Nationalities meaning well for a restructured Nigeria amidst the existential emergency, have articulated their core interests beyond religions. The Yoruba are near unanimous carrying along their kinsmen everywhere including in Kwara and Kogi states. The Hausa, unlike the servile yesteryears are gradually gaining consciousness of cultural individuality worthy of respect. Many Fulani even suggest Nigeria as their “global” peoples’ rightful ancestral homeland.
Some AwkaCross elites are continually stepping down erstwhile Efik-Annang-Oron-central Ibibio differences in a new assurance of basic linguistic ties. There is a considerable unity among the Kanuri, Nigeria’s Islamic pioneers, and ideas are emerging favouring a renewed Kwararafa even beyond the Benue River. Then, many Ijaw speak of their kind and possible Nigerians down to the coasts of Brazzaville, while the Tiv of Benue state assure those elsewhere of continuing filial accommodation. The Ogoni, language apart, nevertheless cultivate a single nationhood. Etc. Unfortunately, as Nigerians are uniting their peoples to become credible constitutive units in a reformed polity, compromised Igbo elites are tearing apart between those that are “core” and those not, with no reasons justifying the barricade.
Socio-linguistic groups seeking true federalism with they or combinations thereof becoming federating units are making a just and legitimate demand to free them from the violence and poverty of institutive federalism imposed to serve domestic reaction and its external allies and necessarily requiring unequal unitarized centralization instead of federalized dispersal of power.
Any objective restructuring will solve this issue of improper distribution of values and guarantee a relative self-determination of nationalities to promote their cultural progress in a democratic secular state. Hence, the national question which embodies all political, economic, military-security and ideological requirements of the equitable reorganization of the Nigerian state. Patriotic Nigerians understand all this, and those feigning ignorance of the meaning and implications of restructuring are enemies of the country and part-authors of the backward march today. The Igbo are neither better nor worse than others and since divers nationalities are regrouping they should do the same for not doing so could be a source of future instability.
In a 16th May 1966 letter to Sir Odumegwu Ojukwu Zik had lamented “the role the Ibo plays generally . . . against himself . . .”. Therefore those among the Igbo appearing as an elites conspiracy to mess up the Igbo using a dagger called “core Igbo” should relent. These are adepts in confusing Igbo with Southeast so that people are deceived into supporting one thing while manipulated for another. They start great speeches with Igbo and midway subtly divert to Southeast and vice versa, in a brain-twisting that other Nigerians do not impose on their nationalities. The program to inveigle the Igbo into a restructuring hinged on Southeast insularity instead of Igbo and other nationhoods run counter to the national question at the heart of the Nigerian crisis. So also the impression that other Nigerians are necessary enemies of the Igbo instead of they that snatch mid-course, items of development theorized at every level. We respect their views but they are wrong.
Those defining themselves as core Igbo listen only to themselves, implying that every other Igbo are un-core, suggestively inferior. The un-core Igbo would include such great assets as Chibuike Amaechi, Nyesom Wike, Nduka Obaigbena, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ifeanyi Okowa, Uche Okwukwu, Peter Odili, the Elumelus, Jim Ovia, J. J. Okocha, Godwin Emefiele, and Frank Ndili who rebuilt the UNN. Are these who according to the theories of the core should give way for them to be President, whence could be imposed one or other contentious mode of sectarian primitivism or cultism instead of civilized secularism upon the East? From the un-core were many illustrious sons that distinguished the Igbo globally: King Jaja, Azikiwe (Umezechima), Nzeogwu, Achuzie, Amabibi Nsirim, Emma Okocha, Obi Wali, Jackson Mpi, Dennis Osadebay, and Professors Elizabeth Isichie, Angulu Onwuejeogwu and B. I. C. Ijeoma.
No federal road in the East had not priorly been awarded to one or other core Igbo leader; then, where are the roads? No Eastern airport or other infrastructure had not once been under a “core” federal Minister, but laid waste and awaiting President Buhari to re-undertake. Yes the Igbo are greatly marginalized, but if the Southeast had been totally surrendered to its core leaders, citizens could be living under a higher reign of terror of the likes of Otokoto and Osisikankwu, outfits of political intimidation, kidnapping, murder and mayhem used by those who rather should be in hell than the balefully procured public spaces they occupy.
Igbo youths are suffering and Igboland wasting and the solution of the core elites is the exclusion of those kinsmen strategic for its rejuvenation. There are few un-core with the EFCC; in the core candidates are legion, especially having worked with obliging Jonathan without remembering their suffering peoples in a field day of core corruption instead of development of the prebendal core kingdom. One reason the East is deteriorating is because intimidated Igbo intelligentsia are yet to start holding these people to account or wake up to the demands of civilized self-examination. Not everyone is culpable, but filthy fingers corrupt the rest.
A question to those desiring core Igbo instead of Igbo as President of Nigeria: who will give or elect you to it when the base is weakened by division? Shall the APC spend eight years “fighting corruption” merely to return the country to its bastion just in order to mess up the Igbo and ensure their unreadiness for restructuring? Groups serious about national power must first encourage internal unity, which broader pool would avail wider choice of candidates of character and knowledge to build a better Nigeria. While the West and others are somehow industrializing, inundating the Southeast are churches and cathedrals distorting the orientation towards industrialization and exposing us Christians and insulting Igboland as a contested theocratic enclave mixing faith with politics and removed from the march of secular progress.
A genuine Ohanaeze should have been addressing these sufferings and time bombs of Igboland, but how could a problem be the solution? Claimed core Igbo leaders would be brought to serve Ohanaeze Ndigbo, but no sooner they assume the office than it’s conversion to Ohanaeze Southeast with no honest approaches to Agbor, Igbo Akiri, Ezza Ezekunna, Diobu/Rebisi, Isiokpo, Elele, etc peoples or traditional rulers; if anything it is to annoy them with insults about “core” Igbo. Some claim that “core” Igbo uniting with the “un-core” hurts the “feelings” of others. In the “Vanguard” of Wednesday, January 06, 2021, an Igbo intellectual bemoaned about Ohanaeze and Igbo “leaders”: “We have forensically studied . . . the whole thing about Ohanaeze and found out that . . . the characters we have in the socio-cultural and political leaderships in present Igbo Nation are unarguably the mouthpiece of the Caliphate . . . at the mercy of compromised Igbo governors who are desperately looking for who will clean up their bad image having failed woefully in the governance and security of Igbo Nation.”
But is the caliphate so daft; if anything it takes enormous brilliance to subject peoples to slavery. So, trusting those despised by their own and whose contribution to progress is its destruction is near impossible. Yet, the fantasy remains that instead of honest human beings, nihilistic Southeasterners with no ideas about anything except corruption could be “trusted” by the caliphate to rule, rather ruin Nigeria merely for the sake of delaying the end of the former.
The core interests of the Igbo in line with those of others seeking true federalism in a multi-cultural polity had long been defined: a secular democratic state with united Igbo-speaking peoples down to the coast in the about 13 contiguous states they are indigenous to as one constituent unit, with a functional modernization of the Port Harcourt, Bonny, Opobo and other Eastern seaports and their organic re-linkage with the interior. This would re-trigger an industrial revolution in the East and Middle Belt and a spillover development of the Northeast and Central.
And by moderating demographic and related pressures, help reduce ethnic tensions and further facilitate developmental quantum jumps in the West, Northwest and part-Central. Such interdependent poles of development, a product of honest restructuring would commit the wasting energies of the youths to a peaceful win-win competitive emulation and away from the antagonisms and bloodshed being engineered from sundry sources. No group should be holed up in an artificial closet if we have an honest intention to build up a harmonious Nigeria. Self-styled core Igbo and Ohanaeze leaders are rather diverting people to a laughable aku ruo ulo (bring wealth home) doctrine of housing – as if any Igbo ever needed a tutorial on houses.
President Buhari who given our criticisms over lapses thereafter started building roads and other infrastructures in the East previously ignored by “core Igbo” PDP leaders is not doing so for the caliphate.
The regrouping of many progressive elements, including some prominent Igbo ANPP is what attracted some of us into the APC, short of organizing a revolutionary party to overthrow the evil order. APC is free to divert to norms antithetical to civilized social democracy which “progressives” implies, and that would not be for want of our trying. Caliphates all over the world are violent corrupt feudal institutions that have no place in civilized life. None of its apologists had ever suggested that the attributes, the reason the world united to eradicate them, are different in Nigeria, except that the cultural diversity of the country forced it from absolutism to parallelism. How then could any leaders, especially from a traditionally democratic Igbo society, subject themselves to feudal atavism to please a caliphate apprehensive of its anachronism and long overdue for dissolution on account of its inutility?
Therefore, any circles proposing a “core Igbo” President from the coterie of selfish Southeast individuals answerable to the caliphate instead of secular constitutional order, are number one enemies of the country. True lovers of civilized Nigeria in the APC must stand up to be counted and firmly assert the essence of “progressives” in the search for President instead of pandering unto a path that leads nowhere.
Professor Obasi Igwe
c/o Department of Political Science
University of Nigeria, Nsukka