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CRUMBS FROM THE NATIONAL CONFAB

By DANN JACOBS

What is happening in Nigeria today is, more than anything else, challenging the survival instinct of Ndigbo. It’s a question of outliving the enemy’s evil plans and physical attacks. It seems the onslaught is coming from all directions.

From the look of things, Ndigbo have adopted a survival strategy. They are picking the crumbs from under the table of those who play god and master to them. They want to carry on in agreement with this so as to survive first. It seems the strategy is to stoop to conquer to endure all things without saying anything. And it is working or is it not?

It is in this light that I see the attitude of Ndigbo as a people to the boko haram war campaign against them in the north. The bombing of Christian places of worship and the killing of people in them, especially Ndigbo, goes unchallenged even verbally. Every thing seems normal and acceptable. Instead of complaints about this coming from the governments of the South-East, a northern governor is fuming about a so-called genocide being committed against his people.

The federal government is also playing safe, being cautious not to ruffle any feathers anywhere, anytime, especially in the north. In the process more Igbos are dying.

The government of President Jonathan appears determined not to offend the north, even though all the troubles are coming from there. Jonathan does not want to be annoyed either. Showing anger will knock him out of alignment as the stabilizing force he wants to be in the delicate north and south equation.

His style as a moderate ruler is understandable. But it has not helped matters for the oppressed Igbos of Nigeria. They are suffering in silence. But he cannot help them.

In the final analysis, Ndigbo are dealing with three facets of their situation; one is the attitude of the president. Two is their own attitude to their problems. And three is the attitude of other parts of the country towards them.

As one of the crumbs dropped for them by Nigeria the South-East is to pick up a 6th state from the national conference. This was conceded without stress. And it shows the extent to which other Nigerians regret the inequalities in the country as far as the Igbo are concerned.

Ndigbo have been excited about this development. Before rejoicing over it, they should wait for it to be a reality and to have the new state in the kitty. Constitutional and legal stakes for achieving this are very high, and nearly insurmountable. So the 6th state for the South-East is not really a great award to the South-East. A seventh state should come with it plus adequate compensation for the years it was a cheated zone with 5 states. Following that, there is a more dangerous decision for the Igbo area that the national confab is about to take. It is proposing, at the committee level to make the states the federating units of the country. This will perpetuate the numerical inequalities and political imbalances that are the main threats to Igbo survival and interest in Nigeria.

Those who have links with Igbo delegates must immediately reach them and tell them to resist this proposal with the last drop of their blood.

The need to have a fair and an equitable distribution of political resources is what made the national confab necessary. If political resources are distributed equitably, then economic and other resources will automatically go round in a fair manner, and complaints about them will be minimized.

The federating units should be the 6 zones. They may retain the states as administrative units. This is the popular feeling in the South-West, South-South and the South-East – the entire southern part of Nigeria. The north, still bent on political control and hegemony, will root for a structure that gives them the numerical advantage. This move should be defeated at the national confab.

Ebe onye bi ka o na-awachi. If the South East delegates went with any mindset at all to the confab, it must be to stop the killing of their people and the destruction of their properties in the north. This is yet to be tabled as a South-East position. We should not tolerate this any longer;

It must be to remove all imbalances and inequalities in the distribution of resources as far it affects them;

It must be to stop feeding from crumbs under the table, but to climb up and take its due share of the meal from the main bowl from where others are feeding.

It is the re-structuring that the national confab will put forward that will make these possible. That’s why the delegates must see the strategic value of every word used in the recommendations of the confab, when it rises from its deliberations.

The national confab will be a roaring success only and if the Nigerian fear of Ndigbo and the itching to put them down, in other words the Igbo-phobia in the system is totally cured. Igbo delegates should make this their ultimate achievement at the confab. They will then return to a heroes’ welcome.

 

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