Fred Ezeh, Abuja The Archbishop of Benin City Catholic diocese, Most Rev. Augustine Obiora Akabueze, has been elected the new President of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). Also, the Bishop of Umuahia Catholic diocese, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, emerged the Vice president of the conference, while the Bishop of Ikot-Ekpene diocese, Most…
Drumbeats of war are in the air but the drums are broken; sounding hoarse and wanton in the hands of inebriated youths. But the fathers are delinquent, watching as children dress vulture, the abominable bird for barbecue.
When the foul air settles, when the vulture is served, this delicacy will taste acrid and stale in the mouth of all. Since when did man start eating vulture, the bald, whose pastime is feasting on corpses? Since when did the eater of corpses become tasty barbecue if not in a land where elders have gone to sleep or are evil, teaching the youth wrong history? Now that the imprudent have brought home the evil bird, how can evil flee from us?
There is confusion in the land. Northern youths have ordered the Igbo out of their region within three months (or is it two weeks?). This does not portend good for the land. The ultimatum has sprouted Rondel, which in turn, has given northern oil bloc owners three months to vacate their land, preparatory to declaring their independence next year. The Igbo themselves are split between urgently returning home as ordered or daring the northern youths and staying put, as they cannot leave their N44 trillion investment for the North. Northern governors and some leaders have rejected the quit notice and ordered arrest of the ‘landlords’, even as the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has vowed to deal with troublemakers.
Beyond all this posturing, we should reflect on how we got to this torpid level. The country has been on a gradual slide to infamy over the years but it has never been this bad, having taken a steeper and more vociferous tumble of late. Our so-called leaders, who wasted their generations, now want to incinerate ours; they are leading us to abyss and are pretending to be in panic mode, ordering arrest of their hirelings and trained goons. If a respected elder like Tanko Yakasai could equate refusal of farmers in the South to allow Fulani herds men to graze their cattle on their farmlands and crops to this brazen quit order, surely, the land is bereft of elders. The signs are indeed ominous and you cannot blame northern youths because they are under some evil tutelage.
Arewa Consultative Forum and Northern Elders Forum’s support of the youths and unguarded speech by some notable northern elite confirm deep seated fears that the youths are sponsored. Nobody should be deceived by the dodgy condemnation of the Arewa youth by some northern elite. Is it not strange that despite ordering arrest of the agents provocateur, not one person has been nabbed yet? Nobody knows how the constitutional, non-violent agitation of Igbo for justice and equity frustrates or threatens the North. You cannot step on a child and expect him not to whimper. Surely, this cheating can’t last for much longer. Besides Biafra, a much more lethal force would probably bring about the change if the proper and right things are not done, and when that happens, one wonders if there would be Nigeria for Arewa to superintend.
It is laughable for the Igbo though, lamenting loss of their multi-trillion-naira investment. Did they envisage, realistically, that having got their Biafra, they would still keep their investments in Nigeria? Is it not more like eating your cake and still have it? Despite warnings to look homewards, the Igbo had been inordinate and prodigal in developing other lands while leaving their land undernourished. Imagine what change a fraction of that huge investment in the north alone could have done to Igbo land. Perhaps, now, common sense will prevail over this bitter lesson and the Igbo would begin gradual repatriation of their investments eastward because it does not seem plausible that there is much hope for this doomed country in the face of continuous malicious hatred and suspicion.
It is heartwarming though that other parts of the North do not share in the vision of the Arewa youth. All these years, the North has alienated itself from other sections of the country through its obnoxious arrogance and self-promoting policies. That is why the Middle Belt would rather align with the South. Even Kogi, just as Southern Kaduna, has pledged to be home for the Igbo any day. The Yoruba have rejected that craze and Rondel is up in arms already. The North, therefore, would be foolish to still believe that the coalition that helped it in the decimation of the Igbo 50 years ago is still alive.
Coming to the Rondel threat, how can the North be controlling the oil blocs in the South-south, leaving the land and its people in putrefying decay and abject squalor? It is such wicked acts that fuel the agitations that now threaten the soul of Nigeria, yet the evil beneficiaries pretend not to notice but dig deeper, ignoring the cry for restructuring. The North has vehemently rejected restructuring, which is the only key to addressing the ills of this land and save Nigeria from extinction. If the North has nothing to hide, why does it flow against the tide of majority view, even when known lights of the region, like former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, have realised its significance in sustaining the nation?
As we stick to this unenviable path of perdition, we should visit Rwanda and other such lands consumed by hate, if we cannot learn from our own grisly story of the Civil War. If then Biafra rag tag army could hold out for three years against the intimidating Nigerian coalition, one could imagine what it would look like today, with more sophistication, cash and apparent collapse of the coalition.
No tribe in Nigeria is more Nigerian than the Igbo, which have openly embraced all sections and integrated with host communities. Unlike other tribes that are shy to venture out of their enclaves, the Igbo can be found even in the remotest hamlets of all sections of this country. They don’t just visit, they dig in, build houses, develop the place, only visiting their native Igbo once in a while during festive periods; some don’t even return home at all. If other Nigerians are as open-heartedness as the Igbo, Nigeria would be a better, safer place for all.
One issue that comes to mind from all this is that something has to give for Nigeria to survive. Virtually all sections of the country have one grievance or another against the Nigerian state. In order that the country is preserved, there is every need to revisit the recommendations of the National Conference or convene another where Nigerians can come together and discover and agree on the way forward for the beleaguered country. If Nigeria must not die, it depends on all of us to sustain it. The various agitations in the land, not just Biafra or the South, but also in the North itself must be fully addressed. And even if we must part, let it be done via internationally supervised plebiscite, not through incitement to violence that will not bode well for anybody. It is time Nigerians said enough blood has been shed in this land.