Again, Ndigbo and the national question
Ndigbo Must Arise (Belak, Lagos; 2017), written by Emeka Olaka, explores the marginalisation of the Igbo and advocates an end to it for the people to have a sense of belonging in the Nigerian project. As the author puts it, “it conveys a sense of paradox of a ‘great’ race with overarching roles and contributions leading to the political-cum-democratic evolution of the country, but are unfortunately, abased and restrained from the mainstream of the nation’s polity.”
The book will help readers understand the peculiar plight of Igbo people, as the writer succinctly documents their feats and ordeals and their love-hate relationship with the rest of Nigeria.
The first part gives an in-depth analysis of the cause of the dilemma the Igbo face and they stand today. It reveals the roles the Igbo have played since the coming together of the different tribes that make up Nigeria and lays out a few knotty and pertinent questions. Some of these questions are, “When shall an Igbo son be the president of Nigeria? Should Ndigbo lose hope of ever attaining political power now and in future?”
The author writes that there remains the troubling notion that the Igbo waged a war against the rest of Nigeria, but he argues in Chapter two that Ndigbo did not wage war against Nigeria, with the aim to correct this wrong perception.
The author drives home his point when he asserts regarding the contentious issue: “The perception of Ndigbo, as a people who rebelled against Nigeria and at present still a potential secessionist group is false, callous, ill-conceived and unfounded. It is very appalling to note that there is no other tribe in Nigeria except the Igbo that have been compelled and subjected to bear the grotesque and indelible scars of civil war as if no other people have ever challenged Nigeria’s shambolic and wobbling nationhood, or as if the Igbo are the major culprits of Nigeria’s democratic stagnation.”
In ‘Marginalisation of the Ndigbo in Nigeria,’ the author, therefore, explores the exploitations of Ndigbo since the civil war ended by the rest of Nigeria. The author states, “The marginalisation of the Ndigbo in Nigeria is such a sensitive issue that has often generated much controversy in the Nigerian polity.”
The author goes into all the areas in which the Ndigbo have been marginalised.According to him, “There are series of issues, events, polities and legislations which have been deliberately orchestrated against the Igbo, which is clear proof of man’s inhumanity to man.”
Some of the areas Olaka expatiated on include politics, creation of states, unemployment, boundary adjustment, census, economic impoverishment, and reparation.Also, in ‘Why must Ndigbo arise’ the author admonishes Ndibo to start pursuing the Igbo agenda instead of individual interests, which he says have only reduced them to minority status in the country.
“It is obvious that the problems of Ndigbo were not compounded in one day and as such could not be utterly solved in one sweep,” he writes. “It is rather urgent and timely for the Igbo to arise because in the words of Leonardo da Vinci, ‘Iron rust from disuse: stagnant water loses it’s purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.’”
In Ndigbo Must Arise, Olaka has added his voice to the urgent Nigerian question about nationhood and how the whole is shaping the parts, whether for good or for ill.
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