Even the supposed football legend, Sunday Okechukwu Oliseh, is busy telling us he is not Igbo as if it is a curse to be Igbo. One wonders if the name “Okechukwu” is of Hausa or Yoruba origin. When you speak Igbo as a language and yet claim you are not Igbo, is that not the saddest thing that can happen to any people of identical culture? Even Major Kaduna Nzeogwu that led the first coup that was said to be an Igbo coup is from Okpanam village in today’s Delta State. Could he have come out to say today, like Sunday Oliseh said, that he was not Igbo? If the Abakaliki or Nsukka indigene who has a more distant dialect of Igbo is Igbo, how come the Anioma or Okrika indigene, whose dialect is easily understood, is not Igbo? How did a people of the same culture get so separated this far?
|Mazi Donald Ekpo|
The word “South-South”, even though it may sound absurd, is a name we have come to accept as a people. We can’t say exactly how we came about to be identified with the name neither can we say exactly when we were given the name, but we just know it is our name. While growing up back in the days, geography taught us about “the North”, “the South”, “The East” and “The West”. For proper definition of locations, we were also told about “The North-West, North-East, South-West and South-East” I can’t remember anything like the “North-North”, “South-South”, “East-East” or West-West , but here I am today, writing a letter to my South-South brethren. That is what happens to a people who are not in control of their cultural development or their political and economic future. That is what happens to a people who are just there for their numbers; that is what happens to people who are just kept for their services; that is what happens to people who are just custodians of wealth for a supposedly superior people and finally, that is what happens to people who are seen as slaves. Any name is suitable for them, they can only get whatever is given to them even if it is originally theirs. If in doubt, please remind me the meaning of KUNTA KINTE
I write this letter, not because it is frustrating to see how we allowed a defrauded propaganda to position our people as the pawns in the political chess game called Nigeria, but rather, I write this letter in an effort to request that we free ourselves from these propaganda that have lingered for too long. If our grandfathers and fathers did not ask questions, is there any divine law that says we cannot ask? We know we all belonged to the old Eastern Region of Nigeria before the Northern protectorate took back their power after the gruesome murder of General Aguiyi Ironsi. Just for the records, let me do us a bit of history here. Major General Ironsi, as Head of State, was cornered and arrested somewhere in Western Nigeria on July 29th of 1966, his hands and feet were tied together, then tied to a Land Rover jeep with a little space in between and driven on a tarred road, face down for several kilometers. The then highest ranking Northern officer, an acting (unconfirmed) lieutenant-colonel, was chosen to be the next Head of State ahead of serving brigadiers, colonels and lieutenant-colonels of Southern Nigeria, followed by the dreadful killings of officers and soldiers of Eastern Nigeria, including our so-called South South soldiers and officers . The genocide that followed is what is recorded as the Nigerian Civil War of 1967–1970. As if that was not enough, the Eastern Region was broken apart with the sudden creation of the then Southeastern state (today’s Cross River and Akwa Ibom), Rivers State (today’s Rivers State and Bayelsa) and East-Central State (today’s South-East geopolitical zone). It was during that war that propaganda were designed, created and generated to separate us from the old Eastern Region and to make the average Igbo man our potential enemy in an effort to reduce their own presumed enemies. In as much as it is a bitter history, I still find it necessary to provide you with this preamble.
I write this letter to remind us that our region, known as the South-South today was a creation of the North for the sake of creating the disunity we face today. And more so, it was not just for the disunity for them to win the war, but to also take away our resources, our manpower and our economic future. In 2014, when President Jonathan, a son of the so called South-South, decided to re-contest the 2015 elections, Sheik Junaid Mohammed, in an engagement on behalf the Northern protectorate, reminded us that the so-called South-South was a creation of the North for effective management of the Northern interest in Eastern Nigeria. How bad could this be? Can we imagine that? So, while we are busy reminding ourselves that we are a different people or that the Igbos are wicked and are trying to kill us, the North is joyously taking over and owning 85% of our oil wells while the West takes the leftovers. And what do we get? Noise! Even the supposed football legend, Sunday Okechukwu Oliseh, is busy telling us he is not Igbo as if it is a curse to be Igbo. One wonders if the name “Okechukwu” is of Hausa or Yoruba origin. When you speak Igbo as a language and yet claim you are not Igbo, is that not the saddest thing that can happen to any people of identical culture? Even Major Kaduna Nzeogwu that led the first coup that was said to be an Igbo coup is from Okpanam village in today’s Delta State. Could he have come out to say today, like Sunday Oliseh said, that he was not Igbo? If the Abakaliki or Nsukka indigene who has a more distant dialect of Igbo is Igbo, how come the Anioma or Okrika indigene, whose dialect is easily understood, is not Igbo? How did a people of the same culture get so separated this far?
I write this letter to speak to those of us regarded as minority tribes. How can we be minority when, in essence, we are known to be about 35 million of the said 180 million of the estimated population of Nigeria? How can we be a minority in our own lands if we were not treated as such or if we did not accept to be such? If those from the alliance which separated us from the West are said to be about 50 million in population and our brethren in the East are said to be about 40 million, how can we accept that we are a minority? Our compatriots from the alleged minorities of the North are said to be another 30 million. Who then is the minority? Having run through these figures, we know who the real minorities are. Be it as it appears, the truth is that our region was broken into two so as to weaken our original strength given that, at a combined population strength of 35 million plus 40 million people, our economic and entrepreneurial strength put together, would be something the ruling alliance will be worried about. So why should we ever think that it is logical to claim we are two different peoples when, in essence, we have always been one and the same people for over 1,000 years before the arrival of the white man? If what the white man did to us was not bad enough, is it not ridiculous that we allowed a certain minority made up of immigrants from fringes of the Sahara Desert to assume control of our economic and political future?
I write this letter to ask my brethren in the South-South these pertinent questions. Let us assume the very worst situation in this supposed fracas between us and our Igbo brothers. Why are we worried about the Igbos taking over our “natural resources”, (assuming they don’t have theirs); ARE WE PRESENTLY IN CONTROL OF OUR “NATURAL RESOURCES”? Does it make more sense that our natural resources are being controlled by some strange people from over 700 miles away? The same people that kill us at will at any single provocation of their religion? People who even kill us in our land? People who challenge us to the ownership of these our very own resources? People who show absolute disregard for who we are? People who think it is a privilege for us to be in any position of authority? And finally, people who do not, in any way, have the kind of entrepreneurial skills that we have? Why would we allow our imaginary quarrel or fights with our brothers next-door to translate into the decision of one of the women in King Solomon’s judgment who insisted that, since she couldn’t have the contested child, the other woman should not either?
So are we, in essence, saying it is better for none of us brethren to own our resources simply because we don’t trust our brothers, yet we do nothing about the strangers who have ripped us apart? Are we logically correct in believing this senseless fabricated quarrel? Even while we are senselessly worried about how the Igbos will colonize our people because that is what we were told and that is what some in the ruling alliance are still trying to tell us, can we sincerely tell ourselves that the Igbos are that evil? Evil enough to leave their own natural resources in Abia, Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states to come and take ownership of our own resources? How will they do that? How possible will it be for a people that barely kill by the sword to be compared to our present oppressors from up North? Do we honestly see that as a possibility? How and why did we allow these propaganda to go this far? Is this not what the hegemonic alliance has used to rule us through the divide-and-rule scheme? Sheik Jumiad Mohammed said it clearly that our separation was a creation of the North for the effective management of our regional resources while we keep fighting an imaginary enemy.
I write this letter to remind us that we and our Igbo brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers have cultural identities, we uphold life to be sacrosanct, we do not kill a man like a chicken, we worship the same God and we have identical looks and reasoning capabilities. Education is a respected virtue to both of us and entrepreneurship is a common love between us. We both respect constituted authorities. Even though we both have some cultural oddities in our midst, that cannot and should not be used to castigate an entire people. So how come the Igbo man suddenly became evil shortly before the war if the castigation was not a propaganda tool of that war? How did we accept that our Igbo brothers were evil while we were saints? How are we saints? Is there any evil that is the monopoly of the Igbos which we are totally clean of? That we don’t have a single man/woman who does same if positioned in the same situation? How did we allow a distant people determine how we live our lives together with our very own neighbors? If we think that we are different and as such, we are treated better than the Igbos, have we noticed that the fate of the Onitsha Port is the same fate that befell the Ports in Calabar and Port Harcourt? We from the East are all forced to use the Lagos wharves in order to pay taxes to those who control this port. How have we been treated differently by the ruling alliance if we were different from the Igbos? Are we not facing the same fate as our Eastern brethren? How do you think we will fare if we were the only ones to receive this maltreatment, given a circumstance where the Igbos are no more in this contraption called Nigeria?
I write this letter to our brethren to remind us that, without a unified stand by the entire region, the self-determination process will be a farce. We need each other in all difficulties. We are the Eastern Region; we are Biafrans; we are a common people; we are not different from each other. Starting from the Hills of Ogoja to the rocky soils of Ebonyi, down to the temperate region of Anambra to the enclaves of Ishekiri and Isoko, we all look alike. The Akwa Ibom man and the Abia State man are the same people simply divided by boundaries. The Calabar man and the Arochukwu man has identical ancestral masquerades. The Ikwerre man is just an Igbo man that was separated by the North to act as a different people. A British woman, camped somewhere in Kaduna, decided to add the “R” consonant to the “U” vowel to “totally break the identities of the Igbos in today’s Rivers state”.
The Ijaws, Kalabris, Oron and Efik are practically the same people positioned in different locations possibly during the settlements that happened centuries ago. We are all interrelated in the region and as such, must not be divided. We have been used for decades and disregarded at every opportunity; our rights are perceived as privileges, if not favors. We do not have control over our future as clearly stated by the late Alhaji Amadu Bello when he instructed his people not to allow us have control of our future, and that our ancestral lands should instead be seen as a conquered territory. Are we a conquered people by some strange fortune hunters who believe they are born to rule, conquer and kill? These are people who do not hold as sacrosanct what we revere as one. How can we continue in this union which was designed to enslave us? How can we allow the lies told by these strangers to pitch us against our very own selves?
An Addendum to My Igbo Brothers
I write to you to remind you that you can only fight a lie which was embedded into the hearts of my brethren by putting yourself in our shoes to know how best to respond. We cannot fight evil with evil. Like we know, they say two wrongs don’t make a right. It is your responsibility to subtly ask those accusing you some logical questions that may prick their hearts back to reality. We are all in this mess called Nigeria together. Our Son, Goodluck Jonathan, was treated the same way General Ironsi was treated; they were both rejected. They were both despised. Both of them wanted a united Nigeria that existed beyond tribes and religion. But what did we see? President Goodluck Jonathan was lucky to escape with his life, but General Ironsi was not that lucky. He was tied to a Land Rover jeep and driven on the rocky tarred roads between Abeokuta and Ibadan till he died and was shredded to pieces. Based on the Alhaji and Kunle’s phone conversation (https://goo.gl/8NhP7H) which I believe we all listened to, we know that it could as well have happened to President Jonathan if he was not wise enough to let go of their birth right.
But can we continue like this? Look at what they are doing to Nnamdi Kanu? These are the same people who organized 70 lawyers to represent the Boko Haram suspects who have raped, maimed and killed Nigerians. “Yet the one they choose to lead us”, says Nnamdi, “is too dangerous to be released because he has dual citizenship.”? Is this the kind of place to which we shall continue to belong when we are likely going to be having malicious morons of this magnitude leading us?
I write to you my brothers to remind you that the Gambaris know for certainty that, having broken a greater part of you into other states in the South-South, it may be difficult to successfully secede knowing what we know today. So it is inappropriate for you to remind my own brothers that with or without us, that you will succeed. We cannot allow the propaganda of these gambaris to keep us apart. We must reject it by all means and efforts. We stand a greater chance to succeed as one region. As the older one of the two broken parts of our region, it is your responsibility to expose the deception that was used to mislead my people. It is you who should tell my people that you do not have any intentions to colonize them. We have to collectively put this ruling alliance to shame by consciously keeping our relationship cordial in the region. My dear brethren, I write to request that you should regard it as a solemn duty to remind us that we are all one people because, in truth, WE ARE ONE.
Biafra would not succeed if we do not position ourselves for success. We cannot go to a Referendum with a divided house. We have to all agree that we cannot continue in this contraption called a unitary Nigeria that was not just built on lies and propaganda, but was also designed to fail while it enslaves our people. We have been battered, raped, disregarded, maimed and killed at will for the past 50 years. I am talking about the entire Eastern Region. While we are being raped and killed, we are busy seeing each other as our own enemies while the real enemies smile at our folly. We cannot continue like this. We should all take the opportunity presented to us by the 2007 United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) to free our peoples, once and for all.
But will we succeed during the electoral process if we are not united? Is it not time we beat our swords into plowshares and see how we can take control of our political and economic future as well as restore our cultural togetherness? We cannot afford to go into a Referendum that could be sabotaged by the propaganda of the ruling alliance contrived by the North to keep all of us perpetually in bondage. It is our duty to educate ourselves, educate our relatives and educate our very own brethren in all nooks and crannies of Biafra
It is the best duty we can do for future generations of our region yet unborn . This contraception called Nigeria was never designed to succeed; not with the present fraud of a constitution; not with the present mentality that only a section of the country is meant to rule eternally and finally, not with the present odds stacked up against our folks who make it to the leadership position, be it in Nigeria’s central government or even in our very own region.
Finally brethren, I appeal to you all to join hands in actualizing our dream to build a new nation based on the principles of agreed morals, agreed terms and absolute regional autonomy with the aim to provoke developmental competition.
“….for as long as the Old Eastern Region remains in disarray and not united, self-determination for the region will remain impossible….” – An anonymous retired Nigerian Army Chief.
Mr. Donald Ekpo