In a reply to innocent comments of Dr. Ezeife in The Union newspaper of Wednesday, August 19, 2015, Dr. Junaid Mohammed made spilt blood, uncalled-for, unfair and unfortunate masochistic comments on Biafra and on events of the then Biafrans. According to the Union, ‘’The Convener of the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, has dismissed what he terms sentiments shared by a former Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife that the Igbo are yet to be treated fairly under the current government’’. In his masochistic anger/angst, Dr. Junaid mixed up issues and apparently-confused the Ndigbo existence with the historical Biafra.
The comments clearly-portray the deep-seated hatred some people in Nigeria continue to nurse in their hearts against innocent people who fought for self-survival in Biafra against the genocidal onslaught/subjugation against a people with attendant problems and unsavory outcomes. How can the lacerated wounds of the Nigeria-Biafra war ever heal if people like Dr. Junaid continue to water with extreme distaste and hatred such feelings against the people who were clearly-wronged by fellow Nigerians? What type of historical cowards would have become of a people if they just folded their hands and failed to ward off the wanton killings and pogrom against those easterners? Why should any true Nigerian continue to wish evil on Igbos for their historic struggle for survival because an Igbo leader made a political comment?
It is incredible! Dr. Junaid’s painful rantings/effusions as reported are thus; ‘…Mohammed criticised Ezeife, insisting that people of the Igbo nation have enjoyed favourable treatment…asked whether what the Igbos want is to be rewarded on the basis of the Nigerian Civil War, which lasted between 1967 and 1970…If it is about Buhari making the appointments based on merit, I have no problems with it. I don’t believe Buhari or Nigeria owes any Igbo anything. I don’t care what Ezeife says; if they had seceded, there would have been no Nigeria today. As people who acted outside the interest of Nigeria as a country, to expect compensation is a very odd logic…If the Igbo don’t like it, they can attempt secession again. If they do, they must be prepared to live with the consequences.
Nobody owes them anything and nobody is out to compensate them for anything…The doctor-turned-politician also condemned claims that Buhari’s appointment of northerners into key positions in government was done out of ethnic sentiment…They…should tell us which ethnic groups have been favoured by Buhari in the course of making his appointments in parastatals and agencies. Those who are making those allegations, particularly the Igbo, have not told us exactly which parastatals…For example, an Igbo man has just been appointed as the head of the NNPC…over 50 per cent of those appointed before him were…Igbos.
So, if people decide to be mischievous, there is nothing anybody can do…” For comparative analysis Dr. Ezeife had said “It is not atonement for the many neglects and insults that have happened with the National Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and other agencies…How would a President appoint people into key positions…, yet none of them is Igbo?
What kind of thing is that? On merit, we have the best people in Nigeria and that is not boasting. On motivation, it is the same thing. If Buhari wants to ignore federal character, we are not begging him for any appointment…And it is good for us to know where we belong and make appropriate adjustments. It is not a matter of whether Nigeria appreciates us or not. If they think we have done enough and we should go, there is more where what we brought to Nigeria came from…It came from God and we are not going to throw it away.
If we go away, we leave with it. We like Nigeria, but one cannot insult and treat a group as if they don’t exist… on emergence of principal officers in the House of Representatives without a South- East representation, Ezeife said… only a very insignificant minority of the Igbo people are saying that they have packed all their eggs in one basket; voting or not voting for any person has not been of consequence to our people…They went for elections and voted as they should and they are proud of it; they can repeat same tomorrow.”
One is at a loss where Dr. Ezeife has talked on Biafra to provoke anyone’s angst. Dr. Junaid only misfired by using this opportunity to vent his magmatic-flow of bottled-up anger against Ndigbo who owe him or anybody any apologies. All Nigerians including Dr. Junaid must understand, appreciate and accept the obvious fact that Nigeria and Nigerians are now under a full-scale modern democracy; are embroiled in democratic ethos, norms and mores hook, line and sinker. In as much as everyone has the freedom of speech and association, these have boundary conditions at the points at where another one’s freedom stops.
As much as the Igbos then had very strong hold on issues and events of Biafra, there were many other Nigerians who shared the aspirations of Biafra; there were many other non-Igbos in then Nigeria who shared the same feelings and fate of Biafra/Biafrans; there were many brave non-Igbos who were Biafrans and who gallantly-fought for Biafra; there were Efiks, Ijaws, Ibibios, Annangs, Yorubas etc. who fought side by side with the Igbos in trenches to defend justice and equity for which Biafra stood for; there were/are Nigerians who even though they fought for Nigeria but believed that it was a mistake for both Nigeria and Biafra to have allowed Nigeria-Biafra war to happen; resulting in loss of lives and property of millions of Nigerians and Biafrans. It is a shame that any Nigerian leader for whatever reasons would allow such a repeat performance of those sordid events that happened in Nigeria.
One wonders if Dr. Junaid fought in that war that emasculated all that were involved physically and/or spiritually. One also wonders if he had relations or friends who also fought, were wounded or had died in the war; if he had any or was involved, I believe that he would be thinking/talking differently today. One prays that such demonic war experiences never happen, again. to any people from whatever part of this country. It was such a horrible experience for all who were involved: youths, men, women, children, the aged and infirm, soldiers, civilians etc. Injuries, death and dying faced everyone squarely. In the war fronts and the rear, one helplessly-watched people suffer and die; people bore their tribulations with equanimity. These are what Dr. Junaid want to happen again because Dr. Ezeife made non-threatening political demands from a democratic government that can reason with him or not.
Is the rantings of Dr. Junaid because Biafra surrendered to Nigeria and did not engage in a prolonged guerilla warfare that could have resulted in her possible survival as a free nation? Is it because the then Biafran government leadership was overconventional in executing the war while failing to employ more severe political-cum-military measures that could have contained the putsch? One is greatly-amazed at daring Ndigbo to possibly-try again and face possible consequences; what a balderdash! Let it be said that today has become different from yesterday; no man born of a woman can intimidate Ndigbo into such final subjugation. The God that moulded the Igbo did a solid external and internal architecture of a total human being; no man can uncreate him. One is yet to see any Nigerian outperform the Igbo in terms of nationalism and total contributions made for the progress of this nation. We were pushed out of Nigeria in a war of Biafra.
No one including Dr. Junaid should try such adventure again to any group in Nigeria including the Igbos as that may spell final doom for the country. One imagines what disastrous monstrosity the people of this country, today, are going through as a result of the carnage of boko haram that has held socioeconomic life hostage for over seven years. The country is yet to contain their scourge; every hand ought to be on deck to stop the insurgents. In addition to the insurgency, there are terrible economic woes; corruption and impunities are ravaging the country and these must be confronted by the governments without distractions.
Yet, Dr. Junaid thinks otherwise and, rather, concentrates his attention in defaming Igbos and the lost Biafra. But one is highly- consoled with the fact that President Buhari is a very intelligent man and a highly-experienced leader who will not debase himself into listening to false and hate-filled advices from sycophants and Igbo haters like Dr. Junaid Mohammed as posted in the Union. I believe that PMB knows Nigeria and Nigerians well-enough to make a success in his governance. But some Igbos are sometimes to blame for such hateful outpourings from people like Dr. Junaid against her people. Their behaviors of group abuse/neglect encourage people to malign and blackmail them. Ndigbo must begin to respect themselves by behaving as appropriate.
They must continue to hold their heads high and proudly at all times. Our people must not be afraid to fully-participate in all political activities irrespective of the party of choice, gerrymandering or political thought. Igbo politicians should closely-study the political tactics of their main challengers devoid of emotions/sentiments and match the outcomes as appropriate. Ndigbo should go into political negotiations/deals with free minds and conscience that are devoid of bias/bitterness. They must always be united and be their brother’s keepers; for justice, they must come in defense of all including their own; the common situation where Ndigbo speak against one another and unduly-challenge themselves negatively must be jettisoned. In a situation where an Igbo sabotages/blackmails the other is an anathema and must be discouraged. One may disagree politically but must not ignore the positive/basic fundamentals of life when one tries to identify his own.
We must desist always from giving the wrong impression that Igbos can easily-be bought with money. If this were to be true, Biafra would not have happened; Sen. Ekweremadu would not have been the Deputy Senate President now; Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife would have been quietened from making popular national comments; so also Col. Joe Achuzia etc. Ndigbo must avoid local wars with one another that translate into disunity of Igbos. They need absolute unity to survive locally and nationally. They should fudge the type of unity that ensures survival like the Jews of Israel. Ndigbo live almost in every part of this country where they continue to contribute their humble quotas in the socioeconomic developments of Nigeria. Despite their nationalistic spirits, hard work and entrepreneurship, Ndigbo seem to be unduly-hated/disliked by others. They should study the sociocultural lives of their hosts, adjust with them and live accordingly.
-Boniface C E Egboka