By Okpala Joseph
I will start with due apologies to the few intellectual giants in our midst who through intellectual honesty have helped to advance the cause of mankind positively. It is a fact that the minority of humanity that falls into the above class of intellectuals is indeed limited, thus giving a seeming impression of man being incapable of solving his myriad of problems and not able to learn from history. The fact that history keeps repeating itself is very obvious. And the reality of Nigeria’s nationhood being again called into question as always and in the eye of the agitation storm gasping for breath to survive is no exaggeration. Today, there are battles being waged by ideological groups versus those that want to break loose and assert their freedom from the neo-colonial contraption by exercising their inalienable rights of self-determination, to chart their own course with their best endeavours and endowments.
The group with moderate voice on radical restructuring, advocates for equality of constituent tribes of identical cultures divided into six geopolitical zones with federating units operating true fiscal federalism, to ensure freedom of competition on a level playing field of justice and equity. The other group stands on maintaining the present lopsided and unfair status quo that continues to exacerbate the present feudal system fashioned by the military constitution for a democratic setting.
Now, let us examine these positions on their merits and demerits. First, those for self-determination and freedom championed by the South East and South South axis are berated for their opinion. Second, there are the indefatigable IPOB and MASSOB groups ably led by their irrepressible leader Nnamdi Kanu working in tandem with other liberation groups in the region. The group states that in view of the incongruity and incompatibility of the constituent parts of the nation, and with the hindsight of past and recent history, they have determined to chart their separate course and identity independent of Nigeria. They are no more willing to bear the indignities, injustice and other underhand shortchange that have been their lot in the Nigerian space. They are no more willing to be pushed into the abyss of despair and their cup of patience is full and running over, having suffered the loss of three million souls of their kindred which culminated in a wickedly imposed civil war of genocide and still counting unto this day.
Therefore, the IPOB-led group has determined to assert their God-given right to self-determination through the Charter of all civilized nations and the United Nations Charter, which Nigeria is a signatory to. This position was reinforced and ably supported by the vintage Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka from Nigeria’s South West when he took his erudite sagacity to the fray and responded to the demagogic leaders of Nigeria whose deception and ignorance did Nigeria in the first place with claims that our unity is non-negotiable. Professor Soyinka responded that Nigeria is negotiable and what is not negotiable is the sanctity for the rights of people to assert their God-given rights as nations all over the world are products of negotiations. Thus, the Nobel laureate debunked the fallacy of non-negotiability with superior intellect.
Third, the national deceivers have again changed the stanza of their mantra from non-negotiability to the song that beauty and strength of Nigeria lie in its diversity. This to me, with my common sense, means arrant nonsense. Are they saying that beauty and strength should take precedence over peace and stability? Are they saying that incessant bloodletting as a result of political instability, monumental corruption nepotism, kleptocracy, the enthronement of mediocrity over meritocracy, criminal shooting of one’s way to the top and monumental dilapidation and desecration of infrastructures and institutions of governance are all the inherent beauty and strength of Nigeria’s diversity? It is high time, after a century of this national deception and shame we stopped pretending or portraying ourselves as incapable of proper reasoning.
So, the enigmatic IPOB and allied groups and their leaders’ agitation for self-determination are founded on a strong moral ground, especially as applied in their superlative and time-tested strategy of non-violence and passive resistance, exemplified by Jesus Christ as man’s best example of its kind. Christ used this strategy to disarm and destroy Satan and his all human servant political kingdoms. For Satan is the institutor of political systems, which characteristics are embedded in lies, half-truths, intrigues, betrayal, backstabbing and all other ignoble principles and value systems through God’s permissive will.
Sages of all time among humankind have effectively and ably emulated to liberate their fellows from the manacles and shackles of slavery, colonial and neo-colonial unjust systems to the collective triumph of the human spirit and God’s glory. In the realization of this fact such sages as Mahatma Gandhi, William Wilberforce, Dr. Martin Luther, King Junior will always stand out as a beacon of hope to mankind.
The point I am making is that this world, with mankind created in the image and likeness of God at its apex, will eventually gravitate towards right moral principles which form the bedrock, corner stone of its structural foundations by God, the Creator. Modern civilization has reached this height and thus far because of the limited human efforts and embrace of this fact or truism. As Professor Soyinka rightly posits with erudition and intellectual honesty, man’s inalienable rights, including self-determination, freedom of association and free speech, are not negotiable. The realization and appreciation of this fact by many enlightened minds informed the liberation movements which made it possible for the giving way of many repressive laws of oppressive governments and many colonized peoples to assert their independence, including America.
Many others in exercising this right split up further after their independence from their colonial overlords when they discovered glaring incompatibility and the state of incubus in their formations. The abolition of slavery, the adoption of the emancipation and civil rights bills, the abolition of the caste and apartheid system are an eloquent testament to this fact. The fact that a nation can be indeed negotiated is as clear as light. Examples abound all over. Britain at amalgamation without the consent of the constituent people knew with the hindsight of history of empires that their experiment might not endure. Hence they placed a timeline of one hundred donkey years of exploitation, colonial and neo-colonial, which ended in 2014. The appropriate and right thing to be done at the departure of Britain or at least at the expiration of the timeline, as an intelligible and right-thinking human system, would be to organize a referendum to ascertain the desirability or not of the constituent groups to continue as a nation state.
As I wrote before in The Sun newspaper in 2014 in an article titled, “Time to negotiate Nigeria has come”, part of which informed the national conference of Jonathan administration instead of the sovereign national Conference suggested by honest men and women. Today, we can see what our dishonesty and foolishness have once more brought on us and will continue as long as we live in the delusion of expediency and denial. Truth be told, there will be no rest for Nigeria, until she honestly and courageously faces up to this fact. It is apparent that the wisdom of the gentile Roman empire that reflects western civilization’s adoption of Judeo-Christian philosophy or ground rules in their too human political escapades that have set them high above and superior to other empires and civilization which at its core reflects their laws and justice system, which emphasize the sanctity of ennoblement and dignity of man.
This is amplified by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in his thesis to the American power establishment from his prison cell against the denials and trampling of the rights of coloured people of America when he posited and ably argued with superior intellectual honesty deeply embedded in soul power: “that a man who disobeys an unjust law and willingly accepts to pay the price is indeed exercising the highest respect for law”. The law is meant to serve man’s best purposes, adduced to support and encourage this line of view and approach most especially in view of past and present experiences in Nigeria and in addition to the fact that Biafra will not exist in isolation, but will definitely interact with every other nation and society, economically etc.
Also, history bears witness to the ability and willingness of South East and South South agitators to pay both the supreme sacrifice and temporal loss of almost three million souls through incessant bloodletting and organized pogrom after signing an accord with them at Aburi in Ghana, where they determined to straighten their backs against all odds to defend themselves for thirty cruel months. The entire civilized world approved in conspiratorial silence. The twenty pounds policy paid on bank savings of Biafrans was to ensure complete impoverishment after the war. The illegal imprisonment and killings of their leaders including Ken Saro Wiwa, Dokubo, Raph Uwazurike and Nnamdi Kanu and many others languishing in different jails in Nigeria not to mention, the cold murder of defenceless peaceful protestors, are all part of the tragedy. One cannot also forget the imprisonment of Wole Soyinka, who as a result of intellectual honesty, rose in indignation to serve as the conscience of Nigeria when he indicted the Gowon Junta-led Federal Government of duplicity and perfidy in his book “The Man Died”. As if these are not enough, Nigeria has continued these legacies fifty years on with the plethora of her ignorant leaders’ intellectual buffoonery. The second group advocating and canvassing restructuring of the Nigerian political space on the basis of true fiscal federalism and equality of the federating units using the six geopolitical zones as agreed through democratic compromise of 2014 conference in addition to extraction of aspects of 1960 Independent Constitution arrived at under democratic process and environment without any military tinge or tinkering. Their hope is that this will allow Nigeria space to move forward and to reach greater height and aspiration and freedom of competition. This group’s view point and approach are championed by the South West axis led by the Afenifere and ably supported by Atiku Abubakar from the North and Jerry Gana of the Middle Belt and Ohaneze Ndigbo from the East with some observable trepidation.
My take on this is that though it sounds good and gives Nigeria another chance and hope of survival, until the I’s of the agreements are dotted and crosses amicably and honestly enshrined in a new constitution reflecting adequate care of past misgivings and experiences, things will not be smooth, I prefer to be a keen observer and keeping my fingers crossed. My curiosity on this line of approach and viewpoint has made me raise these pertinent questions. How do they start going about it? And can this line be matched with commensurate action plan and strategy and honesty of purpose? What price is this group willing to pay to force down this agenda? Or will it just end up a talk show? If this is ably and vigorously pursued and successfully carried through, will this ensure Nigeria stays off the path of her inglorious past of incessant bloodletting, vandalism of their fellow citizens’ proper ties including the recent scourge of herdsmen menace and destruction of fellow citizens’ farm in pursuit of their private business unchecked, which has been the norm with ‘Khaki constitution on Agbada’ administration? An awkward fashion and aberration. Will this bring clean break and a clean slate on the inglorious and nuisance past of Nigeria’s history?
The third group’s approach which is the retention of the status quo states that Nigeria has no problems. That Nigeria has no consensus understanding of what restructuring is. This is the position of the Caliphate group in the North supported by such persons from the South West as Obasanjo and Okorocha from the South East and their imperialist cohort led by such person as Ango Abdullahi. They are entitled to their opinions, their position like every other will be subjected to the scrutiny of time and tide. In view of Nigeria’s political experience since amalgamation, this group’s position represents a grotesque and shameless display of ignorance, insensitivity, deception, lies and crude display of crass opportunism. It does not deserve more than a passing attention. Therefore, my thoughts and reflections on Nigeria have made me conclude that Nigeria’s problems are intractable and cannot be resolved because of British mischief (embedded in the comatose state and the endemic cycle of crises and poor human rights record). Time and tide will tell. I am most worried at the attitude of other western civilized nations, most especially America and the UN over the cries and struggles of the Biafran emancipation. Yet the conscience of the world has not been aroused except for the few weak nations that arose in defence and support of Biafra. Where is the great American conscience? Boldly inscribed in her Constitution which stood out robustly as a bulwark against tyranny, a beacon of hope to all oppressed people? My question is: why the silence on Biafra, especially America and the United Nations whose headquarters sits on the grounds of a nation that espouses freedom as the backbone and mainstay of their republic, thereby its chief sales executive to the rest of the world? This writer smells what look like conspiratorial silence masterminded by Britain with their cancerous influence, as chipped in by a friend. What good and cogent reasons have they for this? Or is it a case of expediency? Political and economic interest over upholding the dignity and rights of man as boldly inserted in all their statutes and charters to which Nigeria is a signatory? Thank God for the ray of hope emanating from EU whose position is for the UN to order for a referendum for the agitators. This is again corroborated by the pronouncement of the spokesperson of the Arewa Youth urging the United Nations to grant the irritable Biafran agitators as of right a referendum in an attempt to reverse themselves on their quit notice to the Igbos in their region before October 2017.
As somebody suggested, the European Union was able to act their conscience because of the absence of Britain’s cancerous influence in their ranks. Very worthy of notation is the case of the young American Jewish boy Bruce Mayrock, who after watching the ordeals of the Biafra’s in the hands of Nigeria decided to dramatize his disappointment and protestation to his governments and United Nation’s strange conspiratorial silence on the Biafra situation in outrageous fashion by incinerating himself in the land of freedom on the soil of the famed Statue of Liberty and on the lawn of the United Nation’s headquarters to the collective shame of all right thinking peoples and a stigma to the conscience of the whole world. This solitary action of a juvenile Jewish American symbolized eloquently and forcefully the import of Professor Soyinka’s popular quote from the book The Man Died: “The man died in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.” Though these propitious examples are isolated and encouraging, it is a sign that the unseen hand that governs and orders the affairs of men is still alive and that when the conscience of men is secured, the clamour for referendum will be answered soon.
Most important is the fact that undoubtedly Biafra promises to be a very viable project, It is an established fact that the Biafran peoples rank among the group with very high intelligence in Sub-Saharan Africa, which came to fore during the emergence of Nigeria-Biafra war. They are very hardworking and adaptable, not dogmatic, not held down by culture but are willing to learn and adopt a new thing that will help them to improve their living standards. This is attested to by my records of their exploits all over the world, most especially in Nigeria. They are more inclined to the Judeo-Christian system or way of Western civilization. They even claim Jewish ancestry as they share many similarities historical and cultural and with established fact of an abode of “ERI” of the Bible within their region. The truth is that Biafrans have what it takes to make Biafra a model nation using their best efforts and God’s endowments. The bottom line of this whole article is anchored on these pillars. First, the long arm of Moral Universe bends towards truth and justice. Second, nations can be indeed negotiated. Third, what is not negotiable is inalienable rights of peoples as endowed them by God.
The big question is why and who is afraid of taking up the challenges and task of proving their ability to build a new, viable nation of social, economic, peaceful and harmonious state out of the Nigerian ruin? Who is afraid of being exposed as a parasite or predator amongst the Nigerian constituent groups? After all, the poor and small nations that bound Nigeria on all sides, are not envious of her and I am sure are not willing to exchange positions either, in spite of Nigeria’s humongous endowments. If size and diversity are very important factors, why did Britain opt out of EU? Why did Britain grant the Scottish people the right to a referendum? Why was the U.S.S.R encouraged and aided to split up? Therefore, the ugliness, bane and weakness of Nigeria are as a result of its diversity and not the opposite as spuriously claimed by deceivers. The truth often times, is that when men are benighted and are unable to stand up to the superiority of intellectual sagacity and honesty, they resort to threats and crude application of naked force. Hence, the axiom: the pen is mightier than the sword. No people are truly united through force of the gun. And when pseudo intellectual run affairs, things go awry and haywire.
Okpala, aka Ozua Kamapala, a Septuagenariam, Commonsense Analyst, wrote from Lagos.