‘BIAFRA’ and the burden of equity
Many Nigerians are incensed with the name “Biafra” for good reasons. The name conjures the ill-fated attempt by a small clique of people to dismember Nigeria, a sore and unpleasant regurgitation of a painful interlude in Nigeria’s history.
To those that were on the “BIAFRA” divide, it summons a sacred memory of sufferings, courage, loss, survival, deprivation, and often represents the deep-dye historical scars left on the psyche of a people. It’s all about who is involved.
And it would be difficult to expunge totally in a space of 40 years, the immortal significance of that span of combative acrimony that left Nigeria still wounded and divided.
To have made an attempt to take off the studying of history as a subject from Nigeria’s education curriculum is only a tepid and naive attempt to shy away from the lessons and interrogations of history itself. For the pains, hostilities, angst, love, even our brazen hypocrisies to date, all together make up the quality of our national essence.
I will therefore play up “BIAFRA” not anymore as that part of the country seeking to walk out of the Nigeria-federation with a military charge, or the inordinate ambition of a group, deviously aiming at self-determination, against the backdrop of a nation bound by a “sacred oath of unity”. But “BIAFRA” as a compelling argument for conscience. A clarion call for equity.
The lame-duck pronouncement of Nigeria even after the war has been one of “No victor, No vanquished”, but we know well that there are yet bleeding casualties from the war, ever-present tokens of injustices and inequities and a well-crafted state mechanism not only to suppress, but to politically and socially dis-empower a certain group of people in Nigeria.
Those clamouring for “BIAFRA” do so not because they hope to go back to the trenches to wage war against a militarily sophisticated Nigeria side, but to call to attention Nigeria’s lopsided architecture. I shall proceed to quote from a reputed media source this little illustration:
“In Nigeria like most other things were skewed to always favour some sections of the country. For example, Lagos and Kano started existing at about the same time; Jigawa was carved out of Kano. No state has been carved out of Lagos, yet Kano has 44 local government councils, Jigawa has 27, between Jigawa and Kano we have 71 local government, while Lagos still has 20 local governments Interestingly, the population of Kano was put at about 9.6 million and jigawa,about 5 million, Lagos is about 9.1 million, according to the 2006 Census. So even Kano after division to Jigawa and present day Kano is still more populous than Lagos of old. And how come the new Kano with 10 million people has 44 local governments while Lagos of 1975 till date still has same number of people and only 20 local governments?”
Nigeria has since inception been trapped in an artificial contraption that has always stifled its development aspirations. For many years, leaders from Northern Nigeria, through manipulative political schemes exploited the inherent demographic lapses in the polity to advance their narrow political fiefdom. In the process, different Nigeria minorities ended up been used as expendable political baggage.
‘BIAFRA,’ in spite of its original demographic footprint ceases to be an “Igbo” agenda. It’s now a full-cast spectrum that captures the social experiences of calculated disenfranchisement of Nigerians, or a group of people, from getting their legitimate deservings.
When Ndigbo in all their manifest resourcefulness, receives little or no impetus to widen the latitude of their commercial and economic enterprises, for sure, the construct of equity is broken to pieces.
And how would a plural society like ours, have lawmakers whose eminent preoccupation would be to enact laws to incentivise farmers from Northern Nigeria, by Nigerians giving up their parcels of land for what should be practically private enterprises? And that is unlikely not to have strategic nudging from the federal government and its representatives.
When the federal government employs its machinery of governance to protect hoodlums and mayhem makers because they have Fulani birthmarks that boldly speaks of the burden of equity.
Nigerians from certain parts of the country have been killed and maimed under the of religion and the government never successfully punished any of the linchpins.
Nigeria is a severely strained and distorted society, helplessly hurtling under the burden of manipulated injustices and “hard-boiled” inequities.
Can the Buhari-led government turn loose from its narrow fixation on resurrecting the northern hegemony; feel the pulse of a mortally sick Nigeria?
Can he step out as the president of the whole nation, with a mission to heal and restore Nigeria’s broken psyche?
Can he be so different from the prattling leaders of the past who say we are one Nigeria, yet with divisive schemes?
Can he be the father of modern Nigeria, a common patriarchy that was forged albeit in calculated deceit?
Would he cease to be a northern champion and emerge as a towering redeemer of this great nation?
Then and only then shall “BIAFRA” cease to be.
• Orji wrote from Lagos