- Igbo will be comfortable in a restructured Nigeria - Agbakoba
- 98% of Igbo will say no to Nigeria in a referendum -Elliot Ukoh
Today's largely successful compliance, for the third time, with the sit-at-home order of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in most cities of the South-East geo-political zone; parts of Port-Harcourt, Rivers State; and Asaba, Delta State, has many implications for the polity.
It shows the ground and support that the IPOB and other pro-Biafra groups are gaining in the South-East. It has also raised the question of whether or not the Igbo really want to leave Nigeria. Arguably, the Igbo are the most dispersed and travelled people in Nigeria. They are found in virtually all villages in the country and reputed to have huge investments in terms of buildings and businesses outside Igbo land. Put in another way, they have invested more in other parts of the country than any other ethnic group. Hence they stand to lose more if anything untoward happened to Nigeria as an entity.
However, in spite of these massive investments that could be endangered, a host of Igbo are deep in the struggle for the actualization of the Republic of Biafra. The first battle for Biafra ended 48 years ago after claiming an estimated three million lives in a 30-month civil war. Since 1999, various struggles for Biafra have claimed thousands of lives.
Yesterday's sit-at-home by IPOB was to protest the killings of unarmed IPOB and Igbo youths during peaceful protests by soldiers; the maltreatment, arrest, detention, and humiliation of 127 Igbo women, who protested in Owerri, recently; and Operation Python Dance III in the South-East among others.
Igbo will be comfortable in a restructured Nigeria- Agbakoba
Asked his take on the success of the sit-at-home order in many parts of Igbo land, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA and human rights lawyer, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, said the development has worrying implications for the country.
His words: "I think the reality is that the nation has gone out of control. The rudiments of governmental authority have been seriously eroded. In the latest ranking of the failed states index, Nigeria is listed as a distressed state. This means Nigeria has ceased to be in control of its territorial environment as a result of insecurity, breakdown of law and order, ethnic insurrections and a host of other actions.
"What this shows is that Nigeria is in a very parlous state. It is questionable how far the Federal Government is exercising its territorial authority over the sovereign regions of Nigeria. IPOB is a rebel government whether we like it or not. The extent the rebel government can generate enthusiasm among the people is another question that will be answered by the success of the sit-at-home order. There are many rebel governments in Nigeria. Boko Haram is a rebel government. Niger-Delta militants are rebel governments, etc. There is a crack in the sovereign control of the Nigerian government.
"It is very worrying that within Nigerian territorial environment, an ethnic group can generate enthusiasm and recognition from the people. It has great implications because if they can do it successfully now, they can do it at the 2019 general elections and that is not good for the peace and good governance of Nigeria."
Asked if the Igbo really want to leave Nigeria, he said: "No, they don't because we will be comfortable in a well restructured Nigeria. It is very clear. I, as an Igbo man, don't want to leave Nigeria. Where am I leaving to, to a confined place? There is an underlying cause to the agitations; it is the unbalanced, unfair marginalization of the Igbo people, who are left out of the equation. So, it is easy for the people to respond to groups like the IPOB.
"The only way out is for Nigeria to function properly and end religious and ethnic militancy. That brings us to the question of which of the parties, after 2019, can thoroughly restructure the country so that each of the ethnic groups can feel included. IPOB is a product of the exclusion of the Igbo people from the Nigerian equation.''
98% of Igbo will say no to Nigeria in a referendum -Elliot Ukoh
However, Founder of the Igbo Youth Moement, IYM, and Deputy Secretary of the Igbo Leaders of Thought, Evangelist Elliot Ukoh, who said that most parts of Igbo land were shut-down, yesterday apart from Enugu and Abakaliki, which recorded partial movements, most Igbo people are tired of Nigeria.
His words: "The sit-at-home order was a huge success because our people are 99 per cent with IPOB and are tired of Nigeria. They are not happy with the Federal Government's killing of unarmed Igbo youths, sending troops in the name Operation Python Dance to the South-East that is peaceful and leaving Zamfara and other areas where people are killed by bandits and armed herdsmen.
"If you want to know whether the Igbo really want to leave Nigeria, let the Federal Government organize a referendum tomorrow; the Igbo will vote 98 per cent out of Nigeria. Killing of unarmed Igbo youths in cold blood and treating Igbo people as sub-humans offend Ndigbo. Not every Igbo is a member of IPOB but every Igbo is against the killing of innocent, defenceless people. It is only restructuring along the lines of regional autonomy in line with the 1963 constitution that will save the situation."
Nigeria losing out from marginalizing Igbo – Omokri
Indeed, writing on the issue recently, Pastor Reno Omokri, former aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan said the marginalization of the Igbo in the scheme of things after the civil war is the bane of the country's socio-economic development.
Recalling how the Western World sustained Japanese and German technologies after the first and second world wars, he berated Nigerian leaders for destroying "Igbo-made" products and technology developed during the war.
His words: "A war is a quarrel between or amongst people that is settled by means of violence. It is not a quarrel between or amongst technology, so civilized nations have pursued the policy of fighting wars while preserving technology.
"Gone should be the days of the scorched earth policy which is why despite the bestiality of the apartheid regime, President Nelson Mandela did not do a Mugabe, but rather left intact White owned farms, industry and universities and only insisted that they be opened to Blacks and other races...
"The Igbo (or Ibo) ethnic nationality of Nigeria are the most technologically advanced Black race on planet earth, bar none! This is a fact. A fact that was proven to be true for 30 months while they were landlocked in their constantly shrinking enclave known as Biafra.
"Cut off from the rest of the world, the ingenuity of the Igbo came to the fore during the civil war as they constructed the Uli airstrip and when that airstrip was bombed, they repaired it in record time and under the most trying circumstances. They would go on to repair Uli not once and not twice.
"The Igbo refined petrol from a variety of non fossil fuels, including from but not limited to palm products (from which they also produced diesel) and manufactured surface to air missiles which they also adapted to surface to surface missiles (the Ogbunigwe).
"They converted commercial planes to fighter jets and weaponized them. That was no mean feat in 1967.
"In fact, when in 2012, the Nigerian Army rolled out the igirigi and promoted it as the first indigenous armored personnel carrier, they were wrong. I am not a Biafran. I am proudly Nigerian. And beyond that, I am a proud dark skinned Black African yet I make bold to say that the igirigi is not the first indigenous APC.
"In fact, the first indigenous armored personnel carrier in Black Africa is the Red Devil, built by the Igbo during the Nigerian Civil War.
"The Nigerian Civil War ended in January 1970 and the Nigerian Army unveiled the igirigi in July of 2012. If they had converted the Red Devil to their own use, they would probably be talking about a greater feat in the year 2012.
"My question is what happened in the intervening 42 years between 1970 and 2012? Why didn’t the Nigerian Army integrate the military industrial complex of Biafra into its Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria, DICON?
"Why did we have to reinvent the wheel at great cost in terms of time and money?
"The Nigerian Civil War ended on a note of ‘no victor no vanquished’. That was a watershed moment inspired by the Christlike mind of General Yakubu Gowon. That gesture is to be applauded.
"But why did we as a nation not go the whole hog and take advantage of Biafra’s technological advances and integrate her scientists into our Research and Development sector much like the US did with German and Japanese scientists? That is where we failed as a nation.
"I remember growing up as a child and how other Nigerians scoffed at ‘Igbo made’ electronic products. There was hardly anything including electronics, pharmaceuticals, spirits and wines that the Igbos could not counterfeit.
"And rather than our leaders seeing the potential in those products, we all scoffed at them. Igbo made products were a pariah."