By : Zitenwa Zik Ikokwu
As an ardent believer in the philosophy of the existence of Ndi Igbo in Nigeria, I can confidently say that “BIAFRA” is not the solution to the sufferings and marginalization of South East region in Nigeria. Over the years, I have heard many Igbos talk about how the current south east region will look like when they finally secede from Nigeria, and the way some people will describe the suppose baifra , you will start imagining “Heaven” on earth, they have painted the supposed biafran state as a perfect state when it comes. They will tell you once biafra come, everybody will be gainfully employed, 1 biafran pound will be equivalent to 1 US dollar, they will tell you that biafra will be an industrialized nation where everything be manufactured, they will tell you how food will full the whole markets in biafran land, the only thing I have not heard from them is to come up with philosophy that there will be “No More Death” once biafra comes. These are wonderful cum superb dreams and aspirations of many Igbos who want to secede from Nigeria, but even with these dreams they fail to capture or take into consideration the necessary factors before even thinking of leaving Nigeria.
In life, you just don’t start up a process without putting into consideration the outcome or the end result of such process. Each time I see myself discussing about the secession of ndigbo from Nigeria, I always like using South Sudan to illustrate what the supposed biafra will look like, after leaving Nigeria, our situation may not be as bad as that of South Sudan but definitely we will find out that “Nigeria was not necessarily our problem” .The same way the Igbos are dreaming of a better life once they leave Nigeria, was the same way the people of South Sudan was dreaming of having a better country once they secede from Sudan, But the whole world later found out that Khartoum was never the problem of South Sudan though they contributed with the marginalization of the people in the southern region, like what the Igbos are currently going through in Nigeria.
There are factors the Biafran Agitators need to consider before going on with their struggle.
1) They talk about biafra without having in mind that, if eventually biafra comes these current south east leaders that has failed the region will still be the ones deciding the fate of the supposed biafrans, because they have the purchasing power
2) A die hard biafran agitator don’t want to hear that south east region is a landlocked region without having access to international waters. Once you mention that south east is landlocked area they will refute it, telling you how they will dredge the rivers to join Atlantic Ocean, they will describe it as if it’s an thing to do knowing fully well that Niger Delta region that have access to the ocean won’t be part of the supposed biafra
3) We all know the truth but we keep hiding it, Igbos are greedy and selfish in nature. So how will they tackle these two things to avoid Igbos killing themselves when given the opportunity to govern themselves. There are many factors we need to consider before asking for the opportunity to govern ourselves.
I know am not alone in this, I don’t think that biafra is the solution to our problems in Nigeria, but looking deep into many of issues threatening the existence of ndigbo in Nigeria you will find out that majority of our problems are caused our actions and inactions, which 70% of such problems we face are leadership problem, I will now allocate the remaining 30% to the people because they are the ones electing such leaders. Leadership issue is one problem Africa is still battling with, even after years of being free from colonial powers. It’s no longer news that africa has the worst set of leaders in the world and yet nothing is being done to erase such menace from our society. As africa is battling with the issue of leadership, so is south east geopolitical zone. The south easterners are always first to cast blame on other regions in Nigeria on the basis that Nigerian government both past and present haven’t done thing for the south east region when compared to what other regions are always getting from federal government, but we fail to blame ourselves for recycling selfish and greedy leaders who doesn’t have the interest of the region at heart. During Obasanjo’s regime south east region produced 5 Senate Presidents, each of them came from the 5 eastern states of Anambra, Abia, Imo, Ebonyi and Enugu but it’s unfortunate that while they were at the senate they didn’t develop their region or attract the presence of federal government which they were part of. When they were at the senate, they couldn’t use their powers as Senate presidents to rally round their colleagues from other regions in the country to mount pressure on the then federal government to build at least one functional seaport that will be serving the whole south east region and to construct the Second Niger Bridge that has been on paper for ages “If you don’t arrange your house, don’t expect an outsider to come and do that for you”. So are we to blame the rest of the country for the non performance of those we sent to the Senate to represent the region? Who should we blame for the bad leadership the region has been witnessing? When I visited Ebonyi State and saw the effects of good leadership, I came to realize that the problem of ndigbo in Nigeria is not Nigeria but themselves. If Ebonyi state with low Internal Generated Revenue and a little from monthly federal allocation could be witnessing this kind of transformation, Abia and Imo that are oil producing states would have been miles ahead of many states in Nigeria if they have had good leaders since Nigeria returned back to democracy in 1999.
Even if the federal government both in the past swore never to develop south east region, I don’t think they will take any south east leader trying to develop master plan for south east region to court.
What South East Needs ~
What south east region needs is not even biafra but a developmental master plan that will integrate all the south eastern states economically and socially. I wrote an article about 3 years ago, how to integrate south east region economically and I was so happy that Ohaneze Ndigbo alongside south east governors forum led by their chairman Governor David Umahi bought into that idea and constituted a committee which Prof Chukwuma Soludo was the head of the committee in charge of the economic blueprint of the region. They embarked on feasibility study and later came out with a wonderful economic blue print for the region, which include building a separate rail line connecting the 5 eastern states and many other mouth watering economic blueprint that if implemented, it will automatically turn south east into an industrialized region but unfortunately south east governors are yet to start the implementation of those reports.
We can still live in Nigeria and still dwells in the abode of biafra as Nigerians. We don’t need to leave Nigeria before turning our region into a supposed heaven as some people are made to believe. We can do that with the right people at the helm of affairs, we can still be an industrialized region in Nigeria
God Bless The Federal Republic Of Nigeria
God Bless South East Nigeria
God Bless Anambra State