There is a resurgence of separatist and ethnic sentiments among the Igbo people with Nnamdi Kanu, leading the charge for the liberation of the Igbo people.

Chiedu Uche Okoye

Nigeria, a federal nation-state, is a nation of nations. In fact, Nigeria is composed of more than 250 ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups. It is Nigeria’s ethnic and cultural diversities that make it tick. In fact, nobody can gainsay the fact that Nigeria’s strength as well as greatness lies in its ethnic and cultural diversities.

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A multi-ethnic and heterogeneous country, Nigeria has a humongous population with one person out of every five black persons in our today’s world being a Nigerian. Millions of Nigerians are living in the Diaspora, today, too. And, Nigeria, as a country, stands on the tripod of Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani, and the Igbo ethnic groups.

The Igbo people are natives of the South-East geographical cum geopolitical zone. And innumerable Igbo-speaking people are natives of states adjoining the South-East states. The Igbo ethnic group is a homogenous group that speaks the Igbo language, which has many dialects. And the Igbo people were adherents of the African Traditional Religion before the advent of the British imperialists, who brought Christianity to Nigeria.

Christianity, which is a tool used by the white imperialists for extracting obedience from Africans in the colonial era , made in-road into the Igbo hinterland, then. But it failed to totally obliterate the Igbo people’s cultural practice, beliefs, and religion. And the Igbo people were among Nigerians who fought fiercely for the political emancipation of Nigeria with the late Rt Hon. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe leading the charge. Mokwugo Okoye, Nwafor Orizu, and Mbazulike Amaechi, who were Igbo men, fought for the political sovereignty of Nigeria, too.

However, since the inception of Nigeria, through the colonial era, and until now, people of the Igbo ethnic stock have fallen victim to ethno-religious crisis in the north. Today, Nigeria is bifurcated by ethnicity and religion as Nigerians from diverse ethnic backgrounds are fiercely conscious of their ethnic origins. And they perceive themselves first as either Igbos or Yorubas or Hausas before acknowledging their Nigerian citizenship.

And it’s sad that our erudite freedom fighters were the people, who introduced ethnic nationalism in our politics and national life. And who does not know that ethnicity and religion are centrifugal forces that undermine and weaken our national cohesion and unity? The factors of our diverse ethnic origins and religious differences are not unconnected with the outbreak of the Nigeria-Biafra war, which led to the wastage of millions of human lives.

The immediate cause of the Nigerian civil war was the secessionist bid embarked upon by the Igbo people in 1967. But has the rest of Nigeria forgiven the Igbo people for fighting that war? Now, to say that the Igbo people are being marginalized in our country’s scheme of things is to state an obvious fact.

While the northern part of Nigeria has good road network, most Federal roads in the South-East are rutted death traps.

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The Enugu-Onitsha Expressway typifies the Federal Government’s neglect of Federal roads in the South-East. And the Federal Government is still dilly-dallying and shilly-shallying on the construction of the second Niger Bridge.

Now that the Igbo people are being treated in a cavalier and condescending way in our country, there is a resurgence of separatist and ethnic sentiments among the Igbo people with Nnamdi Kanu, leading the charge for the liberation of the Igbo people. His separatist rhetoric has found resonance among the disgruntled dispirited and suffering Igbo masses. But his approach to the issue of secession is desultory, unconvincing, and not methodical.

The Igbo political elite(s), however, have not queued up behind him in his quest for the actualization of the state of Biafra owing to his impertinence and desultory approach to the issue of the marginalization of the Igbo people. Rather, they’re in support of the restructuring of Nigeria, which will lead to the speedy economic and technological development of Nigeria.

And Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who is the PDP’s presidential candidate for the 2019 election, is an unrepentant and tireless advocate of restructuring Nigeria. More so, Atiku Abubakar’s selection of Mr. Peter Obi as his Vice Presidential running mate is a plus and icing on the cake for the Igbo cause. Obi, a former Governor of Anambra State, has proved his mettle in political leadership. His eight years in the saddle as the governor of Anambra State has become referential in our political annals.

It is to his eternal credit that schools in Anambra State are performing creditably in global competitions covering diverse areas. And he husbanded the state’s finances prudently and judiciously, then, placing it on a very sound footing.

So, if the PDP wins the February 2019 presidential election, which it is poised to win based on unimpeachable political permutations and calculations, Mr. Peter Obi will deploy his enormous leadership experience and deep knowledge of business in helping to resuscitate and grow our ailing economy.

Again, if the PDP wins the presidential election, Obi’s presence in the presidency will assuage the feelings of a majority of the Igbo people, who feel that they are receiving a raw deal in Nigeria. And that will lead to the deceleration of the tempo of the IPOB agitation for the creation of the state of Biafra.

If the PDP becomes the ruling party in Nigeria, it means that the Igbo people are back in the top political power loop and mainstream politics. Based on that, the Igbo ethnic group stands a good chance of producing the President of Nigeria in the foreseeable future. The Igbo ethnic group’s producing the President of Nigeria will disabuse the erroneous notion that they are unwanted and second-class citizens in Nigeria. This will deepen our national cohesion and unity, and lead to the speedy economic and industrial development of our dear country.So I urge my Igbo compatriots to lend their unalloyed and total support to the Atiku /Obi political candidature. I stand with Atiku/Obi.

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Okoye writes from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State