In January 1970, fifty one years ago, open hostilities ceased, when General Philip Effieong signed the instrument of surrender at Dodan barracks Lagos. Africa’s bloodiest internecine and grand-scale fatricide came to an end, or so it seemed.
But events have since shown that in the hearts of some people, the war is still raging. In Rwanda, the Tutsi and the Hutus have put behind the carnage of two decades ago. Here the story is clearly different. The Igbos are yet to be accepted. They are still reeling under the burden of suspicion of an imaginary Igbo resurgence.
By 1965, twenty years after the global carnage that was world war two, both Japan and Germany could freely engage any nation and express themselves as great economic powers, marching boldly into the future and greatly influencing, inspiring and impacting the globe, gaining respect and leading the world in so many fields of human endeavour.
51 years after the Nigerian civil war, there remains a glass ceiling over certain areas, heights and offices Ndigbo can attain.
The argument is that they lost a civil war in 1970, therefore, they should be eternally denied certain dues, rights and offices.
But the truth is: SOME PEOPLE ARE SCARED STIFF OF WHAT THEY SEE AS POSSIBLE IGBO RESURGENCE.
Firstly, the same brethren were afraid of what they termed: A POSSIBILITY OF IGBO HEGEMONY, early in the life of this country, even before independence and rose to check it.
It all began a long time ago.
Nnamdi Azikiwe’s breath-taking and very impressive activism from 1937 onwards, after his return from Accra where he edited and ran the Accra Morning Post for two years, and his ability to earn the trust and respect of people like Herbert Macaulay and even his chain of newspapers, created suspicion in the minds of fellow countrymen that the “eboe” ( late comers to both Christian influence and western education ), were coming to take over everywhere and dominate every one.
Deliberate false alarm.
The arrival of the ten argonauts he inspired and supervised their American education, deepened the fears. Daddy Onyeama’s famed gaffe, at the recreation club, that it was “only a matter of time before the eboe will—-” didn’t help matters.
Top Igbo civil servants like Paul Nwokedi and co, were closely marked and monitored and their every move deliberately twisted to support the Igbo hegemony narrative.
Okechukwu Ikejiani’s innocuous remark that he “loved cars”, was manipulated to demonize him and paint him black.
The Igbo-intended or Igbo-planned hegemony gained currency even before Awolowo’s travails, seen also by some as a grand conspiracy to get Awo out of contention.
The accidental one sided nature of the killings during the January 1966 coup detat erased all doubts of an intended Igbo hegemony quest.
The colonial supervisors weren’t going to miss a golden opportunity to put the cheeky “eboes” in their proper place by driving the propaganda of a bogey Igbo hegemony agenda. The blackmail was total.
It was going to permanently get the “strong eye” eboe out of the way in order to allow the colonial master free and easy access to the “OYEL”.
Blackmailing the Igbo became an irresistible and profitable project. Everyone was going to benefit, including the minorities.
The colonial master also carefully manipulated the crisis into a full blown war in order to teach the eboe a lesson. Weaken them, and gradually upturn orderliness in the Igbo society by creating and empowering quislings who will place their loyalty elsewhere, thereby creating enough confusion in the decades ahead, to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible for the Igbo society to achieve the feared pre war synergy and one mindedness of the famous Igbo State Union that sustained the spirit of the war effort.
Deliberately imposing leaders on them, by empowering favourites of the new masters as Igbo leaders, completes the conspiracy. Everything must be done to put on hold the touted Igbo resurgence, real or imagined. The Igbo spectacular advancement, disturbs everyone. They seem a special breed.
They catch up and get ahead of you in little time. Their story is unique. The fearsome “can do” spirit of the Igboman isn’t replicated anywhere else in the world.
They build schools, hospitals, roads etc, through communal self effort, they contribute resources and grant scholarships to indigent and bright students. They hold meetings every where they are on Sunday afternoons, sharing their problems, challenges and other issues. They jointly fund great projects that drive their progress and welfare.
By 1923 when the first secondary school in Igbo land was under construction at Uzuakoli, there were eight already in Yoruba land and two in the North. DMGS Onitsha 1925, was the second.
The Igbos who were seen as bottle washers, messengers and house boys in the 1920s, were to dominate the labour market as clerks and shopkeepers, only thirty years later. The presence of the Igbos every where by the 1950s, in the national life of the country, fueled the misplaced fears and the suspicions that drives the hatred that the Igbo has suffered from over the years and continues to suffer even today. His self confidence and itinerant nature, coupled with his bargaining skills and the attendant successes at the individual level sealed the argument.
The eboe seemed unstoppable. It was only natural that after the very bloody war, steps will be taken to check the intimidating eboe spirit and the feared eboe resurgence. The conspiracy to hold Ndigbo down perpetually is no secret.
The only problem is that the oppressor does not know when to apply the breaks. The fear of the Igbo man is so real to him, that the oppressor forgot that he has already visited so much unacceptable evil on the feared Igbo, that the Igbo younger generation can’t take it anymore, and have sworn not to bequeath such humiliating condition to his progeny.
The oppressor blinded by envy, simply cannot see that.
He cannot see it, because he constantly sees the Igbo doing well in his commercial enterprise. In every city in Nigeria, he sees him, provocatively displaying his wares in every shopping plaza, dominating trade and commerce, and developing property everywhere. The enterprising traits of the Igbo man, seem the greatest source of his sorrow. Envy and jealousy seems the Igboman’s greatest burden.
The people who shut down all his technological achievements and inventions during the war, also reduced his demographic strength by clever design.
They took away his oil fields and gave same to his brother, through the Justice Mamman Nasir boundary adjustments. His hard earned properties were declared abandoned property by Major David Mark Panel.
States and local government areas were created to spite and cage him. Every good thing was denied his region. He is deliberately forced to accept that he is a second class citizen in his own country. The hostile policy of exclusion remains alive and thriving even today. Those dutifully applying it, pretend they do not know why the agitation is thriving.
Meanwhile, a pliable and compliant leadership class, who have been successfully intimidated and made to believe that it’s a mortal sin to demand for justice and equity, hang over the Igbo firmament as its eternal leaders.
Completely powerless and without influence over the shortchanged and angry masses, they survive mainly through their connections and alignment with the power brokers, whose approval they see as survival anchor and meal ticket.
Relevance is built only by making sure the power brokers see you as a good boy. Meanwhile the agitators emeshed in one faux pas after the other, and avoidable errors, due to youthful exuberance, continue to make a mess of eating boiled eggs.
The beat goes on, the falcon cannot hear the falconer. If only those continuing the war through other means will realise that the war ended 51 years ago, there would be no agitation.