Still on Ohanaeze, Igbo elders, leaders, elite and the political class, and how they managed to create a wedge between them and the aggrieved youths.
This hardly-discussed lack of trust between Igbo leaders and Igbo youths, exists, grows and deepens because the people who should work on resolving it, think it is convenient and rewarding for them to continue their age long game the way they have been playing it.
Moreover, they never imagined in their wildest dreams, that the oppressed Igbo younger generation, could muster critical mass, running into millions, resolute on their agenda, completely independent from manipulations and influence of the political class.
The political class erroneously assumed that, with the huge resources at their disposal, they would always penetrate and make incursions into the soul of the agitators.
They had no idea that diaspora funding would sustain a powerful agitation in their lifetime, making them redundant spectators, helpless and scared. Another reason was the hangover from the military era, where lobbying through influential northerners or even pimping for senior military officers, would not only draw you very close to the corridors of power, but also land you lucrative and powerful jobs and appointments.
They had no reason on earth to respect or respond to the wishes of the masses. The masses weren’t instrumental to their ascendancy. The power base was located up North, and that’s all that matters. There are decent, caring and concerned Igbo politicians and leaders, but these ones are not in the majority. Sounds unkind, but bitter truth all the same.
Moreover the post civil war Igbo society worshipped the nouveau riche and every new power broker. Once you joined the super league through your connection and friendship with General so, so and so, or Alhaji this or that, you automatically become emergency Igbo leader, struggling to resist avalanche of offers of Chieftaincy titles and honours and awards, even as local musicians sing your praises.
The youths are unimportant, helpless and powerless. They have no choice than hang around your mansion, anytime you visit in your tinted glass SUVs and Security escorts, in your usual blaze of glory. Their issues do not matter. It has been this way for years.
That only 16% of high school graduates find a place in the universities, is nobody’s business.
That there are no youth empowerment programmes or skill acquisition schemes to engage the youths, concerns no one.
The youths are totally and completely abandoned by the state, as it were. Trader-apprentiship, hustling as clearing and forwarding neophytes at the seaports, car dealers, salesmen, and interstate commercial activities, couldn’t absorb them all.
Many attempt migrating to Europe through the deserts of North Africa. The not too honourable ones, get attracted to racketeering of all sorts, including drug trafficking, wire fraud, international pimping and even violent crimes. Lack of opportunities, only made many available to be recruited for noble and less noble vocations. In all these, over the years, no administration bothered to enquire into the youth crisis, even with unemployment regularly hovering around 35% and 40%.
The youths of the Eastern region, who not only notice that they are also victims of state sponsored nepotism and dichotomy, also discovered that there is no hope in sight to an end to the discrimination and humiliation meted out to them, gradually began to dream for salvation and deliverance from anywhere.
With time, the unending discontent as a result of official discrimination, convinced Igbo younger generation that some thing has to be done to improve their situation, since their political leaders, seem only interested in their own individual welfare.
This discontent and resentment lasted for decades, and grew thick in the air, until Ralph moved in 22 years ago, to take advantage of their frustrations, with promises of a new country where they’ll be treated fairly.
It was only a matter of time before the same army of young aggrieved agitators, would conclude that the rethorics of the new guy broadcasting from London, sounded better, and accordingly, gathered around him.
Neither Ralph nor Nnamdi, started or inspired mistreatment of Ndigbo in Nigeria.
Neither of them, stopped the political class to earn the trust and respect of the youths, by at least, showing concern about the frustrations of the youths.
The state was hostile to Ndigbo for losing a war, the unskilled, ill educated youths, mostly untrained and usually at the bottom of the rung of the ladder, suffered the oppression of Ndigbo, the most.
The situation and timing became ripe, when Ralph realised that they are only too willing even to contribute their resources towards the realisation of a separate nation, where they will be treated as human beings, and the agitation gained traction.
By the time Nnamdi came on the stage, over a decade later, the rejection of Nigeria and her leaders, had already concretisized in their hearts.
All he had to do to gain massive following, was convince them he was concerned about their plight and dedicated to their welfare and willing do anything to achieve results in their pursuit of a new nation.
All the while, the political class and other leaders, were frolicking in their rat race for accommodation, relevance and acquisitions for opulent lifestyle and intimidating cash balance.
Nobody cared about the angry youngsters.
The agitation had already gained a life of its own, before the current administration began doing everything in its power to fuel the agitation, by ostracizing and isolated Ndigbo.
The style, actions and inactions of the current government, greatly popularised the agitation and turned the agitators, heros of the hapless masses.
In all these, the same Igbo political leaders and elders, who refused to identify with the travails of the youths, CONTINUED to worry more about the endearment and approval of the central government than the welfare of their children.
They consistently ignored and shunned every plea to engage the agitators.
They believed the central government would easily crush the agitation.
They don’t have enough information to appreciate that the agitation was inevitable and that it was their duty to explain and impress upon the central government to engage the agitators and address the issues that inspired the agitation.
Fearful not to offend Aso rock, they prefer to walk cautiously and carefully.
Next time you wonder why the younger generation Ndigbo, especially the agitators do not trust the elders and the leaders, know it, that our elders and leaders have not done all the right and proper things they should do.
I refrain from calling names and detailed specifics, in order not to ruffle feathers. They know that I know about all the pleas to engage the agitators earlier and their response.
The way to go, is for Igbo leaders and elders to correct their mistakes and face the reality.
The civil war defeat syndrome and the struggle for self advancement, driven by Republican values, inadvertently made the Igbo leadership forget that their actions and inactions were unfair to their children, over time.
Knowledge barrier is hindering filling up the wedge between Igbo leaders and Igbo youths.
Correction and reconciliation is necessary. The right thing is to sincerely address the issues that inspired the agitation.