DAVID MARK AND HIS OHANAEZE / AKA IKENGA BROTHERS
It was laughable that people who parade as Igbo leaders and champions of the cause of a people should choose the wrong platform and approach to make their case.
I have seen and heard opinion leaders talk and make their points for the good of their people, but the type of tirade embarked upon by the leaders of Ohanaeze in Lagos and Aka Ikenga last week against Senator David Mark was just over the bar at best.
Senator David Mark, the Senate President, lives and exists oceans and mountains apart from my type of world. In fact, there is no index of analysis that would make him the type of person I would be his fan for so many reason. But those are not for the purposes of this piece. Some of such reasons I had in the past argued in this space and would rather stick to the issue for now.
On this matter at hand, Mark made his mark clear and excellently. Mark's mark is indisputable that state of emergency should be declared in the South East over kidnap. I think for once David Mark spoke not off the mark like the typical Nigerian power wielder. He spoke like a responsible public officer.
If anyone faults Mark to the extent of dubbing him an Igbo hater, that means the person did not hear him out before jumping to conclusion. But on a worst case situation, even if Mark had called for a state of emergency in the interpretation of removal from office of a governor, like the one in Abia, I still would not fault him. The reason is not because I want the governor removed, but that Mark made such call (which he did not) just because we exposed ourselves to it.
Let us get the fact straight that no one ridicules me effectively until I ridicule myself. If we did not create the chance for self-embarrassment, no one would step up to chant a chorus of state of emergency in the South East. In those states where there are no kidnap, wanton robbery, religious killings, etc, has anybody ever called for a clampdown on them?
But what Mark said in this instance is that there should be state of emergency to the extent of stepping up the security system adequately to contain the crumbling state of security in the South East. He was emphatic that state of emergency does not connote dissolution of the controlling apparatus of power in the area like in Plateau State in years back. He explained that there have been calls for state of emergency in sectors like power, education, security, etc., and that simply means devoting more efforts, resources and time to achieve an immediate improvement. It was clear and well intended. I think what he did wrong instead was to start a round of denial of not hating Igbo. Making such allusion to a clear and unambiguous statement was a waste of time and a way not to defend a people. Mark should not have bothered to reply a people who could skew straight facts to that extent of blackmail. It is either the people who issued the statements for the two respectable unions never listened before talking or they are not competent to speak for such noble groups in matters as that.
Therefore, Mark should have ignored them in their ignorance. I have heard so many times of people in power hating a particular people until over time I found out that most of them don't actually hate any ethnic groups or individuals but just haters of mankind, their own people inclusive. Even if, though not alluding, that Mark is one of them, he never displayed that in the matter at hand.
To give support to Mark's position in action, I saw and read, like you did, a retinue of Igbo leaders paying President Goodluck Jonathan a visit to press some points on the issues that nag the Igbo race. Part of their points is that the governors haven't the capacity to contain crime and kidnap in the region. They said only a federal might would handle that. The reasonable elders took the opportunity to roll out a long list of things the area lacks, which they would want, attended to. I would call that the most comprehensive list of needs the Igbo nation ever presented to any Nigerian leader as a body in recent times.
As a sequel to the outcome of the unfortunate exposure of our body culture to laughable aberrations like kidnap that peaked with the abduction of the four journalists, the IGP, Ogbonna Onovo, relocated to the zone, and worked tirelessly until the kidnappers were caught and their victims released. We also read that the go-slow Abia governor who had been watching the calamity drown his state in the past employed foreign experts who assisted. Don't this gamut of all-hands-on-deck approach lay credence to the call by Mark? I think they were just the practical aspect of the call Mark made in words. Today, the compromising policemen in Abia and Anambra would be flushed out and replaced with new ones that are expected to work as expected. That is already an achievement of the state of emergency call. Even if I don't like Mark, that will be for another day. In this case I can't stop saying he spoke and acted well.
What we should concern ourselves here is how to talk to the people who manage our land to pull us out of this ridicule. We have had enough of it, and anything more than this will be a lethal dose.
Ohanaeze in Lagos or anywhere and Aka Ikenga are led by very powerful and influential personalities. They are the people that have the ears of the governors. Let them deploy the advantage to plead with these people to take pity on our collective identity and save us extra embarrassment.
The business of the elite in Igbo land is to find a way to convince the governors in eastern states that in security, things have crashed and crumbled. We need immediate rescue from the pit we have plunged into.
When you can exert positive influence on leaders and you refuse to do so, or you did so without success and things get so bad that outsiders start to watch our nakedness, it is just the right time for some introspection. Late last year I wrote of what I observed in Aba in November. The trend from what I was told during a visit there is that all big boys have shipped out. Factories had closed down in addition to the collapse of infrastructure and public utility. Aba, the hub of Igbo enterprise, had gone flat on its tummy with the head buried in the mud that took over the streets. That centre that lubricated the Igbo economy from the scratch is fast eroded out of existence. The latest is that robbers terrorize banks into extinction. They closed shop once for close to two weeks, on Monday this week they started another one for some days after robbers wrote that they were coming. If Aba of all places can't have functional banks, how do we recover from such malady? If the artisan base of Aba is killed like robbery and kidnap have done, where does the Igbo race go from here?
The truth is that security is no longer there. The police in the East don't protect any more. They rather connive to perpetuate crime and we crumble under the weight of these problems. Our rich sons and daughters outside Igbo land that used to frequent home and spend part of their money there have been scared away. We have nowhere to go any longer.
The youths have imbibed the wrong and shameful culture of surviving through crime and illicit business. Lately, they added kidnap to the list. I was ashamed that eight kidnap suspects arrested in Kano were all Igbo. Let us stay away from calling anybody names or blaming them for our misfortunes. The present situation is a problem we brought upon ourselves. We should blame ourselves fully.
Let Ohanaeze, Aka Ikenga and other respectable bodies in Igbo land rally round the governors to find solution to the problem. When we fix our problem among ourselves, no outsider would have the opportunity to interfere in our affairs or hate us as we claim.