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TOWARDS A TRIBAL EMANCIPATION OF NDI IGBO FROM NORTHERN DOMINATION-Part 2

Posted by U.S.A on 4/10/2009 7:42:17 PM | Views: 499 |

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Written by: U.S.A


TOWARDS A TRIBAL EMANCIPATION OF NDI IGBO FROM NORTHERN DOMINATION- Part 2


 Not too long ago we explored some problems we consider that makes Nigeria a tribal nation. But out of the womb of that exploration, cynics came up with illogical criticism that was uncalled for. They say some statements are true and some ideologies senseless. Some positive, some flop and wrong.  But after deep reflection, I tried to brush those criticisms aside because it was born out of share attack, self esteem and ridicule.  With a deep sense of purpose and conviction, criticisms and “put downs” hardly stop ideas to flourish. As I indicated in my first epistle, there can never be any emancipation without provoking an awareness that would make justice immanent and possible in the here and now. As you have come to understand, that a consciousness must spread among Easterners; among South-East and among the south-south if injustice and tribalism are to be rooted out. This consciousness is as a result of so many years of struggle and defeat from the Biafrian war. The consciousness is as a result of loss of ancient territories, houses or haunting grounds for fishing and wild animals, and the extinction of the buffalo that was part of the eastern way of life. As you can testify, when life of a particular tribe is suppressed and their dignity stripped from them, they would be left with nothing but to dance the “Ghost Dance” of shame.  But when a pundits prophecy that “Ghost dance” is not worthy of a tribe (people), they seek a way to eliminate him. They will send assassins to come after him. They will send a letter bomb to silence him. When one says that one day Nigeria will witness Jeffersonian democracy cynics say he don’t get it. One day in this country people will not be judge from the tribe they come from rather by what they can offer to national progress and development.  One day people will not be respected by their faith denomination but their capacity to speak in tongue and call down the Holy Spirit whom they believe will to give people wisdom. One day people will not be judged by the clan, community, village or local government they come from before they experience social justice and political inclusiveness. People will not be judged by the number of wives they have but the number of children they have raised and made noble and responsible citizens.  One day in this country women locked up under “Purdah/Harem” would develop a new sense of “somebodiness” and fight for their freedom and liberation from religious bondage and intolerance. When this time comes Islamic faith will witness a surprising sign of compliance.  Social and Islamic compliance is what will bring change in a Christian nation register under the organization of Islamic conference (OIC). But change would not come without proper negotiation. What Ndi Igbo are negotiating is unity, equality devoid of acrimony. What they are asking for is liberty symbolized in trial justice. When it comes to justice, people should be tried impartially despite the tribe the come from.


 When an individual publishes an arresting exposition concerning the ills of Nigerian tribalism or publish objective critic about the pitfalls of government policies cynics tag him an outlaw.  One of the most famous speeches in U.S history is Martin Luther king, Jr “I have a dream address.” In that speech, Luther spoke about his dreams for a country. By the time of that rhetoric speech, the civil rights movement was just beginning, the cold war was still on and computers were the size of small building. His dreams for the country came as change he believed to be long overdue. Luther captured the spirit of American racism and struggle. The impact of that speech is still alive in my mind and in most people’s minds. In the United States, and across the world, people reacted with support and sympathy to his speech. Similarly, the same sympathy should cut across all frontiers down to people (Igbo’s) who have found themselves where history and destiny did not place them. Ndi Igbo are expected to react in dignity and develop courage in their own tribal affirmation and struggles. I believe that sympathy with your sufferings would come from other parts of the world.  But if sympathy fails to come then you will logically say that semantics have conspired to make Igbo tribe seem ugly, offensive and degrading. In Nigeria the name Igbo’s is synonyms with words like offensive, fowl, blot, soot, grim, devil and foul. But with the spirit staining towards self-esteem, Ndi Igbo must boldly throw off the manacles’ of self-abnegation and say to themselves and to people of Northern Nigeria, “I am somebody, I am a unique person. I am a man with dignity and honor. I have a rich and noble tribal history. I can overcome and succeed. I can overcome impoverishment. I can overcome unemployment. I can overcome poverty and the sorrows of the biafian-war. I can stand beyond where the North and history has placed me and my family now. How painful and exploited that history has been? Yes, I come from a minority tribe because I lost the war and because none of my grandparents were able to break the chains of political and military powers.  I am not ashamed of all these experiences. I am not ashamed of my tribe and history. Rather, I am ashamed of the people who disposed my parents of the properties that belonged to them.  Yes, you must be ashamed of them.  Even at that, I am ashamed of the people who continue to govern this country tribally. Yes, I must stand up and say “I am an Igbo man and I am beautiful. These self affirmations are a must for all Igbo’s.  These Affirmations however are not without challenges. A major challenge is to discover how best to organize your strength in terms of economic and political advancements.


Despite these challenges, no one can deny the fact that Ndi Igbo is in dire need of this kind of legitimate power. Indeed one of the great problems confronting an Igbo man is lack of political power. From Old Benin kingdom to the new Federal Capital territory Abuja, Ndi Igbo has been confined to a life of voicelessness and powerlessness. They have been stripped of their right to make decision concerning their lives and the destiny of their children; they have been subjected to the authoritarian and sometimes whimsical decision of Northern power structure. Seemly, it was through the eloquence of Walter Reuther that authoritarian power was misinterpreted. Walter defined power in a very radical manner. He said, “Power is the ability of a labor union like the UAC to make the most powerful corporation in the world. General motors, say ‘yes when it wants to say no,’ that is power.  When you look at this definition critically, you will notice that some of your philosophies and political ideologies have got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concept of love and power have been contrasted as polar opposite so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with the denial of love. It was this misinterpretation that caused Nietzsche, who was a philosopher of the “will to power” to reject the Christian concept of love. It was this same misinterpretation which induced Christian theologians to reject the Nietzschean philosophy of “the will to power” in the name of the Christian idea of love.  Ndi Igbo must get this right. What is needed is the realization that Northern power without Christian love is reckless and abusive, and love without political power is sentimental and crazy. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of political freedom, tribal equality, and justice at its base. Love is nothing but power correcting everything provoked after the Biafrian war. This is what Ndi Igbo must see as they move sluggishly into the next century. Ndi Igbo cannot afford to seek their goals through power devoid of love and moral conscience. They cannot achieve political equality without commitment to political process. Hold me on this and  I will ever defend myself, the kingdom of Nigerian politics, unity, love and Koranic brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of Islamism of the Northern Caliphates nor the antithesis of Christianity of the chieftaincy title. This kingdom in my articulation is rather found in an equal synthesis that combines the truth of both. When I say all these, I ultimately mean that Nigerian problem of tribalism, the problem of economic deprivation, and the outcomes of the Biafrian war are all tied together in one tunnel of differences. These are tripartite evil that have created a hole in the heart of many. These holes as one can testify would continue to block the phenomenological ways of your thinking. They will continue to stunt your thought climate and block the vision of many to see the light at the other end of the tunnel.  This rope will continue to wrap Ndi Igbo until its people fight back these tribal evils with their least energies.


From Ken Saro Wiwa to Wolo Soyinka and Gani and to Dele Giwa, the struggle and wolf cry for social justice, equality, tribalism and social freedom for equal Nigerians have not perished from the face of the earth.  In so many ways these men have identified themselves as civil rights activists and social justice fighters. Ken Saro Wiwa was an English teacher, businessman and activist leader of the movement for the survival of Ogoni peoples. He was brutally hanged November 10, 1995 for his opposition to the military regime of Gen. Sani Abacha. The actions surrounding his mysterious death were based on false murder charges which brought Nigeria’s military government to face an international condemnation (led by Nelson Mandela). This inhuman treatment and many more threatened its membership in the British Commonwealth. The Port Harcourt cemetery in which he was buried under tight security was surrounded by soldiers and tanks to discourage protests. Ken Saro Wiwa was awarded the Goldman prize, among several other international environmental awards for his campaign opposing pollution related to oil production in his Southern Niger Delta home area of Ogoni-land. As a matter of urgency, Shell has not produced oil there since 1993 due to civil unrest. Against these backdrop, Claude Welch (1995) write that no Nigerian has wielded a pen (or plied a typewriter) more effectively in recent years than Ken Saro-WIWA. As a writer and political activists, Ken was active in right wing politics and labor union movement. He grew up consciously of the political and socio-economic implications of Nigeria separatist polices. The experiences of the Ogoni people can be compared to the experiences of a people undergoing tribal suppression. It could be compared to the miscarriage of justice staged against a weak population. Similar to this is the dying struggle of racial inequality in South Africa, the Caribbean and in nations of the free world.


The civil rights struggle anywhere comes in three stages. Civil right struggles or tribal emancipation anywhere in the world have striking identity and similarities with the events unfolding in the remotest part of South Africa and Nigeria.  In the first stage of civil right struggle in the states, blacks kidnapped from Africa were made slaves in a foreign land which launched them into eventual struggled for freedom. The charismatic figure of that movement was Fredrick Douglass (1817-1895). The second stage occurred after the civil war, when freed slaves struggled to surmount prejudice and persecution. The black leader who develops Black Nationalism and black pride was Marcus Garvey (Jamaican born, 1887-1940). The third movement began in 1960’s, when a strong civil rights movement forged ahead in two divergent directions. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. organized a powerful nonviolent civil disobedient movement to win equal rights through integration. Until the last years of his life, Malcolm X sought equal rights for blacks through violent confrontation and through racial separation.  Different from these men, Nelson Mandela and Obama represent excellence and charismatism .Both are loved by the masses and they played ambitious roles as agents of political change.  Both are the first presidents to be elected in full inclusive democratic process.  Mandela led South Africa from the dungeon of apartheid regime to the bright harmattan of freedom. He governed as first democratically elected president for five years before stepping down to reestablish himself personally. Mandela was South Africa’s 11th president and the first to be elected after he served a prison sentence. In a matter of accomplishment, Nelson was all things to all men. He considered himself nothing to all women. He was lawyer-critic, a boxer, a revolutionary, a visionary, a peacemaker, a Noble laureate, a husband and father not just to his own children but to South Africa and the entire world. So many people roll up titles upon him. So many people gave him different baptism of names like:  Richman, poor man, beggar man, doctor, and Indian chief. Over and above these litanies of names, Mandela was more than an Indian chief. He was more than any boxer who takes pride in permissible championship and brutality. According to Ebony magazine, July 2008, Nelson Mandela was described as a rich man, but his wealth was not measured by his bank balance, but in the fullness of his extraordinary life. He also has been a man as poor as beggar for the sake national interest.  The meaning of Nelson Mandela is summarized in his acceptance of imprisonment for 27 years for being a thief of a sort, like Robin Hood, fighting to spread the riches of his country among the poorest of his tribe. Along with hundreds of other nations, Ndi Igbo now feels overwhelmed and near tears.  Still you and I wonder what life would be for an Igbo man without social justice.  The sufferings of Ndi Igbo could be compared to the experiences of early indigenes of South African society whose eyes behold the Promised Land.  And after so many years of dreaming of freedom and racial equality; and after the long nights and weeks at South African slums, they finally arrived.  As angry as they were, they were afraid because they don’t have any clue what tomorrow would bring. Many Igbo men walk aimlessly in the streets of Osodi without any hope of the future. Many walk aimlessly along Ikeja suburb losing their rudimentary psychological characteristics of being noble Lagosian.  Many eat from hand to mouth without knowing what tomorrow will bring. Many jump from one church to another falling easy prey to ambitious preachers of the word.  Many move from one office to another without any hope of employment. And you tell me that all is well. Many sleep in deplorable condition along Ajegunle because they don’t have a roof to shad them from rain, sun and the aggressive mosquitoes of the night. And you say we should keep quiet. How long would these acts of marginalization come to an end? How long would Ndi Igbo continue to call on God to come to their rescue? The North holds answers to these questions. You should not wait for them to proffer solutions to your problems.


Indeed people from the East are very disappointed to feel this way in their own country of citizenship. They are disappointed that the resources they put their confidence is running out in the hands of few Rockefellers. You can feel such disappointment in the faces of graduates selling pure water in a country of plenty. You can witness such disappointment in the nature of houses people live in the urban cities. I feel disappointed too that despite these sectional experiences, some Igbo’s still romanticize the North. But ever I was leaving Jos Platue in 1993 after a sporty competition; I felt angry withdrawing more and more to Igbo land. After I left Jos, I felt cool in my spirit because I was about going back to Igbo land the tribe of my parents and the abode of my great ancestors. I must go back to Igbo land if I must experience religious freedom, peace of mind and tranquility of heart. But, I have the choice of staying back in the North if I don’t care keeping my Christian faith in tact. Ndi Igbo have the choice to stay back in the North if they want their houses and businesses blazed down in an inferno of religious fanaticism. They have the choice to stay back in the North if they want their bible blaze down in a wild fire of tribal hatred. Ndi Igbo have the choice to travel to the North if they desire to match into religious confusion. But when personal choices take them South-East, they always feel accomplished about the future and the bright side of living, with a spirit of enterprise and economic adventure. Despite all these, the North still considers the South-East as wilderness of a source of strength where success and nature reflects both grandeur and possibilities inherent in a chosen tribe.  Ndi Igbo have never drawn a bow or fired a gun shot against the North. They have never blazed down the Koran of the Muslim faith. They have never asked the Muslims to depart Eastern for good. But on the contrary, the north have constantly burned down Christian churches, blazed down businesses, lynched people and asked them to leave north. These repeated dramas have continued to generate trouble between adults and young men. The North has also taken away everything that is precious to the East. They have taken away the places where the grass grew the thickest and timbers spout the best. The North holds the ace in a country Ndi Igbo love too dearly. They hold the key that unlocks the resources Ndi Igbo wish to garnish. Because they hold these keys, it becomes extremely hard for an Ndi Igbo man to keep in torch with his brother and work together to keep the herd from scattering. In the process, Ndi Igbo would never know whether they are with the herd or whether the bunch has scattered from the main group. These situations have caused the North to know where Ndi Igbo would shoot the gun twice. We know that the first shot would attract attention and the fire flash of the second shot could be seen which would signal where Eastern riders are.  The above experiences and many more says a lot about Nigeria as a tribal nation.


Even though we are tribal, some writers and artists depicted the Eastern region in a very romantic light. They depicted the grandeur and magnificence of what they saw and experienced without emotional bosh or hash encounter. The description became dramatic and spectacular like the myth of the western world whose experiences are conceived to be larger than life. The writings of the West concerning Igbo tribe are beyond the fantasy of the mind. Essentially, some Jewish writers have been associated with nothing but sweet fantasy about Biafrian natives. In fantasy, there is much truth and falsehood. In fantasy also there is much fickle and fiction. But truth and fictions are always intertwined when it comes to rational objectivity. The works and writings of the west are incredible record of the feelings, attitudes, hopes and aspirations that objective sources cannot possibility convey. They are a vision of a better world called the East- a world of resounding imagination and possibilities, a world of illumination and transformation, a world of positive vision and intuition. Therefore, a better vision for a tribal nation must eradicate fantasy and poverty. One may ask, why is the new Nigeria still facing problems of poverty? Why has poverty continue to cripple one tribe more than another?  Why has the pain of poverty continues to affect the East more than it affects the West and the North or other regions of this country? The answer to these questions finds meaning in classism and social rank. The Northern region of this country is very aware of class, and social rank. They based rank and class on a person’s wealth, place of residence, his ability to touch base to Mecca, the number of women under their roof and other titles like Alahaji or Alahajahs. The North we call the Hausas occupies the highest class in Nigeria. They enjoy the best of jobs which have always caused them to look down on everyone. In many advanced nations, poverty, racism and class issues were three triggers of emancipation and political independence. Today, these ills are still hot issues in Nigeria. At all times, the North signifies exemption while the East signifies poverty and death. In poverty -stricken tribes, people help one another for survival. When asked why Ndi Igbo share and expresses such spirit of brotherhood even when they dwell in the mud of poverty, a woman friend told me: “It is because Igbo people are such a loving set of people who lay a helping hand when others are in need. She continued that it is necessary for my sons and husband to be away from home, (pilgrimage to Rome) and during their absence, I found the neighbors always ready to do anything they could for me. I wish I could emphasis this feature of our early life- the spirit of helpfulness and friendly fellowship that always prevailed. It was one of the best of the good things of the new generation”.  Another friend said: “Ndi igbo are like strangers glued together, willing to lend or borrow as the case maybe. They exist because of others.  They are communal people who cannot exist outside any communal ambient. Before this time (Indirect rule), an Igbo man was because of his brother. The slogan of communalism then was “I am because you are.” The fellowship and brotherhood existing in Nigeria long before the emergence of colonialism was punctuated by indirect rule. Having amalgamated Nigeria into a nation people of about 250 different tribes, tongues, politics, cultures, and social and religious systems, the British immediately advanced a political system that best served their interest at the detriments of the masses. They introduced an indirect rule system which left the British in charge of the national government that controlled the whole economy where local governance was left in the hands of local leaders (chiefs and emirs as the case maybe). In his book “Towards a politics of compassion: Socio-political dimension of Christian responses to suffering” published by Author house in the state, Emeka Obiezu (2008) write that the British consolidated much power on these individuals, who became Lords and tyrants.  To make sure that their place was protected without being challenged from the local Lords, Obiezu concludes that the British employed the divide and rule political craft, which set each group (North and South, Islam and Christian) against the other. But indirect rule caused Nigerian nation to exist separately. It caused the Hausas to say “you Igbo man exist because you want to,” and “I am because of myself and my family.” This affirmation has given the north a noble prize in class and social division.


I must not fail to say that the history of indirect rule in Nigeria is intertwined with the history of class and tribalism. Before Nigerian nation could even be in a position to draft constitution, or seek nationhood on its own, her counties and city states have been divided without their intuitive knowledge or consent. Those tribal lords and pioneers like Jaja of Opobo, Nana of Isikiri stood against classism and tribalism. They stood against it because it separated the country and drove tribes far away from another. These ancient patriots fought classism and tribalism with deep courage and firm determination. At the end they shed their blood for the little freedom many enjoy today in Nigeria. The same justice that they sought made them citizens upon whose commitment and hard work for a great nation would survive. Ndi Igbo ought to be extremely cautious, watchful, and be jealous of their inalienable rights and guide it tenaciously. They must guide it otherwise they would lose it forever in the hands of North Shylocks. It is not wishful to remind gentlemen from the east to consider that a wrong step made now will plunge them into unfathomable misery, where Igbo republic will be lost forever. A wrong mistake made in political post would hit Ndi Igbo hard for a very long time. It pains the heart to hear that a great academician from Imo state who wrestled his way through turbulent dynamics and became a politician  titan and later found himself at the mountain top of a national appointment as a minister could stoop so low to fall for embezzlement and corruption. For a minster of education and an academic professor to go down swiftly is a caricature to his educational discipline is a mistake that could generate tears. This is a great mistake which may take a very long time to correct. It is a paradise lost which can never be regained. And here I am making these noble inquiries of those charlatans who composed the creed that reaffirmed indirect rule and tribal goals. Indirect rule divided this nation into a regional theater of war. Give me a break to make these noble demands: What right has the north to say, “We the people.””we will obey””we hail thee” etc. Based on your political curiosity, exclusive of your anxious concern for the public welfare and justice, have lead  many of you to ask who authorized the north to speak the language of “we, the people from the north” instead of, ‘we the tribes and states and faith of Nigeria.’


 The Hausa and the Fulani make up about 33 percent of Nigeria’s people and most of them are Muslims. The Hausa-Fulani have made a significant part of their living by trading goods from far away Spain, Italy and Egypt. The Hausa-Fulani are very fond of building cities at the crossways’ of their trade routes.  Some of the world’s first great civilizations arose In Asia and Egypt which altogether supported business connection with the North. Traders, explorers and travelers from these two nations passed through religious intolerance (Like Igbo’s in the North) and difficulties in order to bring new ideas that Asians borrowed and adopted today. But architectural treasures, traditional art forms, and a diversity of languages reflected the region’s rich history. This particular history continues to shape Egyptian and Asians sense of identity today.  Many of the world’s religious beliefs and practices help define the many cultures of these vast regions. In south and East Asia, religious observances and celebrations play a major part in the daily lives of people. Spain, Italy and Egypt are tenacious to their faith and convictions they borrowed elsewhere. Each of these nations had its own rulers and their territories were enclosed by walls, and had a central field market too. Kano the oldest city in West Africa is a Hausa city and has been a center of trade for over 1,000 years. Many historians have continued to ask how people who are not living together would be able to talk to each other. They ask how a diverse society with different tongues and dialects would be able to experience unity, enjoy and tranquility of heart. But one of the ways to create balance is to create a language that includes a little of each tongue. This kind of language is called Pidgin. Nigerian pidgin mixes English words with the grammar of Nigerian dialects.   I elect to say that a national language might be the only useful alternative to uniting Nigeria as a nation. Just as a common currency might be a useful alternative to uniting African nations into one front.  A national language and pattern of communication will be best as a unifying process. Seemly, the Yoruba’s make up about 20 percent of Nigerian nation. While they make up this number, many of the western regions excluding Lagos were in a time a center for the European slave trade where many citizens were sold into slavery and sent to Europe or the Caribbean. Despite slavery, tribalism and political disenfranchisement, the Igbo’s are custodians of traditional democracy. They are egalitarian practitioners of Jeffersonian democracy. The “ala -di-mma” meeting signifies Igbo Jeffersonian democracy where the head of the clan is the president. The secretary signifies the secretary of states (clans). And those sitting on the high seats that forces people to take an oath before Amadioha are Igbo judiciaries or Igbo Supreme Court. The Aladimma and the Amadioha is Igbo Supreme Court of justice. But modern man would differentiate both democracies by the fact that a verdict in Igbo democracy is immediate and expedient without court adjournment. People instantly die when they tell Amadioha lies. Unlike the Hausa-Fulani and the Yoruba, the Igbo’s rule themselves with a democratic council of elders who work together as a team to solve problems of indubitable magnitude. With such democratic vision, the Igbo’s of Nigeria can rule this county. But how cans Igbo’s win election when the Nigerian census declares that the Hausas are two times greater in number than the Igbo’s.


I am not unmindful that after each census in Nigeria, the North seems the largest ethnic group on record. The North always emerge largest having the most power in the military and government.  Look at the magnificent structures erected in the North. The gigantic mosque in the North is nothing but a modern-day example of classical Islamic architectures. With their distinctive gold dome, Northern Mosque cost too much money and its features dominate the city skylines. In 1991, the census revealed that over 88 million people live in Nigeria, and that the Hausa-Fulani are the country’s largest ethnic group. This gives the North more political power than the East and the West. It gives them more moral disposition to claim authority. It is unfortunate however, that Ndi Igbo who are made minority by Nigerian census do not benefit much from the country. In all circumstance, Ndi Igbo should benefit from the wealth of this sovereign nation. Look at South Africa for example. The white controlled almost all its riches because the cracked society was divided by law along racial and ethnic lines. The best jobs and highest pay were reserved for the whites. New laws were added to the system of white power. The system was called apartheid- “Afrikaans for separateness.” Just as Apartheid laws placed every South Africans into one of four categories based on race and made it legal to discriminate in this way, so has tribalism made Northerners to discriminate other regions of this sovereign nation?  I am not unmindful that to discriminate means treating people differently, and often unfairly, based on tribe, race, sex or religion etc.  These structures keep Easterners in the low-paying jobs, poor schools and shameful environment. At this moment, there is need to reassure the North while making certain that Ndi Igbo demand an equal chance for a better life.


For Nigeria to be United the followings must be accomplished. Nigerian Legislators need to pass a bill respecting the establishment of religion, not abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people to assemble peaceably weather in the northern region or in the southern hemisphere, where political effort to petition the government for a redress of grievances is relevant. A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of people to keep and bear fire arms, shall not be infringed. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, belongings,  and  against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated , and no warrants shall be issued, but upon probable cause supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a pre-sentiment or indictment of a Grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of the law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an imperial jury of the state and tribe wherein the crime shall have been committed, which shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense. In the case of common law where the value in controversy shall exceed Twenty Naria, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria than according to the rules of the common law. Unity and peace will exist when excessive bail is not required, or excessive fine imposed, or cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. All efforts concerning tribal welfare of Ndi Igbo require regions to treat each other with respect, spreading the peaceful message of Christianity thought-out the country. The Muslims in power should allow citizens of this nation to worship freely in their regions regardless of faith or denomination. This is a core value of non-violent message. It is the hallmark of Christian message to all mankind. This is a message preached by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.


I am not unmindful that Islam as a religion has demanded the surrender of Christians and ordered military detachment to seize and carry them into the interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities and in defiance of the laws and the constitution of the federal republic  of Nigeria. I am not unmindful that Islam has made a monstrous attack upon your commerce, commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize your properties to far distant parts for confiscation. The North and Islamic fanatism has denied Christians the right of worshipping God almighty according to the dictate of their own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporary interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the living God. The Koran of the Islamic faith demands Christians residing in the North to deliver up their arms which are essentially to their defiance, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable tyrannical government. I am not unmindful that through its emissaries, the North incited the merciless savage with the “tomahawk” and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of your defend less tribe. I am not unmindful that Islam for a very long time has caricatured in a dungeon your corporate efforts as a tribal nation. The north has continuously refused to secure, on a firm basis the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty and property of citizen. The North has failed to establish any public system of education in Nigeria. The north has dissolved by force of arms, the state of the East, and obliged representatives from the East, to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving Ndi Igbo of their fundamental political right of representation. Although the North is surrounded by boundless political power and might, but unless they are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self-government. Gandhi was conscious of the benefits of civil liberty. It was because of this consciousness, that Gandhi urged Indians to resist British by following Hindus traditions. He preached the Hindus idea of Ahimsa, or nonviolence and respect for all. Because of his nonviolent approach, Indians call him Mahtma, or the “Great soul.” Mohandas K. Gandhi was perhaps the greatest symbol of India heritage both in the past, and the future and in the here and now. Gandhi once declared to Indians and the world: “We stand on this perilous edge of the present, between the past and the future, and we face all manner of perils. And the greatest peril is sometimes the lack of faith which comes to us, the sense of inequality that comes to us, the sinking of the heart and of the spirit that comes to us when we see ideals go overboard, when we see the great things that we talked about somehow pass into empty words, and life taking a different course.”  Yet, I do believe that perhaps this period will pass soon enough. I am not unmindful of perils, or dangers, that face Nigeria as a nation. This danger results in the sinking of the heart and spirit that comes when ideals are lost.  One of these problems is that the north has made themselves the rulers of this sovereign nation where the East are perpetually subjects.  Whatever people from the East do was found wrong in the eyes of the law. We know that Galileo published his findings about the Earth revolving around the Sun and was tried as a heretic by the church. Abigail Adams suggested to her husband, John Adams, that women should not be bound to obey laws imposed by men for they could not vote to elect. Susan B. Anthony spoke up for women‘s right to vote. Rachel Carson was an early advocate for environmental protection welfare. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against racism and inequality, and spoke concerning nonviolent resistance to injustice. Mandela spoke up for an end of apartheid regime in South Africa. Patrick Henry spoke against the British stamp tax in front of the Virgina House of Burgesses. But no body has spoken on behalf of Igbo people of Nigeria. Ndi Igbo needs fighters of social justice like these men. Tribal resisters can summarize their messages in the following simple terms: we will take direct action against tribal injustice despite the failure of government and other official agencies to act first.  I venture to suggest, Ndi Igbo should not obey unjust laws or submit to tribal malpractices. Ndi Igbo should do all these peacefully, openly, cheerfully because their aim and ambition is to persuade. The aim of this rare epistle is to persuade you people. You should continue to persuade yourself until your people find meaning in a country of their citizenship. My ambition for writing these epistles is to raise consciousness and wake Ndi Igbo up from their political slumber. Ndi Igbo will continue to persuade with words. And if their words fail, they will try to persuade with linguistic languages. And when these two fails, Ndi Igbo would be willing to talk and seek fair compromise. Let it be known to all in Nigeria that Ndi Igbo are ready to suffer when necessary and even risk their lives to become witness to truth, and tribal injustice. Ndi Igbo are ready to struggle with the weapons of truth, soul force, non-injury and courage. With courage and firm determination Ndi Igbo would overcome the barricade of tribal bias. These disciplined activates have come as a refreshing oasis in the desert sweating with the heart of tribal injustice. The challenges facing Ndi Igbo are myriad and can be described in so many ways: Before Ndi Igbo can stand the steep and rugged hill; about 380 feet high, whose slope was covered with think and thorny chaparral, something dramatic would happen in Nigeria. Even with a glass (telescope) Igbo man cannot  see the swarm of royalty that crowned the height of his backyard like the Saudi's; Even with Canons, which looked down in defiance at you, and seemed to threaten (total destruction) those who dared to approach the ruling tribe and point them in the face to respond to your agony. I elect to say “you are to take that hill and I know you can climb it.


Let it be known that emancipation of Ndi Igbo cannot be complete without recounting the famous Underground Railroad saga. The Underground Railroad saga was a system of safe houses leading to freedom of people escaping slavery and segregation. But the way people find their way along the route baffled me. Historians say that slaves located the Northern star in the sky to guide them in the right direction. Fugitive slaves walked to freedom, mostly at night following the Big Dipper, or drinking Gourd, and the Northern star. They waded in water so that search dogs could not smell their tracks. Whenever they could they jumped into “Chariots” or conveyances where they could hide and ride away. They made up songs about their experiences to give each other courage and firm determination. Songs like “Follow the drinking Gourd,” “Wade in the water,” and “Swing low sweet Chariot,” refers directly to the Underground Railroad experience. Based on other experiences, poetry is not enough to convey messages of tribal injustice. Fiction too is not enough to address the dominance of Northern politicians. And if this is the case, Non fiction would hardly deal with Northern tribalism, focusing on the conflict between ethnic sentiments. An alternative to ethnic sentiments is peaceful coalition. Ndi Igbo cannot build a peaceful coalition by following a negative path. They cannot form a coalition by sabotaging themselves. Let me say that it is not enough to say you must not wage another Biafran war. Ndi Igbo must love peace and make sacrifice for it. They must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace. I will continue to urge Ndi Igbo to focus their attention and fix their gaze and vision without recounting what they went through but what they would become in the future. Therefore, Ndi Igbo must seek peace at all times. Let me say that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody that is far superior to the resounding discord of war. If Igbo’s residing in the North continues to mount a peaceful offensive whenever they are challenged by Islamic militancy then they would be sending messages and signals to the world that they are non-violent tribe in the face of the planet. Both peaceful offensive and coalition have the power to unlock hitherto tightly sealed doors of hope and injustice. Peaceful offensive in the face of Islamic riot has the power to transform your imminent cosmic elegy into a psalm of creative fulfillment. All I have said is that the survival of Ndi Igbo boils down to the point of affirming that Igbo’s in Nigeria is dependent upon their ability to solve problems of tribal injustice, Islamic intimidation, poverty and war. I am very much convinced that a tribally separated family inherits a house in which they have to live separately and in acrimony. This is a new age problem of Nigerian Nation and of all mankind. Without holding back the truth, Nigeria after the Biafrian war inherited a big house, a great tribal house in which people have to come back and live together-Efik, Uruobo, Hausa, and Yoruba, Muslims, and Christians, traditionalist, atheists and humanists. This problem would continue to challenge Ndi Igbo to give an overriding loyalty to Nigerian nation as a whole in order to preserve the best of your individual tribes. This is a fresh challenge for a worldwide fellowship that left those who tribally concerned to go beyond their tribe, tongue, faith, marks, class and nation in a reality check. I consider all these a call for all-embracing and unconditional love for all tribes that constitute Nigeria as a sovereign nation. Unfortunately, some tribes and regions are less aristocratic like the north.


As I believe, you have no shame to say that Northerners are aristocratic rulers and are considered the privileged, upper class in Nigeria. As I am meant to understand, you people have no shame to say this at this time and in the near future. Because you have no shame, I strongly believe that through your wise and sensible politicians, you can be protected from other tribes seeking to exploit you as child prodigy. The demands of Ndi Igbo are too simple: a more equal role in Nigeria; A more inclusive place in all departments of ruler ship. The same demand calls for an equal role in politics, judiciary, legislature and the executive branch of government.  Ndi Igbo are demanding for inclusive party membership and inclusive democratic process. The Swahili word “Harambee” means “Let’s pull together,” encouraging each other in a sense of equality and nationhood. The declaration of American Independence “All men are created equal,” is a declaration for all mankind, black and white, Hausa and Yoruba, Igbo’s and Efik alike. This declaration acknowledged that “Everyone is “endowed with certain inalienable rights,” and “among our rights are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  The declaration of War is always a hard reality. And with war come heroes, strategies, new technology, songs, symbols, and historic meetings.  Clara Barton, who spoke these words, became known as the Angel of the Battlefield because she cared for the wounded during the civil war. In 1881, Clara Barton organized the American Association of the Red Cross to help victims of wars and natural disasters. Today, more than one hundred years later, the Red Cross is an international organization helping people around the world. Few years after the Biafrian war, many Igbo’s moved up North to search for job and happiness but what they witnessed was nothing but acrimony and religious fanaticism. Beyond religious fanaticism, the triumph and tragedies of the Nigerian civil war were recorded in speeches, documents, and memorable letters etc. The letters Biafrian and Nigerian soldiers wrote to their families provided all with a picture of the war that continues more than just battle dates and mere military statistics and logistics. These letters put a human face on the conflict and gave a real sense of what life was like for a solider in any international wars such as: Second World War, Vietnam war, gulf war and Iraqi wars. After Nigerian civil war ended, the period of reconstruction began. This was a more hopeful period for Ndi Igbo. During such periods, they reflected more on Education, marriage, reuniting of families, religion, participation in government, military recognition etc. From 1970-75 almost 5years after the Nigerian civil war ended no inclusive participation was witnessed.  Nigeria especially Ndi Igbo was in another hell of a crisis: the Great Depression which caused citizens to suffer malnutrition and mortality rate rose. Nigeria as a nation witnessed economic crisis, and many people remained unemployed. The death of the Biafrian war was a climax of a subtle blend of ethnic richness-of imperial extravagance and the opulence of burnished thrones of the chaliphates of existence that rot itself with motion, of a division, gallantly and bravery of a grizzled selfishness.


  I cannot pinpoint vividly a moment in the Nigerian history when Hausa’s became politicized and other things they did to make Ndi Igbo know they would spend their entire lives in tribal struggle. The North cannot claim any Epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, rather a steady accumulation of coup de Tate and a thousand slight. These thousand indignities have produced anger, a desire to fight the system that impoverished the Igbo’s.  Economic impoverishments after the war were replicated in folklores. African Folklores are Nigerian Folktales. And the Nigerian folktales are Biafrian folklores. The Uncle Remus stories first published by Joel Chandler Harris in 1879 were based on African American folktales. These folktales and feeble featured animals such as Brer Rabbith and Brer fox (brer means “brother”). Each story ended with moral or indubitable lessons. The lesions after Biafia were loved by Northerners while Easterners hated it. The good lesson was that it threatened to stamp Ndi Igbo out and crowned sectionalism king of kings. I am not unmindful that sectionalism is tearing this country apart. Sectionalism tore the country apart after the oil boom. Indeed, sectionalism is a loyalty of a section of this country rather than the entire country. Abraham Lincoln insisted at the beginning of the war that his main concern was “to preserve the union,” or keep the whole country together. Even today, different sectional interests in Nigeria are difficult to resolve. As a boy and even later as an adult, I have read and reread the biographies of the founding fathers of so many nations. I have read and reread the biographies of Fredrick Lord Lugard; the biographies of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Belewa and many other nationalists who confronted the evils of colonial rule, unjust treatment and tribalism. One positive outcome of reading these biographies and how it confronted sectionalism is that it leads different tribes into becoming self reliant. Sectionalism never allowed people to overcome poverty. It never allowed counties to transcend the trappings of group dynamism. Ralph Waldro Emerson was part of a group of American writers, including Henry David Thoreau, who called themselves the Transcendentalists, meaning they believed in a higher meaning in social and political life. They believed in the power of self-reliance to overcome a pull down. Meaningful self- reliance require  citizens of Nigeria not to follow blindly the actions or opinions of others but to listen to other own good sense and instinct to decide what is right and what is wrong; and what aims at higher good in human life. A sectional ambition cannot aim at a high good for the masses. Sectional ambition, though wrong cannot bring healing and reassurance. Sectionalism, tribal, suppression and injustice are evil. We all know it is evil to follow blindly what is wrong. It is wrong for a region to accept divisive politics. It is unacceptable to copy corrupt political practices. Thomas Nast was the most important political cartoonist of his time. Nast studied art at the National Academy of Design and got a job as a draftsman at the age of fifteen. After the civil war, Nast turned his attention to New York City politics. At the time, the city was controlled by dishonest Democratic Party boss William M Tweed.  Nast drew a series of Cartoons that exposed the corrupt practices of this politician. His Cartoons aroused so much public anger that criminals charges were finally brought against Tweed! Nast introduced the donkey and the elephant as symbols of Democratic and Republican parties. Nast wrote extensively about sectionalism and the affronts of individualism. He devoted much of his works on the feelings and experiences of men who are sectional and have the evil blood to dominate. I am not unmindful that a sectional society cannot stand as “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Citizens facing these experiences would not know the direction the nation is going, nor would they know where their hopes would anchor. Like string is often called the “heart” of the Orchestra, Igbo land is known as center of occupational excellence. In most Orchestras, more than half the musicians play stringed instruments. These instruments range in size from violin (smallest) to the double bass (the largest). A tribally suppressed people like the Igbo’s must not allow sectionalism to take charge of their spirit and their will to power. As I urge people not to allow sectional ambition to overcome them, they must realize that in a sectional society, misunderstanding leads to dictatorship. But in a dictatorial society people are not involved in the decision-making process of the country. Ndi Igbo for a very long time have been cut off from the decision making of this Nation. The world is aware of all these but the silence of a people is not weakness in any form. We are all aware that in a democratic society, citizens have the responsibility to get involved, and be informed about issues, and make informed decisions that will affect their lives. But in a complicated world, how could people find out about complex issues such as the environmental abuse, neglect, economy, education, health, objective journalism and foreign policy. From John Petter to the present, Journalists have played an important role in the life of every Nation. They have played a mighty role in the search for truth. In their own words they have convinced people to believe in themselves and in the power that transformed them. Great writers and Journalists have inspired people into taking active part in the political process of a nation. In the process, journalist has asked so many questions. But these questions need to be addressed: Who sets the standards for journalism? How can we maintain a high level of objectivity? In later years of the nineteenth century, Joseph Pulitzer stood out as a towering figure in the world of global journalism. He was a skilful publisher, a crusader against dishonest government, and a visionary who established standards for journalism that are still used today in Nigeria. Pulitzer was the first to call for the training of journalist at the university level in the school of journalism. He wanted the profession to receive the respect it deserved and so he created a series of yearly awards for the best reporting as an incentive to excellence. These awards came to be known as the Pulitzer Prize. Still given out every year, they honor the best writings in journalism. Pulitzer prizes are also awarded every year for the best historical work, biography novel, and play, book of poetry, musical composition and journalistic photography. The contribution Pultzier made along with other journalists after him transformed the face of politics and compelled ordinary people to rise up to the challenge of their political rights. Journalism helped to spread the image of a people and nation across the globe. Before the oil boom, Nigerian image abroad was a country of plenty. Nigerian image then was like the image of the rich black nation with oil and gas who does not impose its will on other nations or even impose it values. Nigeria sold her oil cheaply and made dishonest friendship with nations. She opened its doors wide open to other nations and hosted a memorable FESTAC. Today these doors are tightly locked with great fist by the few with tribal marks all over their faces. Ndi Igbo are called to open those doors to visitors. They know that they cannot grow and survive without others. This is the kind of image Ndi Igbo must portray to the rest of the world. They must show the world that they are kind, generous, compassionate, and loving tribe. On the other hand, Nigeria should show they are kind generous, a nation of nations, torched by every nation.


 


WHERE DO NDI IGBO GO FROM HERE?


To some people this is a very simple question but to the north, this is a jaw breaking inquiry. In order to answer this all important question, “where do Ndi Igbo go from here”, you must honestly recognize where you are now in the process of national development and progress. Ndi Igbo are no where in the process of national security. Ndi Igbo are no where in commerce and industries. Ndi Igbo are no where in military recruitment and services. They are no where in Nigerian judiciary. They are not found among top ranking military officers. Ndi Igbo are not many in telecommunication. In print and publishing industries the Yoruba’s are lead tribe to reckon with. In sports and health industries, Igbo people are missing in action. In aviation and transportation industries, Igbo people are marginalized. Even while Ndi Igbo misses in action, they are also associated with every negative ills confronting Nigeria as a sovereign nation.  You cannot accept where we are now unless you show love and optimism for the future. When I speak of love and optimism, I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response which is little more than emotional bosh. I am speaking of that inner force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Let me close by saying that one day Ndi Igbo will somehow rise up to the occasion and give new testimony and direction to an age and county drifting rapidly to oil doom. I am very much aware that despite the tension and uncertainty provoked by tribalism and Islamic conflicts in Nigeria, something profoundly meaningful is taking place in our midst. If I may use Biblical analogy, the old systems of exploitation, and oppression of militarism are passing away and a new brand of educated citizens are coming up. These new brand of politicians would snatch the torch of leadership from corrupt despot who have dashed the hopes of people and the nation on the rock. And out of the womb of a frail nation new systems of justice and tribal equality are being born. Doors of opportunities are being opened for Ndi Igbo at the bottom of society. Windows of progress are being made ajar for minorities in Nigeria to join in the decision making of their fate. The “shirtless and the barefooted” from the East are developing a new consciousness on how to overcome poverty, unemployment and tribalism. I have this same confidence to declare that Ndi Igbo who sat in darkness shall one day see the light. Ndi Igbo who are blindfolded in their country of citizenship shall one day see the light. Ndi Igbo who are starved like Zarcheaus shall no long feed from the crumble but will dine in great abundance. Ndi Igbo who are shoeless because of poverty and whose toes are cut off because of Islamic laws would develop new feet of an antelope. When they develop this new feet and when they reach this new height of tribal consciousness, they will toss around with this new feet and declare to the North that they are not yet discouraged or finished but poised for the future believed would be inclusive.  They will develop the courage of an Ethiopian Eunuch to protect and defend themselves. They would not wait for the government to protect their lives.


When a government ceases to protect lives, liberty and property of Igbo people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose cause and happiness it was instituted and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inalienable rights it becomes an instrument in the hands of Northern evil for oppression. When the federal government which the North have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of Northern politics forcibly changed without the consent of Ndi Igbo, from a restricted federative republic composed of sovereign states  to a consolidated central military despotism in which Igbo interest is disregarded but only  that of the army and the caliphate, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the ever ready minors of power, and the unusual instruments of tyrants will take over. When long after the spirit of the Nigerian constitution has departed, tribalism, and moderation at its length would so far be dominated by Northern rulers, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrance being regarded the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth would force a new government upon them at the point of bayonet. This may be why the North has sacrificed the welfare of Ndi Igbo to the states and nations of the Arab world, by which your priceless interest have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legalization carried out to a far distance seat of government and religion, by a hostile majority in an unknown platitude and tongue, tribal marks, and culture, notwithstanding. Therefore, you must position in the humblest terms the establishment of a separate state government that would make provisions of the national constitution that was without just cause, contemptuously rejected after the war.


At the dawn of the new age, Ndi Igbo need reformers who are agents of change. Reformers are political, social, economic agents of change who negotiates for economic transformation, moral stability and social consciousness. At all times, reformers always  addresses the many  problems that had contributed to the social and political upheavals of the 1890s where journalists and writers exposed the unsafe conditions often faced by fractured workers including women and children. The more reason why Ndi Igbo need reformers is because the Northern government has enjoyed notable achievements in the military, politics, aviation, commerce and industries.  They have enjoyed murky political development over the past decades. Simply put, the previous reform this country has staged has not worked. Some of the players are still around; some of them just went into hibernation waiting for opportunity to make a come back to the stage. Others have just moved on.  Others are not intending a comeback to navigate Nigerian political economy as Godfathers.  If you allow them to come back or navigate your economy from the outside then this nation called Nigeria would be milked down to her nails. A lot has happened in the past. But there is might assurance that these reforms would help jumpstart the economic and make it growth beyond your widest imagination. Good leadership and commitment would be needed to grapple with the issues of the future and of the here and now. Reformers from Igbo land must struggle to make government more responsive to the people. Reformers efforts would form progressive movement which aims to return control of the government to the people, restore economic opportunities, and correct injustices at all blocks. At all times, reformers have aimed at the followings: protecting social welfare; promoting moral improvement; creating economic reforms and fostering efficiency at the three arms of government. I know this and you know better than me that a nation Nigeria will remain sluggish without reformers. If Ndi Igbo fails to heed to these clarion call they will be considered finished in the Nigerian political process. A word is enough for the wise


Gerald Ogbuja


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