By Jude Atupulazi
What gives the most pain to any individual is when they are not given their deserved respect, when they are treated as though they do not matter, even when they do. In Nigeria, the Igbo Nation has ever since the unfortunate civil war been treated as if it is not part of Nigeria and this is despite the humongous contributions of Ndigbo to the development of the Nigerian Nation.
This is despite the great value Igbos bring to the table. This neglect has happened and happened over time that it is becoming as if it is the tradition in this country. And now, just as the Nigerian Nation gears up for the election of its next president, this age-old disrespect has come up again as some people who think the country belongs to them are once more attempting to usurp what clearly belongs to the Igbo Nation.
But thank God for a certain Peter Obi who is not only proving a true son of his father but more than proving a match to ”them”.
Indeed, any Nigerian who says the next president of Nigeria should not come from the Southeast is either a pretender, if the person is from outside Igbo Land, or a traitor, if from Igbo Land. Yes, power is taken, not pleaded for, but then in Nigeria, one cannot deny the fact that any time it was perceived that it was the turn of the Fulani/Hausa North, they had always produced the president. This is same whenever it had been perceived to be the turn of the Yoruba West.
Need we be reminded what happened after Moshood Abiola was denied the presidency? Wasn’t Olusegun Obasanjo even taken out from the prison to be made president? Before then, wasn’t one Ernest Shonekan from the West made the interim president just to appease the Yoruba Nation for denying them their chance through Abiola?
Even though others from other zones had contested each of those times, everyone knew they were only making up the numbers.
Now, 52 long years after the civil war, the Southeast remains the only major zone denied the chance of producing the president of the country and it has not been because of a lack of quality people from the zone. In fact, if there is a geographic zone in Nigeria where you have top quality, that zone is the Southeast.
Their quality and class can even compare with the very best in the whole wide world. But in Nigeria, these people are being treated like second class citizens but funnily enough, the country is paying for it. How?
The Igbos are some of the most industrious people anywhere in the world. They can thrive under some of the most difficult conditions as everybody saw during the civil war. Despite all sorts of economic blockade, they sustained their war effort for nearly three years.
They manufactured their own war tanks, refined their own oil, manufactured local bombs and built airstrips. After that war, rather than integrate those behind those feats to transfer their skills to Nigeria, they were thrown aside so that the Igbos would not receive any credit. Today the country cannot produce a pin and is reliant on foreign countries for most of their needs. So who fooled who?
Coming to those who have been ruling the country, how well has the country fared under their rulership? I’m talking about the North. In the country’s 62 years of existence the North has ruled for 47 years and in those 47 years only the Northern elite have benefited to the detriment of the masses over there.
Let’s look at these statistics:
In 47 years of Northern rule, the North has the highest number of out of school children; highest number of poverty; highest case of insurgency; highest number of maternal death at child birth; and highest case of infant mortality.
So what has the North got to show to even their people for all the years of staying in the power corridors? Nothing!
Conversely, the zone which was nearly destroyed during the civil war, the Southeast, has the least poverty index, highest number of children in school, lowest rate of maternal death during child birth, and all of the others.
The people from here are also not only found in all parts of the country, they regard those places as their home and invest heavily there. They have proved to be the greatest believers of the One Nigeria mantra. Yet, they are seen as people not fit to produce the president of the country.
That is why now that every fowl and goat in Nigeria knows it is the turn of the Southeast, some of the people who have held the country down are queuing to take the turn of the Southeast. And they may well have gotten away with it without a whimper from the Southeast if not for a certain Peter Obi.
In the beginning, all sorts of people from the Southeast in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, came out to contest for the presidency but we all saw how it all panned out. They turned out to be more of pretenders than contenders. And it was looking as though the fate of the Southeast was sealed when Obi roared in.
Today, the greatest headache of the oppressors of Nigeria is Peter Obi. Obi has remained several jumps ahead of them, leaving them to play follow up. What Obi is doing today has brought pride to the Igbo Nation.
Indeed, is there any way anyone could look at the Obi candidacy and fault it? If it’s by turn, he comes from a place that has a genuine claim to the presidency. If it is by competence, he is miles ahead of all his co-candidates. And if it’s by transparency, he is a great saint compared to them.
What about knowledge of the economy? That’s his strongest forte. So why wouldn’t anyone support Obi? This represents the last chance for Nigerians who have been at the receiving end of bad leadership to reclaim their country.
Obi is the most popular Nigerian now and that is saying something. They have seen that the Igbos are no pushovers and it’s all because of the man called Peter Obi. We are indeed grateful to him for standing up and fighting like a man. Oburugodu so nkea.
Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Country, Once upon a Buhari
A time was when Nigeria was a sweet place to live in. Going to the North then was pleasurable as those people were some of the best to relate with and live among. Although later, religion and politics creeped in to cause confusion and enmity between them and the rest of Nigerians, it is only under Buhari that the final cord holding us together was broken. Buhari made Nigerians to mistrust one another and even hate one another, as the case may be. This makes one wonder when and how we lost it, especially after the way we lived before.
For those who may think that the era when we lived cordially and truly as one Nigerians was a farce, I refer them to this compilation below which I found on social media recently. It is quite interesting as it reminds us of the Paradise we lost due to bad and wicked leadership.
- In 1950 in a place called Lagos, Olorunimbe was the first Mayor of Lagos with Mazi Mbonu Ojike as his Deputy.
- In 1952 a man from Ogwashi Ukwu, by the name of Chief Ekwuiyasi represented Benin West in the Western House of Assembly.
- In 1956 there was a country… whose first Mayor in a place called Enugu was a Fulani man by the name of Mallam Umaru Altine. He was not appointed but elected TWICE as Mayor.
- In 1957 there was a country which had a City called Kano, one Felix Okonkwo was a special member of the Northern House of Chiefs.
- In 1959 there was a country, a country where when its Eastern House of Chiefs was constituted, a man named Mallam Umaru Yushau, the Sarkin Hausawa or Chief of the Hausas in Onitsha, was elected a member of the Eastern House of Chiefs.
- In 1961, the people of Aba voted Margaret Ekpo to represent them and Abakaliki voted Chief Eyo Bassey (father of AK APC Publicity Secretary) both non-Igbos into Parliament.
- Alh. Ibrahim Abubakar Imam from Maiduguri represented Tiv Land, Gboko, in the House of Representatives.
- There was a country which had a place called Port Harcourt. The people of Port Harcourt elected a man called Chief John Umolu (from Etsako in today’s Edo State) to represent its municipality in the Eastern Region House of Assembly.
- Before all these, Obafemi Awolowo led the campaign for Ernest Ikoli, an Ijaw man, who defeated Chief Akinsanya in an election in Lagos. Nnamdi Azikiwe led the NCNC to a clean sweep of legislative seats in Lagos.
- A Ghanaian barrister called Atta Munu, practicing in Calabar, represented his town of residence in the first legislature in this country elected by universal adult suffrage.
To the young people who have always imagined that Nigeria has always been a jungle where lawlessness and tribalism reign, this was the way it really was and the way we were.
Merit, character and patriotism held sway and the country kept pace with the world.
That was our Great Country, Nigeria before the vultures took over!