Posted by News Express | 15 June 2017 | 2,470 times
The outburst was premeditated and the delivery was properly rehearsed. It unleashed vitriolic excesses on the Igbo. It described the Igbo as unruly, ungrateful, uncultured, acrimonious and stubborn. The Igbo were also packaged as a people with insatiable criminal obsessions. That was the Northern Youth Coalition, spewing hate against the Igbo. The northern elements took liberties to paint the Igbo in lurid colours. Their language did not just betray hate; it was a classic portrayal of prejudice. It bears out the biblical dictum, which tells us that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.
How were the Igbo expected to respond to this unprovoked attack? Were they to descend into guttersnipes like their attackers? Should they also package the Hausa-Fulani in the language that suits them? To do so, I suppose, will be childish. It will make the issue at stake look like a verbal combat. But the battle between races, tribes or nations transcends this narrow, unedifying pathway. It dwells more on issues of substance. That, I believe, explains why the Igbo haters are not being paid back in their own coin. Whatever may be the case, the hate-mongers from the North had a field day. They were driven by age-old prejudices. That was why they were not restrained. Their verbal liberty was unprecedented. So astounding. To speak so disparagingly of a people without batting an eyelid is unspeakable. It betrays a deep-seated antipathy. The northern groups were convinced beyond contemplation. That was why they splashed mud on the Igbo with reckless abandon.
But the uncouth disposition and hateful language of the northern groups pale into insignificance when you take recourse to the message and its cataclysmic implications. The immediate message of the northern irredentists is the forceful ejection of the Igbo from northern Nigeria. The purveyors of hate have ordered the Igbo to leave the North between now and 1st of October 2017. They have threatened that after this date, they will begin a mop-up of the Igbo in the North wherever they may be. They have declared before the watching world that their region is tired of the marriage of convenience called Nigeria. They have also declared that they will no longer, with effect from 1st of October, coexist with the Igbo. The northern elements finally declared that they would take definite steps to pull out of the present federal arrangement, beginning from the date aforementioned. These are far-reaching declarations. Observers and participants in the unfolding high drama are keen to see how the North will pull out of Nigeria.
While that interesting outcome is being awaited, not a few are wondering why the North is so incensed. The new band of secessionists said they were constrained to take stringent action against the Igbo because of the forceful lockdown, which the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) forced on the East in commemoration of 50 years of Biafra. The northern elements are worried that the sit-at-home directive of IPOB was respected by the people.
But anybody who is sufficiently familiar with the activities of Biafran agitators cannot but shudder at this northern response. For over 10 years now, the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has been embarking on annual sit-at-home orders every 30th of May in remembrance of thousands of Igbo, who were killed during the state-sponsored pogroms in the North in 1966. The order has always worked. This year’s exercise was not markedly different from those of the previous years. Perhaps, the only difference may have to do with the emergence of IPOB. Before now, MASSOB held sway. But the advent of IPOB appears to have taken the agitation for Biafra to new, feverish heights. This may be the worry of the North.
The puzzle, which the northern response poses becomes more poignant when we take into cognizance of the fact that the Biafran separatist agitation is not directed at the North. It is about the relationship between Nigeria and the Igbo. If there is anything untoward about it, the entire federation should worry about that. The North ought not single itself out as the object or subject of the Biafran agenda. In the light of what we have on our hands, it can be safely said that the northern response is borne out of a certain sense of guilt. It probably feels that the region is responsible for the unsavoury state of the Igbo in post-Civil War Nigeria.
When we put all this together, we can conveniently conclude that the northern response on this matter is clearly misdirected. In feeling incensed over Biafran separatist agenda, the North has, unwittingly, joined the fray. It has also chosen the path of secession. But unlike the Biafran agitators, who have been going about their demand in a peaceful manner, the northern elements are set to inflict maximum damage on the corporate existence of Nigeria. Their ultimatum has a timeline. They have told the world to get set for whatever actions they may want to take at the expiration of the deadline. If we take these declarations serious, we will be saying that a programmed fall of the behemoth has begun and that Nigeria is faced with imminent Armageddon.
But if the northern elements, who have since been backed by their elders like Ango Abdullahi, set out to upset and destabilise the Igbo, they have not really succeeded. The Igbo seem to be at home with this latest position of the North on Nigeria’s unity. They are at home not because some public office holders from the North like Nasir El-Rufai and Kashim Shettima have disowned the divisive declaration. Of course, the Igbo are not taken in by such assurances. Those who have a sense of history will readily see through the smokescreen. They know that it is intended to divert the attention of the Igbo from the looming catastrophe. The Igbo have every reason to doubt the sincerity of those who are asking them to ignore the threat of the northern irredentists.
The Igbo are also at home with the set-up, not because a Lai Mohammed has said that the Federal Government is on top of the situation. The Igbo know that Mohammed just wanted to say something. He just wanted to fill a gap in the absence of a proper response to the threat by the Federal Government. Regardless of the idle statement of Mohammed, the Igbo, and indeed the rest of Nigeria, know that nobody is on top of any situation. Therefore, for the Igbo living in the North, the sensible thing to do is to comply with the quit notice given to them. Those who are telling them that the order is unconstitutional and unlawful may have a point. But the law and the constitution have never deterred the blood-thirsty hounds, who routinely spill Igbo blood as if they are engaging in a sporting activity. The Igbo living in the north should be properly guided. Those who are talking about their N44 trillion investments in the North should better think again. They should beat a tactical retreat first and then talk about their trillions of investments in the North later.
While we are expecting that the Igbo in the North will be wise enough to move out of the region, it must be noted that the Igbo, particularly of the IPOB
variety are elated because the North is beginning to see reason the country’s unity should be negotiated. That is what the northern youths have vowed to do. They want Nigeria’s federal union to be dissolved. Again, as we earlier noted, it will be interesting to see how the North will carry out this threat. Time is ticking away. And we are counting down.
•This column originally appeared in today’s edition of Daily Sun. Amanze Obi can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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