By Churchill Okonkwo
I was working on this piece when I read the article by one Benjamin Nwosu entitled “Biafra: Nigeria and the rise of fraudulent dullards with born-to-rule mentality”, on SaharaReporters. In that piece Dr. Nwosu arrogantly asserted that “anybody with a single brain cell in his head knows that the Biafran State will be realized within the next 20 years!” He added that “we do not need to write an essay to spell this out; all one needs to do is take a close look at present day Nigeria and the fraudulent dullards running it!”
My initial intent was to ignore Dr. Nwosu’s viperous article as one of those rants from ignorant separatist’s foot soldiers. But on a second thought and on realization that he is a medical professional in the diaspora and as such, may be taken serious by the confused Biafran agitators back home, I decided to touch on his piece. On the question of realization of Biafra “within the next 20 years”, it is evident that Dr. Nwosu (like the rest of them) has badly missed the point. “Realization” alone will not save Biafra. On the contrary, it is the “realization” of Biafra that will catalyze its eventual demise. I am thus recommending that Dr. Nwosu should read Chinua Achebe’s memoir ‘There was a Country’ before he writes anything on Biafra again.
Taking a closer look at the present day Nigeria, some of us without “a single brain cell” in our heads still know that there is a difference between the weight of the helium-filled balloon and air. Eddie Zipperer wrote and I quote, “If you operate under the assumption that helium is heavier than the air around you, you’re going to lose your balloon. If you’re smart, you won’t lose many balloons before you change your assumption. If you don’t change your assumption, you’re going to keep losing balloons and start to look pretty stupid in the process.”
Here are some questions for Ndigbo: Between Nigeria and Biafra, which is heavier? Between Nigerians and Biafrans, who is smarter? Between Nigeria and Biafra, who is losing balloons? What are the balloons? Between Buhari and Jonathan, who is a “fraudulent dullards”? Between Obasanjo and Yaradua, who is a “fraudulent dullards”? Between our Biafran “Champions” and the Northern “Born to rule” Mallams, who is a “fraudulent dullards”? Why should you care?
I know that these are open ended questions and as such, I will leave the answers to the various medium of free speech available to Nigerians all over the worldwide web. However, what I want to make clear at this point is that there are “fraudulent dullards” all over our political, religious, business, economic, ethnic, educational and cultural landscapes. This point has been calibrated, recalibrated and finally established. So, I will leave it there.
For the purpose of recalibrating the Igbo agenda (in order to save Biafra), I will emphasize that the task, before every Biafran sympathizer or agitator is not to argue for an unlimited domain of free speech and protests. The task before every Biafran including Dr. Nwosu (and myself) is not to abuse, curse and call Nigerians of other ethnicities names. The real task is how to transform our anger, sentiments and energy into something tangible – political action and transformation. We should not let our egos prevent progress and forward thinking.
In series of articles over the years, I have been consciously and consistently presenting arguments backed by facts on why Biafrans are better off under a “united” Nigerian State. I have been insisting that the only way to save Biafra is through the promotion of “one Nigeria”. This piece is a clarion call on my brothers and sisters to dedicate 2017 and beyond to recalibrating the Igbo agenda first at our state and local government levels, before national. What should be the Igbo Agenda? Again, an open-ended question, but we need to start streamlining the answers to this all important question in Nigerian context. How?
“Look at the ceiling”. “Look upwards”. The effect may be the same, but the two directives are different. In the first case, you are asking someone to look at something specific. In the second case you are asking someone to look at a path.
Unfortunately, for long, we have been looking at a direction. We have been looking at the bread and manna from Lagos, then Abuja. We have been looking up to the politicians of Igbo extraction sent to Abuja to “emancipate” us. We have been electing state governors without the vision and capacity to manage village meetings to pull out the beard of a tiger. We have been electing senators, representatives and members of state houses who Chinua Achebe described as “politicians with plenty of money but low IQ”. We have limited our thinking to the “magic” that will happen with these politicians once we “realize” a Biafran State. Akuko!
In order to recalibrate the Igbo agenda in Nigeria, we need to start looking at something specific that will lead to political transformation in Biafra Land, we must change the course of our focus. The first step at recalibration of Igbo agenda is by electing leaders that will transform the Biafran landscape.
Nothing limits achievement like small thinking. It is small thinking to refer to Nigerians of other ethnicities as “fraudulent dullards” when your own ethnic champions are worse off. Just point to a single achievement on Biafra land since the 4th republic. Over the past 16 years we were part of the governing coalition of the “biggest political party in Africa”, but, what is there to show?
Nothing equals possibilities like unleashed thinking. To unleash our thinking, we should have long realized that the politics of fanning ethnic sentiment in a multicultural Nigeria has taken us as far as it can – nowhere. By focusing on interest as narrow as separatism, we miss the broader picture of transforming the states in Biafra land through our handwork, ingenuity and building of a broad coalition that will actualize the structural changes needed at the center.
The need to restructure Nigeria has been trending in Nigerian political discourse in recent years. If that is going to be the cornerstone of the Biafran agenda within the Nigerian State, we need to clearly define what it means. We need to build a coalition around it, market it and push for its implementation. Such a coalition cannot materialize under the present atmosphere of name calling and annihilation of other ethnic groups that constitute this beautiful but volatile country. Let the immature name calling and ethnic jingoism pass with 2016. To help save Biafra, advocate for one Nigeria. Happy New Year Nigerians.