As the debate on restructuring and secession engulfs Nigeria, Tori News political correspondent - Osayimwen Osahon George was waded into the threat to Nigeria's unity with a personalized account.
File Photo: An Igbo lady
As the forthcoming Anambra gubernatorial election which is a litmus test of influence and power between the secessionists and the Federal Government approaches; I deem it appropriate to express my fears through this medium.
The popularity and surge in the campaign of hate and division by the leader of the Independent People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu has remained cancerous to the 'theoretical' unity of Nigeria. As a political scientist and public commentator observing the state of political affairs in the Southeast state, I am of the opinion that the electoral exercise scheduled for the 18th of November, 2017 election will be successful despite the intimidating confidence and proclamation of Mr. Kanu. But what if I get my analysis wrong my love?
The implication is that the Federal Government will be strong-armed into organizing a referendum for the exit of the Igbo Nation from Nigeria which might go the inapt way. What will become of our seeming formidable love amid the political squabble accrued to seceding? This question has taken sleep off my eyes and caused me to look out of the windows at night searching for answers that are beyond me under the faint lights of the stars.
Aside our romance my future wife, I am more concerned about the economic advantage of population size and landmass Nigeria is about to throw away to the dogs due to the menace of inscrutable, impassive and vacuous pseudo leaders making populist statements to hoodwink the plebeians and the weak-willed citizens for self-absorbed gains. The entrepreneurial skills of the South-easterners coupled With the agrarian nature of the locals in the northern part of the country, the depth of formal education in the Southwest and the crude oil in the South-south part of the country if unified could provide the formidable force for the economic recovery of the country if our strengths are efficiently harnessed and exploited without corruption as we have today.
I am scared of my imaginations of the crises of Sudan and South Sudan which degenerated into two different civil wars within 1955-1972 and 1983-2005 and also the South Sudanese civil war of 2013 till date. What about the Syrian civil war which has been ongoing since 2011 with the world losing count of the death toll? According to Al Jazeera, more than 465,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, more than a million injured and over 12 million Syrians - half the country's prewar population - have been displaced from their homes.
I am disturbed about a repetition of gory incidents of violence during the Nigerian civil war of 6th July, 1967- 15th of January, 1970 where brothers and sisters assumed different identities and killed each other. According to history, over the two and half years of the war, there were about 100,000 overall military casualties, while between 500,000 and 2 million civilians died from starvation. This excludes the infrastructural facilities destroyed and economic activities disrupted during the period of turbulence. Till date, the wounds have refused to heal and they have become plagues spreading from one generation to the other.
What about the Rwandan genocide involving the Hutu and the Tutsi causing the death of about a 500,000 to one million people within a period of 100 days from April 7 to mid-July 1994? An estimated 2,000,000 Rwandans were displaced and became refugees. The scars have refused to fade away even under the beauty of expensive clothes and heavy make-ups by the women literally speaking.
May that day not come when Nigeria will be divided across ethnic lines and the Igbos will be called to evacuate the South-west and other parts of the country for the Southeast for census as part of the secession process.
Chizaram, I am scared of the uncertainties and spatial separation this might cause between us. I can't imagine you applying for a visa to see me wherever I find myself in the remains of Nigeria. I can't picture my family obtaining visas for the traditional rites of our envisioned wedding in Umudike, Abia State.
I am so much pertubed about the threat to the businesses investments of the Igbos in Lagos State where they dominate the local economy with enviable success. Business moguls like Ifeanyi Ubah, Orji Uzor Kalu, Sir Emeka Offor Cosmos Maduka, Chief Arthur Eze, Vincent Amaechi Obianodo, Leo Stan Ekeh, Pascal Dozie, Tony Ezenna, and other underground wealthy men running business empires in the financial nerve-centre of Nigeria will be highly apprehensive over this menace being blindly supported by a majority of youths acting on impulse with no sense of history and foresight.
My Nirvana, I remember you telling me how you will like to own your own consulting firm in Lagos and also give back to the society where you grew up. With the imminent secession, the achievement of that vision might be cumbersome as Nigeria and the Igbo Nation will likely part with a war colder than what Russia and America have shared since 1947 after the Wold War II.
The governor of Plateau State, Solomon Lalong just recently announced that the Igbos hold 70% of the Certificates of Occupancy in his state which is a subtle threat to the indigenous people but nobody is making a fuss about it. The Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje also affirmed the indispensability of the Igbos in economic growth when he said Kano would not have risen to become a commercial hub to reckon with without the presence of majorly the Igbos and other ethnic groups. This describes how much we have been so mixed with each other despite our over 400 ethnic nationalities. What about the flourishing businesses of the Igbos in other northern parts of the country as well as the Southwest? Some Igbo businessmen have even failed to leave the war-torn north-eastern part of the country due to the cash flows from their enterprises.
When I was posted to Bauchi State for my National Youth Service Corp in 2010, I thought I was outside this world already because the people looked strange to me physically coupled with their language but to my surprise, some local merchants from the Southeast were joyously trading among them and conversing freely.
I wish these youth supporting the ostensibly myopic and ill-thought-out cause of the Independent People of Biafra and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB could see beyond their noses to realize that the strength of Nigeria just like the United States of America lies in her diversity and size.
Dear Chizaram, I hope you don't feel I am insensitive to the plight of your people. This national marriage that gave birth to Nigeria as brokered by British colonialist, Sir Frederick Lugard's amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914 is clearly imperfect. Nothing is perfect in this world. A course work in Philosophy during my University days taught me that perfection only exists in the Utopian world of forms - a figment of human imaginations.
The way the northerners in Nigeria clinch to power is mind-boggling. They make it seem like its their birth-right. Democracy which is a game of the majority favours them. The appointments into public offices made by President Muhammadu Buhari are truthfully lopsided, the Igbos have only produced a President ceremonially (Nnamdi Azikwe) for just 6 months in the 56 years of existence of the Nigerian entity. Northerners are presently heading 14 out of the the 17 security agencies in Nigeria while southerners hold 3, the rebuilding, reconstruction and reconciliation process of the Southeast after the war hasn't been sincerely and duly followed as promised by the government, the 2017 budgetary allocation for capital projects - N28.22 billion to the Southeast appears meagre compared to the north (North-Central got N207bn; North-West, N73.7bn; South-West, N48.97bn; North-East N46.69bn; South-South, N35.31bn), the migrating Fulani herdsmen have freely maimed, killed people and destroyed properties without any quintessential government interference, even Buhari once admitted on foreign soil that he will not treat the regions in Nigeria evenly as their voting pattern during the 2015 election will be considered in his approach to national development; the pitfalls go on and on.
Power is transient, Aso Rock Villa is not Buhari's father's house or his private property. His time will come and go but if the Igbos leave, they might never come back. This reminds me of the words of the former British Prime Minister David Cameron to the Scottish people when he was faced with a referendum in 2014.
Here is an interesting excerpt from his lengthy speech:
"If you don’t like me – I won’t be here forever. If you don’t like this Government – it won’t last forever. But if you leave the UK – that will be forever.
Yes, the different parts of the UK don’t always see eye-to-eye.
Yes, we need change – and we will deliver it but to get that change, to get a brighter future, we don’t need to tear our country apart."
On a lighter note, I can't imagine the streets of FESTAC Town in Lagos without those local dishes like Oha soup, Ofe Onugbu, Abacha and Ugba, Ofe Akwu, Ofe Nsala, Isi Ewu, Nkwobi and others. Even though the people of other tribes have learned it, you can't compare with the expertise of the Igbo folks.
Imagine the club houses and other social gatherings in Lagos without the light-skinned Igbo ladies constantly 'slaying' under the colourful lights with those natural endowments American stars like Nicki Minaj, Amber Rose, Black Chyna, Remy ma and others allegedly paid plastic surgeons handsomely to acquire. But our sisters got them for free in original form.
There is a widespread stereotype that our Igbo sisters love money but some of us can't take our eyes off them due to the alluring beauty they possess. Its two years now and I still remember the outstanding Egusi soup a female friend, Chidinma once prepared for me. I was intoxicated and had to suggest marriage as a way of tying her down still she reminded me my bank account is as frail as Buhari in London. I will never trade these sweet For gold or silver.
Chizaram dear, I hope my revelations haven't sparked any jealousy in you with my very personal revelations. Its my utmost wish that they serve the general will of keeping Nigeria together as one for our onward movement. I urge the government to tackle the issue of poverty, unemployment and debilitated economy which has caused undue anger in people prompting the messianic status given to Nnamdi Kanu who has struggled in United Kingdom as a black man.
I applaud the audacity of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu who has dared odium to publicly play down the essence of the Biafra cause. I have no plans of marrying a foreigner or losing my friends.
I believe in a united Nigeria and I will fight with my pen to keep my beautiful Chizaram close to me till the day I meet my demise.
Osayimwen Osahon George
Lagos State, Nigeria.