Nigeria is actively undergoing electioneering campaigns for a general election scheduled for April 2011. This general election season has turned out to be an open season of attacks, bigotries, prejudices and hatred directed at Igbos by too many Nigerians.
Igbos are repeatedly attacked and denigrated, even when such attacks and denigrations are clearly unwarranted. These increased spate of vitriol directed at Igbos should make any reasonable person to ask questions.
Why is it, that so many Nigerians, too many Nigerians in fact, are so comfortable in talking down, patronizingly and condescendingly to, and about Igbos?
Why is it, that a majority of those commenting on national issues, with references to Igbos, are always denigrating fellow Nigerians, just because these Nigerians of Igbo extraction?
It is the case that most commentaries about Igbos are so insensitive, and so reckless and extremely inflammatory and careless. These caustic, corrosive and sour attitudes towards Igbos, clearly illustrate persisting ill will towards Igbos. These negative attitudes towards Igbos, are emblematic of bigotries, prejudices and hatreds which have been visited upon Igbos historically and unfortunately, the frequency of these anti Igbo pronouncements in Nigeria is on the upsurge. Too many recent comments against and about Igbos, are just shockingly disgusting!
Nigerians of earlier and older generations have poor excuses for exhibiting clannish attitudes towards other Nigerians of different ethnic or linguistic groups, religious and regional groups in our multicultural and very diverse nation. But how does anyone explain recent barrages of attacks, unwarranted attacks and badgering against Igos? How does anyone explain the fact that very educated, extensively traveled and worldly wise Nigerians continue to exhibit extremely negative and primordial attitude against Igbos?
It is recognized and conceded, that plural society are rather competitive. Competition for resources which are not limitless. Competition for economic and political control, including the competition for the control and or allocation of resources.
What is unacceptable, and what should be condemned by all Nigerians, and reasonable persons everywhere, is the frequency and regularity of occurrence of Igbo bashing and unwarranted attacks against Igbos by fellow Nigerians.
This is the first week of March 2011. Nigeria is in the throes of extreme politicking. It is public knowledge that a momentous general election in Nigeria is upon Nigeria, scheduled for April 2011.
Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora should or ought to be actively engaged in debates of our national issues and challenges. Nigerians ought to eliciting and engendering debates between political candidates and the various political parties regarding their stances and positions on public policies and programs
Nigerians across the spectrum ought to focus on how the current crop of political candidates and their parties may create or bring about better life for all Nigerians all over Nigeria. But instead, too many Nigerians are focused how to keep Igbos marginalized, relegated, even as Igbos are bashed ceaselessly and endlessly.
Igbos are continually blamed for every and all of Nigeria’s afflictions, including political, constitutional and economic underdevelopment. A cursory examination of Nigeria’s past clearly indicates Igbos as victims of sundry circumstances in Nigeria. But revisionists in Nigeria are constantly engaging in extremely offensive revisionism in which Igbos are blamed for the marginalization, relegation and bashing to which Igbo have been subjected for decades.
A case in point is the unwarranted vitriolic attacks from many commentators at a Nigeria related website known as Nigeriavillagesquare.com; There was news that the Lagos state branch of Ohaneze, an Igbo sociocultural organization, had issued a public statement, demanding political inclusion and adequate reflection in Lagos state affairs. Too many Nigerians are too often engaged in selective memory and blissful amnesia.
A majority of those commenting or responding to the news, commented as though they felt compelled to excoriate and demean Igbos. The comments against Igbos were so outrageous and outlandish, you would think the word Igbo refers to a foreign nation outside of Nigeria with which Nigerians and Nigeria understandably directed hostilities and venom!
On ground in Nigeria, the sour attitude directed at Igbo is not much better. Many high profile political figures in Nigeria, have recently engaged in uncouth, insensitive and inflammatory pronouncements directed at Igbo citizens of Nigeria.
It is quite ironical and even oxymoronic, that many Nigerians who celebrated and went agog, (perhaps rightfully and proudly so), over President Obama’s appointment of a Nigerian physician, cancer expert, Dr. Olufunmilayo Falusi Olopade, Member, National Cancer Advisory Board of the United States; are the same Nigerians who are now, after or within a few days, surprisingly-shockingly disgustingly expressing offense, over possible appointments of Igbos by Lagos state government.
Dr. Olopade is Nigerian who received her medical degree from the great University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a Chicago “transplant”, by way of Nigeria, even with her stellar academic and professional overachiever,with so many accomplishments under her lab-coat and medical overall, would an undeserving non-indigene, “foreigner” and usurper “settler” in the warped-twisted logic of some Nigerians!
Some Nigerians, too many Nigerians across the world, it seems, appear to think Dr. Olopade were she an Igo lady in Lagos or Kano should not aspire or be appointed, despite her pedigrees? It bears restating here for the record, that this ethnic, regional and religious chauvinism, bigotries and prejudices borne of hatreds or mutual suspicions, are not special or unique to particular ethnic groups or regions in Nigeria. Inequality, discrimination and devaluation of citizenship is an equal opportunity offenses of which too many Nigerians are guilty.
I am not advocating that a blind Igbo person should be hired by Lagos state government to drive school buses, in the name of diversity or representation of Igbos in employment by Lagos state government. But Igbos who make Lagos home, like other fellow Nigerians, with qualifications, requisite experience and antecedents and pedigrees should have equal opportunities and representation in the scheme of things in Lagos.
My argument is identical for ALL Nigerians of other ethnic groups, regional and religious affiliations.
Non-Igbo Nigerians in this current electioneering campaign in the lead up to the general elections in April 2011, have arrogantly and adamantly announced to Igbos where Igbos belong and what political turn Igbos may expect. These offensive pronouncements about and against Igbos are frequently made with consultation and reference to Igbos. And what is worse, these pronouncements are made by non-Igbos about Igbos and without regard to the feelings and aspirations of Igbos.
Loud pronouncements about the place of Igbos in Nigeria’s political future have been made by some high profile Nigerians in recent times. These pronouncements have bordered around and encompassed unrestrained arrogant vituperation of Igbos. No adult should tell another adult what to do or what the future holds, but, unfortunately, some Nigerians are arrogant and pigheaded in the extreme, when they presumptuously announce the future for over 40 million Igbos in Nigeria!
Some Nigerians are so insensitive to the feelings of Igbo Nigerians or perhaps it is that some Nigerians take perverse joy in dehumanizing and degrading Igbo Nigerians? Our national security and national strategic interests are better in foreign hands than in the hands of Igbos?
The truth is governments in Nigeria currently employ Americans, Europeans, Indians, Chinese etc. Wh
y the fear and loathing for the prospects of Igbos in employment within the same circles of governments in Nigeria?
A few days ago, I read the opinion of the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Mohammed Abba-Aji which contained yet, another gloomy, if impossible political forecasts of the future for Igbos in 2015. Professor Omo Omoruyi engaged in similar forecasts several days before, both men, with iron clad view of Igbo Nigerian as occupying the presidency of Nigeria in 2015. Both men were an inch close to and hair-thin short of, predicting that Aso Rock door will remain shut against Igbo man or woman in 2015.
Ibrahim Badmass Babangida it was who, loudly announced to Igbos to await the future, perhaps 2015 and to forget 2011. Babangida made this announcement while supporting and participating in the Adamu Ciroma so-called consensus candidature for the presidency of Nigeria, an effort, which insisted on zoning and rotational presidency by PDP, which is supposed to favor geographic northern Nigeria in 2011 elections.
Everyone often talk down to and about Igbos. Everyone makes matter-of-fact pronouncements about Igbo’s political prospects in Nigeria, and Igbos are supposed to and expected to take all of these and as fait accompli and smile? Igbos like other Nigerians have a stake in Nigeria’s outcome. Igbos should feel at home throughout Nigeria, even despite checkered and painful historical experiences of violence against Igbos across Nigeria. Non-Igbos are keenly aware of Igbos industriousness, superb intellect and business acumen and enterprise. These attributes and qualities are appreciated across Nigeria with Igbo’s industry and presence is felt in the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, bar none!
Some states in Nigeria, including Lagos, in recognition and appreciation, have appointed Nigerians, Igbos, to prominent public state offices, even though such Nigerians are from ethnic groups, other than the catchments area dominant ethnic group.
As when Lagos appoints an Igbo person to public office because such persons are Nigerians and are qualified, and further, to give the appearance of representing and reflecting the demographic components of such states, in this instance, Lagos state.
All Nigerians and lovers of democracy should advocate and promote this practice, in which our government at various levels, accurately reflects our local, state and national population of Nigerian citizens. Lagos and its surrounding or neighboring states are comprised ethnic Yoruba Nigerians. Igbos are the second largest Nigerian ethnic group apart from
Yoruba. It is therefore not extraordinary for Lagos to aspire to reflect this in elective and appointive public offices. Ohaneze is reportedly articulating and advocating inclusion into the political scheme of things in Lagos and Ohaneze have been accused of impoliteness or worse, threatening, usurping and blackmailing Lagos state. Ohaneze is an umbrella Igbo organization and it is duty bound to advocate Igbo’s cause. But Ohaneze is being accused of being bad “guests” for making legitimate demands.
In the United States, immigrants and their children are sometimes elected or appointed to political offices. President Obama is the son of Kenyan immigrant, President Obama is an American by birth, he is nonetheless a first generation American. But Nigerians motivated by bigotry, hatred and prejudice against the “otherness” in fellow Nigerians, in this instance, Igbos, would argue that a third or fourth generation Igbo person in Lagos should not be elected or appointed to political offices in Lagos, on the ground, solely, that such person is of Igbo great grand parents and in effect, of Igbo heritage, even if such person is as versed and as comfortable in Yoruba culture as Abiola or Komolafe or even Omoluabi
President Obama’s father came to the United States less than 50 years ago and his son is president. And yet, too many Nigerians insist adamantly, that children and grandchildren of fellow Nigerians who “migrated” from various parts of Nigeria to different parts of same Nigeria, should remain as “illegal-immigrants” in our country Nigeria? Going by the present illogic in Nigeria, President Obama could not be employed outside of state of Hawaii, never mind becoming a US senator from Illinois or US president.
Mrs. Hilary Rodham Clinton , the Secretary of State for United States is originally from the state of Illinois, married President Bill Clinton from the state of Arkansas, before becoming Secretary of State, she was the elected US senator from New York State.
And how about the storied astronomical rise of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of the state of California, the fifth largest economy in the world, and the most populous state in the United States with a population of over 35 million Californians, he was born in Austria, lived in New York City as a body builder, then a film star, and voila, governor of California! Why, in view of all these, are Nigerian focused on devaluing Nigerian citizenship of fellow Nigerians within Nigeria, just because the some Nigerians have exercised fundamental rights such as freedom of movement and right to travel or relocate and live in any locality within Nigeria?
Nigeria is replete and Nigeria in fact is being consumed by this singular illogicality. The settler-indigene dichotomies or fleeting and fluid distinctions which are inflicted on Nigerian citizens, devalues our citizenship as full fledged citizens of Nigeria with equal rights, duties and obligations. Nigerians in Jos, Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri and Lagos etc are deathly afraid of domination by Igbos, instead of abject poverty and squalor and the absence of steady electricity and clean water?
Again, in the United States, particularly here in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and mayors before him, have always recognized the immense contributions made by immigrants to the development of New York City. Immigrants currently constitute 36% of the population of New York City, while contributing 37% to New York City’s economic development.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg in recognition of this, created and appointed a woman of Palestinian descent as New York City Commissioner for Immigrant Affairs! Imagine the irony of the presence of a Nigerian immigrant being more respected and appreciated in New York City, compared with the devaluation and degrading treatment such Nigerian may receive in various parts of Nigeria where she-he was born, just because she-he has a heritage with origins, other than, her-his chosen state of residence in Nigeria.
So that an Hausa Nigerian, Igbo Nigerian, Yoruba Nigerian, Esan or Ijaw Nigerian have their beloved Nigerian citizenship degraded and devalued because they chose a particular part of Nigeria to make their home and life? What a shame indeed! Why should it be the case that, just because my great grand parents were born in Maiduguri, and even though I have chosen Nnewi as my preferred part of Nigeria to create health, wealth and happiness, fellow Nigerians would not let me be? Whereas, Mayor Bloomberg says I am OK in New York City, so long as I am all about creating health, wealth and multiplying human happiness?
This writer is on record as a fervently passionate about one Nigeria forever, about the benefits of Nigeria’s unity in diversity and the perils of disintegration. This writer is on record as chastising those of my brethren who continue to espouse beliefs and aspirations in Biafra or any national aspirations outside Nigeria as presently constituted. Nevertheless, it cannot be the case and it is not logical, for any Nigerian to think it acceptable, a national arrangement, where a particular group is historically and persistently marginalized, relegated to the background and frequently bashed as Igbos are in Nigeria.
But who wants to be marginalized, relegated and bashed so often and persistently? Nigeria’ greatest challenge is the allocation and management of resources with which to tackle
and eliminate poverty from Nigeria. Undermining a large segment of our population is similar to deploying two thirds of our resources whilst neglecting the deployment of a sizable chunk, as large as one thirds.
Same way some nations neglect to develop their national human capital, by neglecting gender equality for women who are in fact a majority of national populations worldwide. No normal pilot flies large jet airplanes with one engine, ordinarily.
Igbos’ genuine desires and aspirations as full citizens of Nigeria, have been neglected and ignored for far too long. It is gross and extreme injustice for any reasonable person to expect Igbos to remain happy campers in stagnation for so long. All fair minded Nigerians only need to put themselves in the unacceptable position and circumstances which have been imposed on fellow Nigerians of Igbo heritage.
All Nigerians need to and must vigorously discuss Nigeria and the events which led to the ignominious Nigerian Civil War. All Nigerians need to similarly discuss the economic and political developments and occurrences in the aftermath of the Nigeria-Biafra War.
Nigeria need truth, sincere reconciliation and national healing. Constantly blaming Igbos, who are arguably the recipients of the roughest end of the Civil War stick, is a national disservice and disgrace! It takes two sides to fight any war. Blaming one side to a thirty month long war is unreasonable, particularly so, after these 40 long years after the war.
Democracy in Nigeria and across the world is messy and in fact, quite imperfect, this is even more so, in relatively younger democracies such as our in Nigeria. This messes and imperfection become even more complex in multicultural, plural, and secular nations such as ours. Democracies, even in plural societies in which the most qualified persons with passion, commitment and dedication to best public policies for national common good are certainly preferred.
Nigeria’s young democracy, nascent, so-called, is still susceptible to negative common denominators of ethnic, regional, religious differences big and small, real and imagined. And so, the concerns and fears of marginalization and relegation are tenaciously held deeply felt. All Nigerians should recognize these basic facts and therefore do unto Igbos as the rest of Nigerians outside Igboland would expect unto themselves!
All things considered, Igbo Nigerians have be patient and levelheaded even in the face egregious provocations imbued in offensively laced pronouncements regarding Igbos genuine desires and aspirations within the nation of Nigeria. All Nigerians should become more conversant with the fact that the sun also rises in Igboland.
There are millions of competent women and men, who are eminently qualified to occupy the highest political office in the land, and to assume and exercise presidential powers and duties in Nigeria.
1. 2007 Presidential Elections In Nigeria And Ndigbo’s Genuine Aspirations. circa 2005
2. What Do Ndiigbo Want? From Biafra To MASSOB. circa 2004
3. Biafra Is Dead, Buried & No More! circa 2005