The Biafran bluff
To many Nigerians, there is nothing wrong with the notice to Igbo to leave the north before October 1, 2017. Instead of castigating the northern youth who issued this quit notice as trouble makers as a few deceitful fellows from other parts of Nigeria have been doing, pragmatists actually want youth or whatever body that is empowered to do so in other regions to issue similar notices to the Igbo in their respective areas. Contrary to what you might be thinking, this stance is not borne out of any desire to actually drive the Igbo from areas that are not their traditional land. Rather, it is meant to tell them that their agitation for the resurrection of Biafra will be seen as genuine only when they start moving out of other parts of Nigeria they so much hate to be associated with. Or do they think it will still be business as usual once their wish is granted through a referendum or negotiation?
As for the charge of treason or the constitutionality of the quit notice, since we are not legal minds here, we shall leave that to the appropriate authorities to decide. But we must add here that despite being called a sovereign nation, Nigeria is made up of hundreds if not thousands of kingdoms that are recognised in the different states where they exist. These kingdoms, no matter how cosmopolitan they have become, still have indigenous populations that are divided into different segments for the purpose of effective administration. The youth that gave the quit notice to the Igbo is no doubt one of such segments and must therefore not be seen as taking laws into their own hands. Traditional or customary laws permit youth groups to give quit notices to strangers engaged in unacceptable conduct in our towns and villages. They often act as police to the king or to the chiefs. Legality apart, what the quit order is likely to achieve is the most important thing to most people: It is to tell the Igbo especially their unruly youth that they cannot have their cake and eat it. For it is also a big security risk to have a people who genuinely want to become a different nation not only to swarm all over the place in the country they want to break away from but also to dominate her economy.
Ironically, there is no evidence that the Igbo have been leaving for their home land since they started the agitation. In fact, the reverse is what is happening. Instead of thinning out of Nigeria, the Igbo population is not only rapidly increasing but is also actually digging in all the cities and villages that are near and far from their homeland. They are erecting some of the finest mansions in most Nigerian cities and they are also setting up factories and hospitality facilities such as hotels, medical centers and what-have-you in non-Igbo lands such as Calabar, Port Harcourt, Warri, Benin City, Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna and Katsina to mention only a few. Their number in non-Igbo land in Nigeria is even believed to be almost equal to those in their landlocked enclave. What they rake home every year from their trading and other visible businesses across the length and breadth of the country is believed to be far more than the take home of all the other ethnic groups combined!
Whereas the number of non-Igbo residing in the entire Igbo land apart from those going there to buy goods and returning the same day could be counted on the fingers of one hand, there is hardly any city or village in Nigeria where they are not residing and doing almost every type of business or job, either menial or white collar. They have ingrained themselves so much in every town and village in Nigeria that people are warned to be wary of settling in any place they are not found. They are in the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government more than any other ethnic group and they are the only group to be found in large numbers in the employ of almost all the state governments.
As already stated here, they control the economy everywhere in Nigeria. Over 95 per cent of shops for all kinds of goods in Nigeria are owned by them. Apart from shops, they also dominate every other business and some they have even monopolised. They are the only ones operating fleets of luxury buses for long distance travel as well as the sale of car spare parts and electricity generators. They have displaced local traders and businessmen including artisans from virtually every trade and business in virtually every city and village in Nigeria. Sometimes, they even compete with the locals in occupations that are not common or even known in Igbo land. For instance, the Igbo are not known for rubber plantations but whenever there is a boom in the rubber business in places where rubber plantations have become a traditional occupation, the Igbo always swoop in to displace many local rubber tappers from their traditional occupation !For them to be shouting from rooftops that they are marginalised by other Nigerians and must therefore go their separate way makes many people to wonder what they really want.
Do they want all other Nigerians to become fetchers of water and hewers of wood for them before they remain in Nigeria? Apart from the Presidency which no Igbo person has headed since the end of the Civil War, which other position have they not held? For instance, during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan they occupied most of the juicy posts and the agitation for the resurrection of Biafra was then muted. As the revenue from the sales of crude oil and gas from the Niger Delta was almost bursting the coffers of both the Federal and state governments at that time, the clamour then was for the creation of another state for their zone which has only five instead of six which others have. But in the last two years or so since the flow of oil revenue has been drastically reduced due to the fall in oil prices in the international market and there are suggestions on collapsing the zones into single states because of insolvency, the din for Biafra has not only resumed but has become very loud. It is so irritating to some persons especially to veterans who fought against the first Biafra state from 1967 until 1970 when they surrendered. The renewed clamour is suspected to be the cause of Buhari’s ear and other health problems in some quarters and it is believed the quit notice will also somehow get the Biafran monkey off his back!
The Igbo youth at the forefront of the noisy and rowdy clamour that is driving some Nigerians round the bend cannot claim total ignorance of the pogrom in the north that led to the Civil War (1967 – 1970). If they were not born or too young at that time to remember, their parents or elders must have told them. If they claim not to have been told by anybody, they must have read about it in books and journals. They must also have watched documentary films about it on TVs or in cinema houses. If they claim not to have read or watched documentaries about it, then it is just too bad. We are not going to repeat any of it here other than what happened in January 1970 when the carnage ended. We shall only tell them here that many of their parents and elders who narrowly escaped death in the north in the 1966 – 1967 pogroms before making it to Igbo land did something that surprised many people.
They did not wait for the ink of their leaders who signed the surrender document to dry before swarming back to the same north! My people have a saying about the hawk. If the sky was so good, the hawk wouldn’t be swooping down to earth for its food! The quit notices being advocated here is therefore in order. They should either comply or stop being the mocking birds they have now become!
The reaction of the Igbo elders and elite to the quit notice from the northern youth is ample proof that the agitation for Biafra is nothing but a ruse. For instance, the Igbo elite and leaders who had before now openly or tacitly defended the agitation on the grounds that they were marginalized by other Nigerians did not see the quit order as a golden opportunity to actualize their Biafran dream. Instead of starting an exodus and adopting: ‘To thy tents all Igbo!’ as a rallying cry, they are castigating the action of the northern youth as unconstitutional and treasonable. Some are even urging their brothers who chose to remain in the north after October 1 to defend themselves with all means available to them if attacked! If the agitation was genuine, why should any Igbo fight in order to remain in any part of Nigeria where, according to them, they were being treated like the biblical Jews in Egypt?
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