The crucial first step towards reviving the Igbo ideal is to engage ordinary people in the politics of Ndigbo and Igboland
The stakes are getting higher for Ndigbo today. The landscape is becoming less significant, yet more difficult to manage. We are becoming more of historical objects nearing extinction, and curiously lost. I am not in any way writing here to depict a typical Story. My emotions are furious and convoluted.
The mindset with which we have looked at the world has strongly set a lot of things against us and I feel a need to state that. We must revert back to our old ways of doing things or else the tide will catch up with us and ultimately wash us away. What is the matter I seem to ask myself over and over again? The matter is simple… we have abandoned our homestead to con men and impostors?
The Igboland I knew growing up is not the Igboland I know today; the simplicity of life as known then has become complicated by the confusion that has been created by the fraudsters ruling the place today. In the past, we had some measure of predictability which allows for planning both in the rural areas and the urban centres. It was not in the amassed wealth that the people found their bearing but in the comfort that in health and labour lay their wealth. This is no more and appears symbolically more idyllic than real.
The collapse of our society (Igbo Society) can be tied to the collapse of our values; this has changed with nothing permanent to replace it. I consider this an alarming situation considering that each society that has excelled and succeeded only did that on the strength of defined values and goals. We can start the reclaiming process by clearly seeking out the redefinition of our goals and objectives.
What should they be? I figure that we must distinguish between our in-house core goals and values and our peripheral core goals and values. Our internal goals and values must seek to replace the shallow, often abrasive and ephemeral personality that has come to represent the Igbo person, with a much deeper kind of personality that understands the values of community, person and society. There ought also to be a drastic shift in mind and action from the quasi identity that has become us, to a building of a new mind, man and attitude that helps us understand that our success lies in the success of many rather than the grandeur of the few. Physical and visible shift from overzealous caricatures of our hopes must be encouraged, while also attempting to create a moderate temperament in our pursuits. This foundation would if agreed and pursued, help set us on the road again towards renewal.
Externally, our goals must be seen to be beneficial first to us then to others. Politics and Economics must be reined in and modified to suit our internal needs. We have been too loquacious in a lot of things and this has only hampered our cause rather than help it. Our associations with others must reflect our associations within our ranks. Those goals which have no direct bearing with our defined objectives must be shelved and if possible abandoned. Ndigbo are now more matured but similarly naive in their pursuit of anything. If history has thought us anything, it is that no serious issues are ever accomplished in the market square where also we have been famed to have our discussions.
There has been a mass era of delusion in the past 40 years or so of our collective existence. We have not groomed leadership. We have failed to build on the resources and resourcefulness of our land and people. Allowed an aggregate number of average and dim-witted personalities to take over our political space; these are capital delusions and has brought us nothing but collective shame, misery and backwardness. To reclaim our soul, and push us back to the top where we belong is a challenge before all of us.
Let no one mistake our present state as a permanent status; we are obligated to force the renewal to start; to wake up from our multiple collective scleroses and pursue the renewal of our land. This starts with me; it starts with you, it starts with all of us. Our schools must be revived, infrastructurally and personnel and pupil wise. Our hospitals, built largely by communal funds at times when there were no doctors, nurses and health practitioners in Igboland, with communal levies, must be refurbished and reclaimed. Massive push for a shift from subsistence farming to large scale industrial farming must be initiated. Thus would we have taken the first step towards waking up from our self enforced delusion!
Those who dare today would win. It is not the Presidency of Nigeria that defines our 21st century. It is not the politics of snobbery by the south East Governments that defines it, it is the amount of fight and daringness left in us that defines the next stage for us; let us dare to dream, to hope and to act our dreams out.
This to me is a synopsis of the Manifesto for the new South East Region!
I just got off a radio programme where the issue for discussion was Nigeria at 50. This came in the wake of a rather horrific celebration in Abuja where the key marker was the double car bomb that as at now has claimed about 8 or more lives. The nation was rocked, Abuja was rocked and many people were shaken to their very core.
What all this points to is a nation fractured, divided and broken. Yet signs of resilience from the people were visible. It has become and indenture in our mindset that something bad would always happen to us. From bad leadership to bad followership, we have a litany of wrongs forcing themselves upon our psyches and this is a fact of life here in Nigeria we must strive to overcome.
The planning of the anniversary was shrouded in secrecy and followed by a ubiquitous budget amidst dire hunger and lack in the country. Even with public outcry that things were not in place and there was so much pain to warrant such an extravagant celebration; they went along, ignoring public opinion like all other past governments have ignored us for 50 years. Their insensitivity became even more glaring when a whooping 74 million naira was used to bake a national birthday cake. What a mess indeed!
Allowing for the fact that somehow government might be ring in some decisions, what if one may ask is the rationale behind such expenses. If on the average the said money were to be shared out to the 150 million Nigerians or so, each would go home with approximately 20,000 Naira on the conservative side, and for a nation where over 60% lives below the poverty line it is indeed ridiculous.
What am I or some other people suppose to be happy about at 50 years of independence? I am not free in my country… I am faced with the visible challange of negotiating my own security, provide my own electricity and educate my kids and wards in a nation I work and pay taxes. There is a danger for each and every one of us lurking in every corner you turn in this country. We have been structured to fail and failure and fear is visibly imprinted in our national DNA. How do we manage this?
We ought to start from a recognition that we need to continue as one; the other thing is to recognize that we run an expensive system given our poverty as a nation. What potentials we have can only be harnessed and utilized when we seat to figure how best to revive this comatose battered nation of ours. Nigeria can be great, but it only CAN if we do push hard enough from all corners of its massive landscape. Its injuries are fatal but can be healed, yet in this we must lose a lot of constants that we have acquired as national characters.
The bombastic often over flowery language of self adulation must be dropped for a rather tacit, even epicurean language and lifestyle. The government has lost its credibility and can only continue functioning in and within a climate of fear. They would try to create that and we must try and stop them. The little is the forerunner of the great; we must restart small and trudge on to the great. The potentially strong human resources base must be groomed, mentored and provided an opportunity to break even.
Listening to a dozen or so speeches and commentaries on Nigeria at 50, one comes out with a deeper sense of urgency. The time bomb is about 5 minutes from detonating and what detonates it isn’t our ethnic differences and religious conflicts, but the implosion of the youths, who frustrated and beaten, simply turns this place into a macabre theatre of woe. This though isn’t going to start as we expect it to, but it would take different plots and subplots and twists too. Providing employment is only a remedial course. Infrastructural renaissance is the key to sustain that employment and give them a boost to create value and wealth.
The pain is real. The anger is real. The frustration is real. The agony is real. The threat is real. What is unreal and saddening is the deafness’ of power and their insensitivity. Nigeria to become, should start from our seating down to renegotiate Nigeria.
The present poses stiffer challenges to us as a people; probably more so than our ancestors faced, because armed as we are with better tools, we have only been able to outdo them in blatant absurdities. But these challenges appear to be having an upper hand as we do appear not to have a clue on how to approach them. As a unit we are weak; as individuals, we exhibit sparks of possibilities, but that is just so…
What are the key problems that ought to preoccupy us, from the myriads that knock upon our door daily? The more one considers the enormity and gravity of the struggle facing us; it numbs the mind to see how incomprehensive our collective efforts have been. We cannot be accused of not thinking about the problem, or attempting to solve them, even if means some conflicting efforts at collaboration; but we are all guilty of failing to unite the unit towards a common cause.
Probably our troubles are rooted in our history and our often skewed interpretations of it. Or in the clash of cultures and sub-cultures that daily battles for space in our minds and society. Whichever, I think we are not getting the priorities right. This is off course if you ignore the loquaciousness that has manifestly overthrown commonsense in Igboland and pretends to be positive actions. Our race, as is evident in the near pathetic manner we’ve walloped in undisguised sham, has derailed from reality and tends to assume some air of seriousness, but by this exhibits only ineptness.
I attended a very painful burial today. She was 31 years, or would have been by October. Her husband was a mate of mine at my days in Voronezh, Russia. Since we reconnected about 4 years ago, we had remained cordial. On my return from Mali, last week, I got a text from him announcing the burial date of his wife, I was shocked and dumbfounded. Recollecting now, I was in a meeting at Ikeja, and my senses were totally numbed. When later I told my wife, she was simply screaming and also taken in. I hardly get to see my wife taken in like that but that was the impression this news made on her.
It wasn’t a hard decision for me to make to attend the burial, we later spoke, and I confirmed that to him. I hardly have words for such losses but somehow I recollect mumbling something and hung the phone. I cannot recollect her face; my wife did remember her been kind and giving; this coming from my wife, who hardly compliments and is quite reserved in making statements, is indeed instructive. We spent some few minutes or about an hour with the family, one December day and that was it. We talked on all sorts of things, remembered our days in Russia and also about our infertility. Then, the couples, Nelson and the now translated Amarachi, encouraged us; told us it took them some doing before they had theirs and told us that we would come through it.
Now, getting back to those days, one gets an eerie feeling that we are all a kind of walking corpses. She was impressive in her simplicity and though then we exchanged a few words about all sorts of things, none of those words stuck, all that is left is the feeling that we could simply have talked more.
When I visited Nelson subsequently, I never saw her again; how is your wife? I would remember asking Nelson, she is Ok, he would answer. Not knowing then and never would I know subsequently what burden and sorrow this simple man of very great and strong will, was and is going through now. By attending the funeral, I am simply going through a deep motion which for me was not new and yet painful. I do not have any knowledge what such pains are, but I know that it is overwhelming.
People are born to die, but when it is young and sudden, it pushes us beyond our limits. Though addictive belief in religious experiences makes us cave in to the knowledge that no one truly dies, and that God in all his wisdom knows best; our tears, nervy emotions and the complete confusion of thoughts and actions, after the death of a loved one and all through the days and weeks leading up to the burial, all makes us human and adds to our disbelief and doubts about such succour. I felt lost at the funeral, felt pain, but what griped me most was the emptiness of the eulogies, the sermon and the songs, they simply weren’t connecting and though there were lots of shouting about how God knows best, I think, looking upon all those tear filled and worried faces that none, at that moment believed it.
The irony of the thing is that though there were lots of shouts as if convinced that Amarachi is heaven, we could hardly cover our grief’s and the veil, at this moment simply falls away, revealing our ugly inside, which though hideous, appears humanly real and true. Tears at this point help loosen the knots of overwhelming hurt. We are creatures of chance and sad that all those centuries of conditioning have yet to cure us of our attitudes towards death. Nothing is as empty, shambolic and unreal as a sermon for the funereal of a young and unexpected person… that was my thought as I sat through that ceremony.
The whole family, collectively and individually, cut diverse pictures of defeat, ache, anguish and remoteness, each lost in his or her own little world of thought and reflection, lost in limbo and acutely watching the coffin as if she might simply wake up and ask what this whole noise was all about; as I watched the faces of all gathered I also saw my soul, its internal debates and unholy worries. She lay dumb, dead and though still referred to as Amarachi, she was simply a corpse we all could not bear up to call so. The tears flowed; the confessions were made, forgiveness and prayers asked and said, but too late rather for a body coldly asking to be put away.
Nelson held on, a man who through years and months of catering for the Cancerous wife, knew that by and large she would lose the battle. He was somehow already prepared for her death, but nothing I could see prepared him for the loss. He grieved, but silently; he worried and cried neither aloud nor in public, but alone inside and such was the grief that I felt lost. He worried about the guests. Tried to put up a brave face and often got up to give his seat to an approaching visitor, all these done to put the mind away from the immediate environment where his wife, dead now lay in a coffin. People approached him and some said sorry, others simply gazed at him and silently felt as lost as he was. Death is denial; it is an aspect of living that always enforces its caprices in spite of us.
On my part, seating there with him, I thought of my life, not in any ordered manner, and also of how my journey has panned out. I am married, but I know neither the joy of child birth nor the distress of suffering with ones partner. I would die I thought, but how and for what? She simply has lived, for her daughter, her husband and a family the feels a void because she stepped out. Nobody ever fills the void created by death, but somehow we all convince ourselves that that is possible. In truth, it is not and we pretend along, for that is how else the mind tries to manage the loss.
On the whole, it was pitiful juxtaposing my life with theirs and specifically with hers, she simply lived her life and done, she sleeps as if the living was a king of interference with her deep primordial meditation. I calmed down at the thought of this. Now, I think of Death as a return to that primeval meditation; a return to a kind of hibernation, of which life and its encumbrances are only but a distraction and sojourn, until called forth again to do something else, play another role and effect some changes within the grand design of life and living.
The smiles, laughter and the flow of life returned immediately, as soon as the corpse was taken away for internment. Refreshments were passed around; struggles for it returned us to the present. We would eat, drink and start all over again as if she hasn’t been there and the long funeral service was an interruption, a waste of time, a kind of obstruction to our living. That is the aspect that worried me and pushed me out of my wits. We are simply animals; our acquisition of senses and manners only tricks us and creates an illusion of significance, which death alters; the animal in us has nothing to do with our funeral; it is one of our hideous human inventions that are supposed to simply hide our imperceptibility.
We are merely clouds, hanging loosely on the sky, now here and next second gone. She has done enough to bring me to Ntalakwu, Oboro, and this also, in all purposes, was part of her duty, which in death, she never forgot to perform. Amarachi, in life I knew little about you, in death, you revealed yourself to me and through the medium of death, to me something about myself which I cherished enough to seat now and write you this tribute. Thank you.
As the ethnic crisis of the ‘60s became evident that war was imminent in Nigeria, the crowds coming back to Eastern Nigeria from the North were deluging our villages, sparse urban centres, and making it rather difficult to administratively contend with, the question was now, how to make the very best out of a now worse situation. To say the least, the leaders of Eastern Nigeria had no illusions about our predicament, but the realities of life and death stared all of them in the eye, and they knew they were faced with something out of the ordinary. The pronouncements coming from mistreated minorities long before then were not addressed, and the collapse of the once united Eastern Nigeria was now becoming evident; furthermore, the once great geographical landscape, home to over 100 distinct nationalities, was about to be dealt a strong blow with the support of allies from within.
In 1967, Gowon and his cohorts dispensed of our drive for an independent Biafran republic that included all of Eastern Nigeria as we then knew it, by creating Rivers State and South Eastern State. In some sense that was a brave move that guaranteed their success in the later years of the war and gave some semblance of allaying the fears of the minorities of the then Eastern Nigeria. But that still did not stop the killings of the Rivers and South Easterner indigenes in the North and elsewhere as “nyamiris”, nor did it deter majority of them that knew that their bigger and greater historical lots lay with throwing their lots with the majority Igbo in the area. Hence in 1967, the first major fragmentation of the geographical, cultural and historical Igbo and Eastern landscape started. Ten years after in 1976 through the Justice Mamman Nasir’s commission, a bizarre redrawing of the Eastern geography was indulged upon, what they failed to do in ’67, was concluded in ’76; frontiers were reshaped, villages were divided, major cultural and ethical rifts were embarked upon, and though few protestations were recorded, it still brazenly continues today, even now, initiated by our own Governors in the form of autonomous communities (This phenomenon I’ll deal with in a later paper).
Now a bit of the history in perspective: ‘The history of Nigeria since independence has been dominated by attempts to restructure the federation into a form acceptable to all the various peoples it houses. The trend has been towards increasing fragmentation of state structures, as the federal government has sought to appease the demands of the different minority groups by the creation of new states and local government areas. This fragmentation of government has been, paradoxically, paralleled by increasing centralization in practice, as individual states have become less and less viable without federal financial support and oil revenues have supplanted all others as the foundation of the Nigerian economy.
The boundaries of the territory now known as Nigeria were first defined in 1907. Nigeria itself was brought for the first time under one government in 1914 by the amalgamation of two British colonial protectorates. Although the country was in theory ruled as a single unit, in practice the northern and southern parts of the country were administered by the British as distinct entities with little attempt at coordination. The policy of “indirect rule” strengthened, centralized, and reduced the flexibility of existing structures of authority, especially in the north, where powerful emirates formed the basis of local government. In 1939 the colonial government divided the Southern Protectorate into the Eastern and Western Protectorates, but the three units were still administered without any central political focus or representative institution. Only in 1954 did Nigeria became a true federation with a central government, including a Federal House of Representatives (responsible for foreign relations, defence, the police, overall aspects of trade and finance policy, and major transport and communications issues), and three constituent components with a large degree of autonomy in all other matters: the Northern, Western, and Eastern Regions. At the same time, elected regional houses of assembly were created for the Eastern and Western Regions with independent legislative powers, the British governor retaining only limited responsibilities; the North, however, at the request of its own house assembly, only gained self-rule in 1959, one year before independence.’
‘In May 1967 (when it was obvious war was imminent), Gowon announced that the four regions would be abolished and replaced by a new federal system based on twelve states, which sought to address the concerns of minority groups and thus increase their support for the federation, while at the same time breaking down the powers of the regions. The Igbos’ loss of central political power was thus exacerbated by the creation in the Niger Delta of Rivers State, which cut off the Igbo heartland from direct access to the sea and gave control of Port Harcourt, an important (Ikwerre) port at the beginning of its oil boom where there were extensive Igbo commercial interests, to a new state government. Shortly after the announcement of the new state system, in May 1967, the secession of Biafra was declared by the military governor of the former Eastern Region, Lt.-Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu. The civil war of 1967 to 1970, lost by Ndigbo, increased the strength of federal government and the centralization of power’. How well does this background connect with our present agitation in the South East for an additional state? Would the agitation in itself be said to be functionally correct? Is it justifiably correct to posit that it would balance out the imbalance against Ndigbo? Before answering these, a bit on the Igbo leadership.
Since the war ended, Ndigbo has effortlessly tried to prop up and follow an Igbo leadership cadre that would take up the task of creating out of the rubble of the war a meaningful life for the survived people while still keeping them focused and informed. If we once had an Okpara, Ibiam and others in that league, today we have gropers after the dark, who had neither the vision nor the interpretative will to match their lack of focus. The aspirations of the mock leaders of present day Igboland does not go beyond their noses; they grumble about the marginalization of Ndigbo, but fail to say and admit that they are the instruments of this marginalization. Of all the political debate that has taken place in Nigeria from 1970 till date, their best contributions has nearly always been to stifle the true conscious Igbo voices; they offer base arguments to buttress their dearth of knowledge and thus displaying their total disconnect with the populace. Time after time, through the various political exercises in Nigeria, they exhibited their total lack of understanding of the basic principles of politics in a complex Nigerian political landscape. From their schism within their respective political parties, from NPN through NPP to present day dog eat dog attitudes in PDP, ANPP and now APGA, they have infested any group that has come out to speak for Ndigbo with their warped political leprosy. As to be expected, Ohanaeze has gone the way of the jackals, by being part of the exercise to keep Ndigbo down. The present arguments witnessed today from the blighted committee of the group on state creation shows clearly the delusion and depravity of their visions.
From the time the idea of a State creation in the South East was muted as a possible gain from the NPRC, the leadership treated it with some frenzy rather than objective focus; mostly refusing to discuss in details with those who hatched the idea. Before one delves into this State creation question, I have to clearly point out that the Igbo agenda all along had always being far and above the idea of further fragmenting us; not going too far back into history, at the recently concluded NPRC the Igbo position were simple but consistent with what we have said all along, namely, the country must be truly restructured to reflect our status as a federation, citizenship rights for all must be guaranteed always and everywhere, the question of derivation must be consistent with this, the six geo-political zones must be the recognized federating units, with the creation of states and local governments left to the zones, etc. during the conference, at the various levels of meetings held with other zones, specifically with the South West, South-South and the Middle Belt, after several weeks and nights of deliberations, when most core demands were viewed as not feasible, it was thus agreed:
a) There should be devolution of powers from the Centre to the Federating Units.
b) The Presidential system of government be retained for Nigeria.
c) The States shall be the Federating Units.
d) Without prejudice to the outcome of this Conference on the issue of Structure and Composition of the federating units, an additional state shall be created for the South East zone.
e) The six geo-political zones should be enshrined in the Constitution and that the States within each of these six zones should continue to be free to create a zonal organization for the management of common services, interests and promotion of economic and political co-operation.
f) In accepting the States as Federating Units, there should be equal number of States in each zone and to this extent the present six zones of the South-South, South West, South East, North East, North West and North Central should have 8 States each, making a total of 48 states as follows:
From the aforementioned, it was evident that the call before our leaders was not just to go round advertising that they have won a great victory, by seemingly getting the country to come round to correct a 30 years injustice. Besides, it was evident equally that the agreement as agreements go in Nigeria ought to first be acknowledged and accepted by the rest and adopted by the federal government. As we well know today, the NPRC reports just like the previous reports from the Okigbo Commission reports & the Oputa panel reports are as good as dead. Except as we well know, if we are to believe the rumors making the rounds, that the only reports that are ever allowed to see the light of day are the ones heavily in support of the victimization and marginalization of Ndigbo. Unfortunately, the efforts of our leaders rather than making sure the National assembly gets fully briefed on these and soliciting their supports to that effect, they are busy wasting efforts on a debate that is bordered on irresponsibility. Since the reports are neither gazetted nor adopted by the National assembly, I wonder what the next logical step ought to be.
The historical arguments put forward at the NPRC as the basis for this demand for an extra state for the South East, was jettisoned by Igbo leaders in both Ohanaeze and the respective State governments, for all sorts of proposals. Amongst the crazed but ‘to be admitted’ suggested areas from which states ought to be created from, were amongst others Orlu state, Aba state, Adada state, Central state etc.; they entertained arguments, most of them plausible, but on the whole, all were deficient of the visions that ought to be our driving force in the 21st century. I am in no way against the continual debate about how best to bring some form of civility and good governance closer to the people, but when the question is state creation in Nigeria and related to the South East, I dare say we must be bold, focused and historically conscious of the realities of where our frontiers, geo-politics, demographic and cultural affinities begins and ends. In terms of frontier and demographic politics as practiced in Nigeria, Adada state of the suggested lot looks very much attractive to me, giving its ability and possibility of bringing together again after the long colonial darkness, of keeping brothers in Kogi and Benue away from their kit and kin in the Nsukka area. Yet the obvious were left out or were ignorantly not known to the Igbo leadership.
The arguments and suggestions so far presented all come from the understanding that the South East is as has been presently defined by the central government of Nigeria. This definition is suspect and acceptance of it by any or all of the present Igbo leadership smacks of open ignorance bothering on betrayal; besides, it envisages the enforced acceptance of the logic of ’67 and an outright acceptance by our leadership that Igboland starts and ends where Justice Nasir’s Commission through their infamous boundary adjustment commission of ‘76 and subsequent Nigerian military cartographers says it does. I reject that proposition and make bold to say that cultural, demographic and historical facts supports my argument. If in the course of Nigeria trying to correct its ills against any section of the federation, this time against Ndigbo, it goes further to subjugate a certain section, then it goes without saying that the problems would continue without end until the right things are done. I add here that, whether it is Ndigbo in any form or manner that decides to subdue the minority voices amongst them or make their rights non existent, it is with the same vigor that I state to challenge them. The right of one must be sustained, respected and protected, as much as the right of many. The present five states in Igbo land amounts to nothing if the inference is to show that our frontiers and landscape starts and ends where they presently stand; besides the consequence of murdering the concept of mutual co-existence, it implies that the present crop of Igbo leaders have either not passed their geography lessons or have refused to see the abundance of historical facts. We need to then remind them or even educate them.
From the plains of Agbor to the borders of Arochukwu, from the Hillsides of Nsukka to the creeks of Imo River, Oguta and its numerous borderlands, the Ikwerre’s, Obigbo, the Egbema’s, Ohaji, Ndokwa and the numerous pockets of Asa communities that are still presently divided but continue to hold common cultural celebrations, these summarily make up Igbo land and talk of state creation must include these. Strategically we need not force the issues, but if we are in this to right wrongs and not help in the further frustrating fragmentation of Ndigbo and Igbo land, then the new state, and why not states, must revolve around these frontier Igbo lands.
Asaba already presents a credible nexus; we do not need to recast the geography. Around Asaba all the arguments against marginalization can be brought to a head and haltingly so. Their creation into a viable state cannot be overstated; the burden of proof is just so heavy on the side of this that we wonder why Ohanaeze and their bull head Committee must not even pencil it down as a prime candidate. They would bring the necessary number to buttress the Igbo population and provide the necessary bulwark as they did a generation ago before and during the civil war years. It still stands to be ascertained if they did not give more to the cause of Igbo civil right agitation and campaign than most obviously destructive self-acclaimed Igbo leaders of today. Suffice to mention the Madiebo’s, Achuzia, Asiodu, Nzeogwu, Osadebey, Idigbe, Ifeajuna, Ogbolu and the numerous other faceless and nameless and yet to be properly mourned and honored native Igbos, from Agbor to Okpanam who paid with their lives for being Igbo at a time when it was bad politics to be so, and you’ll see why the present leadership cadre of Ndigbo are amongst men most depraved and ought to be pitied. They have been asking for this, long before the creation of Ebonyi State, for a state to be created out of Anioma, and we have not paid much attention to them. They have from inception paid their dues in kind and cash to the cause of Ohanaeze, but on and on over the years when practical issues involving any form of gain, comes up, we pretend they are not there and in most cases suddenly remember they are from the West Bank. This is a sad testament of how low our vision and focus have fallen as a people.
On the other side, in year 2000, the Asa-Ndoki-Obigbo League, ANOL, as reported by the Newswatch magazine of August 28, 2000 wanting to be joined with their kin in Abia State:
“…petitioned President Olusegun Obasanjo, alleging denial of social amenities such as electricity, pipe-borne water, motorable roads and hospital, among others. “Since we have been denied everything due to us, we must go back to our kith and kin in Abia State”, they wrote in a petition dated February 18, 2000 and signed by Stanley Akaya and Johnson Ezenma, president and secretary-general respectively. In the petition, ANOL gave 17 reasons why the people want to go back to Abia State… One of the reasons is that Oyigbo has been the base of the gigantic Afam
power station since 1962 and yet the place has no electricity. Secondly, even though Oyigbo is the nearest LGA to Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital, ANOL said it has been denied of development…. Oyigbo is also said to have about 50 oil wells managed by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, and “yet there are no visible projects for our people”. A road in the area called “Shell road” is said, to be the most deplorable. Besides, the people also complain that they pay toll to enter Port Harcourt…. Asa- Ndokis found themselves in Rivers, Abia and Akwa-Ibom States. The decision did not go down well with the merger opponents who argued that a plebiscite ought to have been
conducted to determine actual wishes of the people. But the federal
government’s decision held sway. It was also then that the name “Oyigbo” came up… But then, the name “Obigbo” has stuck to the minds of many people strangers and natives. Oyigbo appears mostly in official documents. Altogether, 18 communities were transferred to Rivers State…”
I have extensively quoted these excerpts to buttress the fact that our leaders in Igbo land are neither politically informed nor are they strategically on the ground. There is no documentation of such shifts of interests in Ohanaeze; (I believe that most Ohanaeze chieftains had never even heard of any such group as ANOL or many others like them scattered all over the world) facts are not dealt with and the one key imperative of true leadership, which is to look out for ones owe people, is fraudulently neglected. We have operated ad hoc; failed to understand our changing prospects, indulged in shady flowery talk shops which generate nothing. Issues dawn on us and expose our unpreparedness, but our strange attitudes towards global issues are showcased by the recent orchestrated macabre dance, prequalified as demands for State creation. Take even the recurrent killings of Ndigbo in the North, though this is not part of the discuss here, we do not have the proper figures, no one has any detail of the culprits, instigators and minds behind it, so as to bring them to justice and there is just no master plan on how to protect them in the future or look out for them. The leadership we crave for in and amongst us in the 21st century must be one driven by an encompassing vision hinged on an intrinsic incentive generating ideal; so far in the past 20 or so years, we have had neither.
Abia and Imo states are on the fringes of oil producing states. Their cumulative income does not amount to anything if compared with the price we are paying in terms of the stealing that has been going on under our soil by the central government in our region. Prospectively, around the axis of the oil producing areas of both states we can make bold to demand and carve a state out to engraft all their kits and kin in present day Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, with a capital that can either be around the Obigbo-Ndoki or the Egbema axis. The politics of the 21st century is anchored around human and natural resources with the support of technological know-how. And here are a strange befuddled bunch of cretins claiming to be Igbo leaders, boldly giving up both their numbers and their natural resources, with the vast technological know-how potentials, which in the first place was not conquered or ceded but was brazenly stolen. The fiction that the SE is fixed is a wrong premise to enter into a political dialogue in the country; we are fluid, never fixated in a place, one might say we were even nomadic in our earlier demographic movements, this we cannot deny and must not allow ourselves to be imposed with this false and culpable identity.
Having faltered through the complex communal politics in Nigeria, where traditional ethnic loyalties still prevail, we strongly, firstly, owe it to our Anioma brethren to be in the vanguard of their quest for a political state; at the moment, after the Anambra basin they have the greatest concentration of trained professionals in all fields and can very much carry the Igbo procreative renaissance on their tested backs. The marginal arguments for the other states are supposed to be consigned to the background for now. Secondly, our southern brethren, in the face of the Obigbo, Ndokwa, and Asa peoples, are not to be abandoned because it is not ‘politically right’ as most people have argued even before serious Igbo circles. If politics, economics, demography and ethnic affinity is anything to go by, then common sense points strongly towards either an Anioma state or an Obigbo state, or why not both!
Seeming level of mistrust of the present Igbo leadership do not lend any heartwarming support to all these. These men at the helm of Igbo political life today are so compromised and drifted that the sense of the reasoning in this submission will virtually elude them. As Achuzia once said in his interview with Ugochukwu Ejinkonye: ‘…And note that when we say Igboland, we mean as far as Agbor, all the way to the borders of Ikot-Epkene, and then, down to Ahoada — all these constitute what is known as Igboland….’, and has presently been shouting himself hoarse on the question of Anioma state, with no one heeding him, it is then sufficiently evident that this definition and demand eludes the Iwuanyanwu Ohanaeze committee on state creation and so we must continue to remind them. Any organization or group whose leadership fails to gauge the socio-political atmosphere properly, due either to ignorance or sheer misjudgment are sure fit to be consigned to the dustbin of history. We are not in any way sure how the political drama of this country is going to out play itself from now through 2007, but if what has been exhibited within Ohanaeze is what we are truly going to showcase in 2007 then we must just as well forget it and start gearing up ourselves and our younger generation towards another long spell in slavery.
The agitation for further state creation is not the elixir to our Igbo problems; we need good governance in the polity and leaders who can stand by their words and thus keep faith with the populace even when the general political gain does not look too good for them. But if a state deserves to be created amongst Ndigbo and for Ndigbo within the present Nigerian arrangement, it must either be Anioma state or Obigbo state!