Igbos Deserve A Chance To Ruin (Fix) Nigeria Too
So, let the Igbos have it in 2011
To say one of the many predictors of the calamity that will bechance and still continues to betide our beloved Nigeria was the circumstances surrounding the naming of it would of course be preposterous and untenable. It sure was not a very good start. When Flora Shaw probably in an unserious state of mind, probably inebriated suggested to her future husband (Emperor Lugard) to name “the bloody place” Niger area (Later Nigeria), little did we know how the unfortunate circumstances surrounding our formation and colonization will have this lasting effect on us. While the almighty British Empire was carving out their colonial interests, evangelizing us, commercializing us, we were busy screwing up on a mega scale. The screw up till today is not circumstantial, its historical, no country as promising as ours has a better history of screw-up that we do. Niger area has been exactly that, the area around the Niger, not a country, but an area.
Of course we don’t have a monopoly on screw-up, other non African countries have had colonial interventions, what is unique about us is the consistency of our failures and existence, as if we are in a bubble. Comparing ourselves to, for instance, Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Republic of Chad, of course we are 2nd best. Now to our brothers across the ocean, not with dissimilar experiences, oh boy that’s a whole different situation, Brazil, Chile, Egypt (same continent), Syria, and Thailand. Where are they today?
Let me give us a historical narrative of screw-ups. Why it’s not accidental or circumstantial. A short chronicle of why it’s in our genes to screw-up and why Igbo deserves an opportunity to screw-up (or not) too.
It’s not a revelation that while the British royals and nobles were meeting and carving us up, many a tribal intrigue continued. Afonja was defying his perceived weak Alafin. The Fulani was busy perfecting his own successful execution. The Owus were busy defying the Oyo, not over a national issue such as say for instance “Yoruba Interest?” oh no, this was Owu versus Oyo fighting and disagreeing over Oyo being taken as slaves and sold at the Apomu market.
When Ijebu formed an alliance with the Ife, it wasn’t out of some national Nigerian interest; they formed it with a tribal interest to fight the Owu. The big boys in Northumberland were busy carving us up and turning us against each other, we followed out of small interest, nothing more. Various intrigues were going on elsewhere. The mugba mugba counterinsurgency. Ife Modakeke, the Egbas versus the Egbado.The Ibadan and Ijaiye. The Ikorodu war. Fast forward 1884 and 1893, you would have thought the divisiveness of the British would have been apparent, not in this part of the world, we all know what the British did in the Ijebu campaign to finally solidify their hold on us. That’s just a small part of the various tribal intrigues,
THAT IS JUST WESTERN NIGERIA.
So you thought our anopsia started after independence? WRONG AGAIN?
Right about now, let’s go to the geographic north. While the Sokoto caliphate was trying to usurp others about Islam and the centrality of Sokoto, the Bornu people were effectively saying no, not really, Kano said they didn’t think so; Islam had been in Kano since the reign of Yaji, that was in the 14th century, how dare the Fodios want to centralize Islam in Sokoto in the 19th century. When Bello tried his expedition to Bornu, they were quite emphatic, in saying hell no; El kanemi was not going to have it. Of course while all this was playing out, the ever masterful colonizers through Emperor Luggard was studying and mastering their divide and conquer tactics. While the Jihadist were preoccupied with slavery and political expansions in the Middle Belt, pragmatism said to side with the Junkuns (Non Muslims) against the Tivs. Fast forward hundreds of years later and the ethnic dynamics of the 1st republic between the Middle Belt and the North. When the British made the various Emirs powerful through their indirect rule, it wasn’t accidental, it wasn’t even much of a change, and one oppressor just replaced the other. Now it was “efficient slavery”.
Of course in our Eastern side, history was not dissimilar, but British subjugation was more out of brute force than divide and conquer. Of course with the practices of Slavery, it was only a matter of time before Igbo land too was subjugated. The Ekumeku did their part to inflict maximum casualty on the British. But the Aro much earlier did its best to destroy its own people too. What the Aro Confederacy did to its own people is well documented. The Arondizuogu, Bende and Ajalli are testaments.
Fast forward the Tribal intrigues surrounding the independence. One would had expected that with their education, international exposure and all the lessons of world war 2, Awolowo, Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Balewa and political leaders at the time would have been good students of History and be nothing but passionate nationalistic NIGERIANS. No Sir!
All of that went to the gutter after the British Left. Back to the old Tribal ways
Awolowo was busy with Action Group (Western), Azikiwe with NCNC (Eastern), Ahmadu Bello with NPC (Northern). Talk about an augur of the future
OK, now the British are gone (at least physically), You would have thought the fervor of Nationalism will be at its highest, after all, most if not all of this leaders studied abroad, they knew the British and their craftiness, they studied history. They were the best we had. Oh no! MISTAKE NUMBER ONE: POST INDEPENDENCE.
Selfish regional interest, regional intrigues begin, Awolowo versus Akintola, Awolowo versus Azikiwe, various intrigues. Emirs versus the northern intellectuals.
Kaduna Nzeogwu is mad, really mad, why not? He hates what the “Leaders are doing. Finally he decides to act. Gets a group of loyal soldiers, mostly Igbo (Problem number 1) together with one Yoruba.
If you say it was not an Igbo coup, Fine, I don’t disagree, an Igbo man suppressed it. Fine I agree, Awolowo may have been installed prime minister. Fine I agree. There we go, Nigeria’s coup number one carries ethnic association, why? (No Hausa involved in the coup), does that qualify for first attempt at national revolution.
I Say No! Why? Because the seed of a tribal coup has successfully made it to the national conversation.
Nzeogwu, s coup failure prevents us from giving a critic of what his Leadership skills. Problem number 1 leads to problem number 2.
Naturally Northern Officers are mad as hell; the reasons are obvious, because the first unsuccessful coup does not lead to trial and execution of the first coup planners.
A group of mostly northern officers (problem number 2) retaliate over the perceived injustice done to their kin folk, Ironsi killed, Young exuberant northerner takes over, and a more senior eastern military companion is to say the least very furious.
Various retaliatory measures begin, leading to massacres of a lot of Igbo. Casualties on both sides. Ojukwu leaves for West Africa. Nzeogwu also dies defending an ethnic cause. May his soul rest in peace. You will think lessons learned. You would think national development of the grandest scale would begin. You would think we’ve spilled enough blood, an unfortunate sacrifice in the development of nationhood. Not in this part of the world.
The young inexperienced Northerner, who toyed with secession then decided against it at the urging of the British, completely mismanages his opportunity at the mantle of leadership. Meanwhile Igbo anger is still hot like a volcano. Most of the other Nigerians seem to be happy, going abou
t their business. Thank god, no victor, no vanquished, really?
An opportunity that should have led to massive economic development, leads to mediocre development, marginalization both tribal, religious and class. We relied on the glory of the British that left, a once (British run) vibrant agricultural economy, takes the direction of a one product economy, the almighty petroleum. The region that produces the almighty petroleum is treated like second class citizen. So far, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa screwed up chapter one.
Gowon (Hausa), screws up chapter 2, another group of northerner officers are unhappy about the pace of the political progress (so they said), they bring in another unwilling leader, full of youthful exuberance, takes over (No significant Igbo involvement).
Either way, growing up and watching him on TV, I used to love his swagger, Cigar in tow, seemed like the real deal. He inaugurates an ethnically and tribally diverse cabinet, he says the right things, he supports the A.N.C, Angola, SWAPO,he thumbs his nose at the west, depletes the civil service (Problem number 4),he may have been on to something, Death again prevents us from giving an objective critic of his leadership skills. May his soul rest in peace.
A reluctant Yoruba “General” takes over. Nigeria (poor) begins the arrogance of money, wonyosi, imported wine, imported goods everywhere. Completely dictatorial for all the wrong reason, begins the depletion of the intellectual. The assault on human rights continues. A popular musician is harassed and mother killed. Brings FESTAC to a poor country that has no good school system, no burgeoning business class, not one single subway system, lacking in sustainable electricity, lacking in sustainable drinking water, not a major highway system to talk of. Government still in charge of business, small corruption continues, Work a lot, chop small increases in audacity. We don’t know our predicament, because what the British left behind is still working.
So far Hausa 3 chances, Yoruba 1 chance, TOTAL GRADE=D-.
The reluctant Yoruba, who earlier would have been happy to retire to his Barracks and tend chickens promises democracy. 5 major parties emerge along ethnic lines AGAIN (problem number 5), election conducted along ethnic lines (Problem number 6) Again , Awolowo? West, Azikiwe->East, Aminu Kano->Northern poor, would have been nice if Aminu Kano was just for the poor period (No North, no South, no East, no West). Shagari->Powerful North and other small parties like Waziri and Braitwaites Party
The race towards the bottom accelerates, after an Ogun State themed (my very own State) theatrics produces a Sokoto Reluctant (Oh no not again) “leader”. Ill prepared, he screws up on a grand Scale. Not only does he screw up, he abandons the real power to rice brokers, wine lovers and unscrupulous, greedy, tribal merchants who rode in convoys of black Mercedes Benz. He was an equal opportunity screw up. Some Igbo screw ups too like Mbakwe and Nwobodo, but they were not driving the real bus.
So far, Hausa 4, Yoruba 1, Igbo zero.
His inept leadership would have been a non noteworthy foot note, if he didn’t try to come back, try again he did. Try he did with help of another degenerate (Adewusi).Result, another northern coup (Problem number 7), backed up by a sadist (who incidentally happened to be a Yoruba), an Ilorin man, Afonja’s town.
The duo actually seemed genuine at the beginning, until they started displaying ethnic tendencies, 1000 suitcases, Ubah Ahmed is here, oh no he has disappeared gain.
Yoruba (Ajasin) leader sent to court, 3 trials, acquitted, but remains locked up.
Decree 20.The sadist assistant (who never smiles) had us going nonetheless, and then he goes to Mecca and takes his Family with him. Wow! We thought we were supposed to tighten our belts. What a hypocrite.
Various palace intrigues, they all know what personal scores they had to settle or secrets they were protecting, another northern (problem number 8) coup. Seems like a non stop orgy of failure.
For the escalation of corruption, escalation of debt, escalation of bribes, decay of infrastructure, journalist deaths, escalation of inflation, escalation of bunkering, various drug scandals, hush hush deals, NNPC building burning. We knew this was not the smiling messiah God revealed to us. Only now we were in real dire straights.
I would have believed the Tony Nyiam and Ogboru coup had the inkling of a real revolution, had plotters cut across the entire tribal spectrum, Orkars naïve announcement that he was removing some caliphates from the geographic Nigeria confirmed its non national nature. Either way, may their soul rest in peace; they seemed to have genuine intentions, just oblivious of history. Either way we still lost. We still don’t know what they would have done. Do you see a pattern?
So far, Hausa 6, Yoruba 1.5, Igbo zero
I know when you are asking the same questions, when will the Igbo will get a chance to destroy Nigeria too?. Let me Land. June 12 produced what would have been a true national election cutting across ethnic lines, even the always under siege Igbo, the suspicious north, the paranoid Yoruba Christians came out in millions. Abiola got the true national mandate. He broke all the perceived stereotypes. I would have voted for him if I was chanced. This man even penetrated the south south.
Would he have been the leader to take us in leaps and bounds, would he have been as his kin folk “competitor” said, “the messiah”, death (possible untraceable poison) prevented us the opportunity of assessing his leadership. May his soul rest in peace.
In comes the ultimate paranoid Kanuri (Problem number 9) mad man. Totally devoid of compassion, intellect or reason. Starts jailing and killing everybody. One is co mad assistant (Okutimo) says he knows 300 ways to kill a man. He had an opportunity to practice a few hundred of them through pillage, rape and murder.
So far, Hausa 7, Yoruba 1.5, Igbo zero
Various intrigues again produces the once retired general, this time I have to come clean, being my kin folk, I prayed for his success, if anything, Abiola couldn’t , Fela couldn’t, Soyinka could only write, Shonekan was a footnote, I prayed and prayed for his success. If anything to redeem the image of Nigeria. Boy was I wrong. His monumental failures are documented. With 70% of his administration under a dark corruption umbrella. Unsolved political murders and strong arming. Numerous political lieutenants who are former governors under almost proven putrescence.
So far, Hausa 7, Yoruba 2.5, Igbo zero
Fast forward to the gentleman from Katsina, Ok you might say we are too quick to judge, to say I’m a believer will be to lie through my tooth. There is nothing in history or genetics that points to success. All you have to do is read his body language, his lieutenants; his mannerism, you almost have all your answer. I know I’m been naïve because of my believe in political egalitarian ideals and meritocracy (with its little faults). As applicable to my homeland, let me add I am a believer in tribal-egalitarianism.
Igbo’s don’t need any economic egalitarianism. It is already proven that they would kick your behind despite a hostile terrain, an unfavorable environment, even with a leg behind. So you see its not fair that others have a monopoly on incompetence, failure and non performance If only for fairness sake, Igbo’s need to drive this car just for once.
If anything, we are all in agreement that there is no hope in this current arrangement anyhow. If we agree on that, then let’s conclud
e and exhaust these very arrangements with the selection of an Igbo in 2011. Not a co driver like Ekueme was. I mean lets get a real Igbo driver with a co driver say for instance from the Middle Belt. In the mean time I stay jealous because they haven’t had their opportunity.
Let them fail like the rest of us.
Than again, may be they won’t!