The Sultan of Sokoto’s recent visit to Enugu State where he went to felicitate with Enugu Rangers as champions of the 2015/2016 NPFL season has been described by a section of the media and some commentators as a bridge-building one.
But then, is it really?
In as much as the visit is commendable, the Sultan himself putrefied his own oil when he said that the reason why Ndigbo are killed whenever there is a crisis in the north is “because they are the industrious ones found everywhere and in every village but nobody plans or sends people to kill the Igbos”.
Apart from being ridiculous, it is insulting to the sensibilities of the Igbo and horrifying to upright members of the society that the reason why a people are usually targeted for mass murder is because of their industry and number.
They are not killed because they are bad neighbours; they are not killed because they are trouble makers, they are not killed because they are law breakers; they are killed just because they are industrious and large in number!
This statement by His Royal Highness, Alhaji Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, is a confirmation of what we have always known: that the Igbo are hated for nothing but jealousy.
And most crises in the northern part of Nigeria have been instigated not because of anything serious but as an alibi for a systematic extermination of the Igbo people.
Little wonder then the Igbo are targets of northern Islamic extremists when there is a crisis between Israel and Palestine in faraway Middle East.
When some Danes draw a cartoon of Prophet Muhammed in faraway Denmark, Ndigbo in Kano, Kaduna and Niger would have to pay for it with their blood.
When there is a furore about Nigeria hosting an international beauty contest in Abuja or Lagos, the Igbo in Zamfara and Yobe would have to be killed and their sources of livelihood destroyed for the message to be passed that such contest is Haram to some people.
When the US bomb Iraq, the Igbo in Adamawa are bombed by northern elements in return.
When there is a sharp disagreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, it is the Igbo in Bauchi that pay for it.
When the Sunnis and the Shi’as have issues with each other in Kaduna or other places, it is a recipe for Igbo sons and daughters to be beheaded in those places even when they are neither Shiites nor Sunnis.
The Igbo people are not only killed by these northern Islamists simply because they can be found ‘everywhere’ according to the Sultan, in most cases, even when they disappear from the theatre of war and go into hiding even in custody of the police, they are desperately but carefully sought after and killed.
This has been the lot of Ndigbo especially in the north over a long period of time.
The authorities usually hold no one responsible for these dastardly acts, no one is arrested, no one is prosecuted. Even if thousands of Ndigbo are victims of issues they are not in any way connected with, no action is taken against the perpetrators.
Media outrage follows, police look away, northern traditional rulers keep mute, Ndigbo bury their dead, and then they return to continue their businesses without bitterness, without vindictiveness or vengeance in mind, not even anywhere in the South East would there be reprisals.
The sun rises (in the east) and sets (in the west), yet, the vicious cycle continues in the north.
In as much as one would want to commend the Sultan for his initiative, it would have been better if he had insisted that all those who killed Madam Bridget Agbahime, an Igbo indigene, in Kano, be prosecuted.
After all, the Sultan who is also the leader of all Muslims in Nigeria said during that visit that justice is panacea for peaceful coexistence.
If that is the case, what did he say about the manner the case against the alleged murderers of Madam Bridget was withdrawn and the suspects let go just like that despite the hue and cry that followed that macabre murder of a harmless septuagenarian, despite the promise by the police, state and federal governments to ensure the killers face the law?
The Sultan’s visit would have made more sense if he had visited Kano and insist that those killers be brought to book as panacea for peace.
But no, he goes to beg the victims of his people’s murderous activities to accept their fate as the one that naturally befalls an industrious people with large populations.
It is quite ridiculous!
Like the Sultan rightly observed, it is the continued absence of justice that has caused the unending agitations in the South East which is growing louder by the day and have started receiving the attention of the international community to the consternation of antagonists of the agitations.
Unless the Sultan, his co-traditional and religious leaders, state and federal government officials of northern origin stop carrying about as if they own Nigeria and relent from skewing justice and development against those they perceive as their subordinates, such visits of the emir would only remain a journey of monumental hypocrisy designed to make vigilant and courageous Igbo sons and daughters let down their guard while terrorist herdsmen from the Sultan’s enclave run riots even in the south east unchallenged while they kidnap and kill even colleague-traditional rulers in the Delta.
The governors may have laughed with him and that is because he went to felicitate with Rangers International of Enugu.
That we understand. When the Sultan is serious about justice and peace, we will know.
For now, the bridge he went to Enugu to build remains of paper quality blown away by the wind as soon as he started the work.
—firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: StJudeNdukwe