Why Biafra may be a bad idea
A separate existence has been the popular song on the lips of almost every indigene of the Igbo land. Unsurprisingly, this unanimous call for a breakaway has endured since the tragic blunder of 1967-1970.
The dark memories of the past still lingers like a flashback of macabre scenes – It bites like the eldritch taste of poison in the alimentary canal – It hurts like a warrior's sword plunged through the visceral wall of the abdominal cavity, hence, it has resulted to a post-traumatic stress disorder – an indescribable mental pain – a delayed psychological wound – a tribal infirmity of war damage – a generational immune response for self-determination – an uncompromising term – a sentimental proposition – a fatal proposal – an echoic declaration – a partisan approach – a lame ambition – a jaundiced vision – a self-destructive mission – an obsessive drive for secession.
The general stereotypical conception in our corporate union is – ‘'Every Igbo craves for a disintegration.'' This inductive generalization or personal preconception of the Igbos in this union of ours is distrust in reason. An unwarranted assumption which obviously reflects in the political sphere since 1966, the era which gave birth to the constructive end or the prohibition of an Igbo president in this pluralistic union.
My subjective opinion is – ‘'No tribe has got the monopoly rights to Presidency.''
It's been 49 years of a deliberate exclusion of an Igbo product in the Presidential office. A political scheme – a tribal conspiracy – an express act of injustice on a particular tribe for reasons which obviously are bigoted. To escape goat an entire tribe for the errors of the past will only aggravate the already existing tensions in our corporate existence.
The unification of Nigeria is never complete when there is a deliberate subtraction of an Igbo President from the political equation. Hence, it would be politically correct to say that the Igbos have been unjustly treated – marginalized – disenfranchised – and reduced to servitude in this marriage of ours.
To politicize or polarize the Presidential power from a tribal stand point is a socio-centric disorder that requires critical care, logical deduction and a non-provincial approach – and the way to achieve this feat is to expunge the errors of the past from our current status.
Biafra was an experiment – a failed experiment which cost the Igbos over 3.5 million human lives – an experiment which altered their course from a negative stand point – an experiment which precipitated an economic backwardness within the eastern region – an experiment which left a sordid imprint in the land – an experiment which caused a post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychological wound on the people – Unfortunately this ‘'psychological wound'' has become epidemic or hereditary in nature.
Hence, the obsession for secession has endured – like a fine wine which gets better as it ages, the same applies with the immune response for self-determination by the Igbos – an ideology which seems to wax strong with the passage of time – a dream which has remained cogent and stubborn to die another day.
The legacies of 1967-1970 should be a big lesson that must ‘'never'' be forgotten or else we shall be condemned to repeat them! My position is that – disintegration or a separate existence is not the alternative. The Igbo population may not be equally Nigerian from a political stand point, hence, a clarion call for an adjustment.
However, the Igbos should note that the quest for Biafra as a sovereign state is an ideology built on the foundation of greed. Anatole France once quoted – ‘'when fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.'' in order words – our unanimous declaration for secession is irrational.
The Igbos shouldn't forget that the first putsch in Nigeria was orchestrated by some products of the Igbo land – Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu and General Aguyi Ironsi. A coup which was indeed one of the bloodiest in Nigerian history – a coup which led to the untimely death of some of the prominent first republic politicians from the North – a coup which heightened ethnic tensions – a coup which led to the pogrom of 1966 and the subsequent civil war of 1967-1970 – a coup which launched the beginning of our misfortunes as the marginalized tribe.
All these episodic disasters or series of violent events may not have occurred; neither would the present status of Ndi-Igbo at the bottom rank of the political hierarchy exist, if we hadn't made such grave mistake from the genesis of our national freedom. It is time we admit our faults – it is time we weigh evidence and history objectively and impartially.
It is time we revere the truth – even when it hurts. It is time we quit this self-serving bias – this tribal sentiments – this self-interested thinking – this partisan opinion – this cultural relativistic approach which will lead us nowhere. Everyone finds it tempting at times to reason that ‘'this benefits me, therefore it must be good'' a relativistic thinking which radiates in our behavioral disposition – such behavior violates the principles of critical thinking. ‘'it is our land, our oil, therefore we must secede'' a declarative or subjective proposition which has become a popular music in the lips of almost every Igbo.
The late Chief Chukwuemeka Ojukwu – the political scientist behind the Biafra experiment – a failed experiment – an experiment which left millions of children with protruding stomachs, skeletal bodies, bulged eye balls, reddish skin – a disturbing image of hunger and malnutrition – an experiment which altered the natural behavior of the victims who had no option than to feed on cockroaches, rats, grass and other alien matter to survive. An experiment which has made the Igbo land economically unstable, crippled and grotesque – a land stained with the blood of millions for an ideal which obviously is bankrupt.
Nelson Mandela stood for his ideal – which was the emancipation of his people from Apartheid. An ideal he was willing to die for – an ideal which cost him 27 years in solitary confinement. He was indeed a leader; hence, he deserves every accolade, honor and recognition. The late Chief Chukwuemeka Ojukwu is an opposite reflection of Nelson Mandela's image, and it worries me to see him receive a ‘'hero-worship'' when all he did was to betray his own people. A man who couldn't stand up for what he believed in – a man who plunged his people into war but left them to their demons – a man who littered his land with 3.5 million corpses for an ideal which was self-centered but yet he receives a hero-worship.
The Igbos have failed to realize that Biafra was an experiment – a failed experiment built on selfish emotions and not on the grounds of political freedom! Walter Lippmann once quoted – ‘'when all think alike, then no one is thinking'' in order words, it is time Ndi-Igbo exercise their reason from a critical stand point. Our general assumption of a divided Nigeria as the only or perfect solution to redemption is wrong.
We must disassociate ourselves from the seductive power of tribal sentiments and the reliance of authority or wayward legacies. We must develop the habits of independent thinking so we can arrive at logical conclusions. Ndi-Igbo must be conscious of the grave mistakes of the past so we don't repeat or recycle the tragic book of history – what we need is a united nation, an egalitarian society, a unified entity and not a failed experiment!
The Yorubas and Hausas must understand that the Igbos are an integral part of this union, hence they deserve equal rights in the dispensation of political power. The act of cultural or tribal imperialism perpetrated by those who firmly believe in the absolute righteousness of their moral beliefs and practices must stop.
If we truly yearn for One Nigeria – if we truly desire to build a peaceful, united and balanced nation, then we must uphold the quality of togetherness – equal rights for every man. The stereotypical view or general assumption that an Igbo president will only result to disintegration is idiotic. Hence, such prejudgments should be abolished from our perception. God bless Africa, God bless Nigeria!