You don’t need to wait till you are hit by my case before you identify positively with your root. I was born in Ebute Meta area of Lagos before the war, I started my schooling and life in Lagos and as soon as the war broke out, we were bundled back to the east, then I was about ten years old.
My parents feel very much at home in Lagos and were loved so much by the Yaba/Ebute Meta community that as we came back to Lagos by 1970 to start life afresh after the civil war, my father’s hotel, then at Alagomeji, Yaba called New Nigerian hotel was protected and managed by my father’s Yoruba friends. This made us fall in love with the Yorubas and as I was going through my education I mingled with my Yoruba friends as if I was a Yoruba myself since I write and speak the Yoruba language fluently. I was a perceived stakeholder or what we used to call omo oluwabi, son of the soil. At this time I joined my Yoruba friends to make a caricature of Ndigbo whom we referred to as” aje okwute ma mu omi”, Igbo man that eats stone without drinking water.
With that confidence, on my return from Europe, I joined politics in my area of residence at Okota and was a state officer of CNC and later contested and won an election as the councilor of ward F3, Okota, under the Babangida’s zero party. At the end of the celebration, the SS officers came to my house with a letter informing me that I cannot be sworn in as the councillor for security reasons, before I knew what was going on, I was bundled to Shangisha the SS office where I was detained till after a Yoruba shoe maker, Taiwo living in my street was sworn in as the councillor instead of myself, the winner.
Before the arrival of my lawyer and notable Igbo leaders from Okota, to my rescue with copies of my earlier security clearance at the same office , Alhaji Sabiu Okolanwo who is the current population commissioner of Lagos state and my supposed political mentor came in with chief Wilson, now late to appeal to me to accept the illegal verdict in good faith because the family took the decision and that there is no way the Ejigbo family can allow a non-indigene to rule them in their soil and that there is a compensational position awaiting for me as a board member of NTA, then with head office at V.I., Lagos. Engr. Maduka was the then DG and a brother Charles Nwachukwu was his secretary.
It was Chief Dapo Saromi, the then minister of communication that gave me a letter to be appointed as a board member. But, overnight, the same group that gave me the appointment over turned it via phone calls saying that if I take that position, what will their people say hence I was referred to my state for any appointment. From there, I became a born again Igboman. It donned on me that no amount of force or Yoruba I speak can make me a Yoruba man and, north, south, east and west, no place like home. Since then, I never looked back in tracing my root and saying nice things about the only people I have, the Igboman.
This is why, whenever I hear an Igbo man criticizing an Igboman, or the burden of self-imposed marginalization by an Igboman to Igboman, I feel very sad, I see it as total ignorance and total submission to our foes.
The most common comment you often hear is this: “Biafra (permit me to use Biafra in this contest because it represents the only unity of Ndigbo) will be nice but you know our people, they can’t govern themselves; they are always arguing among themselves and love money more than themselves.” Horrible! This is what Nigeria has done to the Igbo and indeed other Easterners. Nigeria has made the Igbo lose faith, and trust in themselves, their relatives, community and Igbo land itself. Nigeria has made the Igbo lose faith in their talent, ingenuity, creativity, competence and abilities. It is shocking, but it is true. Fear and doubt are now our bedfellows and our greatest enemies. Our people have been programmed to believe that they cannot govern themselves successfully and effectively; in fact that they cannot live together peacefully. Our people have been programmed to hate themselves, their children, their extended families and their communities. This poison has been fed not only to the Igbo but also to other ethnic groups in the Eastern Region. In many of our communities, especially in Cross River State people are torturing, and killing their children, calling them witches. False prophets are making money branding innocent children witches and programming parents to believe that these children are responsible for their poverty, hardships, and illnesses. Thousands and thousands of Igbo people troop to Lagos and Ogun State to hand over millions of hard earned dollars given to them by their relatives to charlatans and con men who claim to be prophets and evangelists. The con men then “prophesy” to them that it is members of their families and their best friends who as witches are the cause of their poverty, joblessness, suffering, failure to have a husband, failure to have a baby, illness and other misfortune. Then they go back home and literally set their families ablaze. We have become a society that is cannibalizing itself. The elders are selling our youth up North for money. The youths are kidnapping the elders and demanding huge ransom money. This is the tragedy that has befallen Igbo society. It breaks my heart to watch magnificent Igbo Nation become degenerate in just one generation. Nigeria has almost destroyed the Igbo and her sister Nations in Eastern Region.
Our people have lost contact with the reality of their history as they are continually fed garbage by Nigeria. In 1965 and just before the first coup, there were four regional governments and the federal government of Nigeria. Of these five governments, the government of the Eastern Region was the most stable, politically and fiscally. The next was the government of Midwestern Region. Don’t take my word, check the records for yourself. Who said that our people cannot govern themselves? Ask your elders about Igbo Union and Ibibio Union Organizations dispersed all over West Africa. These Unions organized our people wherever they lived all over Africa, channeled resources home and became one of the engines of development throughout the Eastern Region. Most of our political leaders Michael Okpara, Akanu Ibiam, Mbonu Ojike, E.O. Eyo, Dennis Osadebay, H.U. Akpabio, Eyo Ita, Jaja Wachuku, Alvan Ikoku, Nwafor Orizu, M. C. K. Ajuluchukwu, Nyong Essien, Margaret Ekpo, Oyibo Odinammadu, Mokwugo Okoye and so many others were men and women of vision and transparent honesty who transformed Eastern Region into an enviable model of political stability and economic empowerment.
It is, therefore, time for Ndigbo to stop digging their own graves through self-condemnation and unwarranted criticisms that have served only the purpose of our foes.
It is my view that unless all Igbo, Efik, Ibibio and Anang tribes see BIAFRA as their avatar through an unalloyed loyalty using the old Eastern Nigeria unity that gave Biafra the leadership, courage and vision to withstand the barrage of land, air and sea attack on the heavily armed federal Nigerian troops, Russian MIG fighters British and European support for 30 gruesome months, our people will continue to play the second fiddle under her foe, Nigeria.
The most salient political wisdom today is for our political class, organized labor, students union, market women, captains of industry, the intellectuals, the clergy and the pro-Biafran groups to understand that everything positive demand we want from Nigeria is inside closing ranks, uniting and showing loyalty to well organized non-violent Biafran struggle. There is a full package inside a united Biafran struggle and that includes Igbo presidency, political, infrastructural and economic development of the Eastern region, Biafra in and outside Nigeria and above all, the pride and love of a nation in unity as partners in progress
This clarion call for healing, peace and reconciliation amongst Ndigbo through a common front, Biafra, is more germane today than ever before where our ancestors will invoke the spirit of ‘onye aghala nwanne ya’ which is an Igbo philosophical thrust of our ‘Igbo bu ike’ that made Ndigbo an inseparable bunch in the Igbo Union days before the civil war of survival.