You’ll find Nigeria in every Biafran
Since the dawn of creation there has been a raging war between good and evil. A war familiar to mankind, but seemingly unfamiliar and different for this nation with a rather unique set of people. Unique are people who can identify evil but owing to selective morality are never in agreement as to how to engage it. Not many of us can be classified righteous, and most of us are not evil, but without a doubt, all of us are beneficiaries along a long value chain of a predominantly corrupt society.
Corruption runs a complicated value chain in Nigeria making a unilateral declaration of war on corruption, exclusively directed on our political elite, both a misdiagnosis and an oversimplification of a complex moral decadence with symptoms prevalent among both the rich and poor.
There are empowerment scams, fraudulent billings in our electricity, unenforceable court judgements, treacherous and unrepentant developers in our mass housing sector. The list is endless, of factors that seem deliberately aligned, on a mission to render one disservice or another to the citizens of this country. Technically and for all good intentions the law is on the side of citizens but unfortunately, the system is not. Institutions established as safeguards are hopelessly inadequate.
For every million naira made as income in this country, there is a dubious pie. This is a general perception based on the prevalence of tax evasion, inflated contract figures, oil bunkering and or hoarding, a booming commercial sector fuelled by adulterated products and price racketeering, massive looting of public funds.
Overwhelmed by these many negatives, majority of Nigerians seem resigned to tow a line of least resistance on these core issues which threaten our national consciousness.
These core issues are not limited by the differences in our tribe and tongue simply because the moral compass of this nation neither point south, southeast or anywhere North for that matter. As a collective each region has played an almost equal role in stagnating the progress of project Nigeria. That after 56 years of independence her unity remains essentially an experiment is indicative of a generalised pessimism based on narratives which have failed to motivate otherwise.
Narratives of government insensitivity or slow response to citizen safety, health and other social distresses, do not inspire trust. Calls for patriotism sound hollow, clichéd if not altogether infantile. A nation that fails to align its development to the aspirations of her citizens is at risk of getting lost in translation. A nation that does not place at high premium the lives of citizens, rich and poor, is not justified to demand loyalty.
And now we are faced with a renewed surge for secession. Distinctly recognisable are Oduduwa (Yoruba in the west), Biafra (Igbo in the South East) and Niger Delta militants in oil creeks of the south demanding for resource control. While it can be said that the Yoruba enjoy an advantage of unity which can be regarded as uniquely historical; the Delta agitation, on a newly discovered economic significance hinged on the barrel of oil. On what can Ndigbo truly and confidently lay the base for Biafra? Safe to say that the purpose for agitation appear common, a litmus test of the conviction behind these demands for self-rule, via a referendum, one suspects may turnout different particularly for Ndigbo.
Recent statements emerging from Arewa Youths of the North can only be deduced two ways; a stay of execution or a double speak. Both neither douses tension nor do they serve to dilute an already prevailing feeling of insecurity as the country approaches their October 1st ultimatum to Ndigbo residing in the northern parts of Nigeria. This because insecurity is not merely anticipated action from an identified threat. It is more of a creation of an environment easily taken advantage of by criminals.
Assurance of safety for Ndigbo in the North gets even more precarious for our security operatives. After all, a sense of security is an individual state of being; only in a mind where fear is not already an illegal occupant.
This is a most disconcerting state of affairs for all, not only Ndigbo, but also minorities and minorities within the minorities living up north of the country.
Should I despise Biafra for this? Certainly not! I am however averse to any attempt no matter how dim, to relive the pain of the past. I lived it, at least as a child and experienced all its discomfort. I inherited the failure of a violent demand for Biafra, and so did all of my generation. Perhaps this is why our perspective on Biafra defers from today’s generation. Call it a generation gap if you like. So far over the years, the narrative has failed abysmally to fill this gap. The Biafra of my generation was borne of an ideology motivated by inspirational dissatisfaction with project Nigeria. There is a distinctly different leaning to this present day agitation- a vent for a somewhat frustrated and unguided youthful exuberance. Many detached observers insist, for its lack of a clear cut strategy, that at the core of this demand are a bunch of clueless rebels already suffering from the affliction found in most Nigerians. The greatest threat to the Biafra of my day were saboteurs — a few two-faced Igbos with divided loyalties. The present day quest for Biafra is challenged by a somewhat progressive and forward thinking ‘saboteurs’; members of my generation whose forebears invested time and resources on project Nigeria after having resigned themselves to the failure of secession, picked up what was left of the pieces and moved on. Now, these are the ones who fear and resent the manner of this current uprising the most. If today we adopt a cautious optimism for Biafra, based on experience of the past, it is totally within our rights to do so. On the other hand, if our youths of today are so frustrated with the developmental strides of Nigeria and the South East in particular, this too falls within their prerogative. But tagging their discontent ‘marginalisation’ by implication suggest some politically displaced villains are agrieved. Moreso, this line of argument is an utterly disagreeable attempt to avoid the culpability of both the offspring from the generation of the civil strife of the 60’s and youths of today, who at repeated occasions, voted in this status quo
With hardly any fear of contradiction, it is safe to conclude that developmental setbacks within the South East have been mostly self-inflicted by a political elite who were willingly endorsed as leaders. While Ndigbo may bask in the pride for individual progress, as a collective, their political leadership remained both mediocre and selfish. This has contributed immensely to a short-changed South East within the arena of national politics. And this is a very inconvenient truth! My one and only wish for this mishmash of issues is a positive outcome; a fear in the heart of all and any political aspirant wishing to represent the South East. We are now fully awake and any failure to deliver will most likely than before, cost a pound of flesh.
Today, is our democracy and unity as a nation confronted by what appears a political conundrum? Most certainly. Our dealbreaker is equally apparent and it is two-pronged; constitutional reform and devolution of powers from the central government. If we do not grasp this opportunity, we might end up fighting a war of unity on several fronts.