WHAT THE ONE-NIGERIA DRUG HAS DONE TO IGBO INTELLECTUALS
By Okechukwu Okonjo
And Osita Ebiem
Nigeria as a state from its onset 50 years ago till the present has consistently maintained the status of a failed state.Repeatedly many well-meaning organizations and individuals have tried to show, for anyone who is interested, the hopelessness of the Nigerian state. For anybody who still pretends that somehow they can still salvage anything out of the situation is insincere and hopelessly dishonest. Most times there is a thin line between maintaining a positive outlook in life in order to sustain hope and an outright dishonesty or sheer self-delusion.
Generally, the decadent situation of the state of things in black Africa today is purely a direct result of negligence or carelessness of those who should show responsibility. Most times many people with respectable opinions have concluded that the terrible social and economic condition prevalent in the African societies is as a result of failure in leadership. While some others have argued that the people rather than the leaders are ultimately responsible because they compromised on their process of leadership selection.
In as much as that can be accepted to some extent but it must be realized that it all boils down to the issue of the mobilization of the people’s consciousness. And how do the people become so mobilized such that they begin to think and act collectively and individually in the direction that will impact the society positively? That in most part is done through the actions and utterances of those in the position of leadership in the society. The leadership must so conduct their lives and affairs in such a way that will earn them the people’s confidence and trust. It is only by so doing would they be able to mobilize the people in the direction they would wish.
One reason that we would not want any reader to miss is the fact that there will never come a time when every member of the society would have attained the position of leadership no matter how gifted all the people may be, in the particular society. Because of this truth therefore, there will always be the elite or the leadership cream in any society at any given time while conversely there will always be the led or the followership. And just for the sake of it, we should realize that being in a position of leadership has never imputed on the person any form of superiority over the rest people rather the rest people merely surrender to and choose to channel their privileges and capabilities to and through their representatives who must see themselves as mere custodians of these reposed powers and act in the discharge of their duties with that consciousness.
When a group in the society has this privilege it comes with a lot of responsibilities. One such responsibility is for the leadership to be able to discern the impact of present actions on the future of the people and society they represent. And by the virtue of their delegated position they must make decisions and take timely actions that will work for the greater good. People in such position cannot afford the luxury of saving their lives at the expense of those of the people they are leading. Likewise will it never be dreamed of that they take advantage of their positions by unlawfully enriching or advancing themselves ahead of the people they are leading. For instance, it is expected that if they could afford their daily meals and basic life comforts then the rest people must be able to do likewise.
Therefore, having said all these about the responsibilities of leadership it becomes easy to assertively say that in the case of the current condition of the Igbo and the rest of the Biafran peoples in the Nigerian state that it is the elite or the leadership cream of this group that must be held accountable for whatever problem the people are currently going through.
Nigeria, as we stated above is a failed state and has always been. The extent to which it has fallen is hopelessly irredeemable and one does not have to look far to see all the evidences on the ground. Without having to spend time to go searching out Nigeria’s position in the index table of the failed states, all the pointers are seen everywhere and has always been.
Sometimes some people have argued that it is because a large percentage of the people within the enclave called Nigeria do not know any better then they tend to be used to the unjustifiably poor condition of both the people and their society. But then that is where the position of the elite comes in. The elite or the leadership is supposed to think for the people and set the pace for the advancement of the people and their society.
For anyone who must attain the position of leadership in the society of human beings it is not enough to know that it comes with some responsibilities but these leaders must possess some few basic characteristics. And such characteristics among others must include altruism, the ability to take decisions and act in manners that positively enhance and advance the lot of others and, sometimes at the expense of that of the altruist. And among the things that guide and direct the actions of the genuine altruist are passion, honesty and sincerity.
If the Igbo/Biafra elite of today would decide to be honest and sincere they will come to the same conclusion that we reached here which is that there will never be any future for the Igbo and all the peoples of the Biafran nation in the Nigerian state. It is of no use trying to be “politically correct” as they would say, by stating it in any other way. If it were a personal estate or simply an individual’s destiny that is at stake in this matter maybe the Igbo/Biafra elite can afford to continue to gamble away the time and chances they have to change for the better the lives of their people.
Starting from 1966 to 1970, there was the infamous slogan of the task to keep Nigeria one and the fellow that championed that cause is Yakubu Gowon. In the process of keeping Nigeria one Gowon, Obafemi Awolowo, British Prime Minister Wilson, together with USSR (Russia), the Arab League, U Thant’s United Nations and others, combined forces and slaughtered 3.1 million Igbo/Biafra peoples in the worst kind of genocide ever on the continent of Africa. Today, after forty years it is assumed that Nigeria has been kept as “one”. Apart from keeping Nigeria one, we want to ask if there was anything else beyond that or was it just a means to an end in itself?
The reason why we ask this question is because if truly the mission of keeping Nigeria one has succeeded how is it that the children of Gowon and those of all the other leading players in the genocide mission on Biafra are living in Britain and in all the other Western societies where infrastructures and life work? If Nigeria were such a success, why would the children and other relations of these people prefer to make their homes in other lands other than in Nigeria? What it comes down to is that if these same people who killed nearly four million Igbo/Biafrans in the name of preserving Nigeria’s oneness could adjudge prudently that Nigeria is not good for them, then why would any Igbo/Biafran continue to hold that “one-Nigeria” is good for both him and his children?
Nigeria as an entity is toxic and only fit for complete dismantling into its primary composition. With this conclusion someone may want to know how best to go about the business of dividing up Nigeria. The first step must be taken by the Igbo/Biafran elite who must acknowledge in honesty and sincerity the truth that Nigeria can never be good for their people. With that acknowledgement they will then show sincere dissatisfaction with the ungodly condition to which their people have been subjected to in the past fifty years. Then they must take necessary actions to change the peoples’ adverse situation.
Right now it is so obvious but completely unacceptable to see these Igbo/Biafran elite, especially those based in the Diaspora seem somewhat comfortable or satisfied with the pain/sore of Nigeria just like smokers who are addicted to the cancer stick. Even after many knew that smoking is not good for them, they still go ahead and smoke. Like the addict, it seems like they the elite have thrown up their hands in the air and helplessly accepted that the drug controls their lives and there is nothing they can do about it. But we believe differently, in as much as we acknowledge the power that these drugs can have over the addicts we are still of the conviction that he can consciously, honestly and sincerely do something to help his situation.
In our opinion the first step will be for the addict to accept that he has a problem and that he wants to solve it. Once they reach this point, then there must be some kind of unrest or disquiet among the elite and the general populace. There must be some unrest if you were unsatisfied with Nigeria. There must be unrest which will lead to wanting a condition that is different from what is currently obtained. It is a disquiet that will give rise to the need to create a new Biafra, this new Biafra is markedly different from the old one because it will be based on the people actually desiring and working their ways to it. It will not be that created out of just mere self-defense in the face of imminent annihilation.
It is reported every year that smoking kills millions of people in the world yet people still smoke and the signs everywhere indicate that people will continue to smoke for many years to come. Similarly it appears that Igbo/Biafran intellectuals have accepted defeat by their addiction to the “One-Nigeria” opium. Under normal conditions they should know by now that “One-Nigeria” is not good for them and their people. And like the malignant cancer that it is it has devastated and eaten up their past, present and future but they still continue to embrace the politics of “One-Nigeria”.
They still continue to indulge in the temporary fix or "high" of the diseased Nigeria which usually leaves them high and dry soon after. The type of temporary “high” that these so-called politicians and intellectuals, especially those based in the Diaspora get from being involved with Nigeria and the noxious politics of “One-Nigeria” is beyond reason. It looks like they say by their actions that "life will be boring if there were no Nigeria ", and that reminds me of one of my pet sayings whereby I had toyed with the idea that “heaven must be boring. . .” The contrast here of course is that while I dismissed the reality of heaven and hell as some phantom places whose existence may never be proved, I have also thought of heaven and hell as allegories in human imagination and mere representations of human aspirations of what man can make out of his life here on earth.
And based on this context, the reality is that Nigeria is in fact that hell on earth made by man which Igbo/Biafran peoples are experiencing today. The other truth and reality is of course that these peoples can choose to do away with this hell (Nigeria) made by man on earth. When this is done, life may indeed become boring without Nigeria but the only excitement the people would be missing will be those of the gory Islamic killings of the Boko-Haram and all the other Islamic sects and Jihadists. The people will also be missing out on the adrenaline that runs when the murderous Joint Task Force (JTF) of the Nigerian military rampage through the cities and villages killing the indigenous peoples that include women and children and suckling mothers and their babies in the Niger Delta areas.
Without Nigeria also there will no longer be the environmental devastation of the Niger Delta and all of Biafra Land. When the elite of Igbo/Biafra can lead their people out of Nigeria they will also be missing out on the excitement of the bestial level of corruption by top Nigeria’s government officials and the mindboggling level of abject poverty of the people and the hopelessness of their tomorrow.
Just as in the case of the addict under the influence is deluded and makes light of very serious issues, these “One-Nigerianists” have tended to look at those who are working hard at trying to create a new Biafra where life will be heaven on earth for everyone within her borders, as rabble rousers. Some of these so-called Igbo/Biafra intellectuals dismiss these Biafran patriots as shadow chasers but nothing can be farther away from the truth. These advocates for the sovereign state of Biafra have always known their limitation which is why we have argued here that the heaven/Biafra these people are talking about is that which is man-made and in the now as against that of the mind or the one that is far out there, “somewhere”.
These advocates have also always known that the Biafra they are after may not be a “perfect” place, but they have never doubted that there is a better alternative to Nigeria for the people and that they would be prepared to give it all they have got so as to make that Biafra as closest as heaven for the people within her geographical and political space as they can. They get much of this conviction from what they experienced and how they felt when they knew for the first time what it was to be a free people during the short lived Republic of Biafra of 30th May 1967 to 13th January 1970.
They are also further persuaded from what they have seen in other places, for those who have been economic-refugees outside the Nigerian state, that there are alternatives to Nigeria. So for these people they would rather chase after a heaven/Biafra, as it is done by normal human beings elsewhere than to be continually entertained by the hellish Nigerian theatrics and their “death dances”. They know that existence in Nigeria does not qualify as “living” and these so-called intellectuals in the Diaspora know this fact but continue to live in denial as hopeless addicts would.
Therefore the message these freedom fighters are trying to pass on is that they would rather be bored in their heaven/Biafra than be entertained with the gory excitements that are so abundant in the Nigerian state. Some of these so-called “One-Nigerianists” will also want to take the easy way out of the problem by advocating that the suffering people should wait to get to heaven (some day, sometime in the future) above before they start “enjoying” and that heaven is not achievable on earth (in the now) but the Biafran apologists know the difference, that this their belief is merely resulting informed by the conditioning of the mind through the “One-Nigeria’s” opium.
The other pathetic condition which these “One-Nigeria” addicts seem to be going through is the ephemeral and fickle period of “high” they get from the Nigerian cancerous opium which seems to be so overpowering such that it makes these supposedly Igbo/Biafra intellectuals and politicians feel intellectually stimulated or entertained when they are on it. And because of the power that this drug has on these addicts they have continually lost sight of the reality that the temporary fixes or highs do a lot more damage to them than the pleasure/satisfaction they get from the fleeting moment when they are being “stoned”.
With this said it brings up the dilemma of; should you force an addict to stop smoking, for instance, or do you educate him/her about the damage he/she is doing to themselves by inhaling the toxic smoke of the cancer stick? If you had had the chance to be close to an addict you may even be tempted to ask this last question, is it enough to just educate an addict on the dangers of his habit?
In the same way too the Biafranists/freedom fighters who have watched helplessly as the “One-Nigeria” champions of the Igbo/Biafra extraction get so “high” on the “One-Nigeria” drug and have sometimes wondered if it is just enough to educate these intellectual wastes on the damage and destruction which they are inflicting on themselves and their fellow countrymen with their dangerous addiction. Just like it can be both disgusting and heartbreaking to someone who is watching the pathetic condition of the addict and who out of partly concern for the good of the drug victim and for the well-being of the society can sometimes be moved into taking a more involving action, the Biafranists have also struggled with the moral issue of applying some sort of "force" to deal with these addicts.
To them it will be like putting these addicts into some sort rehabilitation program in order to detoxify their system from the effect of the very dangerous and damaging “One-Nigeria” drug they are hooked on. Some Biafranists/freedom fighters have sometimes toyed with this idea that they need to challenge the “One-nigerianists and somehow force them into a rehab, but they have also been faced with the difficulty of coming to a consensus on what manner of force to be applied. It is always at this point that the Biafranists/freedom fighters have agreed on the fact that one of the hardest choices is choosing to help those who do not want to be helped because they are acting under the influence of the dangerous drug.
Many times it seems that these freedom fighters have always come away with the conviction of the hopelessness of trying to put up a fight with a drug addict, the futility of trying to convince them of the terribleness of their situation. This is made worse because most times such addicts will see the assistance as an enemy that must be resisted and fought off by all means. But they, the freedom fighters seem to be determined to continue trying to persuade these Igbo/Biafra intellectuals and politicians to seek some kind of professional help maybe within their own consciences like a smoker would who genuinely want to quit. And what is more important is that they should stop seeing those who want to help them to fight off this cancerous “One –Nigeria” addiction as enemies.