The agitations of Biafra in Nigeria has become a need to worry, our Igbo brothers feel marginalized – i feel their yearns are correct, but there expression which is Biafra is wrong. The Igbo tribe is not the only tribe being marginalized.
I was born in the famous Lagos – western region of Nigeria, I was not born with silver-spoon in my mouth – I was never born with any spoon at all. I never had chance to the best education – as my parent couldn’t afford the life of luxury, I also did not live in the choicest part of town; as a matter of fact – I grew up in an outskirt of town, development was far from my environment at that time. I grew up in a community-setting where we all know ourselves and we lived as one big family.
I remember back then as young as I was, we loved to watch the Super Eagles, football was a big issue at the time, you will feel like dying if you miss street football any evening, the fun of hanging out after school to play football was more real to us that heaven, every male will do everything possible to finish every school homework, and any house chores that might warrant any form interruption from our parents. The concept of Nigeria I know back then was the “Super Eagles”. Growing up as a cultured Yoruba boy, the Yoruba culture was everything I know; the state and their capitals we recited in classroom was more like a fairy-tale, it was just a piece of recitation and nothing more.
Growing up a little older, now in secondary school, the reality of a culture apart from Yoruba began to dawn on me when I began to meet people of other culture in school and once a while in your neighborhood. There was this sense of pride we had then being Yoruba, we saw other tribes as being secondary and a little less human and a half Nigerian. I do not know if this is common with other tribes too, I can only speak for myself based on my personal experience. We usually feel we have the best culture, we are more respectful, more decent, more everything! As a matter of fact the Hausa/Fulani who only come to Lagos to have corner shops, be gate-men or security men, generally called “Aboki” are less human.
Something happened to me after my secondary school education, providence saw me leaving Lagos for the first time in my life, now not to Ibadan or Abeokuta, not even in the western region of Nigeria; I found myself getting ready to go to the University Of Jos, in Jos to further my studies. Jos the capital city of Plateau state is seated in North Centre Region of Nigeria; it was an adventure for me and I loved every bit of the idea.
So I set out for my trip to Jos, now it was time to say goodbye – I looked into my mother’s eyes and tears was almost rolling off her eyes, I just had to go. After all the goodbyes the bus left. I have not had a moment to myself before the reality of what it means to be a Nigerian began to set. I heard fellow commuters calling loved ones, the lady beside me was an Hausa, she was speaking Hausa language to her loved ones on the phone, I heard others speaking languages I do not understand, some I have never even heard before. It was a moment of paradigm shift, I saw a new reality. That was how my journey of understanding Nigeria started and what it means to be a Nigerian.
I was travelling apparently for the first time, I heard Jos was a cold zone, I just wanted to enjoy the adventure, the package was more than just fun. Seated in the bus for few hours, looking through the window to see land mass being covered and we were not even outside the western region, I knew a whole lot has changed, listening to other people from other culture talk reasonable made me know I do not have an idea of what Nigeria means. To make brief the long story, I had to pass the night at Lafia, we couldn’t make it to Jos that day, I was tired and exhausted, I never knew the map of Nigeria I drew during the geography class is as massive as what I’m seeing, I saw another life in Lafia that night – everyone was speaking Hausa, yet they are also Nigerians.
Living in Jos for 9 years was spectacular, everything about me changed in that space of time, I have tasted different foods from different cultures – there is almost nothing more fascinating than the Nigerian meal. I met people of different culture and tribe, people with different beliefs, different worldviews, different religion, I met people who do not see life the way I did, and I learnt to respect their differences. When I got to Jos and I couldn’t speak Hausa, I felt inferior, I couldn’t easy fit, and then I understood what it meant not to be within your people. I never wanted to be seen as secondary, I craved to be respected as human – it wasn’t hard for me to respect others because of this.
Unlike the myth we had about the Calabar people, I realized they were loving people, neat, good with delicacies and fun to be with. During my stay in Jos – I was privileged to travel around the country, the states in country I have not been to are few, for the first time I experienced Nigeria – it was a wow moment. The greatest people I met during these 9 years of adventure were not Yoruba; I made friends with lots of Idomas, Calabars, Igbos, Plateaus, and so on. It was not hard to forget my narrow upbringing to embrace the wider picture Nigerian brings.
The Biafran agitation is from the eastern part of Nigeria, even though they claim a fragment of the south-south is part of the movement. The Igbos are a wonderful set of people, they have been called the most industrious clan in the world, I have grown up to see the Igbos as my brothers, I have gone to church and lifted up my hands in worship in Igbo songs without having a clue the meaning of the song, I have visited Yoruba weddings and Igbo songs are played. It will be very difficult to wake up someday with the reality of the Igbo missing in the socio-economic reality of the country. Not with Nigeria I have seen with my own eyes beyond books and mere fairy-tales.
Sadly, my Igbo brothers and sisters, (not all though) strongly believe that they are being deprived of their rights as Nigerians. This is the truth: you are not alone in this, we have all been deprived, and it is far from something we are proud of. Nigeria from independence has not been fulfilling, things did not go as planned, The Nigeria we have now is not what was in the mind of our heroes past either you are Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, Tiv, Idoma, Ijaw, Berom, etc. We have been deprived. We have been oppressed, we have been cheated, and we have all been deceived.
The Igbo nation at a time has produced a Nigerian President. They have also produced a Nigerian Head of State. The Igbo nation has produced more than 5 speakers for the Nigerian senate. The Igbo nation has also produced ministers of almost all existing ministries in Nigeria. This includes important ministries such as: Ministry of Finance, Chief of Staff, Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Communication, Ministry of Information and Technology, Ministry of Power, Roads and Works, Ministry of Petroleum, etc. Is there really someone to blame for the gross injustice in the Nigerian society as you claim? My answer is simple: we all should take the blame!
Our diversity is a blessing and the source of our strength; it is far from any form of disadvantage – I know my fellow Biafra brothers will find it hard to agree, but it is true, we just need to accept this reality and respect each other’s differences. In my candid opinion I would never believe that Nigerians (The whole of us) will marginalize the Igbos – if that were the truth then we would not have this industrious clan in every nook and cranny of the nation controlling the commerce.
I was amazed when I got to Jos and saw a (Apata), it is a whole town dominated by the Igbos, you would almost think you are somewhere in the eastern part of the country when you get there, this is the same trend everywhere, even till as far as Maiduguri – you will find the Igbos playing a major role in the economic activities, no one is making them pay added tax for trading and making so much money in such an environment predominantly dominated by other tribes. Our population is strength; it will only make things better for all of us.
I have read the history of Biafra – the movement never worked, and we must learn from history. Based on antecedents; if we must look at our differences, then the Biafra movement is as good as dead. Splitting Nigeria is not a recipe for peace rather Chaos, the last time I checked Enugu people cannot cope with Anambra and vice versa. Amid the Igbos there is no unity, some claim to be the son of the soil while other are attachments, this trend is common in all major tribes of Nigeria. Pastor Sunday Adelaja in his thoughts on the Biafra agitation believes that if Biafra should be a republic, the next we should expect from them is a civil war. Seeing different movement like MASSOB and IPOB is a proof of disunity within Biafra.
If Biafra becomes a republic, Nigeria will survive regardless. I have heard a governor of the South/South forbid any form of Biafra activity which is a sign that the South/South will not be part of the movement, the republic will not be a landlock country, hence will depend on Nigeria for most of their international trade. I think it is only wise for the Igbo elites to speak up and call the agitators to order. We are best together, we can thrive only together. China, Indian, America etc, have huge population and it has become their catalyst for change.
We are stronger together! We can only win together!!
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