NEW EAST-CENTRAL STATE, NOW! (1)
Permit me to get into a monologue this Monday morning. The living truth is that, a time there was, in Nigerian history when the Igbo hugged their homogeneity, culture and distinction, with extreme jealousy, relish and selfish abandon. Outsiders still think they do. Insiders think they don't. It's a very sensitive matter. Sure, there must be elements of truth in both contentions.
Someone, an insider, told me off record the other day (after seeing Igbo unity come alive during the death and burial of Ojukwu) that, although the Igbo appear to be disunited, that they still have a single thread that unites them to ferociously fight to protect one another, especially when and if a collective interest is seen to be under a discernible threat.
Or, when it is obvious they've been pressed to the wall. He asked me to flash back. And I did, noting that there have been times in the past when the Igbo said NO to Nigeria and to the north in particular. Both sides reaped the whirlwind that ensued. Why the Igbo in this instance have not fought back to get additional, legitimate state for the south-east or a second bridge across the River Niger, has beaten many conceivable imaginations.
Looking back, though, it was an understandable time for the Igbo. A time when an attack on an Igbo was an attack on all; when any political delineation that aimed to further subdivide the geographical area named Igboland was seen as a ploy by Nigeria to further forcibly separate a people who are bonded by same ancestral cord. Blinded by 'rabid' ethnic loyalty, intense nationalism and the need to remain indivisible, the monetary and economic implications of the subdivisions did not make any sense.
Now, I guess, they do. But honestly speaking, with what is now happening in Nigeria, it's like a repeat courtship of Igbo solidarity is just by the corner. With the ongoing ethnic cleansing (aka Boko Haram), of the Igbo going on in the north coupled with the threat to forcibly Islamize ala-Igbo, I'm not sure that Igbo endurance elasticity has not been over- stretched already. Those who have nose can smell it. Warning: Nigeria should not let it come to pass. 'No nation fights a second civil war and survives it,' said Theo Danjuma, the oil induced multi-billionaire sage.
I prophesy this with due respect, now aware that whether Nigeria likes it or not, the manifest imbalance in its political structures now in strictures, tilted against the Igbo would soon be addressed, either way. If Nigeria makes it past 2015, Igbo will get their sixth state or more. If Nigeria does not make it, Igbo will get its nation back. Class, which do you think is a better alternative for Nigeria and the Igbo? I need your answers, before Monday next week. End of monologue. Please send SMS only to 080 330 96744.
Good morning class. Today's lecture is taken from a sermon recently delivered by Chief Joe Igbokwe, Publicity Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He was in Anambra State early last month where he delivered a well attended lecture at the Ofor Seminar organized by the Enugwu Ukwu Forum. There, he reiterated that which some of us have been talking about over half a decade now – that, the Igbo race needs another state immediately. They need it, to at least bring to parity or have a numbing make-believe equality, the number of states existing in all other geo-political zones of the country, except of course, the usual North West that has seven. Seriously speaking, nobody knows if the imbalance in resource allocation is an agreed Nigerian conspiracy and or part of the price the Igbo have continued to pay for fighting and losing a war. Prompting us now to ask, if there will ever be any end in sight to this Nigerian imposed conspiracy against the Igbo.
Going by the simple arithmetical calculation presented and extrapolated by Mr. Igbokwe, the South-east has lost more than 379.4 billion naira as unpaid revenue through the monthly disbursed federation account from year 2006 through 2011. Do you agree? It could have been more than that had the calculation been earlier than 2006. To be sure, 1967 would indeed have been an appropriate benchmark. 2006, however, was the year the Nigerian constitutional conference was held and the issue widely discussed and it carried.
He also talked of unrealized dreams such as the 50,000 jobs or more, which equity in a sixth state creation would have engendered in the SE. Imagine then what will happen when the economic loss computation is done geometrically, employing the sacred rule of economic indexation vis-Ã -vis the multiplier effect on the lives and times of the people of the SE. Now, isn't it an irony that the segment of a one-sided war that ought to have been charged, convicted and punished, accordingly, for war crimes, including massacre of children, the aged, women and, and the defenseless, are the ones imposing another indirect economic sanctions on the victims of war crimes, 40 years after?
Are there mathematicians, economists, lawyers in the house? If so, please tell me, how much Nigeria truly owes the Igbo as compensation? We ask because, most of us instead of our next-of-kin truly need our benefits here, right now.
Frankly speaking, like the Igbo of the 1970s Nigeria, I used to be an apostle of no new states in Igboland. I've even written in condemnation of states proliferation in Nigeria. After some deep introspection and retrospection, I have changed.
Yes, I have changed since I came to the realization that state creation and their sustenance was a deliberately designed conduit (for those who created them) to siphon more than a fair share of the people's commonwealth to their areas of geo-political origins. It ought not to have been. But looking at the facts on the ground, we now know better. The SE has been shortchanged, grossly in the lopsided state creation venture in Nigeria. The SE truly have to demand for fair equal playground and equity in state creation as it concerns them not minding that and or considering that the people have all their lives only known and lived with one economic-ideological concept. It is caught, defined, embedded and or encapsulated in rugged individualism. Looks like the Igbo have suffered because of this brave ideological concept in Nigeria.
Class, rugged individualism has this disdain for handouts from any quarters - government, corporate or individual. That's why the Igbo is seen everywhere fending for himself. That's why there are private sponsored electricity, pipe-borne water, boreholes and community sponsored hospital projects in Igbo communities of Nigeria. Interestingly, their counterpart communities, tribes and countrymen have had theirs' built for them by government.
Yes, by the Nigerian government. Rugged individualism, therefore, should be acclaimed not declaimed. Here I grin aloud, noting that in classic reversed policy backlash (call it nemesis) this has been the origins of the backwardness and the under-development comparatively speaking, being seen in most parts of the country especially the far north of Nigeria. Did Aliyu Babangida and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi come to school today? Now, I truly need some water while you stretch your legs!
Before then, a sizeable chunk of the Igbo nation (most of them oil bearing villages) had been yanked off from them and lumped into Rivers State and some parts into old Midwest State. As we write, most of those Igbo so affected have now been completely acculturated. They've become the Igbo banza of Nigeria. They have changed their names or anglicized such that Obigbo has become Oyibo and Umuokoro, Rumuokoro. Citing examples from Igweocha (Rivers Igbo) and Igwenga (Delta Igbo) where they have been bitten once by the bug of division and separation from kith and kin, the debate made in hushed tones over state creation in core Igboland then was that victorious Nigeria wanted to further subdivide the Igbo nation to achieve their divide and conquer strategy; a strategy which they had earlier tested with great success; circa 1967 -1970.
And so, when the question was popped to war-weary, badly beaten Igbo leaders of the time as to the propriety or otherwise of further dividing the then old East Central into more states, those against were more than those in favor. Worsening the situation also for the giddy Igbo then, was that there were no true/brave Igbo to speak on their behalf – no organized Igbo to take a holistic analysis of the long-term implications of states creation. Class, let's keep a date with history next Monday when the series continues!