The Kaduna Declaration of June 6, 2017, giving the Igbo domiciled in the northern region of Nigeria ninety days to leave the region is indeed a great eye-opener. The declaration was ostensibly sparked off by the unexpected success of the IPOB-issued sit-at-home order on May 30, 2017, throughout the entire southeast and parts of the south-south. The overwhelming success of the sit-at-home exercise was a signal to the rest of the country and the north in particular that the Igbo want Biafra, and ostensibly was enough reason for the north to make such a dangerous declaration.
The declaration stated thus: “With the effective date of this declaration, which is today, Tuesday, June 06, 2017, all Igbo currently residing in any part of Northern Nigeria are hereby served notice to relocate within three months and all northerners residing in the East are advised likewise” (“The Kaduna Declaration” tekedia.com/64994/the-kaduna-declaration. Accessed 26/6/2017). The youths went further to state: “We are hereby placing the Nigerian authorities and the entire nation on notice that as from the 1st October 2017, we shall commence the implementation of the visible actions to prove to the whole world that we are no longer part of any federal union that should do with the Igbos.
From that date, effective peaceful and safe mop-up of all remnants of the stubborn Igbos that neglect to heed this quit notice shall commence finally to eject them from every part of the North” (“The Kaduna Declaration” tekedia.com/64994/the-kaduna-declaration. Accessed 26/6/2017). Although the declaration and those who issued it have been receiving bad press, or nearly so, those who issued it have been largely unrepentant and have been moving about with apparent impunity.
Crime against the State
The Arewa declaration is entirely in character given one’s knowledge of the northerners. The inference to be drawn from it is that the northern youths and their handlers want to use it to intimidate the east and break up the growing solidarity of the southern regions. However, the declaration is in the first and last analysis a hate speech as well as a security threat and a crime against the Nigerian state. One hopes that the authorities will treat it the way they treated Nnamdi Kanu’s case, or else, the federal government stands the risk of being seen as one-sided and partial
The northern youths issued the declaration not minding that many Igbo in the north did not obey the sit-at-home order. In other words, economic and commercial activities continued normally in the north. The sit-at-home in the east did not in any way occlude or endanger the movement of goods and services within the northern region. Furthermore, it did not matter to the northern rascals that what the Igbo did was merely a remembrance/memorial anniversary to honour the Biafran war dead. In Igbo tradition, we perform the remembrance or memorial anniversary of our dear departed ones. It is a tradition dating back to ancestry.
That the Igbo decided to carry out a communal memorial anniversary of their war dead on May 30, 2017 is a continuation and perpetuation of that extant tradition. The Igbo do not forget their dead, and for people who had died tragically during the war, May 30 was the appropriate day to honour them. The sit-at-home was not a declaration of war on the Nigerian state; it was not a declaration of Biafra although it may well be one of the steps to it.
It was not an expulsion order on non-easterners living in the east. It was not a call to mayhem or armed struggle; it just an exercise of Biafrans’ constitutional, historical and inalienable rights as guaranteed and protected by the UN charter on human rights and self-determination. But the north mischievously chose to misinterpret the import of the exercise. The northern youths and their handlers overreacted by issuing such a declaration couched in extremism and fanaticism, although it is not untypical of the Islamic north.
It is quite interesting that the northern youths and their mentors did not make any declaration when on May 30, 2016, Biafran protesters were killed in Onitsha by the Nigerian army, or when they were killed in Aba sometime in 2016 during a prayer-meeting by the same Nigerian security, or during the Donald Trump solidarity march in Port Harcourt on January 20, 2017 when the same IPOB youths were slain by Nigerian troops.
Anyone of those carnages was enough for any group seriously interested in “One” Nigeria to issue a declaration condemning the killings and calling on the international community to conduct a referendum for Biafran independence (as the northern youths have done now, albeit with a disdainful tongue-in-cheek) if it is the only way to stop further spilling of Igbo blood. It seems to me that there are other sinister reasons behind the declaration. The sit-at-home exercise recorded no loss of life throughout the southeast.
The Nigerian military/police that were patrolling the roads of the southeast on the lookout for protesters to shoot at were deeply disappointed that IPOB youths were not anywhere in sight to be shot. Baulked of their prey, they retreated to their barracks and stations frustrated. Their frustration is the frustration of the Islamic north that had looked forward to the routine spilling of Igbo blood to continue to water the tree of Nigerian ‘unity’. What the northern youths would have wanted to see or hear was for the IPOB or Igbo youths to embark on protest marches in the south-east on that May 30 and be mown down by Hausa-Fulani liquidation squads masquerading as Nigerian security personnel.
The northern declaration is a sign of the frustration of the north at the inability of their military to shed Igbo blood on May 30, 2017 to slake the blood thirst of the pagan gods of Nigeria and the north that will never say no to another drop of Igbo blood. The north’s thwarted attempts to kill on May 30, using their military and police must have struck at every sensitive point in them, and the declaration is the only way to work off their frustration. Furthermore, the overwhelming success of the sit-at-home order alerted the north that Biafran secession has become a very real possibility.
The north recoiled at this dreadful prospect, and then convulsed with anger and issued the declaration as a salve to their conscience. What is clear, abundantly clear, is that the north was greatly rattled by the overwhelming success of the sit-at-home order and no doubt elected the declaration as a face-saving gesture. It is also a psychological necessity.
The East Has Got the Message
But the east has got the message. The Igbo have a proverb that it is only a tree that will hear it is about to be felled and still remains rooted at its place. Human beings are not trees, and so, all the Igbo living in the north should evacuate the region immediately. But as for those Igbo who do not value their lives, those who have drunk the northern water to their bone marrow and have lost the taste for water from the east, those who believe that they can only make their fortunes in the north and nowhere else, they may remain in the north and die.
The north has a hidden agenda behind this declaration. It is an agenda which is as old as the Islamic north and which the force of time has not mitigated. However, the Igbo position on the northern agenda is a well-known fact. Many years ago, Dr Akanu Ibiam made a statement concerning the Biafran position and the northern agenda: “The people of Biafra are, therefore, fighting a war of LIBERATION AND SURVIVAL.
We adamantly refuse to be colonized by the Hausa/Fulanis of Northern Nigeria or any other people in the world. Moreover it is an ardent desire of the Hausa/Fulani and Moslem Northern Nigeria to subjugate Biafra and kill Christianity in our country” (“For the Love of a new Nation”: Text of Protest Letter of Dr Francis Akanu Ibiam to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 1968. Cited in Emefiena Ezeani, In Biafra Africa Died: The Diplomatic Plot, 2013:243-246). I hasten to add that the Islamic north has not altered an iota of its fundamental agenda to make everyone in their image and will never alter it.
They have not altered the agenda to dominate and have everything and give out crumbs to the rest. The Islamic north is and would always be implacable and insatiable. They have not altered an iota of the promise to consume the Nigerian humanity with their Islamic expansionist and economic and cultural imperialism agenda. The northern Islamists are so unreasonable that you cannot reason with them; you cannot negotiate with them because they want to have everything. They are so unconscionable, illogical in their arguments and extreme in their beliefs.
If I am writing falsehood, why have they not agreed that the country be restructured? Why do they continue to disallow a paradigm shift in the political system but rather prefer that Nigeria continues to totter on like a giant with broomstick legs even as they continue to delude themselves and those who believe in them that it would all come right in the end? Why has the north always thwarted every attempt to produce an Igbo president since 1970? And even if Biafran secessionists decide to sheathe their sword and go for the Nigerian presidency instead, what is there to show that the north will not shortchange or betray an Igbo presidential candidate at the last minute?
In a paper presented at the National Conference on the 1999 Constitution at Kaduna in 1999 titled: “Issues in Restructuring Corporate Nigeria”, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a northerner, made the following shocking revelation: “The Northern bourgeoisie and the Yoruba bourgeoisie have conspired to keep the Igbo out of the scheme of things. In the recent transition when the Igbo solidly supported the PDP in the hope of an Ekwueme presidency, the North and South-West treated this as a Biafra agenda. Every rule set for the primaries, every gentleman’s agreement was set aside to ensure that Obasanjo, not Ekwueme emerged as the candidate” (Cited in Emefiena Ezeani, In Biafra Africa Died: The Diplomatic Plot 2013:167).
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Remember, it was Dr Alex Ekwueme with his G23 political alliance that undertook the very risky business of confronting the maximum dictator, Sani Abacha, and telling him to his face that he could not succeed himself. The G23 later morphed into the PDP. Yet, when it was time to pick a presidential candidate for the party, Ekwueme was shortchanged at the eleventh hour because he is Igbo and Olusegun Obasanjo who was in jail when Ekwueme confronted Abacha was chosen. And just as Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, who led Nigeria’s independence struggle was shortchanged by the British at the last minute, and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa became prime minister at independence while Azikiwe emerged merely as a nominal Governor-General and later ceremonial president with no real power while power resided in the north.
So what assurances are there that there will ever be an Igbo Nigerian president if IPOB decides to mellow down since our northern compatriots and their Yoruba allies have never missed an opportunity to remind the Igbo that they are war captives and should be content with second fiddle in Nigerian politics? Why has the north resisted every move to restructure the country and introduce true fiscal federalism right from the 1967 Aburi Accord to the present if they are really serious about “one” Nigeria? It is important to recall that the north (Nigeria) chose to go to war against Biafra rather than implement the Aburi agreements.
The foreign correspondent, Suzanne Cronje writing contemporaneously in the Times reported that: “When Colonel Gowon returned to Lagos, however, he was strongly advised by senior federal officials not to implement the agreement since federal authority would be severely limited through the introduction of regional consent. This was of course correct, but the abolition of central controls was essential if the East was to remain part of Nigeria, and it was a condition which had been accepted by all members at Aburi, including Colonel Gowon” (Times 27 April, 1967). Gowon repudiated the Aburi Accord with impunity and thus set the stage for the breach of agreements by successive Nigerian or northern-led governments.
Even as this essay was being prepared, incoming reports indicated that Arewa youths were warning against the implementation of the 2014 confab recommendations. According to the report: “Arewa Liberation Movement (ALM) has issued a stern warning against the implementation of the 2014 confab recommendations, saying that it was drafted to favour a particular group. The group expressed this in a statement jointly signed by its national president, Usman A. Usman and national secretary Kabir Haruna Alfa, made available to newsmen in Kaduna on Friday” (“Confab report must not be implemented” (www.today.ng/tag/biafra. Accessed 26/6/2017).
So, who is fooling who, and who is really serious about building an egalitarian Nigeria? Looking at historical antecedents, even if the IPOB succumbs to the restructuring gospel, there is the likelihood that the North will still find a way to circumvent the agreement.
History is being repeated
And so, it is happening all over again. Gowon unilaterally, disreputably abrogated a unanimous agreement—the Aburi Accord—just as the north is today impeding the implementation of the 2014 confab report. And so history is repeating itself once more. Assuming IPOB agrees to drop the Biafran struggle, can the Islamic north give the Igbo an assurance that they would cease the effort to impose Islam on the Igbo? But would such an assurance amount to anything since the north is notorious for breach of agreements: Aburi Accord, 2014 Confab, etc.
The double-dealing and back-stabbing of the Islamic north, their insatiable bloodlust and brutality, their fetishism, tribalism and sectarianism, their infamous alliance with the Yoruba, the systematic Nigerian state conspiracy to obliterate Igbo history and identity, and to constantly marginalize, exploit and threaten the Igbo, the inequities in the Nigerian system, the absence of federal government infrastructural development and the attendant lack of job opportunities in the south east, the abandoned property narrative are some of the things fuelling the IPOB/Biafran agitation.
The truth is that the north simply cannot be trusted to keep their word given historical antecedents. Let’s face the truth: Sharia, Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen terrorism, the Kaduna Declaration are the religious, historical, cultural and political expression of the entire Islamic north. Shettima Yerima and Ango Abdullahi are part and parcel of the soul of the Islamic north. The Arewa youths truly carried out the will of the Islamic north. Or else, why haven’t anyone of the errant youths being hunted down and arrested by the security agencies who have always demonstrated religious zeal in hunting for peaceful and unarmed Biafran activists and arresting and often killing them?
The entire Islamic north and the Hausa/Fulani in particular are infected with rabid anti-Igbo feelings, never far below the surface, and liable to erupt any moment. Their fondness for the Igbo is always on a superficial level and marked by distrust, suspicion and sometimes cynicism. I know. I have lived in the north before.
The Igbo are afraid of being engulfed by Islam. The IPOB struggle is partly a struggle against engulfment by Islam. As Emeka Ojukwu stated many years ago: “The Biafran struggle is, on another plane, a resistance to the Arab-Muslim expansionism which has menaced and ravaged the African continent for twelve centuries” (“The Ahiara Declaration: The Principles of the Biafran Revolution” June 1, 1969. Cited in Exodus Vol 3. No.1, 2004:54). It is obvious that the north is only committed to “one” Nigeria as long as they are in a dominating and exploitive position and can perpetuate the internal colonization of the oil-bearing south-eastern region of the country.
Were the situation otherwise, the north would have long ago activated its disruptive force to disintegrate the country. The Igbo domiciled in the north should ignore every assurance from the Nigerian authorities of their safety and leave the region because when the chips are down, the government and its agencies cannot protect them. And anyhow, for those of us who have followed events in Nigeria closely, we are not surprised with the posture of the north.
The north is notorious for chewing people up and spitting them out, for using people and dumping them: Obafemi Awolowo, Benjamin Adekunle, Godwin Alabi-Isama, Lt Col Utuk, Moshod Abiola, Ebitu Ukiwe, Oladipo Diya, Alex Ekwueme, Ken Saro Wiwa, etc., and at the regional level: Middle Belt, “South-South”. And now, the Igbo are being expelled after using their enormous material and intellectual resources to develop the north. Over the years, the north has invented innumerable excuses, told endless lies to justify their hatred for the Igbo. This latest attempt by the northern youths to blackmail and scapegoat the Igbo is in my opinion, the limit, and like the ones before it, will fail woefully.
For the umpteenth time in Nigerian history, the north is pushing the Igbo out of Nigeria. The Igbo should welcome this whole heartedly. Believe it or not, Igbo membership of Nigeria is the greatest obstacle to Igbo advancement. You cannot count how many Igbos that have lived and died as paupers, how many Igbo talents and potentials that have been frustrated, prevented from coming to birth, or wasted, how many destinies that have been derailed all because of living in “one” Nigeria being built in the image of the Islamic north. I have argued elsewhere that the Nigerian space is so harsh, so asphyxiating, and occludes the use of one’s talent to its full potential.
It is time to call the north’s bluff
The Leader newspaper of Sunday, July 27, 2014 reported that Igbo investments in just three northern states amounted to over N45 trillion: “Addressing members of the South-South/South-East Arewa Coalition…the Deputy Secretary-General of ACF (Arewa Consultative Forum), Engineer Abubakar Umar said statistics available to the Forum indicated that Igbo investments in Kaduna, Kano and Jos alone amounted to N45 trillion” (1).
It is quite flabbergasting that the Igbo should make such huge investments in the usually volatile north while Igbo states like Enugu and Ebonyi are practically crying for development. And over the years, the Igbo in the north have ignored repeated and strident calls to disinvest in the north and relocate their investments to the east. Well, they now have the incentive, albeit a bewildering one, to return home with their wealth. But where they chose to ignore the North’s warning and remain in the north, I shan’t mourn if they die or lose their property. For those who will return, the southeast governments and their people should make the transition easy for them including offering them land and shops at affordable rates to enable them re-establish their businesses.
Landlords who may want to cash in on the situation by charging exorbitant sums from the returnees should be sanctioned by the government and the people. I believe the north need the Igbo more than the Igbo need them. The Igbo should for once call the north’s bluff by using this opportunity to prove that they can produce their own food and stop depending on food from the north. Nsukka, Abakaliki, Okigwe, Ohaji, and Ngor Okpala can feed the Igbo if they really mean to develop their agriculture.
Igbo scientists and animal husbandry experts should research into the possibility of artificially inseminating the native Igbo cow, ehi Igbo/efi Igbo to make it multiply rapidly to produce enough meat for the people so that our people can stop buying the northern-supplied cattle meat which has become a symbol of bloodletting: witness Fulani herdsmen atrocities all over Nigeria. If Biafra eventually secedes, there will no doubt be initial problems of adjustment including the influx of returnees, but with good planning they can be overcome with time.
One hopes the IPOB leadership has prepared for this eventuality. A massive resettlement programme that involves rapid expansion of all services and a wide-functional financial relief will come in handy on this score. The argument that Biafra will be landlocked unless the Oil Rivers people, whom Nigeria mischievously calls the “south-south” (whatever that means), join it is tenuous. Switzerland is a completely landlocked European country, but it is one of the most developed and richest countries in the world. And Port Harcourt which is an Igbo city (don’t mind northern propaganda and the fraud Gowon enacted in 1967 when he made it the capital of Rivers State to turn Igboland into a landlocked zone) sits at the edge of the Atlantic.
However, the River Niger at Onitsha and other littoral areas of Biafra can be dredged so that ships can use it as well as for direct access to the sea. No doubt, Biafran secession will trigger off a ripple effect across Nigeria. The Oil Rivers people will inevitably secede too. And the north which has been counting on continuing to exploit the oil in that region will find quickly enough that it has lost the goose that lays the golden egg. The Yoruba are more likely to invent their Oduduwa republic and the Middle Belt would equally want to opt for their own sovereignty rather than remain in one country with the northern Wahhabis who would then be left with their desert enclave.
So the northern rascality could all backfire on north! And as for those Oil Rivers people who say they are not part of Biafra, sure, they are welcome to remain with Nigeria or form an independent state of their own if they so wish. But the so-called “south-south” cannot be self-sustaining in food since about 60 per cent of the region is riverine with no land for agrarian economy. So they can feed on their fish and wash it down with their crude oil! Or they will have to import much of their food, most of their raw materials and technical experts.
Writing this essay has piqued me, especially as I have had to mull over the northern vomit and frequent hiccups from other parts of the country aimed at the Igbo to determine an appropriate personal response. I may have been reckless in my choice of words, but then, I don’t give a damn. An Igbo proverb says that something made the cocoyam to squeak in pain. Moreover, all I have done here has been in exercise of my freedom of expression as a sacred and constitutional right. Anyone who does not like what I have written should write his own response.
—Uchenna F Akalonu