My Reflections On The Strange Turmoil That Tends To Engulf South-East Of Nigeria:
By Sir Don Ubani; KSC, JP
Okwubunka of Asa.
29th April, 2021.
For any group of people to be fairly and properly evaluated, their antecedent and pedigree should, of necessity, be examined from their historical perspectives.
The people of South-East of Nigeria and, indeed, the Igbo in general, are notably characterized by well established idiosyncracies. In the first instance, they are Adventurous Ingenious Entrepreneurs.
By virtue of their characteristic ubiquity, there is hardly any part of Nigeria, nay, the Globe that they are not found. Unarguably, wherever the Igbo Man finds himself, he meticulously labours to establish a home. He has an untiring spirit of nationalism that naturally makes him believe that wherever he lives should be made not only a comfortable place but also a peaceful environment.
After the conquest of Nigeria by the Royal Niger Company and eventual revoking of its Charter, the Company sold its holdings to the British Government in 1889 at a price of Eight Hundred And Sixty-Five Thousand British Pounds. Consequently, Nigeria became a British Protectorate in 1901. Until 1914 that Amalgamation of North and South Protectorates took place, the British Colonial Government had administered Nigeria as two separate Protectorates, North and South.
The reason for the infamous amalgamation was simple. The Northern Protectorate was, by every calculation, economically unviable and, so, posed an administrative burden to the Colonial Administration. Therefore, in order to make up the North’s economic weakness, the British, knowing that the South had even surpluses in terms of revenue, decided to merge the two Protectorates in order to use the viability of the South to strengthen the porosity of the weak North.
As early as 1944, the Igbo had strongly been identified with the struggle to liberate Nigeria from the pangs of colonialism. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was Deputy to Herbert Macaulay who had founded the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons in 1944 and took over the leadership of the Party in 1945 following the death of Engr Herbert Macaulay who had fallen sick while on political tour of Northern Nigeria.
The Igbo were are the forefront of Nigeria’s liberation movement. They did everything an organized civilized group could do to make sure that Nigeria gained political independence.
The Igbo, being a people distinct in developing any society they find themselves in, are not known to be destroyers, much more self-destructive. They have never been known as vandals. The Igbo are property owners wherever they sojourn. One thing characteristic of property owners is their advocacy for justice and peace. This is true because they know that when the two are absent in a society, their investment could be in jeopardy. The world over, Merchants, as the Igbo are, do not set fire on Markets. This is because any Market burnt affects, either directly or indirectly, their fortunes, even if the arson is in a very far clime.
Though some writers had vainly attempted turning the history of the Nigerian/Biafran War on its head, the truth remains that the imprisonment of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the excruciating crisis in Western Nigeria and inordinate ambition of Alhaji Ahmadu Bello to islamize Nigeria, especially the South of Nigeria, as he had boasted of dipping the koran into the Atlantic Ocean, were fundamental reasons that gave rise to the war that was a calculated genocide against the Igbo.
Since the end of the Nigerian/Biafran War; 1967-70, the Igbo came back to Nigeria and have been helping themselves reintegrate into the Nigerian society. As people known for their unique enterprise, they are not unmindful that their success could naturally generate hatred for them. They are always determined to forge ahead with life in Nigeria, no matter how adverse the tide would be against them.
The worst period that has confronted the Igbo in Nigeria is the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration. By the constitutional dictates of his position, President Buhari is expected to be a Statesman and, therefore, the father of all Nigerians. Unfortunately contrary to this expectation, the President openly employs the parochial premordial instrumentality of ethnicity and religion as his basis for running his Government.
In 2015, the people of South-East and the Igbo in general overwhelmingly voted for former President Goodluck Jonathan. By voting for Jonathan, the Igbo were nostalgic of what they went through under Major-General Buhari when he was Military Head of State of Nigeria between 1983 and 1985, after he had undemocratically overthrown the elected Government of President Shehu Shagari. Buhari had subjected the Igbo to untold torture and hardship.
Because of the voting pattern of the Igbo in 2015, President Buhari had publicly announced his Inglorious Reward Policy of 97% and 5%. Even though arithmetically wrong, the 5% was a reference to the Igbo. He has lived up to his policy of open discrimination against the Igbo.
It is Buhari’s avowed insensitivity to the plight of the Igbo in Nigeria that frustratingly led to the formation of Independent People Of Biafra by Mazi Nnadi Kanu. Before their proscription, the IPOB was merely a mass mobilization of unarmed Igbo young men and ladies who were advocating for Self Determination. They never carried arms.
It is, therefore, surprising and worrisome to observe that there is now an orgy of bombings, attacks, killings and destructions in the land of the Civilized and Investors. These happenings are strange to the Igbo. It has never been in their character, no matter how discriminated against, marginalized and neglected.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had accused President Buhari of pursuing a two-point agenda of Fulanization and Islamization. This accusation draws its credence from the facts that President Buhari, against all protocols, threw the borders of Nigeria open to all manner of Fulani from the Sahel; Chad, Niger, Mali and the Fouta Jallon. They came in their hundreds of thousands. These are people who have no homes in their countries. Basically, they are like vagabonds.
Having realized that Nigeria is rich, they quickly resorted to kidnapping as an easy means of making money in millions. They do not only kidnap and successfully demand for ransoms, they rape, maim and kill.
Since Buhari assumed power in 2015, the people of Middle-Belt, especially Benue State, have gone through hell. Fulani terrorists have been raiding, attacking, raping, killing, looting, burning and occupying their communities. Many of them today are Internally Displaced People. Yet, the Fulani have continued to attack them in their refugee camps.
Despite all the hue and cry, President Buhari has never raised an eye brow. No single Fulani has ever been arrested for their heinous crimes against humanity. These killings are taking place in Plateau, Kaduna, Taraba and several other States. Nigeria had never been thrown into this type of chaos and disaster before.
Recently, Officials of Enugu State Government, accompanied by Government Security Personnel, went to a Cattle Market in the City for routine oversight function. To the shock of the Officials, fulani cattle traders in the said market reportedly furiously chased them away with several AK47 assault rifles. Uptil now, no report has been heard that any of the AK47 wielding cattle traders has been arrested!
The question that the Federal Government has refused to answer is, who supplies guns to the Fulani terrorists? Would it not be the Federal Government?
Back to the South-East. Many Police Formations have been attacked here, at times having their arms and ammunition reportedly carted away. Yet, no arrest has ever been made.
It, therefore, appears that there is more that meets the imagination of the eye in South-East. Could it not be that some forces outside the South-East are deliberately but disingenuously sponsoring these unmitigated attacks in the Region with the foul objective of preposterously establishing enough reason to officially launch attack on the South-East, destroy, loot and occupy the Region?
These are my honest reflections.
Sir Don Ubani is a former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Abia State.