There is an important Igbo adage, which, translated, goes thus: who does not know where the rain started beating him will not know where he took shelter. The historical tour de force taken in these foursome treatises is to connect our past with the predictable future. Like Socrates said, an unexamined life is not worth living. Men of the future must not only understand their past but also the forces that forge the present.
Socrates' claim that the unexamined life is not worth living makes a satisfying climax for the deeply principled arguments that Socrates presents on behalf of the philosophical life. The claim is that only in striving to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value. Ndigbo, going by early census projections should number 30m and 50m globally. This population is more than the population of so many big countries like Argentina and Australia, to mention a few. We are therefore not talking of just an ethnic group but a whole race that is so poorly organized politically and fragmented.
The resourcefulness of Ndigbo to survive and grow everywhere they find themselves has always attracted mixed expressions. They are described as ‘innovative’ and ‘entrepreneurial’ and at other times they are seen as ‘over-ambitious’ and ‘domineering’, especially by the other ethnic nationalities who tend to fear the fast pace of progress and success of Ndigbo living in their local communities.
Such oddities have made Ndigbo in Nigeria to be endangered species, more or less, grossly misunderstood and even sometimes dreaded by their neighbours. This is not wolf crying but a stark reality. Professor Chinua Achebe summarized it thus: “The one thing all Nigerians are united about is their hatred for the Igbo”. Even if Chinua Achebe was being a bit extreme, his remark is not far-fetched.
Many Igbos have tried to rationalize their existential threats away. Yet, these threats are mutative and clear and present dangers, and keep repeating themselves in many forms with their dangerousness remaining strikingly the same.
The most recent should be the Quit Notice given to Ndigbo living in the North by northern youths under the watch of their elders. Where the said Quit Notice was given was in an official facility and till date, there is no official disclaimer of the quit notice from the northern elders. Rather than call their wards to order, they gave tacit approval by acquiescing to the rascally call in both body language and not so muted declarations. It is their inordinate reaction to the unarmed struggle of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB.
After Nigeria’s independence, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe celebrating, said: my stiffest earthly assignment is ended and my major life's work is done. My country is now free. On AIT, daily, Zik is featured still saying: "It does not matter to me who becomes Nigeria’s first prime minister… so long Nigeria is free, I am satisfied.” Soon after Zik made that historic declaration and the nation gained independence, he had cause to later lament against replacing British colonialism with indigenous colonialism championed by the Hausa-Fulani. Zik’s fear, which has been fully fulfilled, made nonsense of all his sacrifices to liberate and keep Nigeria one.
For me and to most Igbos, Zik and Ojukwu were possibly the greatest Igbo men that ever lived. Zik of Africa represents the ultimate urbane, cosmopolitan Igbo possibility, Emeka Ojukwu representing the zenith of Igboness and its can-do spirit. The inimitable Emeka Ojukwu, barely 33 then, particularly led Ndigbo and the old Southeast to resist extermination already being delivered to them in installments in pogroms repeatedly visited on them before the genocidal Nigeria-Biafra Civil War that claimed millions.
Frantz Fanon unforgettably said, each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it. George Orwell of the famous Animal Farm also said: “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it”. But the truth, if carefully and objectively canvassed, can sometimes engage even a base mind. For truth to set Ndigbo free, they need to know which falsehoods have been holding them down. It is better canvassed even where its unpleasantness is the obvious result.
Of verity, only the truth shall set Ndigbo free; free from internal colonialism(as Zik feared) and free from economic dependence outside Alaigbo and from want and insecurity. Only the truth can bind their wounds and ensure an enduring, equitable and progressive polity, where the best can strive to become better and weak made strong and offered bragging rights of belonging to one of the greatest and biggest of the Black Race. The Nigeria project is still worth it and for Ndigbo to really have a usable stake in it; they have to be fully politically organized. APGA is that natural political platform.
The Igbo Presidency Project is also a political possibility, desired by so many but canvassed by so few, which is also possible only if Ndigbo are better politically organized. The perception held by Nigerians, especially those who fought in the Nigeria-Biafra war, is that the Republic of Biafra, as conceived and propagated by General Emeka Ojukwu was ingenious.
To some, it was also disingenuous and was nothing but a fiasco and a disaster, especially when factors like international alliances and big oil politics are considered. But fact is: it was a war for survival more than it was a war for territorial integrity. That is why Biafra is not dead at least as an idea; Biafra can never die. All Igbos are Biafrans regardless of what they individually antithetically profess for fear or for their private economy and security!
Gowon’s bland declaration of No Victor No Vanquished and the ambiguous and amorphous 3 Rs - Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction - proved to be mere lip service. The praying general even left out the most important R, namely: Reintegration. Ndigbo indeed need a political platform (APGA) to call their own if they will negotiate from a position of strength how best to weave and mesh again into Nigeria.
Instructively, on December 01, 2015, Vanguard newspaper reported the wartime Nigerian military head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, as saying: “A Nigerian President of Igbo extraction is desirable in 2019, after President Muhammadu Buhari. An Igbo presidency will boost the unity of Nigeria”.
Another military President of Nigeria, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida had equally said in an interview about the same time that he would back an Igbo for the presidential seat if he finds a credible personality. The sincerity of these two eminent Nigerian leaders may be yet unascertainable but the issue they canvassed cannot be diminished or wished away. It is the main object of this treatise to point that APGA can serve as the bargaining chip in giving Nigeria a President of Igbo extraction.
Ostensibly, the Nigerian-Biafra Civil War, 6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970, was a war fought to counter the secession of Biafra from Nigeria. Within a year, the Federal Military Government surrounded Biafra, capturing coastal oil facilities and the city of Port Harcourt. The economic blockade imposed during the ensuing stalemate led to severe famine - accomplished deliberately as a war strategy as enunciated and promoted by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. To Awo, the resultant deaths of about 2 million Biafrans, mostly women and children who were never involved in combat, were justified. After all, according to him, in war, all is fair, even dying more from imposed starvation and diseases than from bullets and bombs!
Emeka Ojukwu became the embodiment of Igbo struggle for emancipation and thus became deified in the minds of his people. After the war, their survival spirit resurrected in Enugu Rangers Intl Football Club of Enugu. Rangers was more than a football team to Ndigbo and till today, that feeling lingers in the older generations. It was a rallying point for the defeated Biafrans and where they continued the war in other forms.
For good measure, just reminisce on the rapturous roars whenever Rangers entered the stadium in single file led by captain Christian Chukwu those days, those spotless all-white outfits giving a god-like aura. Such Rangers regulars like Ezeani, Damian Odoh, alias Araby Cho-cho, a hard-tackling defensive midfielder, Nwosu at left-centreback, Ihechukwu Ezidinmma, Mecha at left back, Ufele (RB) and Chukwu (RCB), the legendary Emmanuel Okalla was in goal to inspire confidence in Ndigbo of immediate postwar.
In midfield, the defensive anchorman was the powerfully built Nwabueze “Bulldozer” Nwankwo; the playmaker was Kendo Illodigwe; on right wing, Emeka Onyedika(built like a tank and mercurial at full darting touchline runs), on the left wing, Ogidi Ibeabuchi; Matt Obianika and Chimezie Ngadi were forwards. These men were more than footballers to Ndigbo those days and they left a legacy that helped Rangers to remain the only Nigerian team yet to go on relegation.
The only thing reminiscent of Rangers after the war was the coming of APGA. Somehow, because the PDP moored in the Southeast before it, the zone serving it as real anchorage has not fully materialized.
You can see that Emeka Ojukwu easily emerging and sustaining as the face and soul of APGA is rooted in its origin and essence and none other could have done it in his place even though he was not a founding member.
The clarion refrain, 'APGA bu nke anyi' simply means that APGA is the political party Ndigbo can truly call their own. It does not however make APGA an Igbo party per se. It is just a party where Ndigbo cannot be shunted out as they did to Dr. Alex Ekwueme and more recently, to Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, in the PDP.
The concluding Part Four is on the task before the Dr. Victor Oye APGA leadership, going forward. The wars of attrition and all the intraparty feuds have to stop to pave way for the urgent task of rebuilding the Party.
• Dr. Law Mefor, is a concerned APGA member; Tel.: +234-803-787-2893; email: [email protected]