When I read your trilogy on Biafra, published in The NEWS Magazine of 25, February, 4 and 11 March 2013, based on 21,000 pages of American Secret Files, as you claimed, I wondered whether it was the same Damola Awoyokun who wrote EINSTEIN AND THE EXPRESSWAY CHURCHES in resplendent logic and language that is writing again. To read 21,000 pages is quite a feat, even if each page contains one line only! The time needed to read 21,000 pages will certainly tend to infinity as we say in mathematics.
I do not intend to take you up on the possibility of such a task. You sought to create the impression that since your source is American Secret Files, all you said is unquestionable truth. The USA being the world capital of present day CAPITALISM, every political opinion emanating from there is ideologically suspect by people of different political orientation. Reason being partly because of what John Buchan said in his novel – THE THIRTY NINE STEPS, ‐“ Capitalism has no conscience no fatherland!”, and partly because the USA is the sponsor of a very deadly type of international terrorism detailed by John Perkins in his book – CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HIT MAN in which he said “Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who can cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections,payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. …..I should know; I was an EHM……Jaime Roldos, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. They were assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of corporate, government,and banking heads whose goal is global empire. We EHMS failed to bring Roldos and Torrijos around,and the other type of hit men, the CIA – sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in.
“……Because of my fellow EHMs and me, Ecuador is in far worse shape today than she was before we introduced her to the miracles of modern economics, banking, and engineering. Since 1970, during this period known euphemistically as the Oil Boom, the official poverty level grew from 50 to 70 percent, under – or unemployment increased from 15 to 70 percent, and public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion. …….Third World debt has grown to more than $2.5 trillion, and the cost of servicing it – over $375 billion per year as of 2004 – is more than all Third World spending on health and education, and twenty times what developing countries receive annually in foreign aid….” With this background of American insatiable quest for global economic domination established by an American, who was an insider, the credibility of your source of information on Biafra, is blowing in the wind, coupled with the
fact that you are apparently the Obasanjo type who swallows everything from the white man; as illustrated in his hiring of Baroness Lynda Chalker as his omnibus guide, counselor and supervisor.
21 million pages from American secret files cannot match the account of MAJOR ADEWALE ADEMOYEGA who was not only an ear and eye witness, but also, participated throughout in the planning and execution of the January 15, 1966 coup, from Genesis to Revelation so to speak. He was one of the SEVEN MAJORS who held the one and only formal meeting of the coup, one of the FIVE MAJORS that planned and executed the coup and also one of the THREE MAJORS that formed the inner core! Odia Ofeimun’s regrets and lamentations that the FORGOTTEN DOCUMENTS OF THE WAR including Major Ifeajuna’s account of the coup did not see the light of day is unhelpful. Ifeajuna and Nzeogwu being Igbos, their account, will not be accepted by most non – Igbo Nigerians because of the igbophobia that has poisoned their reasoning.
The unfriendly and destructive outburst from a section of the Yoruba nation against Achebe’s new book on Biafra, confirms that Ademoyega’s book on the coup ‐ WHY WE STRUCK, received scant or no attention from the Nigerian reading public. This has remained so even though it is known that ADEWALE ADEMOYEGA is non–Igbo, but a FULL AND RED BLOODED YORUBA IN NAME AND BEING! His ‘offence’ is that because of Nigeria’s victory over Biafra, in that war, facilitated by the strange and most unusual collaboration and collusion of COMMUNISM AND CAPITALISM, to suffocate a people struggling for survival, the first of its kind in world history and made possible by the intellectual domination of Ojukwu by Britain our former colonial master, he did not join the band wagon of anti – Igbo feeling to hold the Igbos as the sponsors of THE GLORIOUS JANUARY REVOLUTION. I will quote Ademoyega’s book copiously and extensively in an effort to bring out the true picture of that event even before an unwilling audience. .
History is also taken to mean his story. Emeritus Professor Chinua Achebe has written his “THERE WAS A COUNTRY ‐ A PERSONAL HISTORY OF BIAFRA”, laying emphasis where he chose. Damola, you can write your own history of Biafra or Nigeria and lay emphasis as you like. Nobody has the right to task anybody on where emphasis is laid. It is most improper if not immodest of you to assault Achebe on this score.
On the January 15, 1966 revolution, it is now known, settled and agreed that the FIVE MAJORS who planned and executed it, had as the final part of the operation, to free Awolowo from Calabar prison and make him their leader. With this in view, why do you persist in calling it an Igbo coup? The best interests of Ndigbo will not and cannot be served by Awolowo, as the new leader of the revolution, were
the coup to have succeeded in Lagos. If it were an Igbo coup, the arrangement would have been that power would be ultimately handed over to an Igbo man not to AWOLOWO. Because of your uncritical obsession that it was an Igbo coup, which did not have the welfare of Awolowo at heart, you said “ In reality, there was no army unit heading to Calabar to spring Awolowo from prison.”
Major Adewale Ademoyega counters your stand thus “……Yet there was one arrangement we had left till the date was fixed. It was the arrangement for the release of political prisoners, particularly Chief Awolowo. Now that our own date had been tentatively fixed for mid ‐ January, it became necessary to gear up that arrangement. At the end of the first week in January, Major Anuforo and I arranged to meet Captain Udeaja……….Having briefed Udeaja generally and got his consent, we gave him his task. He was to fly in a special plane provided for the purpose to Calabar on the morning of the D – Day , to effect the release of Chief Awolowo and bring him to Lagos on the plane…”. Damola, you seriously need to note the above point even if it goes against the grain.Yet, if all the FIVE MAJORS were Igbos, their intention was national.
Entre Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu in ‐ 13 YEARS OF MILITARY RULE by James O. Ojiako, a Daily Times Publication. “We seized power to stamp out tribalism, nepotism and regionalism .There were five of us in the inner circle and we planned the details. On Saturday morning, the officers and men thought they were going out only on a night exercise.
It was not until they were out in the bush that they were told the full details of the plan. They had bullets, they had been issued with their weapons but I was unarmed. If they disagreed, they could have shot me.
It was truly a Nigerian gathering and only in the army do you get true Nigerianism…….They did it for the good of their country……” Where did Ndigbo come into this business in the light of Nzeogwu’s statement? Tell me Engr. Damola Awoyokun, the all knowing authority on the January coup and the Nigeria – Biafra war.
You said” Ojukwu”, said Stephan, (the West African correspondent of Bavarian Broadcasting, Munich) “was a supporter of the coup, the first in the country’s history. He sympathized with the January 1966 plot makers, but was careful enough to avoid any overplayed attachment to them. Ojukwu told me later that it had been him who had requested General (Aguiyi) Ironsi to crush the coup…” How amazing?Ojukwu an Igbo man, advising Ironsi another Igbo man, to crush an Igbo coup! The two parts of this sentence are mutually exclusive. Though your belief in an Igbo coup is very strong, you went on probably subconsciously to quote your American Secret files where they said, ‘According to Lieutenant Colonel Abba Kyari, military governor of North Central State, “there is no question that Major Nzeogwu, Ibo leader of 1966 coup in Kaduna, had been a nationalist, not a tribalist, who was acting for the good of all Nigeria.” Damola, Nzeogwu was acting for the good of all Nigeria not for the good of the IGBOS, SO SAID A NORTHERN MILITARY GOVERNOR! When Nigeria engages in dastardly behavior it does not attract your attention as in this case where your American files continued to quote Abba Kyari“….explaining that Nzeogwu having been falsely informed that Nsukka was in Biafran hands, boldly entred Ubolo Eke, near Nsukka at night and was killed. Nzeogwu’s corpse was transferred to the North and given full military burial, but not before northern soldiers had plucked out his eyes so that he would never see the North again.” What an effort, a dead man being prevented from seeing again!
With this type of treatment given to the corpse of a dead man, only God knows what they did to Colonel Tim Onwuatuegwu who was captured alive! They may still be killing Onwuatuegwu up to this day! Your American files said again, ”At the Kano airport, soldiers seized an Igbo stewardess from a plane on which she flew in from London. She was never heard of again.Chinua Achebe had extensively discussed the prevalent national resentment of the Igbos by other Nigerian ethnic groups. Ndigbo cannot help this unjustified, diabolical, conspiratorial, animosity against them by volunteering their extinction from the planet earth. Almighty God placed Ndigbo in this part of the globe, and they will not betray the responsibility of preserving their specie. You concocted all types of fables to portray the IGBOS as being unsympathetic on the size of the northern casualties during the first coup.
Ademoyega speaks again “….It would be recalled that by late 1965 the efforts of the Balewa Government to Northernise the top echelon of the army was already bearing fruit. Some Northerners were already holding most of the strategic positions in the Army. Those positions could easily be used to thwart our attempt to change the Government. Sheer caution dictated that we would be sure to neutralize those officers so that our revolution would have a chance of taking off and succeeding. Later events did fully justify our apprehension, since it was the escape of only one of those marked down for arrest that brought us intense hardship and finally compromised our success.
There was no plan to arrest or kill all the officers above the rank of Major as was later claimed by extreme Northern propagandists. Even among those earmarked for arrest, only four were Northerners, two were Westerners and two were Easterners. But the North had always had more than 50% of the intake of officers into the Army since 1961, and more than 70 % of the intake of the other ranks. Therefore if casualties were to happen, it was more likely to be in that proportion than anything else.
The wicked propaganda that followed the coup was only made possible by the weakness and non – revolutionary principles of the Ironsi regime, which bore no semblance to the well ordered and well controlled government that was envisaged and could have been run by us if our plans were fully executed…”
In your prejudiced mind, you trivialized the critical and crucial safety valve that ABURI ACCORD provided by saying “All his (Ojukwu’s) performances in Ghana that culminated in the Aburi Accord of January 1967, or discussion with the Awolowo led National Conciliation Committee five months later, turned out to be ruse. ” You overlooked the very important fact that at Aburi, an agreement was reached, signed and sealed by Ojukwu and Gowon. When they returned to their countries, instead of implementing the accord as signed, Gowon allowed his ‘super’ permanent secretaries, to interpret that document which was not written in Greek or Latin language, but in plain simple English language, and ended up, refusing to implement it and therefore PRECIPITATED THE WAR. If Gowon had implemented the ABURI ACCORD as signed in Ghana, on January 5, 1967, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO WAR. I should have closed my case here in ABURI, but could not resist the urge to respond to some of your other foibles.
Nigerian commentators on the civil war always fight shy of the ABURI ACCORD and its tremendous and strategic importance, because by so doing, IGBOS are set up for the kill on the guillotine of ethnic cleansing. Every unbiased umpire will agree that THE CIVIL WAR WAS CAUSED BY GOWON BECAUSE HE REFUSED TO IMPLEMENT THE ABURI ACCORD! Any objective and sincere inquirer on the cause of the war, should go no further than the ABURI ACCORD! In Biafra, we had as our mantra, ON ABURI WE STAND, while Gowon, instead of standing on ABURI with Biafra, torpedoed and demolished the good work done at Aburi.
Even though the credibility of your American Secret Files is hanging in the balance, I am curious to note what they said here. “The secret US document called Njoku the best Enugu has (and one of the very best Nigeria has produced).The UK defence advisor who had known Madiebo as subordinate officer First Recce Squadron for several years, said he is “perfectly charming socially, but quite worthless
professionally. He is weak, ineffective commander and consistently had worst recce squadron.” To affirm what he was saying, he showed the US defence attaché, Madiebo’s file at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Madiebo’s records were abysmal…..”
The coup was purely a Nigerian enterprise by patriotic citizens. Ndigbo or The Igbo State Union as at the time had no hand in the coup, as confirmed by Ademoyega when he said “It was in mid – November 1965 that we held the one and only formal meeting that preceded the coup .The meeting was held in Lagos, in the military quarters of Major Ifeajuna……The meeting was very short. There was a consensus
that something had to be done quickly to save Nigeria from anarchy and disintegration and to restore peace and unity to the nation. It was agreed that only the use of force could bring immediate end to the violence being perpetrated in many parts of the country. It was, however, agreed that the use of force should be minimal. Political leaders and their collaborators were to be arrested, but wherever an arrest was resisted, it was to be met with force. Otherwise, no one was to be killed. Only the heads of government, that is, the Prime Minister, the four regional premiers and their right – hand men, were considered most essential to arrest throughout the country. And among their military collaborators, only the top echelon and those holding strategic positions were named for arrest. These included the GOC of the Nigerian Army, General Ironsi, the commanders of the two brigades, Brigadiers Ademulegun and Maimalari, the Chief of Staff Army HQ, Colonel Kur Mohammed, and the Adjutant General of the Army, Lieutenant – Colonel Pam. Others were the Deputy Commander of the NDA, Colonel Shodeinde, the Quartermaster – General of the Army, Lieutenant – Colonel Unegbe and the Commander of the 4th Battalion which was based in Ibadan and was the most politicised unit of the Army, Lieutenant-Colonel Largema.
Contrary to the load of wicked propaganda that has since been heaped on us, there was no decision in our meeting to single out any particular ethnic group for elimination or destructionOur intentions were honourable , our views were national and our goals were idealistic. We intended that the coup should be national in execution so that it would receive national acclamation. We planned that the use of force should be minimal so that our methods could at once be seen as superior to those of the politicians, who simply went on killing the very people they were called upon to govern. The need to bring more of the middle level officers (Majors and Lieutenant – Colonels) was discussed. But the few names that could be mentioned had to be dropped because their interpersonal connections would compromise the security of the planning. After ninety minutes of discussion, the meeting was over. We dispersed as if from a prayer meeting since it was a Sunday and the Lord was in our midst……..“
NNA Plan to Wallop the West
“It was at this time that I met Chief H. O. Davies for the first time. He was a famous politician who had been in the nationalist struggle since 1941. He was a Federal Minister under the Balewa Government….I soon got into deep conversation with him on the political situation in the country, I was particularly interested to know what the Federal Government’s view was, apart from Balewa’s public statements.
Chief H. O. Davies made it clear that the Federal Government had no, solution to the political crisis” (Damola are you hearing this? Since the Federal Government had no solution to the crisis the January boys not the IGBOS had to step in.)” He said that everybody was just waiting to see what would happen next and that nobody knew exactly what that would be; but surely something was bound to happen. I
left Chief Davis feeling that the Balewa Government had something up its sleeve .Otherwise, the minister would not be so emphatic that something was bound to happen…“ .
On January 3, 1966, I went to work with Ifeajuna. After extensive prodding, we discovered that the Balewa Government had a terrible plan to bring the Army fully to operate in the West for the purpose of eliminating the elites of that region, especially the intellectuals who were believed to be behind the intransigence of the people against the Akintola Government. It was for this reason that the government
had attacked the intellectuals of the Region, especially those at Ife, intimidating and victimizing them for their refusal to support it. People like Solarin of May Flower School, Ikenne, were among those marked down. It was also intended that if the plan succeeded in the West, the next target would be the East. The Federal Government was to use loyal troops for this purpose and the 4th Battalion at Ibadan
commanded by Lieutenant – Colonel Largema and the 2nd Battalion temporarily commanded by Major Igboba, but soon to be taken over by Lieutenant ‐Colonel Gowon, were designated for this assignment.”
If the January boys had not intervened, Sardauna and the Balewa Federal Government would have recolonised and severely subjugated Southern Nigeria and placed it in a condition far worse than Southern Sudan experienced before her independence. Damola, I hope you can now see that the January coup was very divinely timely. Ademoyega continued ” The operation was fixed for the third week of January 1966, when the Sardauna would have returned from his pilgrimage, and Lieutenant – Colonel Gowon would have completed his takeover of the Ikeja Battalion. In preparation of this horrible move by the Federal Government, the high echelons of the Army and the Police were being reshuffled.
Major – General Ironsi was ordered to proceed on leave from mid – January. He was to be relieved by Brigadier Maimalari, over the head of Brigadier Ademulegun…..In the Police, Inspector – General Edet was sent on leave from December 20,1965.The officer closest to him was retired and the the third officer, Alhaji Kam Salem was brought in as the new Inspector – General. The stage was thus set for the proper walloping of the West…….
“Late on the 14th, news reached us that the Sardauna had been having a meeting in Kaduna on that day with Chief Akintola of the West, and that both Brigadier Ademulegun and Lieutenant Colonel Largema were in attendance. It was obvious to us that they were putting finishing touches to their planned “walloping of the West”. But we felt confident that we were one step ahead.”
After the revenge coup, neither the triumphant NORTH nor you Damola, expressed sympathy to Igbos because of the over 200 Igbo casualties compared to the about 26 casualties of the first coup by your account from the American secret files! .” You went on to say” that the Igbos in the North were widely taunting their hosts on the loss of their leaders. Celestine Ukwu,a popular Igbo musician, released songs titled Ewu Ne Ba Akwa (Goats Are Crying) and others celebrating “Igbo power….”. I do not intend to comment on your assertion that Igbos in the North celebrated the death of northern leaders because it is neither here nor there. But the record song you referred to, was a high life number released by Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson a Kalabari, long before the first coup. You had to foist authorship of that highlife record, on Igbos to further criminalise and calumnise them. At that time, once a highlife record was released, whether by Bobby Benson, E.C.Arinze, Stephen Amechi. Victor Olaiya, Eddy Okonta, Chief Bill Friday, Roy Chicago, Victor Uwaifo, Agu Norris, Baby Face Paul, Ambrose Campbell and His West African Rhythm Brothers, Stephen Osadebe or any others, those of us in the know, would immediately and correctly name the author. May be, you were not in circulation then.
To further put the Igbos in bad light, you said “He (Achebe) claimed that they (the Igbos) were the dominant tribe, led the nation in virtually every sector – politics, education, commerce and the arts”. You agonizingly noted in your pathetic myopia “which included having two vice – chancellors in Yoruba land…”Your list is not exhaustive . At that time, Engr. Francis C.N.Agbasi was the first Nigerian Principal of Yaba College of Technology and Mr. Clement Odunukwe was the Senior Lecturer –in –charge (Principal) of Federal Emergency Science School, Onikan, Lagos. Also, Mr. F.C. Nwokedi, was the first Nigerian Federal Permanent Secretary to be appointed by the colonial masters. When Mr. P. G. Stallard was retiring, Mr. Nwokedi ought to have succeeded him as the first Nigerian Secretary to the Council of Ministers. But because he came from the ‘wrong’ tribe, he was skipped and Mr. S. O. Wey was given the post while Mr. Nwokedi became the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Modesty will not restrain me from expressing my joy, be it of local patriotism because, the last three gentlemen mentioned above, hailed from my home town, Nnewi, and Mr. Nwokedi was from my village, Edoji.
Since these institutions are in Yorubaland, you created the impression that the Yoruba benevolently allowed the Igbos to occupy those posts. You deliberately ignored the fact that they are Federal Government institutions and appointment into those positions followed very rigorous due process. I had described in a previous article how Professor Kenneth O. Dike was unanimously elected the Principal of the University College Ibadan, by the University College Council. It bears repeating for your benefit. The Chairman of the Council, Dr. Akanu Ibiam, went to London, and consulted Sir Charles Morris, Chairman of the Inter ‐ University College Council that found Principals and Vice Chancellors for colonial Universities. Sir. Morris said to Dr. Ibiam, ”Why do you come to us? You have your man there (Prof Kenneth Dike).You are lucky to have a ready – made man on the spot.”
In my second session as an undergraduate at Ibadan University in 1965/66, a Yoruba undergraduate wrote an article in which he said “If this university was situated east of the Niger, one would understand; but to hear people ‘keduing’ about all over the campus in a university founded in Yoruba land is unacceptable.” Kedu is the Igbo word for how do you do.
In that same year, some of us students were hanging around the Faculty of Science premises where Faculty Lecturers were reviewing the sessional results of students. We asked Dr. V.O. Olunloyo, Senior Lecturer in Mathematics who was the first lecturer to come out of the meeting, about the result of Mr ONWUCHEKWA, a final year Mathematics student. He said, second class upper.
We expressed our dismay, for we had expected Onwuchekwa to make a first class in the light of his brilliant records. Dr.Olunloyo remarked, “ You don’t expect Onwuchekwa to make a first class considering the high standard set by Kenku last year.” I am not aware that the record set by Prof Iya Abubakar in Mathematics has been equaled or broken ,yet Kenku made his first class without equaling Abubakar’s record. Instead of saying that Onwuchekwa did not meet the first class bar, he resorted to ethnic politics by comparing Onwuchekwa’s ( an Igbo) result with Kenku’s(a Yoruba) result .
In 1998, Emeritus Professor Chike Obi solved the over 300 years old Mathematics puzzle – FERMAT’S LAST THEOREM, established in 1637 by a French Lawyer/Mathematician, Pierre Fermat. Chike Obi’s paper was accepted for publication and appeared in the USA – based Journal of Algebras, Groups and Geometries, Vol. 15 pp 289 – 299 (1998). Despite the fact that Chike Obi’s paper was published by a renowned and distinguished American Journal, Dr. Olunloyo and one Ogunsola, an actuary, openly disputed without any basis, the validity of Chike Obi’s proof.
To add to these polemics by some Yorubas, Damola Awoyokun accused the Igbos of boastfulness and excessive exhibitionalism, of their strenuous achievements, when it is known that potentials, abilities, competences and the like, are either God – given or acquired. The Igbos have not been known to be boastful for such attributes coming their way.
Achebe simply traced the Igbos’ ‘LONG WALK’ to acquire them, which made Damola furiously uncomfortable.Your mindless determination to tarnish the image of the colossus, Achebe has failed. The following is the view of a Yoruba man, Duro Onabule, on Achebe. “Whatever the bad feelings of his critics, Achebe’s reputation, unlike his contemporaries, is that of a straightforward man. He has never been known to be cowardly, neither does he cringe before nor collaborate with local or international establishment. Achebe’s character is definite as he does not charade in the day only to be settled at night…….
Even if Awolowo was not in the position to effect his belief in starvation as a weapon of war, the fact remains that he (Awolowo) publicly took that position and was widely reported in the media in Nigeria and abroad….Is Chinua Achebe fair to Awolowo in his criticisms? The appropriate preceding question is: was Awolowo fair to himself when he publicly upheld starvation as a legitimate weapon of war, more so during a civil war in which the outside world was disgusted with television visuals of thousands of starving malnourished innocent children? Achebe’s critics on his latest book, especially Yoruba, should objectively read “AWO”, Obafemi Awolowo’s autobiography, in which throughout , there is not a single sentence complimentary to Nnamdi Azikiwe, portrayed as an ethnic jingoist….Yet, Awolowo’s criticism of Azikiwe were never mischievously interpreted as hatred for Igbos. Nobody of Achebe’s status and with terrible experiences of the civil war could be expected to write his recollections without justifiable criticism of starvation as a weapon throughout the war. His critics just have to be realistic rather than being emotional.”
Damola Awoyokun and Odia Ofeimun would want Achebe’s THERE WAS A COUNTRY: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF BIAFRA not only banned but all existing copies of the book burnt. Damola said ”Instead of writing the book as a writer who is Igbo, Achebe wrote the book as an Igbo writer ( I do not see any difference here except that an Igbo writer is one who writes in Igbo language.) …All the places that
should alarm the moral consciousness of any writer, Achebe is either indifferent or dismisses them outright because the victims are not his people. But in every encounter that shows the Igbo being killed or resented by Nigerians, or by the Yoruba in particular, Achebe intensifies the spotlight, deploying stratospheric rhetoric…Furthermore, not only does he take pride in ignoring the findings of common sense, he allocates primetime attention to fact – free rants just because they say his people are the most superior tribe in Nigeria. The book, to say the least, is a masterpiece of propaganda and sycophancy. It is not a writer’s business to be an accomplice to lies.”
Damola is guilty of the same charge for where Biafra or Igbos are the victims, he ignored it totally, as in this case where the American secret files say that “Mohammed the Second Division Commander was reported to have criticized Obasanjo thus: “We told you not to end the war the way you did so as to sort things out, you went on gaddamgaddam and finished it.” Damola ignored the fact that what Murtala Mohammed meant was that Obasanjo did not give him time to apply the FINAL SOLUTION TO THE IGBO PROBLEM! That is, to give him time to wipe out the Igbos from the surface of the earth. Next, I do not think that Damola Awoyokun has the competence, experience or stature to grade Achebe’s literary work.
Odia Ofeimun said” I believe he (Achebe)got it very wrong in that book and therefore, since I believe that we must allow generations coming after us to live by the spacious and opportunistic views that our fathers had, we must contest all the lies, we must ensure that their wrong views of the way the world works get corrected…… Achebe says that Igbo people are individualistic and that was what
helped them to acquire western education, catch up with the Yoruba and then took over all the jobs.
It is a very wrong description of what actually happened. What happened is that before independence, the NPC and the NCNC reached an agreement to run Nigeria together. Nnamdi Azikiwe refused to form a coalition with the AG because the Yoruba were educated and would be competing with the Igbo people for the jobs. Therefore they wanted a coalition.( with the NPC) Because that coalition was a very conservative one, they wanted to go with the Hausa-Fulani, who did not have enough people to take over the jobs that the Europeans were exiting from nor did they have any to deal with the new jobs that would be created by independence. So, the Yoruba leader was jailed and the Yoruba who could have looked for jobs were shunted aside. So, the NCNC, though they have a strong following in the Western Region, arranged for the jobs to be taken over by their primary constitutuencies. That was it.
The above statement constrains me to define a lie and an incorrect statement. One tells a lie when one knows the truth but proceeds deliberately to tell the opposite. An incorrect statement is one that is generally limited by inappropriate or incomplete knowledge. It is not a deliberate act. Ofeimun has deliberately told a bundle of lies. What Achebe said was “ The Igbo culture being receptive to change, individualistic and highly competitive, gave the Igbo man an unquestioned advantage over his compatriots in securing credentials for advancement in Nigerian colonial society. Unlike the Hausa/Fulani he was unhindered by a wary religion and unlike the Yoruba unhampered by traditional hierarchies. This kind of creature, fearing no God or man, was custom – made to grasp the opportunities; such as they were, of the white man’s dispensation. And the Igbo did so with both hands.
Although the Yoruba had a huge historical and geographical head-start, the Igbo wiped out their handicap in one fantastic burst of energy in the twenty years between 1930 and 1950…. The rise of the Igbo in Nigerian affairs was due to the self-confidence engendered by their open society and their belief that one man is as good as another, that no condition is permanent. It was not due, as non-Igbo
observers imagined, to tribal mutual aid societies. The “Town Union” phenomenon, which has often been written about, was in reality an extension of the Igbo individualistic ethic.” Achebe never said that” the Igbo took over all the jobs.”
Zik decided never to ally with Awolowo after the carpet-crossing incident of 1951 in the Western House of Assembly at Ibadan, which prevented the NCNC from forming the government in spite of the fact that the NCNC was declared the winner of that election or as Achebe would put it “Chief Awolowo ‘stole ‘ the Government from him (ZIK) in broad daylight.” Job opportunity or who would take over from the departing British was never part of the issue at all. During the colonial era and immediately after, the Igbo relied on merit and competence for advancement and securing appointments in the public service .
It is worth mentioning here again, that the first Nigerian to be appointed a Federal Permanent Secretary by the British was Mr. F.C. Nwokedi an Igboman! This achievement of Mr. Nwokedi had nothing to do with the NCNC – NPC COALITION. With such men as Chiefs T.O.S. Benson, Adeniran Ogunsanya, Kolawole Balogun, Adegoke Adelabu and many others of timbre and caliber it was impossible that “the Yoruba who could have looked for jobs were shunted aside.”, because their leader was jailed! By the way, it was a Yoruba judge, Justice Sowemimo who sent Awolowo to jail. It is very surprising that Ofeimun left the stark naked facts and decided to dish out outlandish fiction and lies to the public ;just to ridicule and defame Achebe.On the Twenty Pounds Policy, Damola, you deliberately avoided the main issue .We are saying that all the bank accounts opened in Nigeria by Igbos, but operated in Biafra, were reduced to TWENTY POUNDS no matter the size of the account! We are not complaining about the exchange value of the Biafran currency. As the victor, Nigeria was free to pay twenty pounds or nothing for the Biafran money in spite of the NO VICTOR NO VANQUISHED bogey. Your reference to Zik’s statements condemning Ojukwu, Igbos and Biafra is in bad taste and very poor logic. Zik, having abandoned Biafra and the Igbos in particular, in their darkest hour, had to make himself amenable for pardon by Nigeria! Therefore Zik’s statement on Biafra, were not objective, credible or valid because of the above handicap.
Since the anti-intellectual opium that has made most non-Igbo Nigerians to hold Igbos responsible for the first coup, is still prevalent, I need to bring in Ademoyega again where as part of the FIVE MAJORS’ prescriptions for clearing the Nigerian Augean stable, said, “Tax and trade laws would be such that it would be unnecessary for any individual to accumulate unspent money in local and foreign banks, while millions of Nigerians have little or nothing to survive on. It should be impracticable for a single man to spend two million naira to build himself a personal house, while a very large number of Nigerians in the same community dwell in hovels, and sleep in gutters and under bridges.
The Government would not cater for the interest of a few people, while denying the majority of Nigerians
their rights and privileges as happened with the Obasanjo Government. That Government helped a few Nigerians to make easy millions of naira through oil distributorship, while denying the majority of Nigerians their rights to obtain loans to buy motor cars, on the selfish declaration that “it is not the intention of Government that every Tom, Dick and Harry should own a car”. Such a comment constituted
a most diabolical comment on the good intentions of the January 15 revolutionaries, who removed the evil politicians with the purpose of instituting a corrective and revolutionary military era.
“Educationally, we had agreed that there was only one answer to the mass illiteracy that troubled Nigeria in 1965, namely, mass education – both formal and informal……..Moreover, the people, especially in the North, had been exploited for a long time and had become inured to suffering, blaming their man – inflicted wounds on the will of Allah, whereas Allah was totally opposed to such human wickedness…”
Ademoyega went on to say, “Today, if one were to ask “when did the preparation for the revolution really begin?” the most accurate answer would be, “from 1961”, because the three of us who formed the nucleus of the revolutionary group had met in that year. Although we had not there and then planned a revolution, we had seen eye to eye and we knew that we had a common cause. It was as if he seed was sown at that time and only needed time to germinate, grow and bear fruit” Damola, was it the Igbos that synthesized this climate of patriotic spontaneous disposition to rescue Nigeria from further decay? Ademoyega continued, “But these meetings were between Ifeajuna and me on the one hand and between Nzeogwu and me on the other….Moreover, active efforts were made to get in touch with more officers of the Army so as to ascertain their inclinations and loyalty. These contacts were made most quietly and surreptitiously. A coup d’etat is not a conventional operation of the Army. Preparations for it could not at any time be done in the open or in plain language. Therefore when we discussed with officers, unless an officer showed serious interest, we always sounded casual and the matter was always left unspecified and inconclusive.”
The other aspect of the coup which could not have been handled by Ndigbo is illustrated here by Ademoyega. “The Battle Group Course went on without a hitch in Abeokuta until the first week of December 1965. There were twenty student officers on the Course, all Captains. I indoctrinated and orientated them towards the revolutionary thought – concept. I also held personal interviews with all of them. I took the whole group on an official reconnaissance of all the strategic locations in Lagos and I taught them how important positions could be held or defended in time of war or other military actions.
This was acknowledged as a very successful exercise and student officers were particularly happy that they were being introduced to the practical aspect of their defensive duties. If the coup took place before the course ended, many of the officers would have carried out any duties allotted to them without looking back, and our Lagos operation would have been as successful as the Kaduna operation came to be.”Damola, perhaps, this military exercise was also sponsored by The Igbo State Union.
Before the coup, the whole country was in distress; but the West was the most distressed, with the widespread riot, killings and their leader, Awolowo, in prison. The West was therefore, the tribe in greatest need for a coup to change the Federal Government, and restore their liberty, not the Igbos.
It has become necessary to ask, why has the North always succeeded in first, allying with the East(Azikiwe) to deal with the West and finally with the West(Awolowo) to destroy the East (Igbos)? Zik returned from America with the noble ambition to found a ‘BIG’ One Nigeria, which was not a bad idea.
But the foundation for that size of Nigeria was lacking. The summary of the feasibility report on the One Nigeria Project said – NOT FEASIBLE, NOT VIABLE AND NOT PROFITABLE! Awolowo saw this and wisely decided to concentrate his efforts in working for the Yorubas .Similarly, Sardauna, in answer to a question by a journalist, said, “I am first and foremost a moslem, secondly a Northerner, I am yet to be a Nigerian!” Why Zik could not come to the same conclusion as Awolowo and Sardauna remains a puzzle. My great and near fanatical admiration for Awolowo has been based on this self evident fact that Awolowo served and sacrificed everything he had for his Yoruba people .The Igbos were not that lucky with Zik.
After the Awolowo constitutionally insinuated carpet crossing of 1951 in the Western House of Assembly, at Ibadan, ZIK decided not to ever have anything to do with Awolowo in politics, which was a most imprudent decision. For it is said that in politics, there is no permanent enemy, only permanent interests! Also, Chairman Mao Tse Tung said “There is a time to ally with the enemy, but more
important is to know when to break with the enemy! It is true that the Federal Government of NPC and Zik’s NCNC sent Awolowo to jail, for which he was entitled to be bitter, it is also equally true that the Igbo led NCNC under Dr. M.I. Okpara formed the United Progressive Grand Alliance UPGA, with the Adegbenro led Action Group and other progressives, to oppose the Nigerian National Alliance NNA.
Arising from this alliance , Dr M.I. Okpara(M.I. POWER) informed Akintola that he would be visiting Ibadan. Akintola told him not to come, that he would not be in . Okpara said he would at least sign the Visitors Book in his absence. Okpara visited Ibadan as a show of solidarity to Adegbenro and the Yorubas. Okpara and his team were treated to a very rousing and enthusiastic reception by the students of Ibadan University, which was chaired by Prof. Hezekiah Oluwasanmi. I was an undergraduate at Ibadan University then. During the last election to the Western House of Assembly before the coup, Okpara on behalf of the Igbos, sent Mazi Ukonu of Eastern Nigerian Broadcasting Service to Ibadan, as a continued show of solidarity with the Yorubas, where he stayed at Awolowo’s house at Oke Ado to announce the correct version of the election results. All these should not have been lost on Awolowo when he decided to support Gowon to crush the Igbos during the war, more especially with his inhuman strategy of ‘STARVATION IS A LEGITIMATE WEAPON OF WAR!’
As regards the fate of the soldiers and politicians arrested in Lagos, the failure of the coup there, threw the revolutionaries into a quandary. Probably, in the ensuing confusion and tension, the arrested politicians and soldiers became a heavy load and were unfortunately shot.
Your recourse to 21,000 pages of American secret files was most unnecessary when you could have benefitted immensely from Major Adewale Ademoyega’s 194 pages book, WHY WE STRUCK .
While you relied entirely on the American secret files which are not only a reported speech, but one doctored to suit some entrenched partisan interest, my own account is based solely on what came out of the horse’s mouth.
Damola, I had expected the same logic and reasoning you displayed in your masterpiece of an article –
EINSTEIN AND THE EXPRESSWAY CHURCHES to be once more evident.
By confronting Emeritus Professor Chinua Achebe, Ndigbo and Biafra the way you did , you failed to meet the mark of adequate intellectual depth and strength and exposed your smallness in grappling with such a LABOUR OF HERCULES.
MAZI CHIKE CHIDOLUE , was former Officer, 12 Commando Brigade Biafra Army.
(Times of Israel) There is a widespread belief among Igbos — the third-largest ethnic group in Nigeria — that they are descendants of the tribes of Israel. Many of them are passionately Zionist. Their precise number among the 175 million people in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is not certain, but ranges somewhere between 30 and 35 million.
Their claim to a Jewish lineage and their support for Israel are interesting in and of themselves, but even more fascinating is that during the last 30 years or so there has also been a movement among some Igbos to match their tradition of Jewish descent with the practice of rabbinic Judaism, the learning of Hebrew, and the fostering of connections with Jews abroad.
The wider Jewish world has begun taking notice.
THE HISTORICAL PLIGHT AND PRECARIOUS FUTURE OF IGBO PEOPLE IN NIGERIA: A Speech Delivered By Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, Former Governor Of Abia State, Nigeria, and Coordinator of Njiko Igbo, To The British House of Commons On April 18, 2013
Honourable Members of the House, Ladies and Gentlemen,
WHO ARE THE IGBO?
I will not detain you with genealogical or anthropological exercise here. Let it be sufficient for me to just say this about the origins of the Igbo: serious studies based on verifiable evidence indicate that the Igbo have lived in Igboland for almost as long as man has lived on earth.
The archeological finds at Ugwuele in Okigwe provide a meaningful evidence of human activities in the theatre of Igbo civilization more than two hundred and fifty thousand years ago. Evidence of man-made tools like axe, pottery and carved stones dug up at the present day Enugu and Ebonyi states lend credence to the existence of Igbo culture for scores of millennia.
My people are known as the Igbo and our language is Igbo.
Igbo people constitute one of the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria – what Nigerian historians have come to term the tribal tripod. The other two are the Yoruba and the Hausa/Fulani.
The primary Igbo states in Nigeria are Anambra, Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, and Enugu (if justice and equity reigned, there should have been 6 or 7, instead of just 5 states). Due to their mobility, the Igbo constitute between 25% - 60% of the population in some other Nigerian States such as Delta, Rivers, Lagos, Kano, Cross River, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom and Plateau, to mention a few.
Although my people mainly and primarily inhabit the southeastern part of Nigeria, they have, however, spread, like ants in the savannah, to every nook and cranny of Nigeria, Africa and indeed the globe – thriving, building and enriching themselves, their environment and others in all facets of life as they do so.
The veteran American diplomat, Henry Kissinger, hit the nail on the head when he aptly observed that: “The Ibos are the wandering Jews of West Africa... gifted, aggressive, Westernized; at best envied and resented, but mostly despised by the mass of their neighbors in the Federation.” – Henry Kissinger, MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT, Tuesday, January 28, 1969 [Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Volume E-5, Documents on Africa, 1969-1972].
IGBO AND THE PROVERBIAL RAINFALL
Permit me at this point to invoke an ancient African idiom which has its roots in Igbo wisdom: onye na amaghi ebe mmiri bidoro mawa ya, agaghi ama ebe o kwusiri (He who does not recognise the point at which the rain began to beat him would not recognise when the rain ceases to fall altogether).
For Igbo people in Nigeria, the rainfall ensued in the early 19th century when the British first explored the Lower Niger (I will put aside, for today’s purposes, the preceding hellfire that was black African slavery and the Igbo’s share of hell in it).
The rain began to beat us from January 1914 when Lord Fredrick Lugard completed the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates into Colonial Nigeria and became its first Governor-General. The Igbo did not have a say as to whether they desired to become a part of such a contraption or not.
The clouds lifted ever so briefly and the Igbo enjoyed a brief sunshine in Nigeria in the decade before and a few years after independence. Having embraced Christianity and western education with enthusiasm, they quickly rose to hold sway in the federal civil service, military, academia, commerce and industry – the Jews of West Africa were on the march, toiling, sweating and swinging upwards, to the envy and hatred of their compatriots.
The Igbo in Nigeria became quickly drenched in that awesome rain by way of separate episodes of pogrom: the Jos massacre in 1945, the Kano massacre in 1953 and the September 29, 1966 massacre in which tens of thousands of Igbo men, women and children were slaughtered. This last event led directly to the civil war of 1967-1970, which in turn resulted in mass starvation and deliberate anti-Igbo genocide.
And the rain has not abated. The bloody rain has continued to beat Igbo people, resulting in organised anti-Igbo massacres in Kano in 1980, Maiduguri in 1982, Yola in 1984, Gombe in 1985, Kaduna in 1986, Bauchi in 1991, Funtua in 1993, Kano in 1994, Damboa in 2000 and the Apo 6 massacre in 2005.
The ongoing nihilistic slaughter of Igbo people by an extremist militant group known as Boko Haram is yet to be documented. But there can be no question that a disproportionate percentage of the thousands of victims, dead or maimed or permanently impoverished, is made up of Igbo people.
The foregoing non-exhaustive examples occurred exclusively in northern Nigeria. They also represent occasions when Igbo people had been massacred by northern Nigerian Muslims who had been provoked not by any direct misconduct by the Igbo but perhaps because the Prophet Mohammed was insulted in Denmark by some European artist or because Allah’s name had been taken in vain in Los Angeles by an American satirist.
There is, therefore, a sense in which by simply being Igbo, Christian and entrepreneurial, the Igboman is adjudged guilty and vengeful punishment is indiscriminately and randomly applied on a recurring basis.
THE COUP THAT CONDEMNED US ALL
On 15 January, 1966, a few young Nigerian army officers led by an Igbo officer, Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, carried out Nigeria’s first coup d'état. This resulted in the deaths of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, a prominent northern Nigerian of the Fulani ethnic stock and the Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa, also a northern Nigerian Fulani.
Although the coup was foiled primarily by another Igboman, Nigeria’s first Major-General in the Colonial Army, General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, nevertheless, the belief prevailed in northern Nigeria that Hausa leaders were singled out for elimination by Igbo people who had a grand design for political dominance.
This situation gave rise to a retaliatory pogrom in which tens of thousands of Igbo people were murdered in northern Nigeria. This led to the mass flight back to the Eastern Region of as many as two million Igbo people.
It is conceded that the execution of the coup in question resulted in unintended consequences. The ethnic composition of the putschists, the ethnic origin of the individuals killed, as well as the eventual assumption of power by Gen. Ironsi, himself an Igboman, created the erroneous impression that the coup was an ethnic-biased putsch organised mostly by Igbo officers in furtherance of Igbo hegemonic agenda.
However, I must insist that the coup was purely a military affair and that the civilian Igbo population knew nothing about it and had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Gen. Ironsi himself was not part of either the planning or the execution of the coup. Once the coup plotters lost control of events, General Ironsi was invited to take office as the military Head of State by the circumstance of his position as the most high-ranking military officer and the General Officer Commanding the Nigerian Army at that time.
There was neither a grand Igbo civilian conspiracy to overthrow a northern-controlled government nor to impose a unitary system of government, the phantom charges for which the Igbo people have paid and continue to pay a terrible price in Nigeria today.
It must also be noted that there have been several military coups in Nigeria since January 15, 1966 and yet the ethnic kinsmen of the perpetrators of such coups were not subjected to mass slaughter or wanton destruction of their property and places of worship.
But above all, on July 29, 1966, the northern officer corps themselves executed a retaliatory counter-coup in which the Head of State, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi, was killed and over 300 military officers and men of Igbo origin were massacred. Why didn’t matters simply end there?
Eventually, the crisis reached its peak in May 1967 with the secession of the Igbo-dominated Eastern Region from Nigeria. The Republic of Biafra was declared and it was headed by the British public school- and Oxford-educated Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegu-Ojukwu.
The secession quickly led to a civil war after talks between former army colleagues, Yakubu Gowon and Ojukwu and the Aburi peace deal collapsed.
The Republic of Biafra lasted only until January 1970 after a campaign of starvation by the Nigerian Army with the support of Egypt, Sudan and the United Kingdom led to a decisive victory for the Nigerian side.
NEGATIVE DISCRIMINATION BY LAW
The Igbo in Nigeria have become the receptacle of anger, hatred, envy and frustration oozing out of their fellow compatriots. But this is on the level of the transactions between private citizens. How about the place of the Igbo in respect of the manner in which public affairs are conducted by the Nigerian federal government and its agencies?
The simple answer is that the rain has continued to beat the Igbo. To demonstrate this, I have composed a narrow but blunt table below:
ZONES NORTH WEST NORTH EAST NORTH CENTRAL SOUTH WEST SOUTH SOUTH SOUTH EAST
STATES 7 6 6 6 6 5
L. GOVT 186 112 115 138 123 95
Fed. Cnst 92 48 49 71 55 43
Sen. 21 18 18 18 18 15
The above table does not represent an opinion or a hypothesis. It represents the blatant reality of the third rate status forced upon the Igbo in the political space in Nigeria.
We, the Igbo have strived but thus far failed to persuade the Nigerian establishment about the hurt and humiliation and deprivation that come with the idea that we as a people are legally condemned to third rate status in our own country, as amply demonstrated by the above table.
The implications of this calculated fraud against my people are so massive and go entirely untold: unequal allocation of resources, unequal voice at the Federal Executive Council, unequal representation at the National Assembly (the gravest of all), unequal juridic participation in the administration of justice in the federation, unequal participation in the federal civil service and adjunct bodies, unequal representation in the armed forces and para-military organisations, unequal representation in the diplomatic corps ensuring incapacity in showcasing the Igbo culture as part of a pan-Nigerian culture in our foreign missions and embassies, fewer primary, secondary and higher education opportunities for our children, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
These structural disparities are constitutionally entrenched (please see the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999), thus their grave implications for Ndigbo are beyond the primary questions of inequity and marginalization.
The histories of nations are replete with evidence of existential threat to any group whose marginalization is made a subject matter of constitutional enshrinement.
With unequal voice in the Federal Executive Council, in the National Assembly, on the federal judicial benches and a vast array of other fora in which the Igbo suffer sub-parity representation, the strength of the advocacy of our problems and priorities is thus diminished. Little wonder, then, that the South-East Zone, the area inhabited by the Igbo, still manifests the physical characteristics of a conquered and occupied land, 43 years after the civil war.
Quite apart from the psychological assault it represents for Igbo people, the practical issues of unequal representation and unequal allocation of resources are calculated to retard the development of our region and our people. The massive difference which the resources and human empowerment that we are denied might have made in our society is something that calls not just for a sober reflection but a gritty resolve to bring about their speedy resolution.
The Igbo tenacity, drive and relentless optimism to pursue life’s enduring dreams of family, faith and success and to overcome life's challenges will see them through. But the world must listen to them whenever they cry out. For they have long suffered and endured in silence, as the rain continues to beat them.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, before I give a full introduction of its nature and purpose, another blunt table will demonstrate why Njiko Igbo was brought into existence:
1. NORTH CENTRAL – 17 YEARS 11 MONTHS 20 DAYS
2. NORTH WEST – 13 YEARS 11 MONTHS 10 DAYS
3. SOUTH WEST – 11 YEARS 10 MONTHS 8 DAYS
4. NORTH EAST – 5 YEARS 3 MONTHS 15 DAYS
5. SOUTH SOUTH – 5 YEARS 23 DAYS (by 29/05/15)
6. SOUTH EAST – 6 MONTHS 13 DAYS
MUSLIMS = 28 YEARS, 14 DAYS (as at 2010)
CHRISTIANS = 26 YEARS, 5 MONTHS, 15 DAYS (by 29/05/2015)
A citizen of Igbo extraction has occupied the presidency or premiership or Head of Government of Nigeria for just 6 months and 13 days in the nearly 53 years of Nigerian independence. Again, this is a historical fact and not a conjecture.
The presidency of the Nigerian nation has not eluded the Igbo by accident or by an act of divinity but by human design; and it is through human pressure that we can attain it.
Njiko Igbo is the catalyst and conduit for our collective action. We trust that you recognise, as we do, that power concedes nothing without a demand.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, in a paper entitled ‘Ndigbo: An Integral Part of the Nigerian Project,’ says that the aim of the Nigerian project “...is to develop and sustain a nation in which all the constituent parts and citizens are able to pursue their self-fulfilment, and to enjoy as high a quality of life as possible; a nation that would be a source of pride to its citizens, to Africa and to peoples of African descent all over the world.” It is in this spirit that we have, therefore, decided to set up Njiko Igbo (Igbo Unity), which is a movement dedicated to changing the power formula in Nigeria in order to obtain justice and fairness for all Nigerians. As Chief Anyaoku further said, “There are so many Igbo names in the pantheon of our country’s pioneer educationists, professionals in medicine, law, engineering, journalism, and in private business.” So, why then can’t an Igbo man or woman become president of Nigeria?
Njiko Igbo is an organisation dedicated to the struggle for the ascent of a citizen of Igbo extraction to the presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2015.
We are fully committed to the security and peace of our nation, and to the comradeship of a common justice and equality for all Nigerians.
We are neither supportive of nor opposed to any political party or the aspirations of any individual politician. Our primary mission is to enlighten and mobilise the Igbo population, both at home and in the diaspora, to stand firm and united in the pursuit of our collective goal. Our secondary duty is to connect with and persuade the rest of the Nigerian population about the justice of our cause.
Njiko Igbo is waging this struggle precisely because there is an irrefutable evidence of blatant anti-Igbo bias in the manner in which the political architecture of this federation is constructed.
Gross injustice is the ultimate outcome of that deliberate discrimination. And every man or woman possessed of conscience has a duty to take a moral stand against injustice whenever and wherever it is manifest. This expression of conscience forms the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people.
The impulse to demand justice and the instinctive revolt against injustice constitute the most essential ingredients of humanity. If we recognize this philosophical essence of what truly defines our sentient nature, then we must accept that this struggle is not only inevitable but mandatory.
Our strategic operations are two-pronged: (a) an intensive drive to build and foster a united front at home and, (b) an energetic national mobilization campaign to marshal public opinion and secure the solidarity and support of a majority of Nigerians.
Our methods will be conciliatory, unaggressive, solicitous and flexible but without being amenable to the old easy compromises and defensiveness that reinforced prejudicial assumptions about us as a people.
We shall seek to accomplish our mission in a manner and style deferential to elders, respectful of the sensibilities of other tribal groups and faiths, attentive to criticisms and open to disputations.
We are embarked on a big and noble dream borne out of the necessities of our history and the imperatives of justice, equity and fair-play. While our history is a proud, large and significant imprint in Nigeria, the reality of our contemporary existence has been rendered small by the politics of the Nigerian republic. These times call for self-assertion and Igbo people must rise and answer the challenges with one voice.
We are not pursuing the orthodox argument connected with the zoning of the presidency. This is, instead, a struggle for justice and equality of opportunity through the instrumentalities of persuasion, mobilization, projection of a creative vision for a stronger and successful federation.
No one should be in any doubt that the political struggles and strifes raging in this country today, and which will rage for at least another generation, represent the struggles to assert group identity and legitimacy, expressed through the mechanics of politics. Igbo people can ill-afford to take a passive stance in this maelstrom.
Former President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Chief Raph Uwechue says of the Igbo, in a paper entitled ‘Igbo are nation builders:’
“To the Nigerian project, the Igbo have given a great deal yesterday, are still doing so today, and have a lot more in store for a much greater tomorrow.”
It is time for the bloody rain to stop. Igbo people are already drenched and soaked to the point of suffocation. It is not only in the best interests of the Igbo but also in the best interests of the Nigerian people for the sun to rise and shine on us all.
Permit me to use this opportunity to appeal to the British government through this distinguished gathering to increase funding for special projects that benefit the underprivileged in Nigeria and Africa in general. The proposed legislation to reduce aid for health, education and infrastructure, amongst others, while committing more funds to war areas such as Mali with the provision of arms and ammunition will be counterproductive both in the immediate and medium term. Nigeria needs increased funding to meet our development challenges, the biggest of which is achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This intervention will bridge the gap between the rich and poor countries, thereby making the world a much better place for all of us and our children.
I thank you for listening.
Early on, probably before I could even talk or walk, I was given the message that being black was an affliction, that as a black human being I needed to be adulterated, corrected, improved. Even my mother - born and raised in Nigeria - seemed to want to de-Africanise me as quickly and as absolutely as possible.
She started out by avoiding giving me an Igbo* name. Even my middle name is as caucasian as can be. Within days of my birth, I was plunged without warning into white culture like a screaming lobster being dropped into a boiling pot. I was a few days old when my mother sent me to be raised by a white family in an enclave of rural England where the population was 100% white (until I arrived.) Years later, my mother would boast to her relatives and peers that you couldn't even tell I was black when you heard me speaking on the phone. Bizarrely, and sadly, people actually seemed to be impressed.
Growing up in my white foster home, in my white town, some of the earliest words I heard about myself were: "we're at our wits' end." "We've tried everything." "Don't know what to do for her - poor little mite."
Was I suffering from a terminal illness? Had I been disfigured in some way? No, I'd simply been born black with afro hair. This reality in itself was presented to me as a tragedy. The afro hair needed to be altered, disguised, hidden, in order for me to be acceptable and accepted.
But then when I was six I finally visited Nigeria. Being reunited with my Nigerian family, finally seeing other people who looked just like me, taught me to accept myself, right? Wrong. My Nigerian family praised me heavily for my white accent and for the fact that my skin's a few shades lighter than most of our family members. Meanwhile, they criticised the "tough" texture of my hair, the flatness of my nose. One aunty said: "You're beautiful but what a shame you've inherited this same ugly African nose we have."
Upon my return to England, the Hair Wars began in earnest. During a weekend visit to my mother's home (I was still being raised in the countryside, by my white foster family), my mother took me to a hair salon to literally straighten me (or my hair, at least) out.
Years passed and still this corrosive idea lingered, this idea that our blackness has to be altered, covered up, in order to be deemed decent. Twenty years later I was the mother of a young daughter who'd begun asking me what was "wrong" with her hair and why it didn't flow and hang straight like the white girls' hair. I sat there, wearing a straight silky weave, trying to convince my daughter that her natural hair was beautiful. The weave sat on my head, contradicting my words, begging the question: if unadulterated African hair is so beautiful, so acceptable, what's with the weave?
That very weekend, I took the weave out and went to visit my mother sporting my huge and gorgeous new afro. My mother, who was still, after so many years, refusing to give me an Igbo name, took one look at my hair and said: "I beg you not to enter your office on Monday with that hair." My stepfather darted into his bedroom and returned with a bottle of Sta Sof Fro and he sprayed it at my head as if spraying Raid at a roach. He advised me to at least keep the hair "low" if I must wear it like that at all, so as to avoid drawing attention to it.
But why shouldn't I draw attention to it? Asian women are praised for their long straight shiny black hair. Why shouldn't I show off my healthy, thick, inherently African textured hair? Of course there are far more important things to think about than hair. But for me, hair is an emblem. The question is: why is anything distinctly black seen as a fault in urgent need of correction?
*The Igbo people are an ethnic group of south-eastern Nigeria.
PS: My mother finally gave me an Igbo name: Obinne, which means "a mother's heart."
Obinne Precious Williams is a Journalist, author of the memoir PRECIOUS (Bloomsbury 2011) Twitter: www.twitter.com/preciousthebook
It is obvious that all is not well within the fold of the South East Governors Forum over the issue of Igbo presidency project 2015. In Anambra State,Governor Peter Obi is at loggerheads with Governor Rochas Okorocha over who controls APGA and he derides Okorcha’s attempt at uniting the Igbos for his presidential bid either for 2015 or 2019. Peter Obi cannot comprehend how Okorocha can surface from nowhere and be laying claims to APGA political machinery and the presidency when he, a two term governor had been treading softly on the issue.
Chief Okorocha of Imo State believes that the Igbo have the potential of becoming president in 2015 if there is unity, hence his attempts to unify APGA and give it a national outlook. He also supported the mega party deal that resulted in the formation of All Progressive Congress. This Okorocha’s interests in the top shot have put him in the bad books of Jonathan apologists and they are making every effort to pull him down.
Sullivan Chime of Enugu State never showed any open interest for Igbo presidency project. In August 2012, under the aegis of South East Forum, former chairman of PDP, Okwesilieze Nwodo canvassed support for Igbo presidency at the meeting of South East Forum held at Modotels, Enugu. This stance of Nwodo killed any further interest the fun loving governor had for the Igbo presidency project since his arch-enemy was among the bands seeking support for Igbo presidency. He distanced himself from being part of former Vice President Alex Ekwueme’s birthday bash at Okpara Square, Enugu because he suspected the roles of former governors Okwesilieze Nwodo, Chinwoke Mbadinuju and Senator Ken Nnamani in mobilizing for the event.
In Abia State, Governor Theodore Orji had shown little commitment to the Igbo presidency project except perhaps, occasional fine speeches without commensurate momentum. The move by former governor Orji Uzor Kalu to form Njiko Igbo, an umbrella organization to unite Igbos for the presidency, further raised Theodore Orji’s suspicion over the entire Igbo presidency project and he has distanced himself from the entire exercise.
Governor Martins Elechi of Ebonyi State have maintained silence over the issue, His body language have not suggested a flair or disinterest for the project. However, his attempt to support Aja Nwachukwu for the Ohaneze top post was based on ensuring that an Ebonyi man that can articulate Igbo interest without pressure from the outside is enthroned especially for the rainy day.
In the event of all these it is obvious that South East Governors have not formed enough formidable alliance to be able to ask other regions of Nigeria to support their aspirations. While some school of thought believe that Sullivan Chime, Theodore Orji and Peter Obi are jealous of Okorocha’s acclaimed national popularity, others believe that they are afraid of EFCC prosecution and as such must swim with President Jonathan to avoid harassment after they leave office. Others still believe that their interest in the senate seat as retirement benefits after their tenure as governor could be jeopardized if they openly support Igbo presidency.
I wrote an article titled ‘OhanezeCrisis and the Auctioning of Igbo Presidency parts 1 & 2) where I reported that presidential largesse have turned Ohaneze apart and the Igbo presidency project is being auctioned. A week after the part 2 of it was released, the new leadership of Ohaneze made it clear that they are not interested in Igbo presidency 2015. According to the Ohaneze Publicity Secretary Prince Tonnie Ogonna ” If President Jonathan declines to run in 2015, it then makes it quicker for the Igbo. The bottom line is that Ohanaeze supports Jonathan in whatever decision he takes in 2015′‘ Therefore,Ohaneze support for any Igbo presidential candidate in 2015 is foreclosed.
The northern governors are seriously challenging President Jonathan’s second term bid, insisting that he promised to run only one term. While reacting on the isue, the leader of Northern Governors Forum and Niger State Governor, Dr Babangida Aliu,speaking on Liberty FM, Kaduna stated that ‘“What will be, will be in 2015. We must remind people of the promises they have made. When he (Jonathan) was going to declare, governors of PDP were brought together to ensure that we were all in the same frame of mind. Some of us, given the PDP zoning, were expecting that the northern states would produce the President for these number of years but God has done His own.
“At that discussion, it was agreed that President Jonathan would serve one term and we all signed and when he went to Kampala, he said the same thing. But for now, President Jonathan has not declared his candidacy and we must not be speculating based on who those are benefiting from such a thing. I believe that we are all gentlemen enough and when the time comes, we will all sit down and see what the right thing to do is.”
In the South South, apart from Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, the rest are not interested in any Jonathan 2015 project. Rotimi Amechi in Rivers State is at loggerheads with the presidency on the issue.
The Governors in the South West are reaching out to their counterparts in the North to form an alliance in preparation for 2015,resulting in the new mega party, All Progressive Congress while their South East counterparts are chasing rat while the house is burning .
It is obvious that by the actions, inaction and indifference of South East Governors, they have in principle auctioned the Igbo presidency project and any Igbo man hoping for commitment from them will be disappointed.
Abuja, Nigeria (CNN) -- A Shabbat service is underway at the Ghihon Hebrew Research synagogue in the Jikwoyi suburb of Nigeria's federal capital territory.
Fourteen year-old Kadmiel Izungu Abor heads there with his family. They walk alongside stray goats on a road covered in red dust and potholes, lined with open sewage. They are nearly 20 kilometers away from the modern multi-story office buildings and sprawling mansions in Nigeria's capital city of Abuja.
About 50 people gather in the synagogue. They pray from the Siddur, they read from the Torah and as they chant, Abor's mellow alto begins to rise.
In a country of 162 million people tensions often lead to violent uprisings between Christians and Muslims and being part of the religious minority can be an issue. But Abor wears his kippah and his identity with pride.
The Igbo are one of Nigeria's largest ethnic groups with population estimates ranging from 20 to 50 million. Abor is convinced that the Igbo's ancestors were Jews.
"I am a Jewish Igbo," he says.
The Igbo are ubiquitous; they are everywhere. In the remotest villages, the farthest part of the earth, North Pole, Down Under, all over the world, into anything, commerce, transport, drugs, producing the best brain, etc, you’ll find them there.
Despite producing the current Nigeria Chief of Army Staff, Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, Secretary to the Government of The Federation after 50 years of Nigeria’s independence, the Igbo still demand more. But they are not complaining too loudly.
After former Vice President Dr. Alex Ekwueme’s humiliation by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Board of Trustees, BOT, he still returned to the PDP. Like the saying in Igbo language ndoro ndoro (push me, I push you).
Igbo names are synonymous with commerce, ruggedness, affluence, wealth. Igbo that produced Emeka Emeagwali, Chinua Achebe, Barth Nnaji, Emeka Anyaoku, Dora Akunyili, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alvan Ikoku, Augustine Ilodibe, Sir Louis Ojukwu, etc., should be respected.
A tribe regarded as the most industrious on the continent of Africa, Igbo on the other hand mean different things to other tribes in Nigeria. Igbo means cheat, make money at all costs, advanced fee fraud, drug baron, armed robber, human trafficker, anything dirty, the ultimate goal: WEALTH!
Known for displaying wealth, the Igbo worship wealth and affluence. The number of cars you parade increases your standing in society; they love chieftainship titles. They have an environment ravaged by gully erosion. Igbo nation has the worst road network in Nigeria, no thanks to bad leadership. In over 50 years of Nigeria as a nation, Igbo have never held the exalted office of the President and Commander-in-Chief, except for the brief period of General JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi in the 60s. Many reasons can be adduced for this, but a giveaway is what is known in local parlance that Igbo could and should not be trusted. And successive administrations have cashed in on this by appointing Igbo as ministers of information.
A Yoruba adage says Omo ina la ran si’na, which literally means: To subdue fire, you have to use its antidote. From the first republic to the sixth and during the military era, Igbo were handed this job of minister of information.
The 2007 elections [selections] were supervised, signed, sealed and delivered by an Igbo. And it was the last straw that broke the Igbo’s quest of becoming Nigeria’s president, parading 15 or thereabouts presidential candidates from the same ethnic nationality contesting for one position.
The presidency will continue to elude the Igbo unless they come together. The Igbo are easily disorganised politically, ‘settle’ them and they forget their ambitions. If current trend persists, I see a situation where the Igbo will never have a shot at Nigeria’s highest political office in the foreseeable future.
The Igbo’s woes are self-inflicted; to turn things around they should begin by putting a stop to pointing fingers or blaming the north or the south-west for these woes.
The Igbo cannot afford to continue to weep; rather they should brace up and reverse the trend, and make the prospect of a president of Igbo extraction a reality in 2015. A word is enough for the wise!”
The storm is getting settled now, with less than two years away to 2015 general elections. PDP again (known for it’s anti-internal democracy) is technically sidelining the Igbo from the 2015 presidential race. Who will rescue, save and help the Igbo?
With the demise of Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu, APGA’s fragmentation (Igbo’s political party), Ohaneze’s lack of clout, Igbo nation should as well forget Nigeria’s highest political office.
The Nigeria civil war is over but in tragic sense, Nigeria has now been made safer for ethnic, tribal, and religious vengeance and the great earthquake we called Nigeria Civil War has now been eaten by termites called Igbo.
In a White House memo dated Tuesday, January 28, 1969 to President Nixon, former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger describes the Igbos as “the wandering Jews of West Africa-gifted, aggressive, westernized, at best envied and resented, but mostly despised by their neighbors in the federation”(foreign relations document, volume E-5, documents on Africa 1969-1972).
Kissinger's description aptly portrays the Igbos and their experience in Nigeria. Over the years, the Igbos have been the victims of numerous massacres, that they have lost count. Most of the violence directed against the Igbos have been state sponsored. One can say that the Igbos knew how to spell “state sponsored terrorism” before the rest of the world did. The state sponsored terrorism directed against the Igbos in 1966, led to the declaration of the Republic of Biafra by the Igbos and subsequent civil war. Over two million Igbos died in the civil war, primarily by starvation. One will not be wrong, if they call the Igbos the “Tutsis” of Nigeria.
However, the Igbos are one of the largest and most distinctive of all African ethnic groups. Predominantly found in Southeastern Nigeria, they number about 40 million worldwide, with about 30 million in Nigeria. They constitute about 18% of Nigeria's population, with significant Igbo populations in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Ivory Coast. Igbos predominate in five states in Nigeria-Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Abia. In three other states- Rivers, Lagos and Delta, they constitute almost 25% of the population.
During the slave trade, Igbo slaves were known to be the most rebellious. Most of the slave rebellions in the United States, Haiti, Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana were led by Igbo slaves. In South Carolina, Igbo slaves were reported to have drowned themselves, rather than be kept as slaves. Today that place is called Ebo Island in commemoration of the slaves who died there. Igbos were one of the 13 African ethnic groups that provided the bulk of the slaves who were brought to the Americas. Majority of the slaves who ended up in Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Maryland, Arkansas, Mississippi, South and North Carolina and Georgia were Igbo. An Igbo museum has been built in Virginia to honor the contribution of Igbo slaves to the state. One of the slaves who was sent to Liberia by the American Colonization Society-Edward Roye- became the fourth president of Liberia.
During the colonial period, the British disliked the Igbos, because of their supposedly uppitiness and argumentativeness. During military service in Burma and India, the pride of Igbo soldiers amongst other African soldiers was proverbial. In the company offices and orderly rooms, the first few words from the White officer speaking to an Igbo soldier was followed by “don't argue, you! Or “you want to be too clever”, and similar expressions. Their expressive and aggressive mentality which they enjoy in their culture at home, does not always allow them to accept false charges or accusations without responding.
The late famous writer, Langston Hughes, observed “the Igbo looks proud because he is bred in a free atmosphere where everyone is equal. He hates to depend on anyone for his life's need. He does not mind if others look proud. He has much to be proud of in his land. Nature has provided for him. He is strong and able to work or fight. He is well formed. He is generally happy in his society where no ruler overrides his conscience. He likes to advance and he is quick to learn. He likes to give rather than take”.
Culturally, the Igbos are a very diverse group with different clans, families, subcultures, and subgroups. However, the customs are similar with local varieties. Although there are disagreements about the origins of the Igbos, there is a consensus that they originated from Nri in Anambra State of Nigeria. The language of the Igbos is Igbo or Ibo. It is one of the largest spoken languages in Africa, with Hausa and Yoruba. Igbo speaking people are divided into five geographically based subcultures-Northern Igbo, Western Igbo, Southern Igbo, Eastern Igbo and Northeastern Igbo. Not as urbanized as the Yoruba, they live in multitudinous villages, fragmented into small family groups. They do not have hereditary chiefs like the the Yoruba or Hausa/Fulani. Every Igbo more or less is his or her own master. The Igbos operate the “Umunna System”, which emphasizes the patrilineal heritage, rather than the matrilineal. Some of the important Igbo cities include, Onitsha, Enugu, Umuahia, Aba, Asaba, Abakaliki, Owerri, Nsukka.
In commerce, the Igbos are mobile, vividly industrious people who have spread all over Nigeria and Africa as traders and small merchants. In countries like Gabon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Gambia, Igbo traders predominate in retail trade. Most Igbos are clannish, despite their individualism and hold closely together in non Igbo communities. They are often very unpopular in the communities they live in, because they push very hard to make money and often dominate the retail business in alien communities. In his book, the Brutality of Nations, Dan Jacobs describes the Igbos “as ambitious, dynamic and progressive people whose education and abilities did not endear them to those among whom they lived. Even during British rule, there were massacres of Igbos in Northern Nigeria-in Jos in 1945 and in Kano in 1953. The Igbos have acquired the sobriquet, Jews of Africa”.
Education is highly emphasized and given priority in Igboland. Converted to Christianity by Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian missionaries, they took up self improvement with such enthusiasm, that by the 1960's, the Igbos had the highest percentage of doctors, lawyers, engineers, physicists, and teachers than any other ethnic group in Africa. Because of the abundant educational talent in Igboland many newly independent African nations recruited them to fill vacancies in their civil service. The first American style university built in Africa was in Igboland-the University of Nigeria at Nsukka. Its founder, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was a graduate of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
Politically, the Igbos are so effervescent that the British differentiated between the “good East and the disruptive East”, meaning by the later, the radical Igbo strongholds. According to author Dan Jacobs “for Britain and for the British civil servants who continued to work in the Northern Region, the Igbos have always been a troublesome element in the federation, a people with a democratic tradition who are not easily controlled. Many British were glad to see them out of a central position in the federation, as were those who had driven them back to their homeland and those who now held the civil service and other jobs they had left”. The Igbos had been the most ardent advocates of a united Nigeria. Upon independence in 1960, an Igbo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe became the first President and Governor General, while another Igbo, Aguiyi Ironsi became the first indigenous military chief. Another Igbo, Nwafor Orizu became the first president of the senate, Jaja Wachukwu became the first foreign minister. Leadership of the elite universities in Southern Nigeria were also occupied by the Igbos.
Following the military coup of January 1966, which the Igbos were accused of initiating, Aguiyi Ironsi became President and Supreme Commander of the armed forces. Tensions rose very high in the country resulting in the massacre of Igbos in May 1966. In July 1966, a Hausa/Fulani/Tiv inspired military coup overthrew Ironsi's regime and a terrible massacre of the Igbos began in earnest. This led to the secession of the former Eastern Nigeria and the declaration of the Republic of Biafra. This eventually led to the civil war.
According to George Orick, an American businessman and consultant to UNICEF who was in Nigeria at the time, one million Igbos were to be killed in order to avenge the death of an Islamic zealot called Ahmadu Bello, who was the Sardauna of Sokoto-Prince of the Islamic Sokoto Caliphate. He reported that “one could hear on Northern Nigerian radio the reading of long lists of Igbos who were targeted for extinction”.-see Goddell team report, congressional Record of February 15, 1969, pp51976-7. The Igbos believe, and rightfully so, that had they not fought back, their fate would have been worse than that of the Tutsis in Rwanda. The same way Northern Nigerian radio was exhorting the Hausa/Fulanis to kill the Igbos, was the same way Radio Milles Collines was exhorting the Hutus to slaughter the Tutsis in Rwanda.
Similarly, Heinrich Jiggs, a Swiss businessman in Nigeria who later became the chief Red Cross delegate in Biafra, reports seeing one of the circular letters in Northern Nigeria which stated that every Igbo down to the age of six would be killed. A Canadian Journalist, Alan Grossman, who had been West African Bureau Chief of Time Life News Service in Lagos from May 1966 to June 1968, testified before the External Affairs Committee of the Canadian House of Commons on what he saw. He told the committee “many thousands of Igbos were slaughtered in towns and villages across the north, and hundreds of thousands of others were blinded, crippled or maimed or in majority of cases, simply left destitute as they attempted to flee to the Igbo homeland in Eastern Nigeria. Some of the fleeing refugees did not make it home.
On one train that arrived in the East, there was the corpse of a male passenger whose head had been chopped off somewhere along the line. Another group of Igbo refugees men, women and children whom I happened to see-I would say 100 or more of them-were waiting in the railway station in the city of Kano, the largest city in Northern Nigeria, for about three days, with no security guards, for the arrival of a refugee train, and a land rover full of government soldiers came and mowed them down with automatic weapons. Igbo shops and Igbo hotels were ransacked and looted, while blocks of non Igbo businesses were carefully left untouched”. (see minutes of Canadian House of Commons proceeding, external Affairs Ref. 7 pp. 239-40).
In the final analysis, Dan Jacobs, in the Brutality of Nations, summarizes the plight of the Igbos in the following way, “to the other Nigerians, the Igbos were not only leaving Nigeria, they were departing with the oil under the lands with which they are seceding. Here lay the explanation of the paradox that the Nigerians had driven the Biafrans out, yet seemed to be fighting to keep them in the federation. What they actually wanted was the land the Igbos were on and what lay under it-without the Igbos”.
Some internationally recognized Igbo personalities include former president Nnamdi Azikiwe, former military ruler Aguiyi Ironsi, writer Chinua Achebe, former Biafran leader Odumegwu Ojukwu, former justice at the World Court Daddy Onyeama, former commonwealth secretary general Emeka Anyoku, former foreign minister Jaja Wachukwu and former middleweight and lightheavyweight champion of the world Dick Tiger. Some African Americans of Igbo ancestry include evangelist T.D. Jakes, actor, scholar and athlete Paul Robeson, actors Forrest Whitaker and Blair Underwood.
The Igbo are ubiquitous; they are everywhere. In the remotest villages, the farthest part of the earth, North Pole, down under, all over the world, into anything, commerce, transport, drugs, producing the best brain, and so on, you’ll find them there.
Despite producing the current Nigeria Chief of Army Staff, Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, after 50 years of Nigeria independence, the Igbo still demand more. But they are not complaining too loudly.
Igbo names are synonymous with commerce, ruggedness, affluence, wealth. The Igbo that produced Emeka Emeagwali, Barth Nnaji, Emeka Anyaoku, Dora Akuyili, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alvan Ikoku,Augustine Ilodibe, Sir Loius Ojukwu, among other distinguished sons, should be respected.
A tribe regarded as the most industrious on the continent of Africa, Igbo on the other hand means different things to other tribes in Nigeria. Igbo means cheat, make-money-at- all-cost, advanced fee frauds, drug baron, armed robbery, human trafficking, anything dirty, the ultimate goal — wealth!
Known for displaying wealth, the Igbo maybe seen to some to worship wealth and affluence.
The number of cars you parade increases your standing in society; they love chieftaincy titles. In an environment consumed by gully erosion, bad roads networks, the Igbo nation has the worst road network in Nigeria, no thanks to bad leadership. In over 50 years of Nigeria as a nation, Igbo have never held the exalted office of the President and Commander-in-Chief, except for the brief period of General JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi.
Many reasons can be adduced for this, but a giveaway is what is known in local parlance that Igbo could and should not be trusted. And successive administrations have cashed in on this by appointing an Igbo as Minister of Information.
A Yoruba adage says: Omo ina la ran si’na, which literally means: To subdue fire, you have to use its counterpart. From the first republic to the sixth and during the military era, Igbo were handed the job of Minister of Information.
The 2007 elections [selections] were supervised, signed, sealed and delivered by an Igbo. And it was the last straw that broke the Igbo’s quest of becoming Nigeria president, parading 15 or thereabout presidential candidates from the same ethnic nationality contesting for one position.
The Presidency will continue to elude the Igbo unless they come together. The Igbo are easily disorganised politically, ‘settle’ them and they forget their ambitions.
If current trend persists, I foresee a situation when the Igbo will never, never, never have a shot at Nigeria’s highest political office.
The Igbo’s woes are self-inflicted; to turn things round, they should begin by putting a stop to pointing fingers of blame at the North or the South-West for these woes.
The Igbo cannot afford to continue to weep; rather they should brace up and reverse the trend, and make the prospect of a President of Igbo extraction a reality in 2015. A word is enough for the wise!
"Controversy surrounding the new book written by Prof. Chinua Achebe deepened yesterday with South West and South East leaders drawing sharp divisions over the aptness of claims in the book that Chief Obafemi Awolowo implemented genocidal policies against Ibos during the Biafran war." -OKEY NDIRIBE, GBENGA ARIYIBI AND CHARLES KUMOLU
"Achebe living in the past "
"Chinua Achebe is a frustrated person. He feels that attacking noble people like Awolowo is right. Awolowo has a reputable place in Nigeria's history. The trio of Awolowo, Sardauna and Zik were leaders who did well for this country, hence their quality legacies should not be smeared in anyway. Achebe is living in the past."
"Ibos no longer care about such lamentation, what the Ibos are interested in is how they can be more relevant in the mainstream of Nigerian politics. So, Achebe's attack on Awolowo is not in the best interest of the political aspirations of the Ibos in today's Nigeria. What he has done is to distort history."
- Dr. Fashehun
"Achebe, not happy that a Yorubaman emerged Nobel prize winner. "
"With due respect to the erudite professor it appears Achebe has not been able to come out from a deep frustration of the fact that a Yorubaman emerged as the first winner of the highest literary award, Nobel Prize in literature.
"It was on record that Awolowo checkmated Ojukwu from invading Yorubaland in his expansionist ambition when he was matching his troops to Lagos. He met his waterloo at the battle of Ore."
"Achebe has only said the truth . "
"What Chinua Achebe has written in his new book concerning the role the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo played during the civil war is the truth. However, the truth is always bitter. In fact, Achebe was even diplomatic. If I am to write on the same subject I would say more than Achebe did.
"Those who are attacking Achebe over what he wrote are expressing their own views; I am neither condemning them nor am I praising them."
- Gen. Madiebo
"What Achebe wrote in his new book is a fact. Those who witnessed what happened during the civil war can attest to the historical fact that Achebe recorded in his book. As the Minister of Finance and Vice-Chairman of the Federal Executive Council under the military regime headed by Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd.), Awolowo implemented those policies during the Nigeria civil war and immediately after.
-Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, former National Chairman of the People's Democratic Party, PDP
What Achebe wrote was a fact. "Despite the fact that I had a lot of respect for him as one of the nation's foremost nationalists who fought for Nigeria's independence, we cannot forget that those policies were injurious to the Igbos. Those policies were a violation of the fundamental human rights of our people."
"My response to those who have attacked Achebe for stating the truth is that any country that cannot look at its history and learn lessons from it cannot survive. "The people of every nation have to learn from their history in order to avoid mistakes of the past. It is because Nigerians have refused to learn from history that we find ourselves where we are today in this country."
- Chief (Dr.) Nwodo
“I have not read the book. I don’t want to speculate. During the civil war, I was studying in the United States of America. However, I have absolute confidence in Prof Chinua Achebe. He is an acclaimed international scholar and figure; whatever he says about the civil war should be taken seriously.”
"Go to court if you don't like what Achebe wrote. "
"Nobody can question or doubt the credentials and scholarship of Chinua Achebe, especially when it comes to his special area of political literature. He has been adjudged as number one in the world. It seems to me that what Achebe did amounted to an exercise of his constitutional right of freedom of expression which cannot be abridged but can only be subjected to libel or defamation of character, which is actionable in court."
" Anybody who doesn't like what Achebe has written could go to court and file an action against Achebe for libel". Mbadinuju further expressed hope that the on-going debate would not hamper the new spirit of cooperation prevailing in the south.
"The three southern geo-political zones of South-East, South-West and South-South have just resolved to come into a new political alignment for the future. And it is now that the devil is creeping in to dislodge the political programme of the South. The implication is that our friends and brothers in the South-West may now begin to develop cold feet and go into opposition again just because of one book by Chinua Achebe. Since I wouldn't want anything that would jeopardize this new spirit of cooperation in the South, I pray to God that all groups or persons who feel aggrieved by Achebe's new book should have a change of heart to avert this brewing misunderstanding in order to enable Nigeria move forward. This is necessary in order to prevent another rift that may snowball into a fresh round of crisis of confidence."
-Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, former Governor of Anambra State.
"Although, we shouldn't speak ill of the dead, this does not mean that historical facts cease from being facts or must not be mentioned. Facts are facts but their emotional or subjective interpretation may depend on the perspective of the user. I hope the Igbo and Yoruba are not anxious to go back into their situation of parallel lines and parallel slaves in Nigerian politics. Awolowo didn't join the war against Nigeria, but he didn't start the war against the Eastern region. He eventually joined Gowon."
- Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former Governor of Anambra State
:"Although, I was a teenager during and after the civil war, I was old enough to father a child. Those Federal Government policies against Biafrans which were ascribed to Chief Awolowo at that time came to be as uncharitable and wicked. However, 42 years after the war, my attitude now is to consign all that to history."
"I recommend the book to every patriotic Nigerian and not just students of history. Achebe must not be crucified for saying the truth."
- Dr. Sam Nkire, National Chairman Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA
“The new write-up is another rehash of the perverted intellectual laziness which he had exhibited in the past in matters relating to Awo when Achebe described Awo as a Yoruba irredentist. What he expected was that Awo should fold his arms to allow the Igbo race led by Zik to preside over the affairs of the Yoruba nation. The fact that the Yoruba people in their wisdom, having found out that the NCNC through Zik and Okpara had established a government of their choice and then wanted to follow up with the appropriation of the Yorubaland as their catchment area. It is a demonstration of the contempt of Achebe and his ilk for the Yoruba nation."
- Mr. Ayo Opadokun, A political activist and convener of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER)
"Chinua Achebe find it convenient to pick Awolowo as a scapegoat of all that happened to them during the war.” He asked, “did awo start the war? He was just the Federal Commissioner for Finance with responsibility for coming up with appropriate fiscal and monetary policies. He was not at the battle field and could not therefore be fairly charged with genocide..” The former Chief Whip of the House of Representatives also challenged anyone to come up with any publication where Awo said starvation should be regarded as a legitimate weapon of war. “Neither in any of the books written by him nor on him was any such thing said. It is the work of those who hated his guts. It is not factual. It must be remembered that even when he was not in the cabinet, he tried to prevent the war, but as soon as it broke out, it was between Nigeria and Biafra. He had to come up with policies that would end the war quickly. Those who are peddling this line have forgotten that Awo was in prison when the crisis started.”
- Chairman of the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Wale Oshun
“I do not agree with Prof Achebe on the statement. It is not true that Awo’s civil war role smacked of even an iota of selfish political aggrandisement. I was his biographer and I can state authoritatively that, though he did not penetrate the North, he had a firm belief in the unity of Nigeria and that was why he wanted to govern the country as an indivisible entity. All the governors and other close associates of his would attest to the fact that he was a believer in the oneness of Nigeria which was why he wanted to govern the entire country for the overall benefit of her entire citizenry."
- Prof Moses Makinde, Awolowo’s official biographer, who heads Awolowo Centre for Philosophy, Ideology and Good Governance, Osogbo, is the author of ‘Awo
“One is still trying to come to terms with the sense of disappointment about the person who wrote what is now a brewing controversy in the country. “While a formal statement responding to the offensive comments of the writer is being prepared by the family all I can say for now is that I feel so disappointed”.
- Dr Awolowo-Dosunmu speaking to Sunday Vanguard