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Thursday, February 24, 2011
If Jonathan were Igbo
For more than four decades, the Nigerian oligarchy and its subjects have been strutting on, as if the Igbo nation does not exist. Of course, we do not need the powers of a clairvoyant to let us know that Ndigbo are a conquered people. This is not the issue at hand. What I am talking about here presents a pungent and poignant question which borders on fair play, equity, justice and political correctness or lack of it in the Nigerian context.
For good or bad measure, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), sensationally and predictably elected President Goodluck Jonathan as its candidate for the April 2011 presidential election. The PDP would have based its choice of Jonathan rather than former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on two cardinal points namely: There is a military saying that it is not good to drag a commander, a general for that matter, to a battlefront and leave him bare, without back up troops.
This simply means that it would not have been in the best interest of the party and indeed Nigeria, if PDP had abandoned President Jonathan in the middle of the road and left him to his own fate in the primaries which brought him as the presidential candidate. In other words, Jonathan did not cause his predecessor’s death, thus the anger and frustration of his departure cannot be visited on him. Simply put, PDP said it is not good for the party to have disgraced a seating president out of office because of an infinitesimal nomenclature called zoning.
Secondly, since democracy encourages individual aspiration and ambition, and whereupon Jonathan indicated his interest to contest the 2011 presidential election, political loyalty demands that all party faithful should rally round the President or be accused of anti- party activity.
To make my stand clear, I was one of those who had expected President Jonathan to have completed Musa Yar’ adua’s tenure and leave. But Jonathan had other ideas. Supported by almost all the intimidating arrowheads and forces in PDP, he declared his interest to continue in office against the party’s zoning principle which was enshrined in its constitution . This is where I have questions for Nigeria, for I am convinced that the story would have been otherwise if Jonathan had been Igbo.
If he were Igbo, the Nigerian state would have rallied against him, reminding him that he was an ungrateful fellow. He would have been labeled an usurper, a greedy man who wants to destabilize Nigeria because of his personal interests. Nigeria is always at peace whenever the Igbo is disillusioned. This is an incontrovertible fact, if you consider the following factors.
After the January 15, 1966 coup, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi emerged as the Head of State and Commander - in- Chief of the Armed Forces. Ironsi could only last for six months as he was maliciously overthrown in a bloody coup that also consumed about 162 army officers of Igbo stock. The plot to oust Ironsi was gradual but steady. To make his ouster very easy, all sorts of lies were leveled against him, even from those who knew that he was too patriotic to carry out a dastardly act like a coup.
Ironsi was a martyr who died for sins he never committed just because he was Igbo. On the day of the January 15, 1966 coup, all accounts from the principal actors indicate that he had no hand in the mutiny that ended the First Republic abruptly. Rather, he did his best to foil the coup and that accounted for why the coup was largely inconclusive. Instead of commending him, the army turned against Ironsi, sabotaged, abducted and eventually assassinated him in a most wicked way. Sadly, the unitary system of government which Ironsi adopted to govern via the much vilified Decree 34 was the same means successive military rulers in Nigeria adopted in another name.
Yet Ironsi died for it and is almost forgotten. Since 1966 till date, Nigeria has seen so many coups but none was as cruel as that which swept Ironsi under. Look at this account from Chuks Iloegbunam’s IRONSIDE ‘ The Supreme Commander General Ironsi, asked Major Danjuma, ‘ ‘ what do you want’’. Major Danjuma replied: ‘You are under arrest. You organized the killing of our brother officers in January and you have nothing to bring the so-called dissident elements to justice because you were part and parcel of the whole thing’. You see, Igbo is always unwanted as you can glean from this account.
Although, Ironsi was the first and so far the only head of government with executive power the Igbo has produced, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe ( Zik) was a ceremonial president and he got the same treatment that was meted out on Ironsi in another fashion. In 1951, Zik, in his bid to prove his true nationalism and to confirm he was a shrewd politician, worked hard with his NCNC to win most of the seats in the Western House of Assembly. It was an unprecedented feat and a victory never expected. But before anybody could say Jack Robinson, the Western NCNC members who were elected to the House cross carpeted and declared for AG, just to deny Zik victory. Zik was furious and felt betrayed.
We all know that between 1979 and 1983, Zik contested the presidency on the platform of the now defunct NPP. That he lost the election is not our concern here. Our interest is that the then South –South states of Rivers (which had Bayelsa State where Jonathan comes from) and Cross River (today’s Akwa Ibom State was a part of Cross River then) rejected Zik and whatever he represented. Don’t forget that both Melford Okilo of Rivers and Clement Isong of Cross River led their people to Shagari’s NPN rather than Zik’s NPP. You can see the frustration of the Igbo.
In the wake of the 1966 disturbances, it is on record that three principal Igbo army officers played heroic roles to quench the January 15 coup and they succeeded 80 per cent. They were, Ironsi, Alexander Madiebo and Odumegwu Ojukwu. Ironsi foiled the coup in Lagos; Madiebo stopped it in Kaduna while Ojukwu put it off in Kano. Yet the coup was regarded as Igbo oriented, no matter. Six months later, in July 1966, the rampaging Northern forces attempted to take over the government by force. And they got their desire.
They succeeded in the North, Lagos and West, but Ojukwu not only opposed it but he also stopped it in the East. In the process, Ironsi had fallen and became a victim alongside his host, Col, Adekunle Fajuyi. As a disciplined and professional soldier, Ojukwu demanded that due process should be followed and insisted that the army should not name any Head of State until the whereabouts of the Supreme Commander had been ascertained, maintaining that Yakubu Gowon was the most qualified to rule even if Ironsi was missing. For his insistence on due process, Ojukwu was labeled ‘ a rebel, warlord and a troublemaker’. Overnight all the coup plotters became national heroes that ended up ruling the country at different occasions, allocating oil blocs to themselves while Ojukwu was demonized, castigated and battled to stand still.
One of the brightest brains the Igbo nation has produced was the late Dr M.I. Opkara, the former Premier of what used to be Eastern Nigeria, present day South-East and the former Eastern minorities.
The lies the then Eastern minorities now South -South have always told against Okpara was that he built Igbo land without bringing any development to their own region. The insinuation here is that Okpara never minded the present day South- south in the discharge of his duties. But it is not true. It is all lies. It is an extension of the discrimination against Igbo elite. The truth is that Opkara was quite fair in his duty post as the Premier. According to Chris Offodile, Okpara’s biographer, the late Premier was one of the most detribalized administrators Nigeria has ever produced given how he touched all spheres of the former Eastern Region during his reign . Offodile wrote: ‘ Okpara was responsible for setting up many farm estates such as the COLARO Estate and the QUA FALLS Estate both in the former Cross River State.
The Trans Amadi Layout was one of the biggest projects that Okpara built in Port Harcourt at the cost of three million pounds. He also set up the Michelin Factory and the Glass Factory also in Port Harcourt as well as the five million pound cement factory located in Calabar. In regard to hotel industry, his government built the Hotels Presidential in Port Harcourt (and Enugu). Okpara also built the Obudu Cattle Ranch and Hotel Complex in Cross River State. He had started the Ahoda\ Mbiama Road (in present day Rivers and Bayelsa states) project before the civil war broke out. He worked closely with Chief I.U. Apkabio (from present day Akwa Ibom) and Dr S.E. Imoke (from present day Cross River) both today have their sons as governors of their respective states.’ Despite these well documented feats, Okpara is not even remembered but maligned and dismissed as a failure and tribalist because he is of Igbo extraction.
What of Dr Alex Ekwueme? He was victim of grand conspiracy. In the Second Republic, Ekwueme was the deputy to President Shehu Shagari. This was in 1979, and both men ran the government of the day in the first tenure on the platform of NPN. When NPN was returned to power in 1983, expectation was rife that at the expiration of their tenure in 1987, the NPN would then give the presidential ticket to Ekwueme. This was a perfect plan and would have worked wonders for Nigeria, but it was not to be. Ekwueme must not rule. To stop this from happening, the military struck and overthrew the Shagari administration with Ekwueme as the heaviest casualty. Really, the 1983 coup was meant to stop Ekwueme from ruling Nigeria because he is from the South-East. Again in 1998\99, despite leading the G34 that fought dictator Gen Sani Abacha to submission, and later transformed into PDP, Ekwueme was dragged to Jos in the PDP convention and disgraced as he lost to Olusegun Obasanjo in the primaries for the presidential elections. Of course, he lost again in 2003 in Abuja.
The case of Ebutu Ukiwe was even more pathetic. A published report put it this way: ‘ Commodore Okoh Ebitu Ukiwe became the first Chief of General Staff in General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime. It was a tragic mistake. In months, Ukiwe was sacked and retired. But he had done no violent action. He had not plundered the treasury. His hands did not drip of human blood. A reporter had asked about Nigeria’s membership of the Organisation of Islamic countries (OIC) which was contrived by Babangida, and Ukiwe replied that the matter had never come up in the deliberations of the Armed Force Ruling Council(AFRC). And for this he was fired!’
What of the misfortune that befell Rear Admiral Alison Amechina Madueke ? ‘He was the first Chief of Naval Staff in Gen Sani Abacha’s regime and the first Igbo to be a service chief since Ironsi in 1965. Another terrible mistake had been made. In months, Madueke was sacked and retired. His offence was that he had advocated during Provisional Ruling Council (PRC) meeting that MKO Abiola, Yoruba, should be released from detention and engaged in dialogue.’
Unarguably, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, the immediate past Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, brought so many gainful changes to the apex bank and he got both national and international awards to that effect. Almost all the Nigerian newspapers celebrated him and gave him awards upon awards. But today, he is out of favour with nearly all the same media that celebrated him to the high heavens. The answer is very simple: Soludo is Igbo. He is now the most vilified public servant in Nigeria and that is what we are complaining about.
Remember also that the Savannah Bank, owned by former governor, Jim Nwobodo was closed down and its license revoked when it was glaring that the bank was healthy for operations. In the same vein, Orji Uzor Kalu’s Slok Air was axed and booted out of operations for no just cause, just as Sir Victor Ikwuemesi’s Sosoliso Airlines was closed down and ordered out of the skies. Ditto Mr C.M. Ibeto’s Cement Group which was embargoed out of production and circulation. We can go on and on.
With the above examples, it is clear that Jonathan would not have got the PDP ticket, given the same circumstances that played itself out in recent memory, if he were Igbo. Do not tell me that we are the cause because it is a matter for another day.
Martins is a staff of The Sun Publishing Limited 08060205494
THE IGBO RANT
BIBLICAL TRADITIONS OF NDI IGBO BEFORE THE MISSIONARIES CAME TO AFRICA* IGBO 101.
THE IGBO TRIBE AND ITS FEAR OF EXTINCTION
The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities
Written by Emeka Maduewesi
~on fb. 28th September, 2016.
The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.
The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.
In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.
Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.
In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.
The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.
Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.
The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.
The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.
The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.
This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.
RT. HON. DR. NNAMDI AZIKIWE TO DR. CHUBA OKADIGBO (1981)
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