UNKNOWN GUNMEN OR UNKNOWN MISCHIEF?
The Igbo pioneered the Black African entry into the bronze and iron ages, and the artifacts survive today; Equiano, Beale Horton, and several other Igbo led the African struggles against the slave trade and slavery in the Western hemisphere, and the positive impacts for ever live; the Igbo led in the 500-year long good and bad West African Atlantic history, founding many coastal city-states and bringing many bystanders and equivocators into the new openings; led in the Nigerian and African struggles for freedom from colonial rule, inspiring others to rise up from sleep and follow suit; in their diaspora led, and even at a point joining with Bolivar and others in the founding, freedom and development of many countries in the Americas (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobego, southern United States, etc, etc.), and in the drive for civil and fundamental human rights that defined modern civilization, producing many Presidents and other leaders of Igbo stock; were a major force in the founding of Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and many other east Atlantic African coastal states; and dominated the putsch to free the people from the “wetie” walloping of the West and Nigeria, and Caliphate genocide in the Middle-Belt. So long as there is a single man or woman alive, no one can teach the Umu Chukwu, children of the Most High God, their history or succeed in cannibalizing or wiping it off memory.
All the humble efforts of the Igbo, of course usually in cooperation with so many peoples sometimes far bigger and more powerful than they, succeeded because of a world receptive to progressive change, but similar efforts in Nigeria have almost totally failed because of the nature of the people the Igbo are living with, and the fact that the always futuristic Igbo themselves often do not pay much attention to the past. But of this looming war to subjugate and re-enslave Nigeria, no Igbo should lead resistance against it; let Nigerians be fully and totally enslaved to their hearts’ desires while we keep on ruminating over the situation, but never to arms again.
Mischief is afoot, so said Shakespeare, and we are all vulnerable in the Nigerian state of nature, with no one sure of his life any longer, but our voices may help restrain the evil one. The alternative is to keep quiet and “enjoy” our enslavement, and with it as legacy to the future generations. Are we under civil-military rule, military-civil rule, militarized civil rule, deceit rule, organized state terrorism, or simply orchestrated state of anomie? Today nobody in Nigeria knows what to believe, and in the East maybe even including its “governors of Rome” who are guessing right, left and centre and changing their narratives every day. Do we believe the federal authorities that instantly declared the “unknown hoodlums” to be the IPOB/ESN, the ever-ready weapon of blaming the victim and blackmail against all of us peaceful Easterners seeking to build a better Nigeria on a restructured basis, preferably with an Igbo as President; or the IPOB that are to the extent of our knowledge committed to non-violent agitation and have declared they cannot be burning Police stations and other public facilitates with unprecedented military precision, and seemingly joining the herdsmen terrorists and their enablers in creating chaos in the same Igbo society they’ve risen to protect?
Certainly, whoever is responsible for this sudden violence does not mean well for the Igbo, but given the lack of any investigation before an IGP apportioned his blame, we proceed from the assumption that it is not from the Igbo. We teach 101 students that to determine the source of a problem first ask who is gaining from it. Who is gaining from creating a state of anarchy in Igbo land as a prelude to destroying it? Is it any Igbo or those always seeking to cripple the Igbo? Are we into deep state designs or have the IPOB acquired precision-guided stealth technology with which to destroy targets surrounded by military-security infrastructures and able to melt into thin air with perfunctory or no opposition at all? Igbo intellectuals must provide their analyses.
Regardless, the obvious immediately followed: intensified military occupation of the East and continuous arrest of unarmed youthful populations. Ohanaeze issued a statement that: “For the armed forces to arrest . . . Igbo youths without evidence of arms, means of violence or crime is cowardly, uncivilized” and that it “runs contrary to every sense of natural justice and rights of citizenship for the army to invade . . . Igbo communities in search of youths.” They followed with another statement clearly dissociating the Igbo from the mayhems and calling upon the federal government to unmask what appears to be a decoyed prelude to a “walloping of the East.”
At least the Ohanaeze statements show they do not believe that Igbo youths have joined the herdsmen terrorists to wage war on Igbo land or freely offer the enemy a casus belli for one, and this coincides with the popular view, which this humble writer equally shares in, hoping that we are not wrong. But whether or not the sudden violence is a ploy to extend covering fire to herdsmen terrorists and against those trying to expel them from Igbo forests and further subdue the Igbo, the unsolicited advice to our long-suffering youths is: maintain your non-violence policy, do not be tempted to respond to force with force, do not go to “war,” do not fight the “Nigerian armed forces.” Yes, since about 1990 Igbo politicians and the Ohanaeze except under Ralph Uwechue have failed us miserably, but let’s first watch for a while what the “elected” or selected governors intend to do with their so-called Ebubeagu, practically established to protect the terrorist herdsmen destroying our peoples, and without a single agu or ebube present at the inaugural meeting. It is a very difficult choice to make and insult to swallow, but there is a small room for manoeuvre to save the East from another unilateral war and a well-chosen Southeast “enclave” from a pre-programmed violent reversal of our 50-year long self-reconstruction efforts despite our oil and other wealth denied us.
The first Abandoned Property was to eradicate the Igbo from their coastlands and pretend to their land-locking; the second will reach Enugu, with the whole area becoming another “independent ethnic nationality” – that is, Igbo independent of Igbo. Terrorists and their enablers are scheming to eradicate the Igbo and we should try and swallow whatever bitter pill, including the avoidance of battles, to prevent it. In 1967 broken agreements and unrestrained pogroms lured us into going into unequal war, imagining that the world was on the side of justice, and half a century after not a single Nigerian leader or “human rights activist” has ever thought of erecting a monument regretting the murder of more than 3 million innocent souls. Igbo fought for justice and the downtrodden but the downtrodden united and fought against the Igbo, and everyone, not only the Igbo ended up vanquished – they are suffering and we are suffering. Now, no more war. The entire South and Middle-Belt are occupied and bleeding and everyone is waiting for the Igbo to start the struggle. We are not starting it; we are not safely abroad, but people directly in the tiger’s mouth, and we the unprotected are afraid that another full-scale slaughter is about to begin only waiting for a pretext to start.
Igbo youths are often falsely accused of not listening to their elders. Well, what good advice or vision can a corrupt man give his children or offer anyone about the future; is it to emulate his stealing?
Sometimes it is demanded that Igbo elites speak to their children. Are we going to teach the youths more sophisticated than us about denied admissions and jobs, unwarranted arrests, tortures and shootings, molestation and humiliation of their parents, theft of allocated resources in their states, and so on, and our complicity in all of them? Have other Nigerians spoken to their children armed and embedded in Igbo forests and killing the Igbo? What have the Igbo elites to say on their vision of Nigeria and the place of Igbo youths and other Nigerians in it: say, the secular state, the land question, and a restructuring conducive to their wellbeing, or is it just about a ceremonial presidency secured on Caliphate terms with guns pointed at the head of the clown for eight years?
But there are still many honest Igbo elders variously requesting that the youths listen: you are already doing well, making the world appreciate your justified non-violent political struggle, and you can do more: just look over your shoulders to see what other Nigerians equally suspecting a government/military collusion with terrorists to subdue them are doing, so that you don’t start or go it alone. Even the almighty US go with allies, aware that instead of fighting alone you don’t fight at all. Rome learnt that lesson; so did Carthage, Athens and Sparta, and in Nigeria the Fulani never fight alone! It was only the Igbo that were pushed to fight alone with practically clubs and sticks between 1967 and 1970, unlike the Aro among us who knew the value of coalitions and surrogates. No repetition. Especially, people under siege and struggling to survive are prone to mutual betrayals and recriminations, and Igbo land today is filled with new versions of Warrant Chief in the name of governors, autonomous or government-recognized chiefs, councillors, honourables, etc. They are hungry, rootless and therefore ruthless and treacherous: they will point at their local enemies and their family members and declare them IPOB/ESN members, never mind that they are not a terrorist organization, and these innocent peoples would be condemned into early graves as part of a programmed elimination of the Igbo population.
Of course, it is no arcane wisdom that reluctance for war is nearly always the reason for provocations and subterfuges intended to impose it on anyone. But the Igbo must persevere and stick to the pacifist formula. This pacifism may not end the killings of the Igbo under various pretexts – they call this deliberate depopulation “degrading” – but we must not yield to a plan to have all Nigerians once more unjustly coalesce to exact new pounds of flesh upon the Igbo. No one should take for granted that any tribe has learnt lessons on divide-and-rule and its road to serfdom. It is rather clear that the RUGA, Water Resources, Cattle Routes/colonies, and the miscellany of other archaic terms driving the movement to the coast having been put in seeming abeyance, “war of unity” against a manufactured “Biafra” remains the only decoy left to “unite” Nigerians for Caliphate designs. Therefore, the Igbo will not go to another one-man war against the multitude. This is not a lone voice. Hear Mbazulike Amechi: “I will advise IPOB to steer clear of what is happening in the South East and let the truth be revealed. Let them maintain the sanctity of their innocence. I don’t want IPOB to go into violence because they have neither the arms nor . . . capability to do that. What is happening now is like what Hitler did against the Jews, sent their secret service men to commit certain crimes and go back to accuse the Jews. They are looking for the slightest opportunity to pounce on . . . Ndigbo and kill them. If it means wiping out . . . they are prepared to do that. Ndigbo should not give them . . . chance to do that.” If you still can’t believe Mbazulike, re-read the “Saturday Sun” of May 12, 2018, pages front, 36 and 41, to confirm one of their ideologues demanding the “relocation of the people of Niger Delta. Yes. They should be relocated. That would have solved the problem . . . in the South-South and South East.” After the mass evacuation, either Asaba or IDPs-style, they would then take possession of the rich lands, which is exactly the goal that the embedded AK-47 monsters in the Middle-Belt and Southern forests are pursuing.
Above all, why did Biafra fail, and why have some of us chosen restructuring over a secession that might entail another war imposed on the Igbo even as there is no denying that we remain sentimentally Biafrans? Biafra collapsed not because her opponents were better fighters or that a One Nigeria killing field was a worthier idea than different countries peacefully living side-by-side. Biafra failed almost 100% because they practically fought with bare hands and lived on propaganda against a combined force of nearly all Nigerian ethnic groups heavily armed and diplomatically backed by all the major global powers (NATO – USA, Britain, etc; the Warsaw Pact – USSR, etc; OAU, Arab League, Islamic world, Non-Aligned Movement, etc). France was sympathetic but because of NATO treaty would not render lethal help while China was too far away and militarily too underdeveloped to convert sympathy to assistance. Today the situation has not changed except that the Nigerian Army allegedly substantially pruned of Southern/Christian elements is stronger and the East administratively divided and weaker.
The Middle-Belt that some people seem to be hoping on will today except by miracle still not join the Igbo to fight the Fulani Caliphate, the main problem with Nigeria. The Middle-Belt people, custodians of the great NOK civilization, including significant elements of the Igbo and Yoruba in Benue, Kogi and Kwara states, are very good people, if not even better than many of us. But a faction of their elites attired by domestic and external imperialism and for whom this provides the choice means of social climbing and other relevance are always waiting for instructions and “body language” of their owners before knowing what to think or do, even in betrayal of the interests of their own peoples, despite a high civilization with which a murderous 1803/04 intervention cannot compare. There is no clash of civilizations in Nigeria, but a clash between civilization and outright primitivism as expressed by the Caliphate system with acquired modern technology. These pro-Caliphate elements, not the Middle-Belt peoples as such, are pathological haters of the Igbo and ever-ready tools of their masters. Are these the people that any Igbo youngster would expect to help him in another war?
This faction thrown up to the leadership of Nigeria by the albeit ill-executed revolution and violences of 1966, mobilized their innocent youths for wars and pogroms against their liberators, squandering the opportunity to once and for all free their peoples from Caliphate enslavement. Abraham Lincoln fought to free his country from slavery; this faction of the Middle-Belt elites waged a genocidal war to return their people to the status quo ante of serfdom. A few years back on TV one of their leading lights masquerading as a human rights bishop declared in Port Harcourt something like: “I don’t know why some people don’t accept defeat.” He did not expatiate and didn’t need to, having let out his innermost mindset. During the 1966 to 1970 crises, some elements of the Yoruba and even Hausa-Fulani nevertheless sympathized with the Igbo and concealed those they safely could from harm. But being misled by this faction of their elites, hardly a single Igbo family that managed to escape the pogroms in the far North was spared by Middle-Belt Christian brothers and sisters struggling to prove their everlasting loyalty to their Caliphate slave masters that arrogantly regard them as foot stools, despite pleas for mercy by crying Igbo men, women and children. And these were the same people automatically freed from Caliphate subjugation in a military putsch led mostly by Igbo officers. They killed more ferociously than others during the genocidal war and were the instigators and finishers of the ethnic-cleansing programme code-named Abandoned Property in Southern Igboland, which Gowon who dedicated his life to the service of the oppressors of his people is yet to regret till today. Their peoples are being massively killed and uprooted from their ancestral homes and those who survive squeezed into IDP camps, but this faction is yet to utter a sustained voice of protest. If Middle-Belt Christian leaders despite the suffering Middle-Belt masses could so betray their peoples and their consciences now as between 1966 and 1970, would they have any compunction doing so again against the Igbo in any new war?
During this writer’s sojourn in Kaduna and Zaria it was clear that Middle-Belt peoples were just as other civilized human beings, and never as bad as some Igbo imagined from the pogroms, but had actually changed their perceptions of the Igbo from those they needed to help anyone wipe out to those best to align with to develop Nigeria as close brothers and sisters. In fact, if this author is associated with any modicum of anything in life it is substantially due to the stay in the North and interactions with civilized Northerners and Westerners especially Middle-Belters. I experienced absolutely zero discrimination in the North and became convinced that most Nigerians had the mind to love each other and looked forward to a democratic and peaceful society. When one Igbophobist white HOD, one of the alleged instigators of the pogroms wanted to oppress me because I didn’t answer to his evil satisfaction his ethnic-cleansing question of “Is your Igwe of Rivers or East Central State brand?”, almost all the students in the line rose up against him and in my defence, insisting that he must sign my papers, which he had earlier refused to sign or else he would not leave the office a happy man, and he cowardly did so and more shamefully declared a persona non grata one or so days afterwards in a July 29th coup, making students imagine that poor me was behind his expulsion. The ABU was a melting pot of Nigerians and both as classmates and colleagues, even including East Africans, we liked and appreciated each other, debating extensively on sundry issues with open minds. And almost nobody was happy when as an only son I needed to leave to care for my ailing parents. All this is simply one participant observer’s evidence of the readiness of Nigerians to love each other, but because of the betrayal of their elites, should not be taken as an automatic guarantee of effective alliance to fight against injustice.
The types that made the Port Harcourt statement and executed the military revenge, pogroms, genocides and ethnic cleansings and their pious clergymen far from remorseful, are still in the driver’s seat and, therefore no Igbo should think that the situation has changed enough to expect a better outcome from another war, even as natural republicans injustice pains us more than it does other groups. Additionally, war has an entirely different logic that is illogical and unpredictable.
Coming to the East remember the Biafra saboteur syndrome and unverified tendency in some individuals of preference to be slaves with the Igbo in hell than unity with them in paradise. Rumours are equally awash of renewed pressures to once again have the Eastern “minorities” to “cooperate” in the treatment to be meted to their “Southeast” kith and kin, and guarantees of their survival and better treatment if they so “cooperate”. That’s a déjà vu; factions of them have always been “cooperating”, and the result is the destruction and impoverishment of their lands and humiliation and murder of their leaders and peoples, but still raises the question of who to align with the Igbo in a war of national liberation in a country where far too many people are comfortable with slavery. Nigerians are being tested, taunted and pressed to the wall by variously embedded AK-47 herdsmen and their enablers, but on no account must we go to war; we must restrict ourselves to sustained peaceful elaboration of the issues, with continued efforts to let our diaspora and civilized world know of the calamities being imposed on Nigerians by all manner of armed terrorists who probably for lack of civilization of their own desire to destroy those of others. Their alter egos never respected rare historical monuments in Timbuctoo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and even America’s twin towers, and have never been respecting any in Nigeria. They are well-liked by all imperialisms because they are easily manipulated to destroy their own peoples or whatever good cause provided they are permitted to live their modern technology-enhanced primitive lives and conduct their own butcheries within. They are immune to any civilized discourse, except that having been armed the arms would decide any matter. Instead of fighting with them it is better to come to a civilized understanding with their external principals to enable everyone live honourably.
B. IMMEDIATE STEPS FOR PEACE IN NIGERIA.
There must be a clear, precise and unambiguous declaration on what type of society we want to build and on the basis of which One Nigeria is made meaningful. No more wavering or unity for the sake of unity. We are supposedly speaking of an APC federal government that answers progressive, and not retrogressive. Many of us are in the APC to promote civilization starting with an end to PDP’s corrupt governance and not as cover to advance the Caliphate feudal system in Nigeria and the endemic violence and bloodshed everywhere associated with caliphatism in the world. A u-turn is still possible within the next 24 months for the party to be truly progressive. These immediate steps would return the APC to that progressive promise, and especially help improve security and bring peace to Nigeria within a relatively short time. It is only a true APC living up to its name and promise and alive to its responsibilities that should implement them and restore confidence in the federal government. There is no more time for deceitful feudal patchwork; it is now either to be or not to be.
1. The Hidden Agenda. Authorities should know that there is no bird flying whose belly is not seen by all. If there is any taquiyya or malign agenda open or hidden by anybody called islamization or fulanization as alleged by Obasanjo and many others, it should immediately be rescinded in thought and practice. It will be both unconstitutional and uncivilized, and it would be at best an erratic ambition driven too far. No Nigerian is interested in altering his faith by violent means.
2. Open Grazing A ban on open grazing nation-wide should come into effect, simultaneous with ALL the concerned herdsmen dropping their AK-47 and other unlicensed guns with the governors of the respective states who would transfer them to the local Police. Directing that armed herdsmen should be shot at sight while arresting those protecting their communities against the same armed herdsmen could appear like a coded instruction or decoyed body language telling them to keep hidden and embedded so that they would not be shot, and equally confers no meaning to a statement by a “born-again” governor that “Nobody living in the forest is innocent, and we must kill them all”, both of them in tandem with no efforts to disarm them or stop their killing the natives. The defence minister equally claimed that “Our nation is bleeding now.” The question: who is bleeding it? You are the defence minister and you are practically telling the people that they are not defendable. Is it not like in this writer’s Nkporo community whose Police station was just bombed like others by unidentified people, where people say: “You cut, you draw, and you ask ‘who is doing that?’ ”? AK-47 herdsmen and other terrorists if they claim they are not on a conquest assignment should be compelled by the federal government to come out of the jungle, surrender their weapons, begin to participate in open economic activities and pay taxes in the states of their domicile. This is what everyone expects the government to enforce if they are serious about “kill them all”, nation “bleeding”, or shoot at sight. Low interest loans can be extended to herdsmen or their employers who need them to establish ranches or purchase trailers for the movement of their cattle, and any states intending to have them continue wandering in the wilds may temporarily do so, but it is wrong in this 21st century to make such exceptions.
3. Internally Displaced Persons. Communities in the Middle-Belt and elsewhere displaced by Fulani warriors and forced from their ancestral homes into IDP camps should be assisted by the central and state governments to return home and be compensated to start new lives. No emirates should be imposed on those places nor any renaming of ancestral lands permitted. Residency rights are already enshrined in the Nigerian constitution and all citizens should avail themselves of the provisions as elaborated in respective local statutes, and there is no need for war by any tribe to achieve what is already available.
4. The ECOWAS and AfCFTA Protocols. Non-Nigerian Fulani or whoever is in Nigeria illegally should be repatriated to their countries of origin. The ECOWAS and AfCFTA protocols on free movement of goods and services do not cover free movement of terrorists, armed herdsmen, warriors and others interfering with Nigerian elections, demographics and security. There are almost 200 million people of Igbo descent in the Western hemisphere and it will not make any sense for an Igbo President or his “cabal” arranging to have them flood Nigeria as food ready to eat. Nigeria is a state not a tribe; therefore, regardless of diasporic ethnic ties we must build Nigeria for Nigerians first before thinking of non-Nigerians anywhere. This is simple commonsense, not high energy physics.
5. Local Vigilantes. The Amotekun, ESN, Hisbah and other local vigilante groups should be officially converted or incorporated into regional Police organizations under a single guideline based on the Common Law, with official arrest and prosecutorial powers, instead deodorizing some and fighting others and in effect continuing to give the impression of an indirect protection of embedded armed herdsmen. This can be tricky given the unwarranted vindictive labelling and proscription of a merely verbalizing IPOB as “terrorists”, but the matter can be negotiated for the sake of peace without this providing a blanket cover for the actual terrorist organizations killing peaceful civilians and boasting about their ownership of Nigeria. Nigerians cannot be disarmed and at the same time arms are permitted to those killing Nigerians.
6. Secret Arrests and Trials. There should be an immediate end to secret, hooded and night arrests, trials, and testimonies. No security officials should cover their faces or hide their identities while arresting anybody; and except over a well-defined risk of bodily harm, no citizen should be arrested in the dark or between 06.00 pm and 06.00 am. In all cases nearest neighbours or relatives should be notified or be present during arrests. Human rights do not only entail great arguments but also require clearly defined practical frameworks within which such arguments are made.
7. A Free Police and Judiciary. The Nigerian army and other security services should allow the Police and the courts do their work freely and independently. It is the military that have overwhelmed the Police, not their jobs. The claim is utterly false that the Police are at face value over-extended, small and so on; they seem so because they are reduced to such: their structure doesn’t seem to reflect the country, they are denied good equipment, terrorists are unlawfully admitted and/or allowed into the country while the army seems diverted into fighting the wrong enemy, namely the various local groups and statutes confronting the terrorists. In fact, the sidelining and weakening of the Police in Nigeria and destruction of their offices by whomsoever could be construed as a coup d’état, for they deprive the civil process of a major instrument of its lawful faculty, thereby compelling a helpless populace into the arms of the very army seemingly protecting the people’s tormentors. The first solution is to return Police work to the Police.
8. Release of All Political Prisoners. Governments with undemocratic agenda start with killing or jailing cautioning voices; their ways are perfect and they cannot swerve from them. Nigeria should not join that club. Therefore, all political prisoners, especially the youths referred to by the Ohanaeze should be released by the military-security services and in case of any allegations, they should be handed over to the Police and the courts. There should be an end to extra-judicial executions, show trials and abductions, and the various youths and peoples missing should be fully accounted for. Nigeria should not degenerate into a Pinochet-type Argentina or Islamic State in the Levant where disappearances are a weapon of choice for the subjugation of the people. Our President’s wisdom should come into play here and not to allow cabals with a contrary agenda take hold of the state.
9. Re-jigging the Armed Forces. Despite corruption, structure and doctrine not size or weaponry are the major problems of the Nigerian military. So long as the army is rightly or wrongly perceived as deployed or fighting for the interests of the Fulani or any other tribe as published by InterSociety and other bodies, or having its components aiding and abetting the Islamic and other terrorists, so long as Nigeria would not win the “war” against the Boko Haram, armed herdsmen and other terrorists being allegedly aided and enabled indirectly by the same elements “fighting” them. If the allegation is true, even if the entire US armoury is transferred to Nigeria, such an army would only use it to kill instead of protecting Nigerians. We are living witnesses to allegations of arms being dropped to terrorists, of their being “rehabilitated” and absorbed into official bodies, controversial retirements and recruitments, dangerous exposures and betrayals of soldiers fighting the Boko Haram, various designs to adversely alter the demographics of the military-security services, and so on. Politicians, civil society groups and individuals who because of all these call for a “re-jigging” of the armed forces certainly know that such is an essential step in radically improving security in Nigeria and ensuring that a non-Fulani President can confidently discharge his executive functions and survive in office without a Fulani-dominated army using one pretext to overthrow him. One of the unwritten demands made by the Yoruba before joining to war against Biafra, short of having occupying Northern troops evacuate the West was the inclusion of the Yoruba in the fighting echelons of the army. Nigerian ethnic nationalities should demand a repeat of that compensatory recruitment policy: the Nigerian army from the highest ranks to the lowest combatant units must demographically be a miniature Nigeria in ALL locations, not merely the Fulfude/islamist elements allegedly concentrated in the South and sprinkles of Southern/non-islamist ones diverted to the wars in the North. All age sets must serve in the army in turns; if there can be a functioning NYSC, a compulsory military service can also work in Nigeria. In the military, the English language not Hausa or Fulfude must be the only means of communication. While the possibilities of pro-terrorist sympathy would be considerably reduced there is also no way that such an ethnically proportionally diversified army can train its guns ferociously against unarmed civilians, while the confidence of peoples in and cooperation with it would be considerably enhanced. Ultimately a properly restructured Nigeria would have regional commands with each dominated by people of that region at all levels. Pari passu with “re-jigging” the armed forces, there should be no obstacle in equally re-jigging the public services to re-distribute appointments to reflect the federal character principles subverted since 2015. Nigeria is made up of every citizen and not divided between dinners and onlookers.
10. Secular State. Nigeria today is a secular state only in name with unparalleled malign designs continuously trained on her to alter the meaning and essence of secularity. We now have a Sharia law possibly unconstitutionally imposed in some states with those who introduced them reserving the application of its great rules of amputation, stoning and beheading to the talakawa, and not to themselves and their children. Others have sought to redefine secularity in terms of only one of its necessary but not sufficient conditions of multi-religious society, probably a decoyed move towards mono-religious society. Nigeria must be a secular state in substance, governed by a single legal system based on the globally dominant Common Law tradition. Sharia, customary and other laws should be jettisoned especially those relating to crimes, marriage, inheritance, gender, widows and family inheritance. Generally, conduct that is criminal, unjust or backward under Common Law should not be construed otherwise on the basis of Sharia or Customary Law. Nigeria must start looking practically not only notionally towards the civilized nations of Europe, the Americas and Asia, instead of the Afghanistan and Middle East theocratic tyrannies using religion as cover for crimes against their people. Many progressive-minded Nigerians are totally fed up with the political corruption and drudgery going on in the country with great efforts directed at ensuring that the people reach nowhere except a programmed feudal bus stop. A civilized, democratic secular state is the only ideological foundation and philosophical basis in the post-cold war era that can unite peoples of diverse cultural characterizations in a peaceful development and modernization process.
In a secular state, positions in all public bodies in Nigeria as in other modern democracies, including the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs/SCIA, the CAN, etc., must be by election, not tribal inheritance. There is no reason why a Tiv, Yoruba, Kanuri or Ibibio moslem cannot be a Sarkin Musulumi, as there is none why a man or woman from Sokoto, Katsina, etc cannot head the CAN. This invariably means the abolition of the Caliphate system, with its sultans, emirs and district heads joining if they wish, their Southern Ooni, Oba, Obi, Obong, Tor and other counterparts as parts of civil society serving the cultural needs of their local communities. Objective secularity would liberate the Hausa, Fulani and other Islamic masses from continued Caliphate suppression, oppression and dependency, and by redirecting them to official state institutions as their legitimate source of protection, would thereby unite the Northern Islamic masses with their Middle-Belt and Southern counterparts equally freed from Christian sectarianism in favour of secular state bodies. In continued promotion of freedom of belief, state funding or any form of other interference in religious pilgrimages, worship centres, “peace” meetings, holidays and the like must come to a close. Religious holidays should be celebrated by them while the state only declares national holidays over such landmarks as independence, democratic transitions, and so on. And to further ensure that freedom, religious bodies must refrain from citing their worship centres inside any state or public assets like universities, government houses, streets and drainages and, where because of Nigerian corruption and lackadaisical attitude to nation-building these breaches had already taken place, rents should be paid on them until phased out.
11. The Land Question. Directly related to the secular state is the land question. A catastrophe is brewing. Land for farming, industrialization, recreation, housing for incoming generations, ranching, etc., is rapidly disappearing in Nigeria, especially in the high-density East, but also in parts of the West, Middle-Belt, and North in that order and they are cornered by retired military generals, corrupt politicians, religious organizations seeking wealth and political influence more than the salvation of anybody, super-rich businessmen, and a few other individuals, all of them through dubious transactions that deprive communities of the basis of livelihood inherited from their ancestors. As a consequence the increasingly land-deprived people are becoming poorer and poorer, with the elderly village farmers unable to feed their families and youths turning to either armed robbery and other crimes, political thuggery, fanatical churchianism or Islamic radicalism as the only hope of keeping alive and managing to marry late. The tactics of snatching community lands are almost the same: the churches, mosques, military men and politicians, etc either use their connections in government to intimidate the villagers with the Land Use Act, or buy over village or family heads with bribes, conversions and empty anointings, forcing or deceiving them into squeezing out a plot or two of community lands whence the so-called buyers immorally extend the space a multiple times beyond the agreed limits. They would thereupon rush to survey and register the unlawful space and have the unqualified sellers sign an agreement between the unequal parties – lawyers have a word for these sorts of laboriously described transactions. Sometimes the seized plots are not even developed for any purpose but kept for children yet unborn, while the villagers and their own children are simply fenced off their choice ancestral lands. This new feudalism is even worse than the original feudal system for in the latter the lords of the manor still leased out the lands to the peasantry in return for oaths of fealty and portions of the produce on behalf of the monarchy, whereas in the former the new possessor entirely deprives the actual owners further access to the land. What would Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Tiv, Kanuri, etc youths say they are fighting for if upon victory they only return to find themselves deprived of their legitimate patrimony upon which they had hoped to build a new life?
These ravenous land grabs and accumulations, in addition to the prevailing insecurity are the main cause of hunger, unemployment and youth restiveness in Nigeria, making the land question a possible cause of the “fire next time” if equitable actions are not taken now to preempt it. Government should make a law ending the fencing of undeveloped plots of land that prevent their communal owners from its further agricultural utilization. Organizations whether religious or not that erect profit-making enterprises on any plots of land are performing an excellent function for society, but if other philanthropic individuals and businesses nevertheless still pay rates to communities and taxes to government for peoples’ welfare why should they be an exception? Above all, all undeveloped parcels of land should be returned to the communities that originally owned them no matter the “agreements” flashed by their expropriators so that the youths can be provided for as they grow up, except if they were properly purchased and the monies credited to audited communal accounts, in which case property taxes will be paid. Many great minds say that if religion was such a good thing the white man could not have lovingly surrendered it to the black race and concealed their science and technology. But since we seem already helplessly into the non-African religions we should equally explore liberation theology to free us from colonial mentality instead of picking upon the most archaic forms of the feudal system anchored on lands snatching. The free enterprise system develops by capital accumulation that produces surplus value benefitting all actors, and not by deprivation that benefits only the thief. Part object of nation-building in post-colonial capitalist society is the conversion of the clientele or comprador bourgeoisie living by corruptly depriving the people and hauling it abroad, into a national bourgeoisie building the economy within, creating jobs and domestic wealth and profiting from its surplus value, and this we should encourage with the necessary safeguards.
12. Delayed School Results and Insensitive NYSC Postings. By all manner of other methods governments create insecurity for the youths and other citizens. Why should graduates be posted outside their familiar environments when wars and insecurities are ravaging the land? Yes, the NYSC promotes knowledge of the country, but can a dead youth achieve that goal, or is it to expose them to one feature of leadership failure? Examinations bodies like WAEC, NECO, and JAMB are equally complicit in promoting insecurity in part pursuit of immoral financial profits and attendant educational underdevelopment of the youths. Results are withheld long enough by them to compel anxious children to re-enrol for the same exams while denied of the results of a previous one, with the NUC habitually ordering universities to commence admissions even with candidates still awaiting admissions requirements. This officially organized robbery and calculated means of extorting money from high-density examinations areas in the South, like the numerous road-blocks in and around the East, is compelling too many youths into avoidable crimes to meet the unlawfully rolled-over financial extortions by the government apart from the unbearably exorbitant school fees.
13. Census Rush. Until Nigeria is freed from external invasion and all manner of illegally armed occupants of the forests are expelled, there should be no national census, which certainly would be corrupted. For so long as peace and secular democracy are yet to be enthroned in the country and the federal authorities are perceived as promoting any religion or tribe, so long as a head count could be deliberately skewed to favour those objectives, no matter any sweet words about “science and technology” being employed to get an accurate figure, the same way “science and technology” are being used to rig elections, revenue allocations, recruitments into anything, and so on. Meanwhile, let Nigeria continue with populations estimates and claims or self-fulfilling prophecies of soon to become the most populated in the world.
14. Restructuring. This geographical space is already structured by God and the natural format helped promote peace, harmony and mutualism even before Nigeria and her “independence” in 1960. If we have justice, peace and development in mind, all we need now is the sincerity, broadmindedness and patriotism to reaffirm the stamp of authority already put on it in 1957/58 when preparing us for a peaceful independence as a democratic secular state. In the South the coastline is made up of channels, estuaries, creeks, basins, lakes, bays, gulfs, etc, and these discontinuities provided for each coastal nationality its own contiguous route to the sea and unimpeded role in the 500-year long modern Atlantic history (Igbo: the Ubani and Imo River channels; Yoruba: the Lagos ports and lagoons, etc; Benins: Ughoton, Gelegele, etc; Ijaw: Brass-Nembe, Kalabari states, Burutu, etc; Efik-Annang-Oron-central Ibibio: Oron, Calabar, Bakassi, Ibaka/Ibom ports, etc; Itsekiri/Urhobo: Warri, Sapele; and Ogoni and Andoni: Onne and Andoni ports. This would produce three largely homogenous Igbo, Yoruba, and Ijaw regions and three multi-ethnic regions of AkwaCross (Efik-Annang-Oron-central Ibibio, Ogojas), Benin (Bini, Ishan, Urhobo, Isoko, Itsekiri), and Andoni-Ogoni, each with its own coast-bound contiguity as substantially captured in the Willinks Report. There is no region in the South with ethnic purity, indicating a rich history of mutual cooperation among them. The North with her large number of ethnic groups might go back to the initial 6 states, each as a multi-ethnic federation, with all regions in the country negotiating their special constitutions. The process will provisionally produce 12 states/regions but with the likelihood of follow-up plebiscitary voluntary mergers leading to between 4 and 8 regions. Each region or state would become a viable pole of development, assisted by its considerable cultural integration in a competitive mutual emulation with others in a modern democratic secular state. The Igbo desire Eastern unity more than ever before but would not force anyone into it; similarly, anyone seeking to carve out some parts of Southern Igboland to achieve a contiguity for an anti-Igbo South South or in remorseless advancement of the Abandoned Property ethnic cleansing programme would not be considered as an honest player in the process, but as an agent of enmity and weakness for all in the East. With truth and justice in mind a better Nigeria can be created, and this is what true nationalists should aim at.
15. Presidency. Under an equitable federal arrangement and common and equal citizenship as outlined in the pages above, anyone can be President on competitive, rotational, collective or appointive basis. It can be hypothetically assumed (though not necessarily guaranteed) that given their acclaimed republican traditions an Igbo in the APC with such attributes together with the equitable need for an Igbo as President is best suited to be the President we need now to stabilize the implementation of the secular progressive goals hopefully started by the present incumbent.
The foregoing recommendations may be considered too radical by conservatives and too conservative by radicals, but if we really desire to build a long overdue modern democratic secular state in Nigeria they can harmoniously accommodate most of the interests and demands of the ethnic nationalities, and it is hereby suggested that in the environment of world power duplicity and lack of support for genuine domestic self-determination, Igbo and other Eastern youths adopt them as their goal, declare them as their demands, and seek unity with other progressive Nigerians for its achievement.
All manner of “security strategies” have been regularly evolved in Nigeria, but carefully evading the actual issues at stake such as the violence of terrorists in our neighbourhoods and the structural-functional principles of achieving peace. In the existing conditions there is thus the possibility that those to implement the above would not do so, but prefer their drive to conquer. In that case it is still advisable that all oppressed nationalities form a strong bond, and that no Igbo permits himself to be driven into war by agents provocateurs but continue to carefully analyze the approach of others equally complaining against the evil forces oppressing everybody, above all the Igbo.
Professor Obasi Igwe
c/o Department Of Political Science
University of Nigeria, Nsukka.