader or a chairman of a profit/non-profit organization. A manager of a company does not develop the habit of inflating figures as a chief executive and neither do others in the position of leadership. They all started long before they got to the exalted positions and offices. They started corruption, manipulation and stealing as ordinary citizens. A corrupt executive must have been living a corrupt life perhaps as a junior or senior officer or even as a cheating student who specializes in plagiarism.

    If you are living a corrupt life today in your little world, who knows what tomorrow holds for you? A corrupt seed breeds a corrupt fruit. A corrupt student today will certainly become a corrupt leader tomorrow unless he changes. A corrupt officer will become a corrupt president and a corrupt university lecturer will become a corrupt university professor.

    My brothers and sisters, I want you to know that every highly placed citizen once occupied a lower position and every top official was once an ordinary member of the society. An Inspector general of Police convicted of corruption must have started as a bribe taking officer. Governors convicted of stealing state funds in Nigeria didn’t start stealing as governors; they must have started stealing as ordinary citizens.

    A genuine change starts with you. If the people change, the office holders too will also change. “People always get the leaders they deserve; the only way to enhance the quality of our leaders is by changing our own attitudes, values, personalities and mindset. It is highly unlikely that a nation of liars, thieves, rapists, thugs, and murderers would be able to raise successive leaders who are saints by all accounts; far from it! The stark reality is that the leaders of the people are more likely to be like the people they lead/govern. This is simply because these leaders are chosen from among the people who exhibit these negative character dispositions.”
    – Rev. George Ashiru

    How can we change the system?

    Change yourself first! “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – President Barack Obama.

    When you change yourself, you have initiated the process of changing the society. For everyone who changes from the corrupt way, the society becomes saner. Stop waiting for your turn to embezzle; stop giving and collecting bribes; stop inflating prices and the values of contracts; stop cheating; stop being selfish; think of a service that can benefit the society and engage yourself in it; do your work diligently; do not cheat your town; get accolade and get paid for only work done; pay your tax(es); teach your children and dependents moral values; teach them that the societal evil they have grown up to know is alien to our Igbo States culture; teach them to practice what they are taught at the worship centres and teach them to do what is right at every right time.

    When you start doing these things, then, you can start preaching to them. In turn, a new culture will begin and the evil culture will eventually die. The impact of small positive changes in different individuals in the society cannot be overemphasised. When these positive acts are multiplied by several millions of people in our Igbo States, a whole transformational process has begun. “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Bishop Desmond Tutu.

    Until you start doing what is right, you have no right fighting for your right. You cannot have your right until you are right. When you do the right things in any society, you will not be at peace with people doing evil in that society. Do the right things to make your Diaspora organization and Igbo States right!

    It is your right to know what ASA USA, WIC, Igbo States governments are doing; it’s your right to know how your money is being spent no matter how small an amount is spent; it’s your right to demand accountability from the office holders of these organizations; it’s your right to demand that they do their work diligently and it’s your right to demand that your common wealth and token contribution made towards the development of the Diaspora organizations are well spent and accounted for.

    It’s never your right to wait for your turn to have our Igbo establishments spoil. As long as you have this mentality, you are not only selling your birthright for a pot of porridge but you are also auctioning the future of our children and our children’s children.

    Umu Nnem, we must change this mindset so that we would be able to boldly ask for transparency and accountability from authority that be and let the office holders know that they are not bigger than the electorate for whom they hold the office in trust. Let the general membership of Igbo Diaspora Organizations do their work diligently so that they can demand their rights from the elected executive officers.

    In conclusion, let me advice All Igbo and Nigerian Looters: You will leave this world when your time is up and you can’t extend it even by a second. Your loot will remain here on earth and you will have to answer to the Almighty God why you dispossessed millions of your fellow Igbo men/women and Nigerian citizens of what is theirs by turning their treasures and properties into your own; sending millions of them into an early grave in life and watching millions of them suffer from lack of food, shelter and health care due to your selfish actions.

    Greed and mediocrity breeds cynicism and cynicism in turn breeds distrust. Let the meticulous work of deprogramming the skewed mentality of those who are blocking the path to Igbo States progress continue. Let us speak the truth at all times.

    God Bless all the people of Igbo origin!
    God bless the people of Nigeria!

    Igbo Kwenu, Igbo Kwenu, Igbo Kwezuenu.
    Thank you.
    Prof. Francis Ositadinma Onukwuli
    2nd President and (1 of 3 Founders) of Igbo Union Atlanta (IUA), Georgia Inc. (1986-1991)
    Founder & 1st President, Umuoji Improvement Union (UIU), Georgia Inc. (2000-2007)
    1st National Vice President, Umuoji Improvement Union (UIU), Georgia Inc. (2000-2004)
    Board Member, Nigerian National Policy Institute, USA (2004 – 2007)
    Chairman Education Committee, Anambra State Association (ASA) USA (2004-2007)
    Board Member, The Institute of Anambra Development (TIFAD), Georgia Inc. 2004 – Present)
    Founding President, Idemili United of Atlanta (IUA), Georgia Inc. (2009-2015)
    1st General Secretary, Notre Dame Old Boys Association (2007 -2012)
    Advocate, Knights of Columbus, Georgia Inc. (2004 -2008)
    Chairman, Governor & Senator Ngige Mandate Committees USA (2003-2015)
    Vice Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC USA), Georgia Inc. (2013 – Present)
    National Publicity Secretary, All Progressives Congress (APC) USA (2012-Present)

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