By Joe Igbokwe
Ever since President Buhari won the 2015 Presidential elections he was destined to win having labored in 2003, 2007, 2011 and then 2015 a very vast preponderance of South-South and South East indigenes have descended on the President, pouring invectives, calling him names, abusing his person and his exalted office, preaching hate, and ethnic divisions. I have followed this dangerous trend over a year now, and it is not abetting. It is growing like wildfire every day. In recent times the South-South people whose son lost the election have moved on except the criminal avengers who are fighting for their pockets only and destroying their environment.
I have seen spirited and genuine efforts being made by the leaders of South-South to bring peace to the Niger Delta, and I heartily commend them for this. It is in their own interest. But in the South East, our people have refused to move on. In the diaspora, in Nigeria, in schools, in the markets, on the streets, in Churches, in Town Meetings etc Igbo have refused to move on. Every move the President makes to rebuild and reposition the country is abused, castigated and ethnic meaning read into it. The dangerous trend has become so embarrassing that one is compelled to speak out. While leaders of South-South have made interventions to make way for harmony and peaceful co-existence, Igbo leaders have maintained a deafening silence but this silence is no longer golden. Ethnic bigotry and hate speeches our people both at home and abroad dish out everyday endanger our people living in all parts of Nigeria. President Buhari belongs to a section of Nigeria and must not run away with the thinking that his people will be happy and clap for us when we malign and abuse one of their own.
No ethnic group in Nigeria moves and settles in any part of the country like the Igbo. They settle and do business in almost every part of the country, and when we throw stones to other Nigerians, we endanger their lives and their businesses. The worst sets of Igbo guilty of this dangerous trend are those living outside the country. While some of them are engaged in meaningful employment, many of them are unemployed. They have become economic refugees and cultural savages. They have formed an association of hate preachers and wailing bigots. They have through actions and deeds created millions of enemies for Ndigbo in Nigeria while they waste their precious gift of time abroad doing nothing.
Last week the Vice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was in Afe Babalola University Ekiti State as Guest Speaker during the University’s Convocation ceremony. In the cause of his speech, he told his capacity audience the Niger Delta Avengers are not freedom fighters but those fighting for their pockets only. I saw the story on Facebook and other sites on the internet. The one on Facebook caught my attention because of nearly 400 reactions as at the time I read it. I took mental note of the reactions and the names attached to it. 95% are Igbo names and they abused and called the Vice President unprintable names for speaking the truth. This is a shame. Ignorance should not be a virtue. Ignorance is a disease. Foolishness is a tragedy. This is ignorance stupid. This is mental darkness. A roaring lion kills no game. It is only a river that wants to get dried up that forgets its source. A Chinese proverb tells me that “He who blames others has a long way to go on his journey. He who blames himself is halfway there. He who blames no one has arrived.”
Now, it is time for the Igbo to move on and join other Nigerians to begin the process of rebuilding Nigeria. I want Igbo Governors, elected Senators, elder statesmen, House of Reps Members, House of Assembly members, political leaders, traditional rulers, Igbo intellectuals, professionals, market leaders, town union leaders, village heads, etc. to rise up to defend the integrity and honour of Igbo race. Are these ignorant ones who preach hate speaking for us? Are they representing us? Are they our brightest and bests? Are those asking for Biafra and using it as business venture speaking for all of us? Have we taken a look at the situation in South Sudan today? Shall we continue to sleep pretending that all is well? Can we be honest enough to see the real danger ahead? For how long will our leaders continue to be silent on these weighty issues? Can elders continue to sleep while the kids wear snakes as necklaces? Can the young teach tradition to the old? Who will bell the cat in Igboland? Who will call the ignorant kids to order?
Did the Yoruba go to war when June 12, 1993, Presidential Election won by their illustrious son Chief MKO Abiola was annulled on June 23rd, 1993 on a sheet of paper by IBB? Did Yoruba go to war when Abiola’s wife Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was murdered in Lagos on the morning of Jun 4, 1996? Did Yoruba go to war when the winner of that historic election was poisoned on July 7, 1998? Did Yoruba go to war when those who killed Abiola imposed Obasanjo on them as President in 1999? Did Yoruba accept Chief Ernest Shonekan when IBB made him head the interim government in 1993? Yoruba rejected OBJ and Shonekan because this unique race has never been slaves to public office and yet they have remained number one in Nigeria in almost everything. This is wisdom and strategic thinking at work.
Those of us who have lived in Yoruba land for years did not only learn how to wear Aso Ebi, eat Ewedu soup or dance Owambe, music…
We must have also learned other unique things from them like sharing property to both male and female children, religious tolerance, ethnic tolerance, transferring legacies from generation to generation. Do you know that APC National Leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s wife is a Christian? Do you know that former Governor Fashola’s wife is a Christian? We can learn a lot from Yoruba. Yoruba too can learn from Igbo in areas of thinking home, business enterprise, self-help, apprenticeship, etc.
A Yoruba woman, a Pastor Mrs Eunice Olawale Elisha of the Redeemed Christian Church of God old NEPA Road Phase 4 Kubwa, Abuja was killed by unknown persons on Saturday morning of July 9, 2016, while preaching the gospel around 5.30am. I have followed the reactions on the internet and Yoruba do not behave like the Igbo. They have been speaking but not preaching hate. They have called for the culprits to be fished out, prosecuted and punished. If Mrs Eunice Elisha had been an Igbo hell would have been let loose. There would have been abuses and abuses. But Yoruba are not Igbo. This is civilization. This is strategic thinking. I hope our people can learn from this. Civility is not a sign of weakness. He who fights and run away lives to fight another day.
To have ears is not to listen, to listen is not to hear, to hear is not to understand, to understand is not to put to practice. I know that writing this may not get me many friends among the Igbo, but it always gets me the right ones.