RE: OJUKWU AND THE BIAFRAN CROSS
Dan, thanks so much for your article, titled Ojukwu: when someone you love dies.
I often look forward to your essays. I did notice a few discrepancies which regrettably, I must point out to you.
Granted that most people these days do not read with attention, there is still a handful who live on good write-ups like yours. For their sake, let us do better because good is not enough where is possible – especially with journalism. It devolves on our generation – the last generation that saw all that happened both in Nigeria and in Biafra, to at least strive to state facts accurately
Here are few discrepancies I noticed. I humbly ask for clarifications, where possible:
The Ahiara declaration took place in Mid-1969, after Owerri was recovered from the Nigerians in April of that year. Holy Ghost College was in Mid-1969, the home of Colonel Ogbugo Kalu's 14th Division of the Biafra Army. There were no students there and then. In fact, this is a painful misrepresentation because all secondary schools in Biafra were closed in July 1967!
Ojukwu committed several blunders during Biafra's existence. I consider the Ahiara Declaration a Master Blunder. Anyone with a measurable amount of knowledge of the whiteman would tell you that you do not confront the whiteman from a position of weakness, especially without an ally. For example, Fidel Castro survived the US, because of the Soviet Union. So I wonder why on earth your brother was impreesed. the Ahiara Declaration was great oratory, by an MA-Oxford and a General of the people. But it was unwise. On that occasion, quoting Count von Rosen in Captain Okpe's Biafra the last flight, 'Ojukwu should choose between a revolution and winning this war'.
These observations of mine may not align with the norm, but I believe that at long last, we Igbos are now at the stage of soul-searching and retrospection, regarding reasons why we as a people, lost so much and so traumatically, in ten short years between 1960 and 1970.
On the righteous fury which Ojukwu used in justifying the war in his speeches at Aburi (Ghana), my comment on that is: the Aburi meetings took place in March 1967. There was no Biafra at the time and the war which started in July 1967, had not even occurred. In fact, Nigeria was still a country of 4 Regions till May 1967 – ie, 2 months after Aburi, when Gowon split the regions into 12 states. It is preposterous that anyone would state that Ojukwu was justifying any 'war' during the Aburi discussions.
And for the record, General Ojukwu never justified the war. He defended Biafra's taking up of arms for our survival via Sovereignty.
Truly before Ojukwu, Ndigbo have had authentic leaders like the great Zik of Africa, Dr Micheal Okpara, Dr Akanu Ibiam, and to a small measure, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo and Dr K.O.Mbadiwe.
It is typical of we Igbos to gloss over our mistakes and shortcomings. Where in this article is a mention of Azikiwe's political short-sightedness? Ojukwu's total diplomatic ignorance all through the Biafra passage? And of course, the perennial lack of strategic foresight on the part of Igbo politicians, past and present?
Yes, we are the GREAT Igbos. But, on January 1960, we owned Nigeria, we owned West Africa. Ten short years later, we were a people forced within 20 square Kilometers of territory, about to be wiped out. How come? The answer is that political blunders – which you do not mention in your article, were committed.
I wonder what other people groups in Nigeria would be saying? Has it occurred to you that every tribe in our beloved country claims victimization? What do we Igbos gain by endless jeremiads? When shall we Igbos begin to admit that we have self-destroying foibles and begin to make amends? Absence of a choice is a choice, and by not openly speaking the truth, we tell lies and guarantee our continued declension. When shall we begin to understand that should be our, and not pursuit of immediate personal glory? Are the wanton kidnapping and assassination incidents in Igbo land being conducted by our 'enemies'? Was it our 'enemies' that has allowed our precious language to slide to less than 50% usage? Why is Igboland such a front that most Igbo children are born and/or raised outside Igboland? What one positive reform has taken place in Igboland since the dawn of time? Is it the OSU issue? Is the Osu caste system still enforced in 'Christian' Igboland of today, not an abhorrence before Jehova God, whom we Igbos glibly claim we worship? If we are unable to be united, why can't we work on controling those things (frivoulous title acquisitions, rampant creation of autonomous zones within our Local Government Areas, etc), that tend to divide us? Would that not be a good start for reforms?
I recently joked to a friend that why many Igbos are now flocking to Islam is that we were running out of titles, and discovered that Alahaji is now allowed. A joke, but it has to do with the question of what adjustments need to be made socially and culturally, While we see and hear that Babangida, Atiku, Buhari, etc, routinely take evening strolls practically unescorted and unperturbed in their home towns and villages, can Ekwueme, Soludo or Chief Uzor Kalu, etc, move about their hometowns or even spend any time thereat, without a top-notch armed security outfit?
Mr. Onwukwe, our predicament was not brought about by the loss of Biafra and Biafra war. No. The Biafra War and Biafra were lost by attributes inherent in us that came to the surface after the British left.
Re: On Removal of oil subsidy
Dan, you will be amazed to find out that most of the union leaders shouting to protect the interest of the suffering public are among the beneficiaries of the so called oil subsidy. The oil industry should be fully deregulated, just like other industries, and Nigerians will be better off for it. Let the Labour Unions concentrate their energies in insisting that the refineries and various storage depots should work. Secondly, importation of PMS and DPK should be limited to those companies with the capacity to do so. In the past, it was the major oil companies and the IPMAN, before it became an all comers affair which led to importation of off-spec products and other malpractices.
Making it a political affair will only encourage misinformation to score cheap political points in the name of speaking the mind of the public.
Dear Dan Onwukwe, regarding your article in The Daily Sun of 20th 12-2011. Its very clear that million of Nigeria know the truth but have no opportunity to speak, but thank God for people like you, Mr. president is Fighting a good war and must succeed , We believe that its time for God intervention to Nigerians case, and bad time for all the evil politicians.
We can't waiting to see good thing happen in our time. Please help us to inform Nigerians that we have to trust Mr. president because he has proving to us that he belongs to common man by giving credible election that injects-out bad politicians from our road to Jerusalem.
My advice to Mr. President on security and development is to take local government election serious and make it come first before other election, as its saying that you cannot count two without counting one first. The local government's election need to be handling by the federal government because it's the grassroots.
Secondly, our security needs urgent attention, therefore I think that our NYC service should be sent to police only, this will help us to become a police nation, and prevent corruption from all sector, for example, if our youth are been serve and train in police, it will help us to know crime in any where without the present of police in uniform. That will be an eye opening for everybody and in the nearest future, crime will be a thing of the pass.
It's very important for our citizens to be party in securities everywhere you find yourself, to be bold enough to recognize wrong doing any where any time without the present of man on uniform. This system is highly working in many countries, and can work in Nigeria also.
Charles Eze O, Lagos.