Igbo people have always been known to be nonviolent. This attribute is one of the reasons they don’t usually have challenges getting accommodated everywhere they go. Igbo people are commonly known for their entrepreneurial prowess, and beyond entrepreneurship, they’re also natural liberals, egalitarian, acephalous, and competitive.
Spurred by their entrepreneurial ingenuity, they rose from ashes to glory in a space of two decades that followed the civil war. Politically, Nigeria has offered Igbo little, but the freedom to explore beyond their region, as guaranteed in the constitution of Nigeria, has offered them more than other ethnic groups in the country. Their ability to trudge in the face of overwhelming challenges has made them exemplary and drawn admiration.
Igbo as a people have several definitions. They are natural democrats, entrepreneurial and most importantly, very patriotic. There’s no part of Nigeria you wouldn’t find them making contributions towards the development of the area. From Lagos to Kano, Kaduna to Plateau, Edo to Bayelsa, you see their investments litter in every nook and cranny. Also, during the colonial era, people of Igbo stock contributed immensely to raising the political consciousness of Nigerians, which eventually led to the country gaining Independence in 1960. But these contributions that people of the tribe made and have continued to make for a better Nigeria, are not without sacrifices!
In 1953, after a misunderstanding at the country’s parliament in Lagos, over readiness for self-determination between northern and southern parliamentarians, later resulted in a crisis in Kano, as some northern youths felt that their brothers were embarrassed and insulted in Lagos because of their stand on the motion for self-determination. A significant number of Nigerians, of which many of whom were of Igbo extraction bore the brunt with their blood sacrificed on the altar of enmity.
Similarly, in 1966, a group of soldiers from different parts of the country staged a coup to purge the country of corruption, by eliminating politicians they claimed carried baggage, for the birth of a new Nigeria. But the end result was given an ethnic coloration. It was interpreted as Igbo coup, sparking a pogrom in the northern part of the country. The aftermath of the pogrom and other factors, eventually led to a civil war that lasted for three years, with about three million Igbo people paying with their lives for the unity of Nigeria.
Igbo people have fought and died for Nigeria. The state of the country as it’s today is keeping every region at a disadvantage, including those from the northwest. Every region is suffering because of the structural contraption we have created through our constitution. Igbo people aren’t alone in this, contrary to what the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kano, has been telling his followers.
Kanu’s violent tactics towards the realization of Biafra will only result in one thing: Another civil war! This’s what I don’t pray for. The last civil war was a great setback to the growth and development of Igbo people. We lost our properties, money, and loved ones. We’re left with emptiness, but our ingenuity. Today, we’ve made significant progress in all areas. Our region is now one of the richest regions in terms of per capita income, based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2020 Poverty rate report.
Kanu doesn’t love the Igbo nation more than most of us do. If he truly loves Igbo nation as he claims, he must call his followers to order, tread softly, and apply a pacifist approach towards his course. In the last three months, Igbo land, which before now was the most peaceful region in the country, is now taking shape as the new Somalia. Several police formations and units have been razed down with many police officers losing their lives. The region is highly insecure, people live in fear, and one begins to ask: where do we go from here?
I call on all the voices of reason in Igbo land to vehemently condemn the anarchism currently going on in the region, and call Kanu and his followers to order. With his constant threats to Federal Government, politicians of Igbo extraction, and others who do not agree with him, it would be difficult for him to exonerate himself and IPOB from what appears to be an insurgency going on in the region.
To be fair to Kanu, other criminal elements may have taken advantage of the current situation to foment trouble in Igbo land. This is why he must show that he loves Igbo land and its people by allowing a sense of reasoning to reign supreme and become more diplomatic in his approach to secession. Self-determination isn’t a crime, but Kanu must embrace a discreet approach going forward if he truly loves Igbo land and its people as he claims.
Author Ikenna Omeje
Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.
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