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Now that secession is in vogue

Source: pointblanknews.com
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By Tochukwu Ezukanma
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I am totally opposed to the dissolution of Nigeria. I am an avowed, unrepentant proponent .of one Nigeria, Advocates of secession, sometimes, attribute Nigeria's litany of problems to the country's diversity and size, and thus, argue that the solution of these problems is in the breaking up of what has proven an unmanageable, blundering, bumbling behemoth. However, a successful democracy, like India, with her population of nearly 1billion as opposed to Nigeria's 150 million and 15 official local languages and 7 official religions as opposed to Nigeria's 3 official local languages and 2 official religions, refutes that Nigerian problems stem from her heterogeneity and population. The primary Nigeria problem is bad leadership.

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However, I am acutely conscious that no one man has an exclusive claim to knowledge and wisdom. Secondly, I am an irrepressible champion of the right to free speech. Therefore, despite my opposition to secession, I have unwavering respect for the secessionists' rights to their beliefs, convictions and viewpoints.

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  Lately, Yoruba leaders are seeking regional autonomy and the right of the autonomous regions to secede at will. And at least one of them claiming to represent the interest of the Yoruba nation is calling for the Yoruba to secede from Nigeria and set up Oduduwa Republic. He repudiated Nigeria, calling it, 'a 100 years of forced marriage that is clearing not working'. He wrote that, 'if the Oduduwa Republic is not freely given to us, we shall take it by fire, by shedding of blood and by our own bleeding if necessary. We will take it by fire and by sacrificing our lives, if that is what we are forced to do. Give me Oduduwa or let me die' I am profoundly impressed by the passion, determination, selflessness and the spirit of sacrifice evinced in the above statements of this Yoruba leader. It is titillating to know that there are still Nigerians, even, within the power elite that are passionately committed to their beliefs to the point of 'shedding (their) blood' for them.  

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However, a question readily comes to mind: if the right to secede and secession itself is now in vogue among the other ethnic groups of Nigeria, then Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, who earlier sought the right of secession for the regions, and actually, attempted to secede could not have been wrong? Unknown to many, especially, among the Igbo, who were under the suffocating grip of Ojukwu's propaganda, Yakubu Gowon implemented the Aburi Accord. In order to still retain the corporate nature of Nigeria, he made minor adjustments to the accord, and then, implanted it with Decree 8. Ojukwu's advisers, including his secretary, NU Akpan, urged him to accept Decree 8 because Gowon had gone far enough. Ojukwu refused. One of the articles of the accord that Decree 8 did not respect was the right for a region to secede at will. Ojukwu insisted that that element of the accord must be respected.   So, the mutual distrust and personality clashes between the two men and their wrangling over the Aburi Accord continued. Then, Gowon created the 12 states and Ojukwu declared the Eastern Region a sovereign nation of Biafra; and the rest is history.

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Just before the 1979 presidential election, Obafemi Awolowo, in an answer to a question as to why he was qualified to lead Nigeria, said that when you are always 10 years ahead of others, you are not just qualified to be a leader; but already a leader. Undoubtedly, Obafemi Awolowo was a leader because, according to him, the introduction of free primary education the federal government was grappling with in the 1970s, he did as premier in the old Western Region in the 1950s,   the creation of state that the federal government awakened to in the 1960s, he advocated in the 1950s, etc. In addition to being a leader, he was also called a sage. It must have been for his knowledge, wisdom and foresight.  

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If other Nigerian leaders are beginning to release what Ojukwu knew almost 50 years ago, and thus, are now asking for what he demanded then, then, Ojukwu was not a trouble maker but a trailblazer, prodigy and genius. If someone who was always more than 10 years ahead of others was a leader and a sage, what was he who was almost fifty years ahead of others? For sure, he was more than a leader and a sage. As, I am neither a student of, nor an authority on, the English language, pardon my inability to come up with the right designation(s) for him. Experts of English etymology and lexicography can help me on this.

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If secession is now politically correct and in vogue in Nigeria, then, the Igbo that saw the need for secession nearly 50 years ago need not be castigated but acclaimed. They need not be punished but rewarded for their extraordinary foresight. So, before the regions acquire the right to secede and Oduduwa Republic is 'freely given to the Yoruba', it is necessary that Nigerians first acknowledge and respect the foresightedness, courage and sacrifice of those that earlier believed in and fought for secession.

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And if the Igbo had stood up for what was right but were severely and mercilessly dealt with because of the myopia of the other ethnic groups of Nigeria, then they were wrongfully punished. As such, Nigeria must apologize to the Igbo and pay them compensation for the material, physical, emotional and psychological ravages and devastation Nigeria, wrongfully, inflicted on them. Considering all the Igbo suffered in the hands of the other Nigerians, how many trillions of dollars will this compensation amount to? Mathematicians tell me.

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Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
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0803 529 2908
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