NIGERIA: IN NEED OF LEADERSHIP

It’s serious. More serious than we think. Nigeria is a rudderless ship out on a stormy sea. Forget all the rhetoric; in truth most people do not want Nigeria to break up. But we need new Leadership. Intelligent Leadership. Dynamic Leadership. Progressive and vision-filled Leadership. Above all, fair Leadership that does not want any one part of Nigeria or any ethnic group or any demography to suffer or be left behind. We need the Spirit of Panafricanism in our Leaders.

It is the absence of all this that brokers the separatist volition. Nigerians are survivalists by nature. If they feel Nigeria is not working, they immediately start looking for an alternative. Either outside the country or within the country. It is the same impetus which makes people run away to distant countries that also makes them long for secession or, at least, restructuring. One way or the other, we all want to live in a new country, to hail from a new country, to belong to a new country, different from this Nigeria the way it is today and the way it has been going – getting ever worse – since independence. People want a new home, a real home, preferably in Africa. You think Biafra is a cry of war? You err. Biafra is a cry of help. A cry of desperation. A cry of despair about the state of Nigeria. A search for a better Africa. Biafra is a safety plan, in case the ship sinks – and I‘m sure Arewa and Oduduwa are exactly the same thing. It all depends on Nigeria.

Nigeria needs new Leadership. Badly! Leadership that really cares about ALL its people. Leadership that really understands the psychology behind the process and mechanism of growth. The growth of a society. Of a nation. Of its morals. Of its union. Of its capacity. The growth of its peoples. A Leadership that will champion a FAIR AND EQUITY-BASED AND GROWTH-FOSTERING CONSTITUTION. In the end, everything comes down to the Constitution.

The Titanic, unsinkable, sank. Rome, unconquerable, fell apart. The Dinosaurs, top of the food chain, went extinct. The sun set on the global British Empire. Never ever make the mistake of thinking that a country cannot fail and cannot break up. History has proven over and over again that it can. People need to wake up and take things seriously. Nigeria, the most populous Black Nation in the World, is in bad shape and needs a complete redesign, recalibration and re-orientation.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

BUHARI: THE BETRAYAL OF PANAFRICANISM AND BLACK UNITY IN NIGERIA

1. MERITOCRACY VS FEDERAL CHARACTER PRINCIPLE

The most significant development that came out of colonialism was that it not only lent urgency, and a reason, to indigenous African ethnic nations to forge – amongst themselves – deeper and more effective bonds of solidarity in the face of the expediency of warding off external exploitative and appropriative incursions; but even more importantly it delivered a rough, even if imperfect, template for this bonding to take place. This template are the colonially born nation-states that are commonly drawn on the map of Africa today. They constitute the member states of the organisation, once called the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), but now known as the African Union (AU), and are generally referred to as “African” countries. Colonialism thus not only kickstarted, catalyzed and accelerated Panafricanism, but it also influenced its nature and direction, and straitjacketed it into ready-made, albeit externally created, nation-forms.

In order for this Panafricanism to work, however, on this imperfect externally orchestrated template, one thing was needed, more importantly maybe than even friendship – and that thing is: TRUST. In Nigeria, for instance, in order to give as little room as possible to the sentiments of ethnic marginalisation and systemic partiality – the most lethal killers of pragmatic inter-ethnic trust – a practical compromise was reached; something called the Federal Character principle. It simply means that access to power is distributed in such a way that the different regions and religions that make up the country always have a representative at the table. The grand organigramm of power is – or was – or should be – a rough reflection of the actual internal ethno-religious map of the federation.

The Federal Character principle, significantly, finds application not only in the corridors of power and civil service, but – more contentiously – also in the education system where it often goes by its nickname “the Quota System”. The aim here is to stop one part of the country from falling behind educationally or to help them to catch up with other parts who have long raced ahead in the acquisition of western-brought education. According to the Quota System, students from the South who score high marks are not all admitted into secondary or tertiary Schools. Instead, some of them are rejected in favour of students from the North who have scored much lower marks.

The Federeal Character principle has many bitter opponents . Many neutral-minded and objective thinkers have never been a fan of it. They consider it not only inherently unjust but believe also that it denies the country access to her best minds and brightest talents, and exchanges the policy of unconditional progress for the politics of “settling for less”, which in turn breeds patronism, cronyism and nepotism, and holds the country back. They argue instead for the principle of MERITOCRACY. Let the best person do the Job, irrespective of his or her ethno-religious camp. The quintessence of their argument is that just this adherence to meritocracy – rather than concessions – will spur the weaker to work harder, bring out the best in them, and make them catch up with the stronger, thus enriching the Nation, even as it is being driven forward by its brightest, meritocratically chosen, talents.

The Federal Character principle, however, also has many passionate supporters. Indeed, there are pragmatic nation-minders who argue that a fragile, historically rootless, construction like Nigeria is, has not yet arrived at the robust generational inter-ethnic state of fusion and maturity, that equilibrium of development, which will allow her to bear the weight of systemic Meritocracy on a grand objective scale. And, even more importantly, she has not yet developed and entrenched the dynamics and the institutions to ensure, to monitor and to protect meritocratic processes in order to prevent them from being one-sidedly hijacked and distorted in the service of the attainment of the sectional goals of those currently in power – who may choose to appoint only those from their region and religion and claim it is because they are the best, without there being any institutionalised and impartial system for cross-checking or validating this assertion as well as countering, correcting and punishing it if proven false.

The basis of their insistence on the pragmnatism of a Federal Character principle as the necessary interim bridge to chaperone Nigeria onto the stable shores of a capacity for true meritocracy in some future generation, is the fact that before Nigeria was created, her constituent ethnic nationalities already existed, right here. Some were ignorant of some others; some existed in alliance with one another; some were locked in violent existential wars against each other; and some oscillated between friendship and enmity, for decades and centuries already. In other words, the Nigerian novel has a deep, manifold backstory – and Mungo Park hardly features in it.

Probably the most significant conflict that was taking place within the area of today’s Nigeria as at that time when the British made their intrusive imperialistic grab at this part of West Africa, were the Fulani Sultanate’s jihadistic wars against the nations to the South. The Fulani, a nomadic People of mainly Islamic religion, had already earlier invaded, conquered, colonized and converted the Hausa and a number of other nations in what is now Northern Nigeria. Moving further South they were locked in a back-and-forth war of oscillating fortunes with the Yoruba – another great Nation situated mainly in what is now the south-west of Nigeria – when the British arrived and plunged into the mix with their multi-pronged Arsenal of Military, Religion, Commerce, Diplomacy and new-type Education.

But then, after succeeding in gradually conquering, pacifying and appropriating that entire area now known as Nigeria, the British themselves finally succumbed to a combination of a negotiated concerted “independence” push by the ethnic peoples of that area, favorably assisted by the general wind of change after World War 2, and handed over this new country Nigeria to the indigenous African citizens of Nigeria – a geopolitical landmass, beneath the surface lattice-work of which the old alliances and conflicts, the networks of dynasties, the sentiments, prejudices and the interrupted wars, were all still festering, on the one hand. On the other hand, there was born in a few hearts a budding awakening of and even a longing for a sense of “one-nigeria-ness”.

Bear in mind: sovereignity was not individually handed back to, or won back by, the actual indigenous African nations from whom it was taken away, some of whom continue to long and strive for it until today. Instead a kind of collective authority was transfered to a newly patched up entity called Nigeria, within the geographical boundaries of which the original African nations remain to be found. The ancient African nations however are, paradoxically, not themselves directly the constituent administrative regions of Nigeria, although they exist within and across them, and they influence the context within which these administrative Units are carved out. Once upon a time, these units were, for instance, North, South and Lagos; later they were North, West, Mid-west, East. Today they are the 36 States: Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, etc …

Not only was this sovereignity transfered to a new umbrella Nation, but also this new Nation was of the making and design, not of the Africans themselves, but of the colonizing force. One could thus say that Nigeria is a software or a robot through which an originally foreign volition, detached from its issuer and now mangled up with local intent, continues to feed its Frankenstein, mix up the African mind and strongly influence our affairs, positively and negatively. This has been the trigger of many key reactionary events in Nigerian history, all of which bear the stamp of an attempt at “Re-Africanisation” and – more importantly “Re-Sovereignization” of our space. It was what led later to the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) Indigenization Decree of 1972. It was what led earlier to the push for Independence. And it was what provided the Canon fodder for the Biafran Conflict, where a reactionary African attempt to craft their own smaller-sized umbrella Nation made up of indigenous neighbourly African peoples was met with Military resistance by the Northern-led, British-powered Nigerian government. Nigeria, like ‘Skynet’, had become self-aware – within the same space in which the individual indigenous actual ancient African nations and Peoples also exist and also remain self-aware. Two uneasy souls in one restless restive Body.

Against these kinds of backdrop, the Federal Character principle was devised, as a compromise, a soft landing pad to further inclusion, moderation and the gradual social engineering of this new country Nigeria towards becoming an actual African new Nation of a united people of shared loyalty, trust and harmonized aspirations. Whatever intuitions of injustice were awakened by the Quota System were supposed to be mitigated by the appealing to a noble sense of sacrifice needed for the attainment of an internally balanced nation whose inner parts are helped to gear into a foundational equal-paced development.

Within this context then, the championers of Meritocracy have allowed themselves to be slightly pacified even while they continue to argue its case. They see in meritocracy, if and when attained and popularly accepted and expected, the final proof and guarantee of matured nationhood and progress. Thus they continue to push for the establishment of the institutions and systemic dynamics that will one day power, oversee and protect Meritocracy as an operating principle in our national socio-polity.

However, between these two terminals of Quota and Meritocracy, a danger lurked. A weakness lay in the system, always exploitable by the Executive arm of government, and just waiting for an unscrupulous mind who would be the first to dann the consequences and do it. And then came ex-General Muhammadu Buhari…

2. BUHARI, PANAFRICANISM, AND A BROKEN TRUST

In the many decades of Nigeria’s independent existence, through all her ups and downs, crises and vicissitudes, the Federal Character principle has been one stabilizer that every leader and every government in power – civilian or military – has always tried to (be seen to) tactfully and sensitively take into consideration while trying to steer the unwieldy and complex ship of state of this most populous and most diverse Black nation on earth. – Until now.

Today, for the first time in her history, this new nation called Nigeria finds herself in the grip of a (democratically elected!) Northern Muslim Fulani President who has openly, callously and with brutal impunity advanced almost only members of his own clan or ethno-religious umbrella-region into the most important organs of state and government. He has done this with a thoroughness, on a scale and with a scope that is staggering and unprecedented in the history of Nigeria, and has sent shock waves into the depths of the political psyche of the rest of the country and informed observers outside the country. This in turn has triggered a reawakening and a strengthening of irridentist ethnic sensitivities and loyalties on the one hand. On the other hand it has revealed the plane of conflict on which the real challenges to Panafricanism really lie.

The real conflicts are and remain on the level of that political existence for which there is no consensual political or apolitical organ of membership or conflict Resolution: the ethnic plane. The further addition of religion into this mix complexifies it into the ethno-religios plane. And this is the level on which a serious and unprecedented breach of trust has occured and is currently continuing in a troubled Nigeria. A sitting president has disponented the executing of the bully pulpit not according to either (even a semblance of) the federal character principle or the principle of objective meritocracy, but has placed the Country under the effective stranglehold of his own ethno-religious base. And then has rubbed salt into the wound by mockingly suggesting that he is simply being meritocratic. His people – the people from his own ethno-religions clan – are the best. This is the blatant, callous, mocking bigoted assertion he is sending out. He is using this vehicle, Nigeria, to continue the Fulani jihadistic imperialistic war that had once been interrupted by the very bringers of this same Nigeria. What a brilliantly ironic stroke of genius! The faint promise of Panafricanism has been thrown out of the window by a primitive yank back into feudalism.

In other words, an African has with the powers of an externally created modern African nation sought to subjugate other ancient African nations and bring them under the dominion of his own ancient African nation. Democracy, which should liberate and protect, has become the cruel weapon of a jailer and an enslaver because the world and all processes will always support a democratically elected leader, even if he is using democracy as the smoke screen and instrument with which to dismantle that very same democracy itself. Put metaphorically: a house negro has pointed the massa’s gun at the field negroes and tried to impose himself as the new master over them. And nobody can stop him. This is a low blow of such shameless proportions, a betrayal of such callous dimensions, that it takes a while to really believe that you are actually seeing what you are indeed seeing. This truly is the very betrayal of Panafricanism itself. Nobody should aspire for leadership in Nigeria, or indeed in any African country, who has lost sight of, or never had his gaze on, the bigger picture of African inter-ethnic unity and inter-tribal fraternity. This is what the Buhari presidency in Nigeria is teaching us very succinctly.

Africans need to understand again, or at last, the meaning, the true meaning, value and importance of Panafricanism. Young muslims need to rise against muslim leaders who are not panafricanistic in their message, in their method and in their goals. Members of all ethnic groups need to rise against their ethnic leaders when these deviate from the spirit and purpose of Panafricanism. Christian followers need to turn against their leaders when these betray panafricanism in their pontifications and way of life. Panafricanism is the only socio-cultural, political and economic engine that can lift Africa up. Panafricanism simply means that Africans, in a state of united mass eureka, discover, rediscover and believe in their own worth as creative, noble and highly developed human spirits who have all it takes, and the responsibility as well, to create, run and manage their own highly developed self-contained Universe and continuum. Their own First World. You must have the greatness of spirit to believe this, or you will never achieve it because you will never even have the guts to attempt it; the thought to do so will not even occur to you as a realistic thought. Until you have the greatness of spirit to really believe that you, too, are first among equals. And when you start to believe this, when you start to really believe it, then you will stop proclaiming it – and instead you will start to PROVE IT, by practicing and executing it.

It cannot be, that an African leader has the guts or ever tries again to use the cover of a colonially born state to advance only the cause of his or her own ethnic nation or ethno-religious base – thereby betraying the spirit of Panafricanism. Never again! Not in his or her appointments. Not in his or her policies. Not in the projects that he or she pushes through and accomplishes. Never again! Panafricanism or nothing. Yes, because without Panafricanism, Africa is nothing.

Why are African youths dying in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to flee Africa? Only to get to Europe to be subjected to the disgust and rejection of a European racial class whose internal color code has already condemned Blacks to being the footmat in every context, even before they arrive. And the more value you have, the stronger the socio-political determination to keep you down. And this is what our desperate youths, full of hopes in their hearts, are fleeing to? Where are the presidents, the true Panafrican leaders, who will step up and say – No! – Africa must become an Eden for Africans, one from which there shall be no banishing? Where are the presidents, the true Panafrican leaders, who will say: If Africans need a refuge, they will find it here – right here – in Africa? We will make sure of that!

Is it Buhari? Is it Biya? Is it Bouteflika? Is it Kabila? Is it Kagame? Is it Ramaphosa? Is it Museveni? Is it Uhuru Kenyatta? Is it Akufo-Addo? And all the rest of them?? Why have they not done it? While this article is about Nigeria under Buhari, the troubling fact still remains that no African leader yet has stepped up and taken the lead on THIS other topic of mass migration. Africa remains an open sore, whose lifeblood – for lack of perspective at home – is desperately draining away everyday. And the leaders will not come together with a strong voice and firm measures to heal the situation. What has become of Panafricanism? Is it just a word in the wind now, soon to sink into and drown in the Mediteranian Sea?

The grand outer unity, which is the bedrock of Panafricanism, cannot take place because internally – within the so-called African countries – inter-tribal fraternity has not yet been established, has not yet been even truly strived for. The tribes are the real political building blocks of Africa, not the colonially created nations, and we all know it. We just like to deceive ourselves and pretend as if we want to make progress, when we come together as so-called African nations in the AU and give long speeches. Then we go back home and continue to kill Panafricanism everyday by using the State Might of the modern African nation to benefit only our own individual ethnic or ethno-religious base, and crush or systemically disempower the others.

This must stop in Africa! This is where our real political struggle lies. Taking our continent out of the hands of internal Pharaohs. Taking our countries out of the hands of ethnic and religious bigots, whether they seem primitive or sophisticated. Study their methods and intentions. And soon you will know the true Panafricanists, and those who only have selfish or ethno-religious intentions and keep the rest divided.

Buhari’s deeper crime is not in the act, but in the intention. His intention was never to use Nigeria as the available template to foster inter-tribal integration and inter-ethnic amalgamation of the African people’s located within her borders. His intention from the start was always to use Nigeria as a weapon to advance the fortunes and power of his own ethno-religious base. By doing this, he not only shamed himself, but also shames every member or supporter of his ethno-religious base who supports this intention and partakes in this murder of the spirit of Panafricanism, in this unending retardation of African development. Buhari is not and was never a Pan-Africanist. Destiny offered him the historic chance to turn Nigeria into a true African (internally cohesive) nation – and he squandered the opportunity. Instead he has turned Nigeria against herself with his clan at the top. In effect, this is his most ingenious, most audacious and most imperious Coup.

He of all people was in a position to do something which would have been much too difficult for anybody else. His past as a Military Leader. His Fulani Islamic roots. His knowledge of the wounds this country has sustained since independence. His 2nd tenure coming sixteen years into the 4th Republic – giving him all hindsight with which to know what to correct. No president before Buhari has been in a stronger position to unite the country. All he had to do was just do just that, unite the Nation, heal her wounds, bring all her parts together harmoniously and encourage participation. Inclusion, not exclusion. Unity, not division. Fatherliness, not grudge-bearing. The ignition of the local Nigerian version of Panafricanism, not the continuation of the insidious well-planned conspiracy of imperious jihadistic tribalism. But he missed this great opportunity, because he lacks the one thing, the most important thing, that thing without which Africa is going nowhere: the spirit and the principles of Panafricanism.

It is sad to see, half a century after the ‘decade of African independence’, the replacement of external colonialism with internal imperialism. The entire journey since independence – has it been in vain?

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

BUHARI PUSHING THE BIAFRAN ISSUE INTO THE ONLY FIELD OF BATTLE HE UNDERSTANDS: MILITARY CONFLICT.

A soldier without a war must be a lonely man. So lonely that he feels no shame at taking military conflict into the towns, neighbourhoods, streets and homes of unarmed or poorly armed civilians of even his own supposed country just to assuage his thirst for blood and domination in the only language comprehensible to his one-dimensional soul. It matters not to him that the victims in question are civilians untrained in martial combat and lacking in the sophisticated weapons which he has purchased from foreign countries with the wealth of the very people against a section of whom he has now turned that same military machinery. While other great generals feel militarily fulfilled only when matched in even combat against a worthy and equally trained adversary, the small-minded blood-thirsty little soldier will leave real terrorists undefeated and, instead, withdraw his troops from true battle and send them into the homes of civilians, to intimidate, to brutalize, to maim and to kill, just in order to satisfy his desire for a sense of victory, however cheap and shameful.

And what is the crime of this brave civilian population in question, these Igbos? Only one: self-awareness. They committed the deep, unpardonable, human crime of becoming and articulating their awareness of their own self, their own individual nationality, their own distinct identity as a People. This crime, already problematic as it is on all continents, is most heavily frowned upon and most viciously punished, it seems, on the African continent. The very continent most desperately in need of internal soul-searching and honest appraisal of its own inherent primordial intuiting of what the root of a nation is and what the forms of nations are. The very continent whose peoples most desperately need to redefine all concepts of nationhood foisted on them by colonial intent and later further militarily appropriated by feudal desire. A continent that should today enrich mankind with new schools of thought in the field of the different possibilities for the expressions of human civilization. The very continent that, even generations later, most urgently finds itself still recurrently placed before the need to question the chains, the borders, the constitutions and the conflicts into which, partly splintered and partly moulded, it was birthed through the labour throes of a deliberate colonial curriculum. Yet, this continent is the very same one that most violently and most vehemently refuses to look at itself in the mirror and dialogue with itself as to the best way to create the political and policy spaces that most favour its multi-ethnic nature and further its development. Instead it fights tooth and nail to defend and preserve what other civilizations designed and then forced upon it, without permitting any investigation by its indigenes into how they themselves would have done it if no external force had foisted it on them.

And now it is Nigeria’s turn, on that troubled continent, to fall (again) into conflict with herself over this very issue: of sovereign African ethnic nations – of different languages, of different centres and concepts of power, and of different directions of loyalty – but forced into an artificially conceived and created country by profit-minded non-Africans; and which Africans have now since become no longer at ease as they perpetually run around an irreconcilable puzzle promised them by colonialism and inevitably overtaken by deep-rooted feudalism. The sense of a Non-fit keeps breaking out time and again, embodied in calls for self-determination or restructuring at the one pole, or even by extreme ethnic envies, marginalisation and blood-letting at the other extreme.

The spirit of Ala-Igbo has re-embodied itself, and the dawning recognition begins to settle in, that this is not a Biafran army that can be defeated in battle, or a state-land that can be appropriated by occupation, or an ethnic identity that can be obliterated by marginalisation, nor is it a tribe that can be cleansed by genocide. This is something else entirely. This is a spirit that no matter how many times you kill them, will NEVER GO AWAY. This is a People that has re-become self-aware, conscious of itself as a Unit, as a nation-continuum. This is a People who want Sovereignty in all its depths and ramifications. This is a People that have the clarity and sense of proud adulthood to yearn to be their own Nation, themselves! And if you must give them something else, it must be one in which they feel and know they are represented!

But Nigeria was conceived, and brought together, under the barrel of the gun. And Nigeria, finally, has continued to keep herself together, like a masochist, through the self-inflicted pressure and violence of a forced marriage. It is thus not surprising that Nigeria, bewildered and baffled, bemused, insulted and continually embarrassed by increasingly vitriolic and contentious calls for secession, for restructuring, for self-determination by separate ethnic regions – a natural manifestation of her inability to address and redress the clash of civilizations brought about by her unnatural birth – begins to react in the only way she knows: The way of violence, intimidation and coercion.

It thus becomes imperative for President Buhari, a former coup plotter, a former military head-of-state, a veteran of the genocidal 1967-70 Nigerian war against the Igbo people of Biafra, to concentrate his efforts now on militarising the current Biafran resurgence in order to create the sick impression of a pseudo-justification to send federal troops into the streets and homes of a section of the people, an ethnic group, the Igbos, who have hitherto not launched even ONE ATTACK on the military or on any other ethnic group; a people who’s sole call is for the permission to hold a Referendum on the issue of self-determination, but who now find themselves internally attacked and surrounded by the armed forces of the very country which claims that these same Igbos are a part of her. What an irony of machiavellian proportions!

The contention that a certain individual, Nnamdi Kanu, has been exceedingly vitriolic in his verbal agitations, is a shamelessly lame excuse for a military offensive against an entire ethnic region. All it shows is the inability of this administration, as indeed of the colonially born African complex – compounded by delusions of ethnic superiority – to address complex issues in anything but military and militaristic terms! This is a shame for Africa and the Black race, as well as a mark of dishonour upon every person who supports this military aggression against civilians. In the end, President Buhari remains still General Buhari, a military dictator who criminally uses the organs of State to persecute his opponents, rather than applying and following the rules of the path of judicial law. Africa returns to the past, and time stands still.

But much deeper than Nigeria is the Igbo Spirit! It is the ROOT. And if it ever needed further proof that it does not belong in this contraption called Nigeria, at least in its present form, it is being furnished this daily in these times. If it ever needed any proof that it will NEVER be snuffed out no matter how many times Biafra is beaten down, it is being birthed daily into this certainty in these times of modern pharaonic oppression to which it is being subjected in broad daylight! Buhari’s desperate attempt to militarize the eternal Igbo issue and the Biafran puzzle, apart from causing untold pain and hardship to many civilians, individuals, communities and families, only serves the purpose of further accelerating the Igbo soul’s abnegation of the Nation that repeatedly wages war against it! Ndi Igbo will stand together, will fall together, will rise together! Ndi Igbo can NEVER BE DEFEATED OR BROKEN!

Once upon a time, Sovereignty was brutally, cunningly and mockingly taken away from Sovereign African ethnic nationalities! In its place they were given arbitrary illogical amalgamations, full of culture clashes, and told that this is the way forward if they want to develop! In Nigeria’s case, this amalgamation – in order to survive – should have submitted itself, in Nigerian hands, to a process of positive metamorphosis that would eventually allow the reawakening and the harmonious, reciprocal and mutually supporting blossoming of that which was taken away: our sense of individual sovereignty as well as the substance of it. Instead it has birthed anomalies and monstrosities and exposed an inconvenient truth that just refuses to go away: African Tribes are the true African Nations. This was why, to place a fundamental impediment before their development, Colonial Design struck them at that core, to hamper the national self and create an illusionary centre that cannot hold. Don’t mind the lie. For, in truth, Igbo world and Bini world and Yoruba world and Ijaw world dwellt side by side for centuries, and got along – and so will their Nations too one day, if it ever comes to that. We know how to do it, when each person is allowed to be himself.

You cannot make Igbos into Nigerians by sending Nigerian soldiers into Ala-Igbo to surround them and occupy their land and forcefully force all of them to vote, and to forswear Biafra, and hail Nigeria, under the barrel of the gun! On the contrary – you thereby make them into non-Nigerians. Infact you cause them to retreat deeper into what they are – Ndi Igbo!

You cannot make Igbos want to be Nigerians by harassing them and brutalizing them and humiliating them and killing them with Nigerian soldiers and Nigerian might! On the contrary you strengthen them in their Sense of Self as Ndi-Igbo, for nothing binds together as tightly as shared persecution. You thereby simply midwife their determination to become one African Nation, either purely as Ala-Igbo or in the family ethnic groups of the Republic of Biafra, that survived persecution and learned and matured through its vicissitudes and mistakes, drew on its strengths, and made it alone into the First World!

You awaken their Inner Igbo Voice which will tell them loudly, proudly: “I AM IGBO! I AM SELF! I AM NATION!” – Maka onye kwe, chi ya e kwe!

IGBO KWENU!

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

Background:
The president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, in September 2017, sent the Nation’s military into the south-eastern parts of the country where they tortured, humiliated and murdered citizens of largely the christian Igbo ethnic tribe, many of whom for decades have desired to break-away from Nigeria and establish their own country Biafra.

HERDING INTO AN UNKNOWN FUTURE

Last year, President Buhari arrested Nnamdi Kanu, accusing him of urging Easterners to arm and protect themselves.

Today, ARMED herdsmen from our president’s own ethnic group have started falling on those same unarmed Easterners and on other unarmed peoples of Nigeria, killing, maiming, raping and slaughtering them and forcefully taking over their land. The spike in these activities has been all over the news for months, and rumours now abound that there is even a secret bill in the making to legalize the unconstitutional one-sided freedoms of these armed herdsmen.

President Buhari has not arrested or brought to justice any of his own armed kinsmen and fellow herders. Infact on this issue he has been uncharacteristically soft-spoken for an ex-soldier who has severally fumed of how he will use the military might and intelligence of Nigeria to crush any violent or armed groups within the country.

If this is not the cold cynical Conspiracy that it looks like, then it is a case of a president turning out to be more clueless, inefficient and inadequate than he accuses his predecessor of being. Choose one.

The world is moving ahead, leaving Africa behind to continue to wallow in our ancient small-minded animosities. The OAU was founded in 1963, yet Africa is still not united and still not honest with itself. The Biafran War ended in 1970, but Nigerians still don’t trust one another. We are in the fourth republic, but the law and the constitution are still being interpreted selectively. Caught between the opposites of Meritocracy and Federal Character, we have not yet solved the basic puzzle of what form our democracy should take in order to succeed long-term.

The Age of Oil is slowly coming to an End. During these decades of global oil-dependency, certain Non-African oil-producers have used the proceeds of the Oil Trade to catapult their nations from the dregs of primitive rural backwardness into mind-boggling heights of beauty, industry and technology. Today while we pathetically and anxiously monitor the price of oil daily like mindless helpless victims of a system beyond our control, some scientific nations are investing heavily in New Energy, rushing at a feverish pace to hurriedly create a parallel technological space that will eventually replace the fossil-fuel-based technology and infrastructure of yesterday. The economic dynamics of tomorrow will not be kind to Nigeria and Africa.

In the arena of social and cultural engineering, upheavals are rocking the universal human soul which will shape the global social dialectics of tomorrow. Displacement, migration and integration have become issues facing more and more nations and societies. Peoples and ideologies that have always been strangers to one another and seemingly mutually incompatible are now locked in an intense discussion on how to co-exist peacefully within the different contexts of their different social systems and nation-types. Those who bring the solutions will be those who rule the future.

Rapid advances in the synergising of equally dizzying advances in new forms of information and communication technologies keep opening up wider and more customisable possibilities for any person, groups of persons, peoples or nations who really want and are committed to progress – to source out, engineer and implement the solutions they need. Living in the transitional era of the matrix of all these forces, the times could not be more conducive for progressive African minds to finally achieve the leap out of the state and the sad image of a non-producing, non-inventing, self-oppressing, corrupt, beggarly continent to a self-dependent, socially secure, rights-protecting, technologically inventive part-carrier of the future. Knowledge, once the rarest and most sought-after power-broker in the world, has become a cheap commodity easily available to any serious seeker.

In the midst of all this, it is the more primitive problems that continue to bog us down. Ill-health, lack of education, corruption, power-abuse, tribalism, broken infrastructure, the lack of basic amenities, the lack of social security, the lack of a tourism industry, the lack of a culture of incubation of ideas and new technology, issues of human, civil and minority rights, insecurity, and the list goes on. And at the top is the baffling question of the paradox of why Nigeria, an African country, should make herself the crude battleground of two imported world-religions. At these present cross-road where only UNITY gives us a fighting chance to catch up with the global shift in technology and social re-engineering taking place. My favourite song in my village has very simple lyrics – “Idinotu, o bu ya bu ike.”: UNITY IS STRENGTH. When will African “Muslims” and African “Christians” figure out this little trick?

In an integrated world in which diasporan Africans globally are increasingly looking to the motherland as a source of inspiration, a fountain of ancient knowledge, a bedrock of self-respect, and a field of new progressive activity, self-mockingly the continent is momentum-wise worse off now than at the dawn of independence.

And now Fulani herdsmen have joined the fray in expansionistic dimensions last seen only before colonialism, taken up their walking sticks and their new sophisticated firearms and started brutally doing everywhere in the country the very thing the President said he would never condone or allow under his watch. Lailai.

We are watching. Africa is watching. Quietly?

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.