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“THE United Middle Belt Youth Congress (UMBYC), a group at the forefront of mapping out the North Central geopolitical zone as Middle Belt has lampooned the north for lining up soldiers from the zone against the Igbos during the Nigerian civil war….” –Mingione in December 9 2011 ( )

Here is my take on Mingione’s article of the above caption in his response to the unprecedented (in Nigeria) courage and honesty of the UMBYC youth whose collective contrition and apology regarding the role of the Middle Belt in Nigeria’s ethnic cleansing exercise and genocidal war against the Igbo and other Biafrans is a first for Nigeria. This singular show of courage and decency needs to be emulated and repeated.

“…the North Tricked Middle Belt to Fight Igbo…”

An invitation is hereby extended to the Arewa Youth to show similar courage and honesty by admitting that it was wrong for the North to engage in and savor ethnic cleansing against the Igbo living among them in 1966, and then proceed to pursue the Igbo into the latters’ enclave in order to annihilate them.

The Odua Youth are invited to follow suit and agree with their very own—our—Wole Soyinka that Nigeria’s war against Biafra was wrong; that the North “tricked [them] to fight the Igbo”, and in so doing used them to commit genocide against the Igbo during the Biafra-Nigeria war.

The invitation also goes to the Igbo Youth to show contrition for allowing themselves to be manipulated by the Igbo elders who are under the thumb of the North, acquiescing to continued Northern occupation of Igbo space and enslavement of the Igbo people. OHANEZE, WIC (World Igbo Congress) and suchlike trick the Igbo and confuse Igbo youth into fighting and dying with utmost futility to belong to a Nigeria that rejects them and kills them without mercy.

There is an invitation for the Niger Delta Youth to show contrition for the role of the Niger Delta in the genocide against their Igbo brothers and neighbor. Let them see that they, too, have been tricked into thinking that the Igbo are their mortal enemy, hence, into fighting against the Igbo. And here is where Mingione comes in: this invitation to the Niger Delta youth is made through Mingione.

Why? Because Mingione’s response is actually a continuing anti-Igbo statement so deeply enmeshed that it wouldn’t be a surprise if he fails to see it, although any objective reader is left scratching his or her head as to why Mingione positions himself as pro-Ojukwu, pro-Biafra, even as he relentlessly tears at the Igbo. Mingione says Ojukwu is vindicated and leads us to believe that Ojukwu is his champion, but he, as a Deltan—by his own emphatic reminder to the reader—is quite glad Biafra was defeated. He even invokes something else (which he does not tell us what of) from Ahiara Declaration written by Ojukwu during the Biafra war to support his accusation of Igbo having an “ulterior motive” as Biafra. Mingione praises Gowon for creating States…thereby, according to him, liberating the Niger Delta from Igbo domination; however, everyone knows that the only reason Gowon created the States was to punish and divide and dispossess the Igbo. He succeeded. But, as it turns out, contrary to Mingione’s claims, this calculated anti-Igbo action by Gowon never helped the Niger Delta, and it never helped the Middle Belt either, where the manipulative hegemony continued it’s deceptive “one North policy.” As long as this act by Gowon thoroughly victimized the Igbo, Mingione is well pleased by it.

Nowhere is Mingione’s subterfuge so heavy as when he heaps blame for the sour lot of the Niger Delta today personally on Aguiyi Ironsi, an Igbo man. This is based on Decree No. 34 of 1966 by which the then military government of Nigeria then under Ironsi centralized the powers and authority in Nigeria. Not once but twice Mingione is tricking readers and Nigerians to believe that it was Ironsi’s fault then and ongoing fault still that Nigeria is pathologically centralized up till today. Let’s assume that the man historically and accurately known to harbor no political, power or wealth-mongering ambition, Ironsi, was personally responsible for this. He paid with his life for this error: when Mingione’s real champion, Gowon, and his cabal of fellow-Northern Nigerian military putschists clearly cited this as the reason why they murdered Ironsi. Facts will show that Ironsi was Head of State of Nigeria for 194 days; so, for a little over half-a-year, he imposed Decree No. 34 on Nigeria; but Gowon and his cabal and their successors have had almost half-a-century to reverse Decree No. 34, and yet have not done so. Gowon and his comrades are still alive today, supporting and operating Decree No. 34; why not blame them? Why not go after them, if change was the real desire, rather than choose the self-serving path of blaming Ironsi the Igboman who is no longer here to make any type of changes? Common sense would assume that the minute Gowon killed Ironsi because of Decree No. 34, he, Gowon would have killed the decree too, and reversed it completely: why hasn’t he, and why does Mingione want to blame Ironsi?

Truth be told, it was not even Decree No. 34 that messed up the Niger Delta. It was the so-called ”Land Use Decrees” forced on the peoples by well-after-Ironsi successive Nigerian governments which have been led and or controlled by the North, that did the job. It started with Gowon’s “Petroleum Decree of 1969” which gave the entire ownership and control of Petroleum resources to the State of Nigeria. By the Land Use Decree of 1978 (Obasanjo’s Military government) followed by the Gas Re-injection Decree of 1979, government usurpation and control of private and communal / ancestral lands, property and resources was complete. In 1999, this State-control was carved into the cement of the 1999 Nigeria’s so-called Constitution which mocked “…we the people…”, the doing of another Northern military cum Northern leadership oligarchy of Nigeria under the rulership of Mohammed Abubakar. Yet, that’s not all: today, a Niger Delta man is the ruler of Nigeria. Since President Jonathan was the Vice under late Yar’Adua, he was part of Yar’Adua’s Land Use (Amendment) Act of 2009 which was hailed as a corrective Bill aimed at restoring what had been taking from the peoples by the government. This means that Jonathan, a Delta son, has had at least 2 years to solve this problem. Why does Mingione keep blaming dead Igboman Ironsi?

Perhaps, Mingione will also blame the Igbo for the fate of Bakassi. Gowon promised away Bakassi to Cameroon to continue to limit the Igbo and squeeze Biafra. Later, in these contemporary times, Obasanjo gleefully handed over not just the Bakassi land, but also, the protesting hapless Bakassi people and their nation to Cameroon, in consummation of Gowon’s plan and in the spirit of Obasanjo’s well known, open anti-Igbo anti-Biafra stance. The most important information in reading the ICJ (International Court of Justice) proceedings in this case is how the Cameroonians lawyers, though happy to win, were so shocked and taken aback by the fact that the Nigerian lawyers never put up a defense at all to keep Bakassi.

The Igbo are not the mortal enemy of the Niger Delta that Mingione subconsciously or consciously projects. For that matter, the Igbo, for all their drive and energy, show no propensity for hostility towards any other ethnic nation in Nigeria. For example, and this can either be to their credit or their foolishness, destruction, suicidality and even downfall, the Igbo have returned to the same villages and towns in Northern Nigeria and the rest of Nigeria where their shed blood and broken bones, hacked sinews and burnt flesh have become part of the fabric of the physical infrastructure and of the collective lore and psychic scar. They did not and do no demand an apology nor did they wait for one before going back to the place of their torment to live again among their unrepentant and unremorseful tormentors. Biafra happened because there was no other way: one who does not put up a genuine effort to defend oneself with the full intent of winning is not part of the human family and is not worthy of humanity. Mingione, take note; do carry this message to our Niger Delta brothers and neighbors: the Igbo are not your enemies. Let’s stop tricking anyone to fight and kill the Igbo.

And of Biafra, it is still the best, if the only, answer to Nigeria. It is a pity that in these days of Self Determination, people are still talking about “resource control” and ethnic minority-majority dichotomy politics, or even confederation of Nigeria, and the inane concept such as “making Nigeria better.” We should be past all that: we are past all that. Nigeria will never smell anything more than it smells now—its own stinky self. The Middle Belt should be looking to exercise their Self Determination rights leading them to an independent sovereign nation—if they so choose, for it is their choice. Ditto, Arewa. Ditto, Oodua. The Niger Delta had always wanted out of Nigeria: now is their chance to use the principles and power of Self Determination to accomplish that, an Independent Sovereign Delta Nation. The Igbo nation can and will have their Biafra using the same Self Determination workings; a Self-Determined Biafra can and may only include Self-Determined nations willing to participate, otherwise, the Igbo nation is content alone as Biafra. Self Determination is for every group. In fact, the Bakassi have now turned to Self Determination to rescue their land and nation from the unconscionable, unfathomable wickedness of Nigeria and the likes of Nigeria’s Gowon and Obasanjo and their Cameroonian accomplices.

One thing is certain: Nigeria can never be, though some try in vain to prove otherwise, and in so doing, only subject all to more gratuitous misery. Self-Determined Nationhood beckons us all. This is the only true basis for mutually acceptable and consenting inter-national relationships—the type that allows for peace, progress and prosperity within borders and without. Along the way, or perhaps before we move to that natural rhythm, we need to clear our conscience of excess baggage –following the example of the Middle Belt youths. Only thus can we claim and multiply the goodwill necessary to respect without question the right of each ethnic nation to be in complete charge of its own natural sovereignty and national Destiny. We salute the Middle Belt youths.

Written by Oguchi Nkwocha, MD.

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