Obasanjo reaction to why igbos are angry with Nigeria

My friends who are not from the East of Nigeria where Igbos
come from often ask me why there is so much anger in the East
and among Igbos. Some wonder why, despite the famed Igbo”
wealth’ and enterprise all over Nigeria, the people still complain
that Nigeria is unfair to them. Some insinuate that the anger
comes from the loss of the 2015 election by Jonathan who the
Igbos heavily backed.
And why is it that the current generation of Igbos are so angry as
to contemplate carrying arms against the country? With lots
following Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB with his secessionist message.
Those not following Kanu may despise his antics and rhetoric but
are sympathetic to his underlying message. And what is that
message? That Igbos don’t feel wanted in Nigeria. That decades of
official marginalization and discrimination should be stopped or
they should be allowed to take their chances in a new nation.
First, for those who think this is all about Jonathan and Buhari. It
is not. Igbos were disappointed that Jonathan did not win. But
those whose candidates lose elections lick their wounds. It is
allowed. It happens when your candidate loses election. Why did
the Igbos invest so much emotions in Jonathan, a non-Igbo from
Ijaw? It was more because of the fear of their experience in the
past 50 years. Nigeria has placed an embargo on any Igbo man
becoming Nigerian president and Igbos understand this.
Jonathan was the next best thing. Other parts of Nigeria have
supported their sons to the presidency. Some have bombed
Nigeria into submission to get their sons to Aso Rock. Igbos have
little capacity to blackmail Nigeria to the presidency. They chose
Jonathan as their “Igbo”. But that’s not to say that they are angry
enough because he lost to contemplate going to war on his behalf.
Jonathan was not really the model of a President the Igbo would
go to war for. And even his Ijaw people have accepted his loss.
So? Igbo anger has been building up in Nigeria since the 70s. As
kids, people made choices in other parts of Nigeria school years
based on the narrative of the Igbo place in Nigeria. They knew
about the glass ceiling against Igbos.
After the civil war, despite the “No winner, no vanquished”
program, Nigeria placed glass ceilings and no-go areas for Igbos.
The war reconstruction program was observed more in the breach.
There was the “abandoned” property program that was introduced
to drive a wedge between components of the former South-East
Nigeria. While the country was too embarrassed to put the
discrimination program down in an official gazette, it was there for
anyone who cared to look. It was evident in the Igbo police officer
who stayed in one position while less qualifies juniors progressed
to become his bosses. It was evident when no Igbo qualified to
become the Inspector General of Police, or lead any division in the
armed forces. It was there when “sensitive” or “lucrative” positions
were shared in Nigeria and Igbos were conspicuously absent.
It was there when Igbos were only fit enough to be made Minister
of Information until Obasanjo administration came to power. And
even recently, it was there when Buhari appointed 47 people to
man the critical roles in his government and no one from the South
east was there. Any time there is a federal appointment in Nigeria,
its usually the east that is left to shout. It was there from Buhari
first term as a Military Junta to his second coming and any other
time in-between.
The Igbo elite called it marginalization. Other Nigerians countered
by saying no part of Nigeria was getting enough. Marginalization
was universal. But they forgot something. The Igbo cry of
marginalization was official policy. It was expected. It was
programmed. And occasionally, key government officials let it slip
that Igbos should not complain. After all, they fought a war with
Nigeria. Talk about No Victor, No Vanquished. There was a Victor
alright. And they were reminded of that at every turn. Every
appointment. Every national project was propagated with the glass
ceiling in mind to contain the Igbos.
How can any nation grow when the leaders are mandated to keep
a viable component of her resources subjugated and useless
because of fear and insecurity? Nigeria was only pretending. Igbos
were licking their wounds and complaining and the rest of Nigeria
were too busy to notice. Go to the South-East today. Since the 70s
and the oil boom. Nigeria has invested in commercial industries
across the country. None has been sited in the South east. None.
Refineries, Steel Plants, Cement Firms. Any Industry.
The South East was systematically deindustrialized. Even when it
was the best location for any industry, there was always a reason
why it should not be sited there. What this means was that any
Igbo man that wanted to work in a commercial federal
establishment had to leave the east. Add this to the indigenization
policy of the early 70s that pushed the Igbos out of private
companies. It meant that international companies also avoided
expansion into the south east. The Nigerian Breweries, the Dunlop
and other such firms sited their plants outside the East and only
set up distribution centers to sell in the region.
This is one of the main reasons the exodus of Igbos from the zone
accelerated after the war and continues to this day despite the
hostility they face in certain parts of Nigeria. And why most Igbos
became traders and commercial business men. Access to
organized work either in the government, government commercial
institutions and even commercial institutions were limited. This
concerted government plan worked so well that the even Igbos
began to hate themselves and hate to invest in their zone till this
day.
The only industrial enterprise in the east are built by easterners;
Nnewi, Aba, Onitsha. These are Igbo indigenous industrial cities.
The plan was to frustrate them from investing in their zone or force
them to move the industry to North or West where it can be taken
from them after getting them to transfer the technology. This has
been the practice since the end of the war.
In addition to this, the Federal Government has systematically
made it difficult for Easterners to do commercial business even in
the East. The Federal Roads in the East are some of the worst in
Nigeria. The Eastern Sea ports have been made ineffective. It was
a war to get the Enugu Airport upgraded to an International Airport.
The former Finance Minister shed tears on the day the first
International Flight landed in Enugu. Yes, Okonjo Iwealla cried!
Recently, it was only the South East that was conspicuously
missing in the New Railway Plan of the Federal Government.
Nigeria has 6 regions and one was missing in a national railway
plan while nobody cares. Incidentally, Igbos who reside in the east
are the most itinerant in the country and would benefit most from a
national transport plan. Even our President Buhari changed the
plan to include his village but a major zone of the country was not
included.
When you go to the east, despite the lack of federal presence, the
presence of police all over the east tells a story. They mount road
blocks and make it difficult to have commercial activities to run
smoothly. Recently, Customs has joined. And lastly the army. It is
an occupied territory. They extort money. They intimidate them by
all means. They have recently started shooting and killing them.
Nigeria has made the east unlivable. They sponsor dubious
governors, senators, and political leaders that take orders from the
caliphate – Purposely, Carefully.
In conversations, people often accuse the east of being clannish or
tribalistic. That is far from the truth. No group assimilate or blend
in more than the Igbos. They claim Igbos are welcome in all parts
of Nigeria, but outsiders cannot come to the East. The question is:
why would anyone come to the east? To do what? There is no
business to do in the east. Nigeria has ensured that. Why would
someone from the South West of Nigeria go to the East to invest?
No one would prevent them. But it hardly makes commercial
sense. Nigeria has ensured that.
Those from the North are there in droves. Igbos love to celebrate
with cows. And the cattlemen go there to sell their cattle. No one
molests them. In the villages in the East, these northerners live
unmolested. But those are the only people who can find
commercial reason to be there! So those who wonder why Igbos
are angry, wonder no more. While most would not dare carry arms
against Nigeria, don’t under estimate the level of disconnection
and anger especially among the younger generation who feel
hopeless and in prisoned for something they did not do.
Nigeria is made of nations that came together to form the country.
No nation will like to remain in perpetual servitude or slavery.
Igbos were at the forefront in the fight for Nigerian independence
against Britain. If they did not allow Britain to subjugate them, they
surely will not allow any local power or they may strike at the
slightest opportunity at other pseudo dominating power over them.
That Nnamdi Kanu’s supporters starred down army tanks with
sticks is a sign that the next generation will be ready to fight bare
hands if necessary to stop Nigeria treating the Igbo nation as
second-class citizens. There will be fiercer and angrier Kanus in
the immediate future if Nigeria does not officially stop the
“vanquished “program against the Igbos who fought the civil war.
You cannot preach *unity* and *indivisibility* of the country on TV
and all your actions point to discrimination against the
components of the country. It is hypocrisy. It is as dangerous as it
is foolhardy. Let those who preach unity walk the talk and stop
open discrimination of their countrymen. History has shown that
you cannot decree peace. You cannot decree unity. You cannot
force any group to belong to a country by force, it may work for a
time. But never sustainable.
Nigeria has a lot to look forward to as a united country. It also has
enough for the regions and nations that make up the country. Our
diversity is a blessing. Our failure to reach our potential is caused
mostly by the internal contradictions and the inability to build a fair
country that can bring out the best out of her component regions.
Those who shout most about loving Nigeria today are mostly those
its current unfair structure favor. But Nigeria will continue being as
strong as its weakest link. And the weak links are all there to see.
The East is one of the weakest links. Until it stops being a weak
link, Nigeria cannot truly make progress.

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2 Comments

  1. Hmm

  2. Something they

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