NIGERIA: IGBO SHOULD ADOPT NEW STRATEGIES
With the recent upsurge in the slaughtering of Igbos in the North; with the relegation of Igbo politicians to the background in sharing of sensitive national offices; with the marginalization of the SouthEast as the only political zone with five states while others have between six and seven states; and with the collapse of infrastructure in Igbo states, it is time for a deep sober reflection for Igbos to examine their place and future in the Nigerian project.
From 1960 when Nigeria got her independence till today, no other ethnic group has made as much sacrifice to the development and sustenance of the Nigerian state, as the Igbos. Yet they have never been appreciated. If anything the nation has visited them with inexplicable hate and disdain bordering on obsession. The more they try to prove their Nigerianess, the more they are driven to the precipice of despair and frustration through veiled state sponsored terrorism and annihilation policy in politics and economy.
The mistakes of the past by our former leaders, which tended to make Igbos believe that they can only be successful outside Igboland have foisted a siege mentality on the people leading to the spilling of their blood in the North in the quest for an elusive unity. Yet, our people have not learnt from the horrendous consequences of the past. They have lamely submitted themselves to be massacred and humiliated just to achieve the pre-determined fantasy of other ethnic groups. Igbo pseudo-leaders have continued to delude
themselves that they are part of the ruling class whereas they are merely being tolerated for their nuisance value.
Since after the civil war, the establishment has sustained the economic blockade of the SouthEast.
That is why there is no international airport in the heart of Igboland. Yet, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Rivers and now Bayelsa have all been empowered with international airports. There is also no seaport. Apart from the feeble effort of late President Umaru Yar'Adua, nothing has been done to dredge the Onitsha and Oguta Rivers to facilitate the economy of the people. The second Niger Bridge which President Goodluck Jonathan promised Igbos during the run up to the April 2011 elections is turning out to be a mirage. SouthEast roads remain the worst in the country.
For a people treated so shabbily and discriminated against, is there any basis for hope for them in Nigeria? Put differently, since it has been declared and accepted that Nigeria remains indissoluble for now, what mechanism should be employed by Igbos for their protection, existence and survival in a Nigerian state? Since true federalism is practiced more in the breach, there is every need for Igbos to strategize on how to secure their political and economic future in Nigeria.
In doing so, Igbos would not be embarking upon an entirely novel journey. Chief Obafemi Awolowo led the Yorubas to such a path in the 60s and 80s. He indoctrinated his people to believe first in themselves as Yorubas before thinking of Nigeria. In every election, he created a platform for the Yorubas to negotiate power with the rest of Nigeria. Action Group, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and such political platforms shielded the Yorubas from the forces of neo-colonization and occupation. His true apostles have followed such example with AD and ACN. By expelling PDP from their land, the Yorubas have sent a message that their bond of unity is not about to be broken by a mythical mainstream national party.
So where are the Igbos? Do they still cling to the so-called national mainstream party which has continued to humiliate and deny them their due? Dr. Alex Ekwueme was to be the President in 1999. PDP took it away from him and gave it to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Between 1999 our 2007, Igbos held the Senate Presidency which became a musical chair to ridicule them. From National Chairmanship of PDP in 2007, Igbos now have nothing. An Ijaw man has become president over an Igboman, yet people still chant PDP as their mantra. Is it not obvious that PDP holds no future for Igbos in Nigeria?
In the circumstance, Igbos should be thinking of backward integration. There is nothing that says they cannot stay in their homeland to make money. We must exorcise from our psyche that feeling that it is only when we go to Lagos and Northern states that we can make it. With the security challenges in the country and the threat by Boko Haram for Igbos to leave the North, time has come for us to build our own economy, security and politics. Our academics and entrepreneurs need to head home to ensure that we protect and advance that which belongs to us. At my age and personal accomplishments, I can never be given to the nauseating art of sycophancy. I need nothing from government. I only desire the wellbeing and dignity of Igbos.
We should swallow our pride, eschew divisiveness, abandon selfishness and embrace unity to pursue our group and self-interests in Nigeria. I believe sincerely that for us to have relevance in Nigeria, we must have a strong negotiating chip. This chip is now available under a strong platform which is APGA propelled by a dynamic and visionary leader who is Rochas Okorocha. All Igbos of like mind have to support the revolutionary ideas of Rochas. All of us cannot be leaders at the same time but with our support, cooperation and encouragement we shall build a society for which Igbos can call their own and be proud of.
Amaechi writes from Imo State