The Igbo Are the Most Important Fabric That Constitutes the Nigerian Nation – Says Don Pedro Obaseki
Click on above link to listen to Dr. Obaseki’s statement in full.
It brings a sense of relief to hear someone of substance like Dr. Don Pedro Obaseki say something very positive about the Igbo ethnic nationality and culture even as the October 1, 2017 deadline given to all Igbo residing in 19 states of the North to vacate and return to their ancestral home in Eastern Nigeria draws closer. One of the reasons given by the Arewa youths, who issued the vacate order to Ndiigbo, is that the ethnic group constitutes a curse to Nigeria because of the persistent quest by Easterners to dismember the country.
It should be recalled that the activist arm of of the ruling establishment of the North in the past 200 years, the Arewa Consultative Forum, made this controversial proclamation in response to a very successful stay-at-home exercise called for by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and self-determination groups to mark the 50th anniversary of formal declaration of the Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967. According to the Arewa youths group, effective shutdown of a huge section of the country to commemorate the birth of separatist Biafra Republic was inconsistent with the Nigerian nation that they wish to see and be part of. Wholesale observance of the sit-at-home call by pro-Biafra groups in all states of Alaigbo was further seen as evidence that the leadership echelon of the Igbo political class are in full support of the pro-Biafra agitators’ overall agenda.
It is noteworthy that the same Igbo, who have been earmarked for ejection from 19 states of the North are the ones being hailed by Dr. Obaseki for being the mortar which has held Nigeria’s constituent parts together; a feat that other major ethnic nationalities in the country are either unable or unwilling to match. It is bizarre that diametrically opposed views can be held about the Igbo by their fellow compatriots contemporaneously. The only way to explain this is that historical animosity against the Igbo may have permanently jaundiced the vision and dulled the sensibilities of Arewa youths. The same Arewa youth hordes were responsible to perpetrating heinous pogroms against the Igbo and their fellow Easterners 50 years ago in run-up to the Civil War. Since end of the Civil War, the Igbo have suffered incessant attacks by Arewa youths of the Far North under the guise of religious or communal riots. Because of the complicit acts of the ruling establishment in the Far North (Arewa land), the unruly and bloodthirsty unemployed Muslim hordes that throng cities of the far North periodically engage in the slaughter of innocent Igbo and are not even accosted for their murderous escapades, not to mention being made to face justice by the local and national security agencies and the country’s judicial system.
Dr. Obaseki, who is not Igbo by ancestry, posits that the rest of Nigeria owe gratitude to Ndiigbo whose activities lubricate their compatriots’ socioeconomic well-being in an ongoing basis nationwide. The paradox of Nigeria is that instead of showing respect and appreciation to the Igbo, the political power mongers who dominate the country’s political center prefer instead to isolate Ndiigbo for marginalization in all spheres of national affairs. In past 50 years, the Igbo have collectively suffered untold injustice at hands of those who wield official power in Nigeria. The Igbo ancestral land in Eastern Nigeria has been subjected to relegation and neglect by depriving the territory of socioeconomic infrastructure thereby deliberately retarding economic development of the region. Enormous effort is put into scheming the ways and means of excluding Ndiigbo from partaking in policy derivation on issues that pertain even to upkeep of Nigerian economy where Ndiigbo have contributed immensely over the decades, just as Dr. Obaseki had eloquently stated.
The likes of Don Obaseki are stating the obvious regarding Ndiigbo. But who are listening? Ndiigbo have learnt their lessons regarding Nigeria since the colonial era. The colonial ruler of Nigeria, Britain, had colluded in the design of post-colonial governance model to assure perpetual marginalization of Ndiigbo through the gerrymandering that preceded the granting of self-rule in 1960. The British colonial masters assured that the Islamic North was positioned to dominate Nigeria politically despite the fact that Northerners lacked the practical knowhow about secular governance and were completely disinterested in inculcating the imperatives for engendering and nurturing a modern economic system for a post-Independence nation state.
Dr. Obaseki’s appraisal of the role of Ndiigbo in today’s Nigeria is factual and honest. Due to natural inclinations of the typical Igbo business entrepreneur, this ethnic nationality is heavily vested in Nigeria as all can see. But there is new sense among the Igbo intellectual, business and political elite corps that a Nigeria which is fixated on antiquated ways as the preferred means to compete in our 21st Century world offers no hope for Ndiigbo, going forward. The Igbo youths are at the lead of this mindset. The post-civil-war dictators who reconfigured Nigeria geopolitically in far-reaching ways have unwittingly put future economic prospects of the country in utmost jeopardy. The macro economy is predicated on pervasive government meddling in a fashion that tramples upon natural justice and flaunts utter disregard for shared interest in ownership and utilization of the nation’s abundant resources.
Debate rages on regarding what the Igbo should do with all the humongous investments they’ve made in all parts of the country; should Ndiigbo tarry with a unified Nigeria so as to fully redeem their current investments or must they forsake their current exposure in a decrepit polity and refocus their energy and effort instead toward configuring a brand-new geopolitical unit that shall guarantee their safety, worldview and future global economic aspirations?
For obvious reasons, preponderance of Ndiigbo reject the status quo which was authored in immediate aftermath of the civil war based on the doctrine of perpetual marginalization, property seizure and enslavement. The only option left for Igbo lovers of a unified Nigeria is a fundamental geopolitical restructuring of the country to approximate what held sway in the immediate post-Independence era. But the notion of Restructuring Nigeria, in whatever manner, has recently been firmly repudiated by the incumbent National Assembly which is dominated by the Arewa North and its appurtenances. The only choice now is for the Igbo elite corps to yield to the intensifying quest being driven by the self-determinations forces who are garnering more grassroots support to devolve Nigeria in the shortest possible time.
The Obasekis of the world are too few and far apart in today’s Nigeria that has found itself on the path to self-destruct in the very near future. The Igbo that the playwright aptly characterized in his remarks shall still live on and persist in being who they are, whether within the context of today’s Nigeria or outside of it. As we speak, the Igbo have already covered a lot of ground in building a much-desired regional solidarity among ethnic nationalities indigenous to the Lower Niger of which the Edo nation is part and parcel.