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The Kaduna declaration and the ‘Igbo question’

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President Muhammadu Buhari


The socio-political atmosphere preceding the 2015 historical elections was very tense and it was under that situation that Oba Akiolu of Lagos ordered Ndi-Igbo in Lagos to vote APC or else they would end up in the Lagoon. People made a lot of joke out of that politically bizarre statement, for instance, that the Igbos would do bigger business sand-filling the lagoon and turning it into another Lekki! Nobody admonished the Oba and the best comment was don’t mind the man; that is how he talks.

The Lagos APC advised that nobody should take his proclamation seriously, did a we-are-one campaign and Ambode, whom the same Oba had declared the governor even before the primaries, promised an inclusive government. How inclusive has his government been?

Go and find out! Not long after that, the Akure wars erupted. The Deji of Akure did not give the my brethren quit a notice but like Saul, he supervised the physical attack and humiliation of the Ezeigbo raised ethnic tension against the Ndi-Igbo in Akure, banned the Ezeigbo title and was short of banning red caps in his domain. It was indeed a quit notice because he asked them to leave if they would not comply with his imperial order and gave them 10 days to comply. From there, the Internet warriors took over. It was all about Igbos who did not respect their kind hosts, who were ill mannered and who should go home if they could not cohabit peacefully. It never mattered that there were –and there are-Serikin Hausawa in Akure, Lagos, Enugu and indeed in every part of the country. It did not matter that Ndi-Igbo had lived in Akure long before the Deji was born and that his predecessor publicly recognized the office and its holder. It did not even matter that the issue at stake was about market leadership, where those in the market chose their own leadership that the Deji did not like.

As for the Ezeigbo title, my views on this nauseating issue is contained in an article I wrote about 20 years ago titled This Ezeigbo Industry and published in almost all the national dailies. And that was when there was still some sanity in that ‘industry’ unlike now when every street has an Ezeigbo!

As all this was happening, the IPOB/Kanu affair erupted: the arrest and extra-judicial detention of Kanu whom the FG had turned into an overnight heroe by the same very detention; demonstration for his release and massacre of IPOBians by our blood thirsty security forces who only show their prowess when peaceful groups are involved and eventually, the question became: what do Igbos want? OBJ said that the agitation was caused by hunger and attention seekers; PMB said Igbos should forget Biafra; General Buratai said that those seeking for Biafra would wait another four millennia while Ibrahim Coomassie, (a former IGP and Chairman of ACF) stated that the increasing quest for Biafra was based on emotions rather than Logic, and he said so at Nsukka, where some IPOBians were probably in the audience others were asking whether Igbos wanted the presidency or restructuring and while this was going on, Kanu was released from detention with the queerest form of bail condition in Nigerian judicial history: an Israeli Rabbi as a surety!

On 30/5/17, the Igbos, as they have been doing in the past decided to sit at home, in remembrance of millions of their kinsmen who were murdered under government supervision in the north and those who died during the Biafran war of independence.

Our compatriots in the old Eastern Nigeria, and the current Delta and Benue states ought to be involved because they all saw the war and lost people also. Maybe, they didn’t feel that a public show of remembrance was necessary or more probably, they did not want to be accused of Biafranism.

The memorial sit-at-home was total and unfortunately for our blood-thirsty security men, they did not see any Igbo youths to kill, maim or arrest. The sit-at-home was not about the Biafranisation of the East; it was in remembrance of the dead. But those who would beat a child and prevent him from crying did not find it funny.

Demonstration for whatever purpose in the East is anathema. Sitting at home is also a problem, as if staying at home is an offence? It did not matter that in a country like Rwanda, there is an annual period (not just a day!) of remembrance of the victims of their own season of anomie. Anyway, the Igbos shocked the world as they forgot their shops for once and sat at home without any noise. And then, the reactions started coming in.

First was Ango Abdulahi, who is already on injury-time on earth and should be busy tidying up his books. He went revisionist and turned history on its head by saying that Biafra attacked Nigeria first, that the whole Biafran affair was all about politics as the Igbos were trying to pocket the rest of Nigeria and urged the government to deal decisively with anybody fermenting trouble. It was then I remembered that back then as a student union activist at UI, we used to call him VC without CV. And then, from nowhere, a so called coalition of northern youth groups gave the Ndi-Igbo up till October 1 ( three clear months plus some extra time) to quit the north and this was just because they decided to stay at home on 30/5/17. And since then, all hell has been let lose, for and against;some genuine, some fake, some in the fire-for-fire mode and some pretentious like those who would stir the forest from one side and come out rom another side to ask: who goes there?

IPOB supported the quit-notice; after all they had been asking every okoro man upnorth to return home. Governor El-Rufai asked the police to arrest the rascals and IGP assured that they had sent dictatives after them only for the fellows to meet in the same Kaduna for a second time to defend and clarify their quit-notice.

It was after El-Rufai spoke that the Presidency (the London or Abuja branch office?) supported him, assuring that the security forces were on red-alert. Ohaneze called for calm; its youth wing asked Igbos to defend themselves and they would only support one-Nigeria on the condition of 2019 Igbo presidency; Afenifere asked all southerners to leave the north, Niger Delta youths and a coalition of militants (all of them, generals) vowed to declare RONDEL republic and asked all northerners to quit Niger Delta; middle-belt youths assured Igbos of warm welcome, saying they were not part of the north; OODUA youths stated they would not align with the north on the matter while MASSOB is not in support of war.

Ango Abdulahi supported the quit notice on behalf of NEF but Paul Unongo Vice Chairman of the body condemned the quit notice, denying any support for such nonsense. Obasanjo warned all the youth groups, APGA advised the Igbos to leave the north and decamp from APC. The quit notice has also been condemned by Atiku Abubakar (it is reckless and provocative), Senator Jibrin (on behalf of ACF) the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Tanko Yakassai on behalf of the Northern Elders Council, Guru Maharaji (who gave the Sultan 14 days to make a definite statement in the matter), and Prof Suru Gambari. Rochas Okorocha called on MASSOB and IPOB to desist from agitating for secession, Ohaneze declared a support for restructuring and not secession, while Ojukwu Jnr asked his brethren to be careful. A former Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Danmusa, however aligned with the northern groups because the “Igbos are ungrateful’ while Mazi Ohuabunwa saw it eviction-order as an unflinching support for restructuring.

Finally, the Acting President or Coordinating VP reiterated what has been this government’s position: We’re in a marriage as a Nation and we must remain together. I don’t know whether he spoke as a VP, as the acting vice-president, as a pastor or as a professor of law as all of the above.So, with this babelish bedlam in a country experiencing socio-economic distress and a president on AWOL, where do we go from here? (To be concluded)
Muo is of the olabisi onabanjo university, ago-iwoye


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