Working on an apocalyptic premise that Ndigbo are “living in hell” in Nigeria, the labels “slave” or “Hausa-Fulani slave” are being used by IPOB “Internet Thugs” to harass Igbos with a diametric political view, especially on the Biafran question. The ultimate goal of this silencing campaign is to send a message to every Onye Igbo that should they stray off the nebulous Biafran script, they too will find themselves harassed and ostracized. Those leading this impotent indecency of name calling have forgotten that a noisy show does not imply knowledge.

In this piece, I will describe myself as an Igbo of different shades all over the Nigerian landscape. In some shades, I am thriving while in others, I am struggling. Read through and share if you can see yourself in me. If not, I hope you can at least educate yourself on the true meaning of slavery.

I have a thriving business in Kano and all over Nigerian cities. I have a comfortable house in my hometown and the city where I live. I am strongly of the opinion that the domain of Ndigbo in Nigeria should be boundless. I need the space and all the “freedom’ to roam and explore the Nigerian landscape for business opportunities. I am Igbo, a Nigerian, and I am not a slave.

I know that Igbos do not own any of the major national media houses in Nigeria. But, I am the Chairman of Vanguard Editorial Board. I oversee the propagation of “noisy sentiments” including fake news and hate speech. I am Igbo, a Nigerian, and I am not a slave.

I have lived in Lagos for 5 years and Kano for 7 years but could not get my footing right. Now, I hang around the market square in Okigwe doing whatever I can to feed my family.  I am frustrated that the governments at all levels are not doing enough to create employment opportunities. But the Biafran Spirit is still in me and I strive every day to make ends meet. Even though I have not succeeded, I cannot out of frustration, allow my Biafra to be associated with the promotion of bigotry. I reject all groups intentionally promoting animosity to hurt my brothers residing and thriving outside Igbo land. I am Igbo, a Nigerian, and I am not a slave.

I own a small business in Port Harcourt. I lost all my initial investment in a startup company many years ago. I struggled as I picked the pieces. But now, I have eight employees from 5 different ethnicities working for me including Ibo, Hausa, Ijaw, and Yoruba. I believe that the narrow strategy of the promoters of the independent State of Biafra is synonymous to restricting something as humongous as Biafra to nothing.  I am Igbo, a Nigerian, and I am not a slave.

I am an unemployed graduate of political science.  My good friend from Sokoto and my Igbo brother who are well connected now work with the government, few weeks after Youth Service. Even though I felt left out, I realize that it is not solely because I am Ibo, but, because of the culture of nepotism in Nigeria. I am Igbo, a Nigerian, and I am not a slave.

Now, this: I am a “Nigerian politician and lawyer from Enugu State who has served in the Senate of Nigeria since May 2003.” I have been the deputy Senate President on the Nigerian Senate since 2007. Under Jonathan, we call the shots. Even now, I am so powerful that under the APC government, I remain the deputy Senate President. I am Igbo, a Nigerian, and I am not a slave.

I am a billionaire; we plundered the national wealth under PDP government for 16 years. I am smart and switched allegiance to APC unlike some of my brothers in PDP. Now, I have single-handedly bought the APC candidate for the Anambra Governorship election. APC in the entire Southeast is in my back pocket. I am a kingmaker, I am Igbo in Nigeria and I am not a slave.   

I am Igbo; I am outgoing and very resourceful. I moved out of my region and made a career and living for my family when my states were not forth coming with jobs. Now, I teach in the Kaduna, Lagos, Katsina, Bayelsa and Kogi State teaching Service. I am a professor in Benue, Bauchi and Gombe State universities. Does that make me a slave? No! The Biafran Spirit in me is still alive and burning, but I strongly believe that the promise of ‘milk and honey’ in an enclave of the independent State of Biafra is elusive. I am Igbo, a Nigerian, and I am not a slave.

I am an entertainer, the Area Fada. “The man from all tribes in Nigeria.” I recently led the “Resume or Resign” Protest in Abuja. “I believe in the oneness of all Nigerian peoples.” “I believe that we have gotten to a point in our national history where a Yoruba man cannot live in isolation of an Igbo man.” I am Igbo, a Nigerian, and I am not a slave.

Do you know what slavery is?

Slavery is allowing political hawks to manipulate your mind to believe that you are marginalized because you are Igbo. Because you are a slave, you fail to see that they are using you to solidify their positions instead of being accountable to you and delivering good governance.

These slave masters that have been using you and pointing fingers at Buhari and the “North” have unanimously conceded the PDP presidential ticket to the “North”. The same “North” you all whine about every day? Because you are a slave, you fail to see that they are jostling for Vice Presidential position for themselves on your behalf. Can’t you see that you are like a chicken that frowns at the cooking pot (the “North”), ignoring the knife (your politicians) that killed it?

As a slave, what you need is political education. Frederick Douglass said that it is only knowledge that makes a man unfit to be a slave. If you desire knowledge, use open and closed social media platforms as an environment to debate ideas, in order to be politically educated. If there is no open discussion, it is impossible to receive a meaningful education.

Here is a little lesson on what freedom is all about: I campaigned for GMB in 2015 based on my conviction that he will be better than GEJ. But when he, surrounded himself with corrupt aides, I did not weep nor loathe tears which are signs of slavery. Rather, I have boldly and openly told him that corruption is bloodying his nose.  I am Igbo, a Nigerian, and I am not a slave.

I will end with this powerful Igbo proverb, “no matter how many spirits plot a man’s death, it comes to nothing unless his Chi has a hand in the planning.” Fortunately for me and unfortunately for the name callers, my Chi, my Biafran Spirit and even Amadioha have no hand in the deliberation of the mudslingers. I am thus, confident, very confident that I will neither be intimidated nor die.

I have courage and freedom. I express my mind without allegiance to any religion, political party or tribe. I am Igbo, a Nigerian, and I am not a slave. The campaign of silencing dissent, with the tactics of smearing, and humiliation has not worked and will not work.

 

You can email Churchill at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi.

Churchill Okonkwo

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