By Tochukwu Ezukanma
A female preacher on “Morning Cry” was killed by an unknown assailant in Abuja. The murdered early morning preacher was a Yoruba, and most likely, her assailant is a northern Moslem. Interestingly, in all the hoopla spawned by the murder of this devout Christian lady by an obvious fanatical northern Nigerian Moslem, nobody brought up the issue of tribe. It was considered a crime motivated by religious bigotry.
In 2003, Mohammadu Buhari ran for the presidency, and lost. He went to court to contest his defeat. He was ridiculed by the court process. In 2007, he ran again for the same office, and again, lost. Supported by the leadership of his political party, All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), he went to court to challenge the presidential election results. Disappointingly, as he contested his electoral defeat in court, the chairman of the party, Ume Ezeoke, and the party leadership that encouraged his going to court, pulled the rug from under his feet; and joined the People Democratic Party (PDP) dominated government of national unity of President Musa Yar’Adua.
Buhari left the ANPP, formed a new political party, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and then, again, ran for the presidency; and, for the third time, lost. Devastated by his third electoral defeat, he lost his cool, and literally wept in public. Instructively, throughout his electoral defeats, travails and betrayals, and grief and tears, he never insinuated that he was being hated and victimized because of his tribe. It was all about the struggle for power, and not about any tribal-inspired conspiracy against his ever being a president.
Had the female preacher, killed in Abuja, been Igbo, the Igbo would have seen it strictly through our paranoiac prism, misconstrued the crime and touted her death as another evidence of the widespread hatred for the Igbo in Nigeria, and a powerful testament to the lingering vestiges of an earlier conspiracy by the rest of Nigerians to exterminate the Igbo. Had Buhari been Igbo, the Igbo would have believed that his repeated failure to win the presidential election, and his party’s betrayal of his trust following the 2007 presidential election were palpable confirmations of a sordid conspiracy against an Igbo ever being the president of Nigeria.
In Zaria, the Shiite Moslems, on a religious procession, temporarily refused the passage of the Army Chief of Staff’s motorcade through their neighborhood. Piqued by the inconvenience and attendant insult, the Nigerian army killed about one thousand Shiite Moslems and burnt down many of their houses. In Odi, in retaliation to the killing of twelve policemen, the Nigerian army killed about three hundred persons, and literally, razed the whole village. Those retaliatory attacks were barbaric, ghoulish, and horrifyingly, reminiscent of Nazi reprisal killings in Axis-occupied Europe. The people of Zaria are Hausa/Fulani and the people of Odi are Ijaws. The killings were heavy-handed and atrocious, but instructively, indifferent to tribe.
Therefore, as the army struck at members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) at Emene and Oyigbo, it was not in implacable hate for the Igbo and desire to wipe out the Igbo race, but in reprisal to provocations. But, with our perception of every issue blurred by the feeling that we are universally hatred in Nigeria, and invariably, encircled by enemies hell-bent on our destruction, many Igbo believe that the killings at Emene and Oyigbo by the Nigerian army were not mere reprisal attacks, as in Zaria and Odi, but murderous vents to deep-rooted hatred for Ndigbo, and deliberate, methodical steps in implementing an extant plan to exterminate the Igbo.
To safeguard the peace of our communities and lives of our youths, we must discourage the provocation of the army and other security agents in Igbo land. This can be done by prevailing on the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, to stop deceiving Igbo youths and egging them on to their earlier deaths. Paradoxically, many Igbo consider Nnamdi Kanu – that vulgar parvenu that lies inexhaustibly – a Messiah; and believe that his reckless and irresponsible utterances that incite Igbo youths to stone his political opponents to death and attack law enforcements agents are not hateful and unlawful, but actually, peaceful and perceptive. To them, to overpower and abduct State Secret Service (SSS) officers in Emene, and kill three policemen and six soldiers in Oyigbo by members of IPOB were not condemnable and comeuppance, but justifiable and laudable.
In our self-deceit, we want to believe that we have done no wrong and offended no one, but have been innocent victims of the evil machinations of a country that is marginalizing, enslaving and exterminating them. We delight in lying to ourselvesbecause we remain emotionally yoked to the falsehood of the Biafran propaganda. Biafra was founded on falsehood, and the lies of the Biafran propaganda are deeply embedded in our minds; they retain a mesmeric grip on our psyche. They pander to our self-pity and blame game, and provide us scapegoats for our repeated political blunders. They justify our paranoia: fear and suspicion of other Nigerians; anger and bitterness against Nigeria; and agitation for Biafra. AlthoughBiafranism is the most dangerous idea that ever made an inroad into the Igbo mind, and has visited us with our worst nightmares and greatest calamities, we continue to cling to it.
But then, the masses can barely think, and consequently, are susceptible to political manipulation. According to the ancient Greek philosopher, Protagoras, “the people have no understanding, and only believe what their leaders are pleased to tell them”. It is the people’s inability to think, lack of understanding and muddled credulity that explain why the Igbo did not hold Ojukwu accountable for his suicide mission, Biafra, and its decimation of Ndigbo. It killed hundreds of thousands in the glory of our youth and starved more than one million hapless civilians to death. It is for the same reasons that we consider Ojukwu a hero, when, in essence, he was a despicable perfidious opportunist that led his people into trouble, abandon them and ran away; and believed that the struggle for his “self-determination” was worth nearly two million Igbo lives but not his own life.
It is also the same inherent limitations of the people that make it impossible for many Igbo to see Nnamdi Kanu for what he really is and the danger his neo-Biafranism portends for Ndigbo. Nnamdi Kanu is a con-artist building his financial empire at the detriment of the Igbo, and his Biafran lunacy may spell the doom of the Igbo in Nigeria.
Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria.