I have been receiving a lot of mails and phone calls in recent weeks requesting that I lend my voice in support of the ongoing campaign for the sovereign state of Biafra and to also speak up against the recent shut down of Radio Biafra by National Broadcasting Commission. I have decided to make my opinion known to those who have been bombarding me with requests to support the Biafran movement.
Yes, I believe that the Igbo have been marginalised in Nigeria right from 1970 till date. I also believe that as a people, the Igbo have every right to speak out and seek redress. I believe that no tribe or ethnic group in Nigeria deserves to be marginalised or shut out by certain quarters of government because of an incident of the past. Just like every Igbo man, I believe that Biafra was a good dream born out of a necessity at that time. It was a good dream which went horribly wrong and became a nightmare for us, the Igbo people and the whole of Nigeria from 1967 to 1970, from which I believe we have woken up.
It will be foolhardy to dream the same dream in the same way and manner without thoroughly accounting for why and how it turned into a nightmare, and factoring in the changes that have taken place in Nigeria since the 1960s.
The thought that the actualisation of the sovereign state of Biafra is in itself the solution to all the problems of Ndigbo is to display an understandable naivety about human nature and today’s politics. What we need as a people is a new vision that will encompass the lessons of the past, the changes that have taken place since the end of the civil war, the reality of present day Nigeria and demand for a system founded on justice, liberty and equality under the rule of law for Ndigbo and non Igbo as well. I believe this new vision is attainable.
They say charity begins at home and in this regard, I believe it is time for every honest and sincere Igbo man or woman, to channel his or her energy towards actualising good leadership and government in Igboland by joining the political process. It is time for every one of us to unite against corruption in our land. It is time for Ndigbo to come together to reverse this ubiquitous trend of bad leadership ravishing Igboland and put in place a system that would enable the best of us to emerge as leaders.
Great nations are ruled by their best minds and not by a band of common thieves without respect for individual liberty and democracy that do nothing but devise ingenious ways to looting the treasury and serve the vilest and most primitive of human instincts. Without this political and cultural change embedded in the concept of our future, Igboland will remain underdeveloped, and that in itself, will constitute a gargantuan problem for us in the future. Making this necessary change in igboland will ensure that if and ever or when Nigeria collapses as a result of our collective idiocy, irresponsibility, ignorance and corruption, and the jumbo pay of politicians, Ndigbo will be better placed to build a new nation based on justice, equality, rule of law, tolerance, development and honesty.
War has never been the solution to any problem. I didn’t witness the civil war but from what I saw in my recent visit to Maiduguri, Adamawa and Plateau state, I have become a disciple of dialogue as a means to resolve issues. If Biafra will become a reality, it shouldn’t be through the barrel of a gun. It is wrong to seek divorce by putting a gun to your spouse’s head. We should realise that a divorce from Nigeria is also possible if the Nigeria state comes to its natural end because of years of ethnic and religious prejudices, injustices, and vision-less irresponsible, corrupt leadership that failed to lay the foundation of a viable state and make the necessary social investment for its survival. This might be the natural course of events if Nigeria continues to sleep walk into disaster and neglect honest nation building.
We shouldn’t continue to pursue the Biafra dream in the way and manner some people and groups are doing at the moment without regard to the present reality. It can only undermine the whole essence of the struggle. As an Igbo man, there is nothing I want for Igbo that I do not want for other ethnic groups. There is nothing I wish for my fellow Christians that I do not wish for Muslims. We are all humans after all. We are all brothers and sisters divided by language, skin colours and religion. I believe that enlightenment is recognition of this basic facts, and that underneath our skins, flows blood of the same colour and minds that can think alike and able to overcome the prejudices which our difference try to impose on our judgment. There is nothing that can justify the killing of a fellow man. I can only lend my voice to a vision that doesn’t entail the destruction of lives and property.
I am sorry to say that the continuous clamour for the recognition of Biafra by America may not yield much because of the selfish nature of America’s foreign policy. If there is nothing in it for America, America won’t get involved. We are a great and industrious people. For a start, won’t it be better to seek economic independence and have Nigeria and the rest of the world depend on us for something? Today, Africa has gone from car assemblage to total manufacturing. I am proud that I am alive to witness this history, that a Nigerian made car can actually be better that the Toyotas and Hondas of this world, and it is all due to the ingenuity of an Igbo man. Ndigbo, this can be a place to start. Igbo kwenu!!