Ekweremadu On Biafra Agitation: Recommendations of Appeasement & Supplication to Minders of the Stauts Quo Are No Solutions
by Dr. Okenwa Nwosu
Senator Ike Ekweremadu was born in 1962; he was thus only a 5-year-old at outbreak of the Civil War whose outcome resulted in the reconfiguration of post-Independence Nigeria to what it has become today in eyes of the contemporary world, starting with the citizenry. But the 55-year-old legislator is a trained lawyer and has been walking the corridors of power in Abuja since 2003, nearly the lifespan of the 4th Republic’s democracy, as a senator from Enugu state. Currently, he is the Deputy Senate President at the National Assembly. He is very much an integral part of the wasteful political culture that resulted in the obnoxious status quo in Nigeria.
Because of the above, what Senator Ekweremadu has to say about his primary constituents, in particular and rest of the Nigeria, in general, ought to be taken seriously. A widely circulated article titled “EKWERENMADU ON BIAFRA AGITATION…” (https://goo.gl/3ZkGnS) appears to have been released in the immediate aftermath of the recent extrajudicial killings of unarmed nonviolent pro-Biafra agitators in Umuahia and Abia, both in Abia State. It is unclear when the senator initially wrote this article. But the lack of any mention, whatsoever, of brutal killings of innocent youths of Southeast origin by central government-controlled Nigerian Army troops, for no justifiable reason, is not what one would expect from a politician with the stature of Mr. Ike Ekweremadu.
In brief, the senator’s take on Biafra agitation can only be rationalized within the context of post-Biafran Igbo mindset. This mindset is informed by the “logic of surviving for yet another day” after the bitter experiences of the Civil War. The legislator has no experiential memory of the Igbo who thrived and prospered in Nigeria soon after Independence of 1960. He grew up in post-Biafra Alaigbo and thus his perceptions of Ndiigbo and their place in the Nigerian experiment are greatly influenced by what he had observed around him growing up in the past half century. If he read any history about the preceding epoch of the country’s evolution, you would not know so by reading his article on Biafra agitation.
What Senator Ekweremadu Had to Say
Ike Ekweremadu went out his way to emphasize the due process as a sine qua non in whatever future that Igbo self-determination groups wish to aspire for and actualize on behalf of Ndiigbo. He was very terse regarding the specifics of how to go about the due process he recommends. He then moved on to redefine self-determination of Ndiigbo as a quest which can be achieved ONLY within the context of today’s Nigeria through the instrumentality of Restructuring. The senator went on the limb to itemize 5 issues which should be pursued during the sort of Restructuring that can favor the strategic interests of Ndiigbo in today’s world. Suffice it to say that all the listed items, which Senator Ekweremadu hopes to achieve for Ndiigbo, are nothing more than mere wishful thinking. I call these expectations from so-called Restructuring wishful thinking because the proponents of these goodies, including Ekweremadu, come across as not having any clue about how to go about closing on the deal they propose. Different people/groups have different perceptions of what Restructuring should be all about. It takes two amenable sides to deal on matters of this nature. The senator’s recommended steps give away his underlying fear that Restructuring (the variant he comprehends) can happen only if the Sokoto Islamic Caliphate of the Arewa North shall grant such. I humbly beg to differ.
In my reckoning, the only substantive statement in Senator Ekweremadu’s stance on Biafra is excerpted below:
“Ndiigbo also need to understand both the local and international political tides and sentiments to be able to make the right choices because the considerations for self-determination go beyond just the Southeast.”
The legislator appreciates the fact that just highlighting Igbo micro-nationalistic fervor cannot be the smart route to secure Igbo self-determination quest that can succeed sooner and also endure the test of time. But what befuddle this writer and many others are the very procedures recommended by Senator Ekweremadu for achieving his preferred approach. In the senator’s “Way Forward”, he lists five things that must be done as a matter of relative urgency:
“to set up a committee for a continuous engagement and moderation of IPOB, other pro-Biafra organizations and their leaders…….”. (This is definitely a very tall order which ought to be dismissed offhand as unserious.)
“to send a team of Southeast leaders to have yet another meeting with the Presidency, this time to tell them, in clear terms, the need to address the fears and complaints about marginalization of the people of the South-east by this government………”
“must continue to emphasize restructuring, which is presently enjoying acceptance by the Southsouth, Southwest, Northcentral, and well-meaning people from other parts of the North………”
“need to send delegations to different entities of the North, especially Sokoto, Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, Adamawa, Katsina, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, among others, to engage the respective governors and top traditional rulers and clerics who will also help to moderate the utterances and actions of the Northern youths………”
“need to send another delegation to meet with the Chief of Defense Staff, Inspector-General of Police, National Security Adviser, and the Director-General of the Department of State Security……”
A quick glance at the above listed recommendations by Senator Ike Ekweremadu conveys a political mindset that perceives the future place of Ndiigbo and their strategic interests in Nigeria’s geopolitical space to be permanently subordinated to Abuja and those who have held sway over the country’s unitary governance model of the past 50 years. When the senator opines that “the considerations for self-determination go beyond just the Southeast”, what he actually means is that the Igbo fate, as a people, is sealed by whoever control Nigeria’s political power and influence at the center in Abuja. This understanding clearly underscores every recommendation proffered by the senate leader.
Regional Alternative for Redefining the Igbo Future: The Lower Niger Independence Movement (LONIM) Approach
Senator Ekweremadu ought to have learned that onset of the relative decline of Igbo geopolitical clout and influence in Nigeria is directly related to the successful breakup of regional solidarity that had existed among Ndiigbo and all the minority ethnic nationalities that cohabit the former Eastern Region and rest of the Lower Niger. He may need to be informed that creation of the Midwest Region, in aftermath of the 1963 plebiscite, was greatly facilitated by the NCNC which had strong following in the Eastern Region. There is obviously a strong historical basis for seeking an integrated regional future for all the indigenous nationalities of the Lower Niger (combined Eastern & Midwest Regions). Problems and constraints of the status quo are shared universally throughout the Lower Niger. Seeking for a joint strategy to extricate our peoples from slavery and recoup our seized ancestral lands together for a better future is not only commonsensical, but it is also mutually beneficial for all the constituents involved.
So, when Senator Ekweremadu proffers his recommendations forward for the Igbo, top of his list ought to have been the reaching out to and liaising with all the minority ethnic nationalities that have peacefully shared the Lower Niger territory together with Ndiigbo for millennia. The Abuja-centric reconfiguration of Igbo future, as is being advocated by the Senate deputy leader and like minds, is ahistorical and is informed by the psychology of low sense of self-worth and one’s authentic Igbo cultural heritage.
It is trifling, if not disingenuous, for Senator Ekweremadu to convey the impression that resurgent allure of Biafranism and self-determination for indigenous ethnic nationalities of the Lower Niger among the Igbo youths revolve SOLELY around the personality of Nnamdi Kanu and his leadership tactics in IPOB. This is a very simplistic understanding of the self-determination quest of our folks who are desirous to break out, without any further delay or procrastination, from the chains of bondage holding our people in slavery and confiscating our ancestral lands since the Civil War. On face value, it is hard to truly understand whose interests that Senator Ekweremadu is serving in current scheme of things.
Because of his long exposure to all the shenanigans that have bedeviled Nigeria’s 4th Republic, Ekweremadu is complicit in enabling and sustaining the unacceptable status quo in which the country is currently mired. It is, therefore, not an overstatement to assert that the senator is part and parcel of the very sociopolitical malady which he now wishes to lead in curing. The subject of determining how best to extricate Ndiigbo and their neighbors in the Lower Niger must first start with the rebuilding of regional solidarity among Ndiigbo and all the other ethnic nationalities that constitute the Lower Niger, not the sending of delegations to prostrate and plead at the feet of those who truly believe that Nigeria “is the estate of their great grandfather, Othman Dan Fodio”. This is the primary agenda that propels the LONIM.
My counsel to Senator Ekweremadu is that he should come down from his high horse so that he can join the rest of his fellow bewildered constituents to use our feet to locate our common ancestral treasure that sank to bottom of the murky neighborhood pond. The highfalutin solutions emanating from him are actually no solutions at all. The senator talks as someone whose primary interest is appeasement of and supplication to minders of the status quo.
He conveys the impression that has shown no comprehension about the underlying pathogenesis of Nigeria’s national malaise and the sense of urgency required to actualize the self-redemption of his enslaved kith and kin within our very own ancestral lands in Alaigbo by the born-to-rule scions of the Sokoto Islamic Caliphate of the Arewa North.