‘NOWHERE is there anything about any curse. No authority ever corroborated the story. Yet this fiction is what the Clique has held on to in the protracted subjugation of Ndigbo. That was why Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, a principled officer and gentleman, was ignominiously removed as Chief of General Staff within months of his appointment. That was why Ndigbo led the formation of the PDP and gave it their all, only for the currently acclaimed Igbo leader, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, to be given a short shrift.”(Crisis and Conflicts in Nigeria: A Documentary Sourcebook by A.H.M Kirk-Greene pp 242-243.)
According to Omo Omoruyi, Chief M. K. O. Abiola’s presidential election victory was nullified because it was not backed by what he called Ethno-Military Clique of Northern Nigeria. General Babangida posited in 1993 that “the Yoruba and the Igbo did not have strong representation in the Armed Forces to provide them with the kind of protection they would need”. Yoruba and Igbo representation in the military today are far more minuscular today than ever before, due to the conscious and deliberate nepotistic policy of the man at the helm today. Besides, no one has bothered to decipher the Caliphate’s thinking on 2023.
Perhaps the assumption is that its deafening silence is symptomatic of non-alignment? How could this be when Sultan Dasuki was one of the prime forces against Chief Abiola’s presidential election? All these point to the fact that, in the ultimate, even the Jagaban would discover that he washed his hands and cracked a nut for an errant fowl to carry the seed away. At that point only would the incalculable harm done to Yoruba and Southern interests by the forward-looking politics of Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu become ever so clear.
To return to phantom curses and negative repercussions! Pastor Bakare needs to ask himself this fundamental question: Why is the curse for bad behaviour unidirectional? A sensible answer to that question may assist him in coming to terms with a myriad of other questions. Those who killed General Aguiyi-Ironsi in July 1966 have the longest streets in Abuja named after them. Apart from Aguiyi-Ironsi, they also killed countless other officers, including Lieutenant Colonels Israel Okoro, Gabriel Okonweze and Francis Adekunle Fajuyi; and Majors Nzegwu, Emelifonwu, Nnamani, Ihedigbo, Obienu, Ekanem, P. C. Obi, Isong, Ogunro; and 11 Captains, and 13 Lieutenants, and 128 NCOs and Other Ranks. They went ahead with a pogrom that cost 50,000 lives of Eastern Nigerians, mostly Ndigbo. Why have the perpetrators of the Nsoani never been visited by a curse? Nigeria has five functional international airports. Two of them are named after the mass murderers of July, August, September and October 1966.
They claimed that wine was poured on Tafawa Balewa, and that alcohol was forced down his throat. Compare it to the following: “Thirdly, the evidence disclosed that it was not merely a case of Northerners descending on Easterners and shooting, matcheting and clubbing them to death. They embarked on various methods of torture and humiliation.
One method was described by the 72nd witness – Dick Iwebi. This punishment is one of the most dreadful ways of crucifying a person. A heavy rod is tied across the back of the chest of the victim with the hands stretched and secured firmly on the rod. While the victim may still be standing on his legs, he is as helpless as a man nailed to a cross. In this position they then proceed to torture the victim by plucking his eyes, cutting his tongue and cutting his testicles.”(See The Report of the Justice G. C. M Onyiuke Tribunal on the Massacre of Ndigbo in 1966, Tollbrook Publishers Limited, Ikeja Lagos, pp 125-126.) Dear Pastor Bakare, who got cursed for this atrocity?
The thoughtful must ask what informed Pastor Bakare’s timing for his peculiar sermon. But the answer is all too obvious. The presidential election is next year and people who should only be seen and never heard are bursting eardrums hectoring all-comers for an Igbo President of Nigeria. It is important that their agitation is shot down before it gets a chance of taking off and actually flying. Of course, anti-Igbo propaganda was never a spontaneous thing. Its real name is insidous. To exemplify: In 1954, Emmanuel Ifeajuna won the gold medal in the High Jump event of the British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Vancouver, Canada. Ifeajuna was not just the first Nigerian, but also the first Black African, to win an international sports event. Back here in Nigeria, those that must never be cursed set up a national Sports Hall of Fame, which, to this day, does not include Ifeajuna’s name. Those who recall that Chioma Ajunwa is the first Nigerian to win an Olympic gold (in the long jump in Atlanta 1996) must go check out “their” sports “Hall of Fame”. Chances are that her name is not there. Not because she committed any offence but because of “from where she from comes from”! Yes, it is a capital offence to come from the Igbo country. In 1995, Gideon Akaluka, a young Igbo trader based in Kano was accused of desecrating the Koran. He was locked up. But an organised mob broke into his Police cell, dragged him out, beheaded him and danced through Kano metropolis with his bodiless head. Does Bakare know that not one person was cursed for this atrocity?
The injustice against Ndigbo is pervasive. Take the National Honours. Every head of every hamlet in the far North is an MFR or an OFR or a CFR or a CON or a GCON. Not so for Ndigbo. That is why a personage like Eze (Professor) Green Onyekaba Nwankwo, a distinguished traditional ruler, an accomplished academic who set up the Department of Finance at the University of Lagos, a former Executive Director in charge of banking and monetary policy in the Central Bank of Nigeria and the author of over 20 books has only the MON – the least of all the honours Nigeria can offer. The iniquity is most eloquent in the military. Unless they are in the Education Corps or the Medical Corps or the Physical Training Corps, hardly any Igbo gets promoted above the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
Those of us campaigning for an Igbo President of Nigeria are looking at more than the spectacle of a politician from the ethnic group enjoying the tenancy of Aso Rock. That is too simple. We are demanding equal rights. We are saying that a country indexed on lies already collapsed before it got the chance to take a first step to nationhood. An Igbo President is supposed to be the antidote to nearly 60 years of a people’s subjugation. People have no business forgetting that there is a distinction between being a slave and being enslaved. Ndigbo are no slaves. That was why in 1803, 75 of them rebelled at Dunbar Creek in Georgia, USA, took control of the slave ship carrying them, drowned their captors and chose to walk into the ocean rather than be slaves to White slave masters. That was why, between 1791 and 1804 they rebelled and overthrew the French regime in Haiti to establish an independent country founded and governed by ex-slaves. That is why the Igbo, indigenous to their current geographical space for millennia, find intolerable their insolent subjugation by recent migrants from the Fouta Djalon whose numbers no credible census has put at more than five per cent of the Nigerian population.
The systematic enslavement of Ndigbo in what is supposed to be their own country has got to be terminated. The epic Igbo struggle has taken various forms and will continue to do so. A prime example is their attempt at secession in the 1960s. Britain, and a genocidal war in which “Starvation is a legitimate instrument of warfare” thwarted them. Back inside Nigeria they are compelled to permanently stand back and keep bloody quiet forever. For any sigh, groan or moan of theirs, goons, troops, the Police and paramilitary contingents are deployed with extreme prejudice and excessive numbers against them. They are called terrorists while those that have stopped Kaduna State and wiped out innocent thousands in many parts of the country are termed bandits and treated with kid gloves. They have been branded “a spot in a circle”, a military euphemism underscoring their unenviable situation as targets for continued massacring.
There is news for the liars and the killers. Nigeria is unsustainable on the diet of lies and more lies. It is true that those that laid into Ndigbo in the 1960s and killed them in the tens of thousands got rewarded with high political offices and oil blocks and whatnot. But the kill-and-go ship of Ndigbo finally steamed into turbulent waters. Although census exercises in Nigeria are a huge joke, there are at least 40 million Ndigbo in Nigeria today. Nobody and no country can manufacture enough weapons to wipe them off the face of the country. Even in the extremely unlikely event of all Igbo in Nigeria getting killed, there are millions of them abroad today.
From their number, at least a thousand will eventually pay a visit to the mother country, these question pouring from their flaming tongues: “Why did you slay my mother? Why did you massacre my father? Why did you annihilate my sister? Why did you exterminate my brother?” For all of the above, and especially at the lectern, the microphone should never be a justification for verbal diarrhoea. So, Mr. Preacher Bakare, the next time the sound of your voice is amplified by the electronics of public address systems, you must endeavour to annexe some circumspection. On disseminating the falsehoods of those who claim the right to perpetually sit and fart on all our heads, you must do two things: DESIST and CEASE!
Iloegbunam is the author of: The Case for an Igbo President of Nigeria.