By Remi Oyeyemi
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” – Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
One has just finished reading Hannatu Musawa’s piece on the above subject. Reading through the piece, it was difficult for one to understand why such a brilliant mind like Hannatu could not understand what really Biafra is all about. Her article is an attestation to total miscomprehension of what the struggle for Biafra is all about. It is evident that she has no clue.
The first evidence of this is the background that she gave in her article. The background was not only hollow, it conveys an impression of someone out to be mischievous. You don’t begin and end the History of a people midway. This often misleads others and could lead the unwary and untutored to wrong conclusions. The kind of background given by Ms. Musawa gave the impression that the Biafran freedom agitators are rabble-rousers bent on disrupting the polity. The article portrayed the Biafran agitators as irritants that could be lured out of their “delusions” with some “political and economic snacks” by the Nigerian State and everything would be alright from there. Nothing could be farther from reality. Ms. Musawa does not get it.
Commenting on Referendum she wrote inter alia:“If a referendum were held today, there is no doubt that over 70% of people in the five south-east states would vote YES for separation. A little over 50% in Rivers State would also vote YES. Between 40% and 50% might vote YES in other south-south states: Bayelsa, Delta, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Edo.
A similar result might be reproduced if the people of the south-west were to be subjected to a referendum to determine whether Oduduwa republic should come into being.
Therefore, the Federal Government should not agree to a referendum. Every section in Nigeria feels marginalised in Nigeria, apparently because the country is not practising true federalism. The state of the nation’s economy is also a contributor: Many have fallen on hard times and become frustrated.”
I could not believe my eyes as I read the above passage. Without any ambiguity, Ms. Musawa came across as a fascist and a slave driver. She is what my forefathers in Yorubaland referred to as “Amunisin” or enslaver. The Yoruba people don’t take kindly to people with such odious mentality and character. No group of people who have self respect should take kindly to such people. In this day and age, how could any sane mind be against self determination of any group of people? How can anyone be against referendum? If you are not a slave driver bent on frustrating the destiny and potential of others, why must you take away from them the freedom to decide what they want? Who decides that Nigeria is inviolate? Is it the likes of Ms. Musawa or the peoples of Nigeria?
With all due respect, one has no idea if Ms. Musawa is married or not. And one does not know if she has children of her own. But one would like to know from her if it would be alright by her for someone else to determine the destiny of her children against the will of such children or her own wish? So, simply because the people of Southeast and Southwest could vote to leave Nigeria, referendum should not be allowed? Evidently, Ms. Musawa buys the idea and the philosophy of Sir Ahmadu Bello as espoused in this following historic statement:”This New Nation called Nigeria, should be an estate of our great grandfather, Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the North as willing tools, and the South, as conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us, and never allow them to have control over their future” (emphasis mine)
— Sir Ahmadu Bello (Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of Northern Region The Parrot of October 12, 1960
Ms. Musawa’s observation that “Every section in Nigeria feels marginalized” is the more reason we should have referendum. We should allow our people to determine if they want Nigeria or not. If they vote to say they want Nigeria, then how? If they vote to say they do not want Nigeria, then Nigeria should be allowed to meet its God-given destiny of breaking up that could only be delayed but not stopped eventually. The taxi drivers, the bricklayers, the market women, student population, lawyers, doctors, mechanics, carpenters, bankers, farmers, civil servants and all others should be allowed to have a say in their destinies. Anybody who is against the concept of self determination is an enemy of the people as well as progress.
All the arrogant scoundrels and their sentries who appropriate patriotism as a cocoon to justifying this obnoxious contraption called Nigeria have a date with History and Nature. All of them who mouth “Unity” at all costs while feeding fat on the misfortune of our peoples and holding them in bondage would not escape the fast approaching waterloo. The spirit of man abhors enslavement. It detests subjugation. It insatiably seeks freedom. No matter how inhibited, the spirit of man would limp to liberty.
No person or group of persons should be allowed to determine the destinies of the Nigerian ethnic nationalities. Nigeria is an unholy marriage, if it qualifies to be called that. The ethnic nationalities encapsulated in Nigeria are like dating concubines. Their relationship would not last. Just as the Yoruba are fond of saying, “Ija l’o ngbeyin ale,” meaning “Concubines always end up fighting to part ways.” The eventual break up of Nigeria could and would be delayed by variety of variables, but it could and would never be prevented.
The streets of Nigeria from Badagry to Maiduguri and from Sokoto to Calabar could be paved with gold, it would not matter and would not prevent the date of Nigeria with History. This is because the struggle for freedom is not just about economics alone. is much more than that. It is about the God-given right of determining your own destiny and being in control of your own life. It is about the right to ruin your life if that is what you want. It is also about the knowledge that you are fully responsible for your own circumstances and the consciousness that no one has been able to put a lid on your potential because he or she has the means to do so.
As at December 31, 1990, there were only 25 countries in Europe. By the end of 2010, a space of twenty years, it has doubled to about 50. It is not because of economic hardship. Neither is it because of lack of development. It is essentially because of the desire that overrides all desires – the desire to self-determine one’s destiny. No amount of economic well-being could replace this. No amount of good roads and functioning hospitals could take its place.
One is not unaware of the incorrigible nationalists who champion the idea of the Nigeria Project at all costs regardless of it undesirability. Morbidly and rabidly, these so called nationalists champion Nigerian “unity” at all costs and the preservation of the miserable status quo. They are not oblivious of the fact that time is running out for the Nigeria Project and that its destiny is eventual balkanization. These so-called nationalists are always nervous. They are a scared bunch. They are always afraid of the people. They would rather decide for the people than to allow the people decide for themselves, just as Ms. Musawa is advocating.
Regardless of their genre, all these “Nigerian nationalists” persistently parrot vacuous patriotism. They are all patriots of the pocket. They themselves believe in Nigeria in so far as they are able to continue to line their pockets from the miseries of unfortunate peoples of the different nations held in bondage in the odious contraption called Nigeria. Ghoulishly, they champion One Nigeria, not because they actually believe that Nigeria is One, or could be One, but because in the Oneness they champion for Nigeria, their survival is guaranteed and their ego is satiated.
The Nigerian Government could arrest as many Nnamdi Kanus as possible. They could massacre as many MASSOB members as possible just as members of Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) have been heartlessly and wickedly been murdered over and over. They could use their mainstream media to malign the freedom fighters and call them all negative names under the sun. All their efforts put together would not stop the march of Freedom. Their efforts combined would not stop the tide of History.
One’s advice to the Biafrans and all the freedom fighters of other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria is that they should not pay attention to “nay sayers.” They should remember once again the advice of Eleanor Roosevelt that “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” They should also learn from the experience of Theodore Herzl (1860-1904), the visionary and the dreamer who felt the need for a country for the Jews, predicted its creation and worked assiduously towards it. But the establishment Jews across Europe vilified him and considered his ideas as a threat to their attempts at integration and a rebellion against God.
After the first Zionist Congress in Basle (Basel), Switzerland in August 31 1897, Herzl wrote the following quietly in his diary: “At Basle, I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. If not in 5 years, certainly in 50, everyone will know it.”
The establishment Jews did not only malign him, they vilified him and laughed at him. They ridiculed him and joked about his so-called “naivety.” That is what is happening to the believers in Biafra and Oodua Nations today. The Igbo Conscience Leaders (ICL) represents the Nigerian establishment. Those who believe in Biafra should ignore them and should continue to pursue their dream until it becomes a reality. They have the right to be free from the bondage called Nigeria. political and economic bondage as represented by Nigeria. The ICL do not speak for the Igbo masses. The ICL members are political jobbers. They are carpetbaggers. If anyone is interested in what the Igbo masses are saying, or what the Yoruba people are yearning for, then let us do a clean referendum. Let the people express their will.
Just like Theodore Herzl believed in 1890s, I believe too that wondrous generations of Igbo and Yoruba are springing into existence to demand for and get their Biafra and Oodua Nations respectively. The Yoruba who wish for Oodua will have it. The Igbo who wish for Biafra will have it. Others who want their own nations from the ashes of the Nigerian evil state that is fast gathering would also have their own wishes fulfilled. When a people are determined to be free, nothing should, would or could stand in their way. No one is able to hold a people down for ever. No amount of ill-motivated propaganda could do it. No amount of guns, armoured personnel carriers, bombs or war planes would be able to do it. No amount of persecution would stop it.
Biafra must and will be born again. Oodua shall and will be free and claim its own. In the words of Theodore Herzl, “We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and die peacefully in our own homes. The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness. And whatever we attempt there to accomplish for our own welfare, will react powerfully and beneficially for the good of humanity.”
“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”
John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961Please follow me on Twitter @OyeyemiRemi