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Resolution by SE leaders on indivisibility of Nigeria is like slave hugging his fetters as precious ornaments

By Prince Chukwuemeka Onyesoh

The resolution by south-east leaders on the indivisibility of Nigeria is like a slave hugging his fetters as precious ornaments

  1. In a meeting on Saturday 7th November 2020 in Enugu with President Buhari’s representatives lead by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, South-East (SE) Leaders, led by the Chairman of the SE Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, H.E. Engr. Dave Umahi, were reported to have reaffirmed in a communiqué Igbo stand for the indivisibility and unity of Nigeria, built on love, fairness, equity and justice. But Nigeria knows that in Igboland: Unity of Nigeria – YES, subject to terms! And on Indivisibility of Nigeria: a resounding NO! Particularly among our Igbo youths who are completely excluded in Nigeria by Abuja; and the enlightened!

The proliferation of very active non-violent self-determination groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and various other self-determination groups in the South-East, ahead of any zone in Nigeria, clearly makes a profound statement on rejection of the indivisibility of Nigeria. Excluding the absurdity of the excesses of Nnamdi Kanu and his diarrhoea of the mouth, the concept of the right to self-determination is very popular all over the South-East.

  1. The right to self-determination as a concept, includes the right to secession if the “unquestionable and inalienable right to freely determine political rights and pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen” (in accord with UN ICCPR, ACHPR and Laws of the Federation of Nigeria), cannot be guaranteed or achieved.
  2. Indivisibility of such an entity therefore challenges, and indeed contradicts a people’s right to self-determination in a federation; worst of all, the Nigerian type in which a minority influence which shares no values with the overwhelming majority of the federating nationalities, flagrantly seeks to dominate and indeed, colonise the rest.
  3. What is more? Reaffirming “indivisibility of Nigeria” when as recently as 2006 Nigeria divided itself and ceded the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsular to Cameroon under the questionable Green Tree Agreement resulting from a contrived International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling! The ruling was conveniently engineered, because by ICJ articles, Nigeria was neither under any obligation to appear before the ICJ, nor to accept its jurisdiction in the matter decided in 2002. The Nigerian oligarchy conveniently threw the case and the Bakassi people to Cameroon, as a reward for effectively blockading and weakening Biafra’s resistance during the Civil war. What has been recently divided cannot remain indivisible!
  4. Furthermore, South-East leaders can only speak for South-East zone. Not for the Igbo nation in the absence of Delta and Rivers States’ Igbos, who constitute more than a senatorial district in each of their respective states.
  5. It is important to note that as this indivisibility commitment was made to a regime which had from August 2015 butchered over 500 Igbo unarmed youths and maimed over 2,000 in various massacres in Anambra, Delta, Abia, Rivers, Ebonyi and Enugu states. What is more, this 7th November 2020 indivisibility resolution took place against a background of October/ November 2020 post-#EndSARS reported slaughtering of over 110 Igbo youths and maiming of over 200 by the Army and Police all over the South East and another 50 killed and 80 injured in the killing fields of Obigbo/Oyigbo LGA in Rivers State.
  6. Does it not bother any Igbo man that the extra-judicial killing of 2 to 20 unarmed protesters by State actors in Lekki Toll Gate Plaza on October 20, 2020 generated such Nigeria-wide/world-wide condemnations; but no Nigerian or world reaction to similar 11th to 14th Sept 2017 State massacre of over 180 unarmed rights agitating youths in Ogwe, Aba, Isiala-Ngwa and Umuahia, all in Abia State; and the other accumulated killings by Nigerian Army/Police of over 150 between August 2015 and August 2016 of same unarmed rights agitating youths, even after the Amnesty International of UK and the Human Rights Watch of New York confirmed and condemned the killings?
  7. How about the impression Igbo leaders have allowed be festering in Nigeria and the world that IGBO LIVES DO NOT MATTER; whereas all they needed to have done to avoid it, is to promote, howsoever surreptitiously, international publicity and litigations against such killings? This bread-and-butter attitude to leadership among nascent Igbos would have been erased and nobody would have dared continue slaughtering the Igbo in Nigeria.
  8. “No to Indivisibility of Nigeria,” because apart from its unilateral insertion into the 1999 Constitution (howsoever amended), being an enslavement military ordinance, the Section 2.- 1 on indivisibility and indissolubility in actuality represent the fetters devised by the northern Army Generals and their misinformed Southern collaborators, to shackle the rest of Nigerians – wrists, legs and necks – to the whims and caprices of the northern oligarchy.
  9. The word “indivisible,” defined as “not divisible, not capable of being divided or separated into parts,” borders on absolutism. How can the Igbo, one of the major groups among the over 378 ethnic nationalities of Nigeria, most of who share no values with the oligarchy which isolates and monopolizes Nigeria’s rule and leadership, accept the very fetters that have condemned the Igbo nation to genocidal killings, degradation, total exclusion in Nigerian affairs and untold humiliations?
  10. In every day street sense, the only meeting point between the carnivorous and the herbivorous is the stomach of the carnivorous. Distance is the only safety net for the latter. In human communities this blood-seeking trait of the carnivorous, transforms to perpetual violence. The carnivorous know of no other means of making peace than war. They thus validate Thomas Mann (1875-1955) the German novelist, social critic, essayist and 1929 Nobel Price Literature Laureate who asserted that: War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.
  11. In most popular and democratic federations of the world like UK and Canada, serious separatist agitations lead to meaningful restructuring which guarantees minority rights, including the right to separation. The latter allays the fear of domination by restraining the whims of any overbearing majority.
  12. In Zoos across the globe, carnivorous mammals are isolated away from the rest of mammals in very strong steel cages. In human society strong steel partition of the zoo are replaced with organic law guaranteeing the right to self-determination with the right to session expressly stated. The 1999 Nigeria Constitution is devised to protect only the domineering rights of the oppressive oligarchy and no more.
  13. By re-assuring the repressive oligarchy of the indivisibility of Nigeria, South-East leaders appear to have under-cut the grounds from the feet of any agitation for meaningful restructuring.

As Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) rightly warned fellow Indians in 1947 during their Independence struggle, “When a slave begins to take pride in his fetters and hugs them like precious ornaments, the triumph of the slave-owner is complete.”

The oligarchy would have no need to re-negotiate Nigeria, re-assured of Nigeria’s indivisibility, despite whatever pressure all Nigerians might decide to mount.

  1. Reassuring Abuja on Unity, Yes because unity is negotiable and subjective! Indivisibility, No for it implies enslavement; and therefore jejune!
  2. Furthermore, it is inconceivable that the Communiqué asked for the expulsion of only armed Fulani herdsmen from South-East forests; and impliedly seems to have endorsed the occupation of South-East forests by unarmed Fulani herders. This is unacceptable and indeed contravenes Igbo age-old tradition of all humans living in communities. Only animals live in Igbo forests in which the wild ones dominate. The Fulanis who wish to live in the South-East must be made to acquire land as Nigerians do all over the federation, and build their residences to approved plans in communities of human beings; or rent accommodation in the communities. No human should be allowed to live in SE forests, in violation of Igbo culture and tradition. And no Igbo leader has been mandated to alter that tradition.
  3. Street commonsense raises the very pertinent question: Who will police and determine when such unarmed Fulanis in SE forests get armed? SE governors have no Police and control none. All policing is controlled by Abuja. The Fulani herdsmen massacre in Nimbo (Uzo-Uwani LGA, Enugu State) of April 25, 2016 and that of 2018 Benue State New Year gift of 72 slaughtered, among several indiscriminate mass killings of unarmed Nigerians in their homes in the Southern and Middle Belt Nigeria, expose the complicity of the North-dominated Nigerian Security agencies in such killings; and how far they can be relied upon for protection of lives.
  4. Finally all patriotic schools of thought with a sense of history of Nigeria, accept that for Nigeria to be united and develop in this 21st Century, it must get rid of the shackles of the Enslavement Ordinance, branded 1999 Constitution; and restructure Nigeria back to the 1963 Republican Constitution with the cost-conscious and development-oriented parliamentary democratic system within the already accepted six zones of the federation; and not more nor less. Nigeria cannot develop to anywhere with money guzzling 36 states and the FCT within the autocracy-prone and wasteful presidential system. Being able to pay civil servants monthly in itself, does not generate human development, which is traditionally driven by capital and human development investments. Such development investments are impossible under the present structure of waste.
  5. Meaningful restructuring is the most important tool that can liberate the South-East and others from the present enslavement. The Southern and Middle Belt Forum accepts this as priority. Ohanaeze, led by Chief Nnia Nwodo, accepts and reiterates this in its various regular press statements.
  6. Igbo Presidency can be romantically attractive. But thought must be given to the jest the enemies of restructuring made of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as President. He was hassled all through his 6 years in office and ended up with no legacies anywhere in the whole of Southern Nigeria including his South-South zone, and South-East, which adopted him. On the contrary his legacies are all over the North – Almajari schools, new universities, huge dams and silos etc. The one-sided defective structure largely produced that effect and unless that structure is changed it is bound to repeat itself. The oligarchy would always support a candidate they can manipulate into their irrational and unpredictable ideas and desires.
  7. Change of the present oppressive structure would be permanent and un-slave the Igbo nation; unlike one-off Igbo Presidency. Yet, the Igbo leaders’ voice on restructuring went silent in that 7th November communiqué. Perhaps to avoid offending the MAHDI! OR did H. E. Engr. Dave Umahi, who presented the Communiqué and is known to be on his way to join the President’s political party, negotiate the content with Aso Rock, thereby compromising SE interest? Even if he did, how could the other political leaders present in the meeting, allow him? Or do we now have a one-man leadership in the South-East?
  8. Archbishop Desmond Tutu had warned fellow South Africans during the Apartheid struggle: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

And Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did same to fellow Blacks at the heat of the Civil Rights  agitation in USA in the 1960s: “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right; . . . to stand up for justice; . . . to take a stand for that which is true.”

It is commonly accepted by thinkers that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. In such circumstance, silence is the enemy; and the silent is complicit.

  1. Or can it be due to the absence of courage? The declaration by Maya Angelou (1928-2014), the African-American Poet and Civil rights Activist becomes very relevant: Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but not consistently without courage.

Thus there can be no purposeful leadership in the absence the virtue of courage! Nice diplomatic language could have bridged the gap between the expectations of rampaging Aso Rock and minimal decency required to protect Igbo pride and Igbo future. Once a people surrender to rampaging tyranny it is extraordinarily difficult to undo. The loss of the Hausa kingdoms to Fulani Emirates since 1808; and Yoruba city of Ilorin city to a Fulani Emirate after the execution of Afonja in 1824 illustrate how irredeemable freedom from oligarchy once they take control can be.

  1. The South East has every right to seek with dignity, the office of President of Nigeria in 2023. SE politicians must be so advised that Ndigbo “asiro si nye fa amu ebune na anu agugbu go fa.” (Howsoever meat-hungry adult men might be, consuming lamb testes is anathema). The same time, no opposition party need be stampeded into any commitment until the ruling party which has Nigeria’s peculiar incumbency powers to return itself in any election and routinely does so, makes such its own irrevocable commitment.

Replacing diplomacy, lobbying and politicking with threats of decamping to another party three years before the presidential election certainly would not serve the best interest of the Igbo nation! Diplomatic and persuasive silent manoeuvring and lobbying are the best way to solving such political issues.

  1. The Igbo are a proud people and will get out of this present virtual state of anomie. We nearly did it in 1979-83! But the coup that restored military rule of war Generals and installed Major-General Mohammed Buhari as Military Head of State in December 1983, put the Igbo nation back to where we now are!

With diligence, thoughtful and purposeful leadership, and God on our side, we shall overcome.

Being a Press Statement by Prince Chukwuemeka Onyesoh – author, writer & rights activist.

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