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'Kaduna Declaration': Reflections and Matters Arising

By Iregbenu Paul
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Nigeria, while the president is away on medical treatment, has been hijacked by a certain clique of renegades from the Northern part, named Arewa Youths, with the push to turning the country into a lawless fiefdom; giving ultimatum to a tribal neighbour, Igbos to leave the North before October 1. To add salt to the injury, an academic professor Anga Abdullahi has brashly thrown his support to this nefarious call, forgetting that "a man who makes trouble for others is also making trouble for himself", as Chinua Achebe would say.

The threat is real; no fooling about that since even the Northern elders have backed the call, without any serious reprimand from the security agents. Even though the Northern Governors' forum has condemned the call, many do not believe the forum. That which has strung Nigeria together has been gravely loosened and the parts are straying away. Reprisal call has been made by some groups in the Niger Delta ordering all the Northerners who own oil wells to hands off completely and go back to the North before October 1. The Arewa Youths perhaps thought that by their "Kaduna Declaration" they held a monopoly of violence, forgetting that, as Chinua Achebe said, "a damage done in year can sometimes take ten or twenty years to repair."

What is Arewa Youth' grouse? According to SaharaReporters, "They cite as reason for their decision the pro-Biafran activities of some Igbo, centred around the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), saying their latest action and similar confrontational conducts 'amount to a brutal encroachment on the rights of those termed as non-indigenous people residing and doing lawful businesses in those areas illegally demarcated and defined as Biafra by the Igbo'.

"The groups held that their conclusion is 'necessitated by the realization that it since ceased to be comfortable or safe to continue sharing the same country with the ungrateful, uncultured Igbos who have exhibited reckless disrespect for the other federating units and stained the integrity of the entire nation with their insatiable criminal obsessions'.”

From the foregoing, it could be deduced that their grouse was the May 30 sit-at-home exercise carried out by the Igbos in unison. An exercise annually carried out by the Igbos since 2006. One becomes worried as regards why this last exercise would attract such terrifying declaration. An exercise which was peaceful in all ramifications, and in the memory of Igbos who were killed during what was called genocide those days. Perhaps, the sit-at-home exercise rang an ominous bell-sound in their ears this time; a sound that they must have suppressed for a long time now.

It is instructive to note that the Igbos do not want another war even the great late Eastern leader, Lt Col.Odumegwu Ojukwu granted an interview years after the 1967 war, and he was quoted to have said, “I don’t think the second one is necessary. We should have learned from the first one.” What Igbos are asking of Nigeria is to honour the 3Rs —Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reintegration, which she instituted after the civil war. Thewill_ captures the failure of Nigeria honouring these 3Rs in the following excerpt:

"The mannerisms in actions and policies towards Igbos after the war (like the earlier recounted paying only 20 pounds policy) show that the winning Federal side was basking-in winning-euphoria and showmanship, and actually enforced policies that denied Igbos and Igboland Federal appointments and projects. Is this assertion not true? Why for instance, has any Igbo not been appointed the Ministers of Defense and that of The Federal Capital Territory since 46 years after the civil war? Where are the Federal projects in Igboland (Dams, Irrigation for massive Agriculture, Oil Refineries, Military Training Institutes and Installations and other huge Federal projects as sited in other zones)? Why any of the steel projects was not located anywhere in Igboland when other zones in Nigeria got one or two each? (See: they are all moribund now!). Where are the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) projects in Igboland, as sited in other zones? How many of the Federal projects (Industries, Huge Hotels and other wealth-creating investments) were privatized in Igboland when the privatization policy was been undertaken? (There was none there and therefore none was privatized). Did Imo State not build its own Airport many years before now (which they handed-over to the Federal Government without a surcharge)? The few Federal roads (which can be counted among the few Federal projects in Igboland) are most times allowed to become un-motorable and death-traps. Indeed, regular maintenance of them is denied when compared to similar ones in other parts of the country; and it seems a “Vanquished-area policy” is being clearly enforced? And we claim to be one country where love reigns. Believe you me, Igbos are forced to swallow the “swagger of Governmental nonsense” and “half-loaf policies” heretofore—which was continuously directed towards them, and they have indeed been able to restrain themselves from other sundry but constant provocations in policies and actions also, of the Federal Governments—that is why peace subsists." Even more recently, there are cases of little or no federal appointments for Igbos and the noninclusion of South Eastern territory in the national railway project.

Nigeria is what it is today because its leaders seem not to care about it. If they care, Kaduna declaration and the recent reprisal Niger Delta declaration will not have occurred. The persistent calls for Biafra by Ralph Uwazurike, Nnamdi Kanu and their likes would have been long forgotten or halted. Nigerian leaders need to take every region of the country seriously and as equal to the other.They have to offer educated and morally grounded leadership which will attract a healthy educated, participatory followership.

The water is rising up to our ankles and it is now that we have to do something about it and not when it is around our necks. I would end here with a quote from Chinua Achebe: "The people you see in Nigeria today have always lived as neighbours in the same space for as long as we can remember. So it's a matter of settling down, lowering the rhetoric, the level of hostility in the rhetoric is too high." This should be the way forward.