Opinion: THE UNFORTUNATE DECLARATION OF NDI-IGBO AS PERSONA NON GRATA IN THE NORTH
By SUNDAY EZE
The news of quit notice issued to all Igbo people living in the north by Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum and Northern Emancipation Network to vacate northern Nigeria on or before October, 1 was provocative, patently worrisome and came to many as a surprise. With this declaration, Igbo people unfortunately fall nothing short of persona non grata in the north. Let it be stated that no ethnic group has the ultimate right to eject one from Nigeria. Among numerous factors very close to the heart of the groups upon which they anchored their declaration was, “…the realization that it since ceased to be comfortable or safe to continue sharing the same country with the ungrateful, uncultured Igbos who have exhibited reckless disrespect for the other federating units and stained the integrity of the entire nation with their insatiable criminal obsessions. As if that was not enough they alluded to the spurious fact that…the Igbos are also responsible for Nigeria’s cultural and moral degeneracy with their notorious involvement in all kinds of crimes, including international networking for drug and human trafficking, violent robberies and kidnappings, high-profile prostitution and advanced financial fraud.
They further enthused:…emboldened by the apparent indifference of the Nigerian authorities, the Igbo secessionist tendency is widening in scope and action at every stage, with adverse effects on the law-abiding people of other regions residing in or passing through the East, while the Igbo leaders and elders by their utterances and direct action or inaction appear to support and encourage it, among many other allegations too numerous to mention here.” By way of conclusion, the group averred that, “we are hereby placing the Nigerian authorities and the entire nation on notice that as from the October 1, 2017, we shall commence the implementation of “visible actions” to prove to the whole world that we are no longer part of any federal union that should do with the Igbos.” This declaration for all intents and purposes was arrantly nonsensical and uncalled for. It was construed and constructed on the bile and fury of desperation to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it.
Crimes and criminality or cultural and moral degeneracy are scourges of our time which cannot be ascribed to only the Igbo people. It is said among the Igbo people that when a crying child points to a definite direction, if its father is not there, the mother is. Have these people and their sponsors given a thought as to why the Igbo people are constantly agitating for justice, equity and fairness? Well-meaning northerners are called upon to ignore this full-fledged incitement against a friendly people who have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of their lives and that of their host communities. The sane approach to this issue should have been for the groups to seek peaceful and constitutional means of disintegration which Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is known for if that was the brain behind their ranting instead of threat to lives of those who are already held hostage by the ligament of an already spiritually disintegrated nation.
Kaduna state government has ordered the arrest of the signatories to the so called declaration, and their sponsors while the Federal government has threatened to deal decisively with those attempting to break law and order. Arewa Consultative Council (ACF) and other well-meaning Nigerians have berated and disowned this group for not speaking the minds of the generality of the north. The determination of the government of Kaduna state to bring these people to book and the outright condemnation of their action by notable individuals and groups in the north is commendable but extra concrete steps of eternal vigilance by the security agencies to secure the lives of innocent Igbo should be taken to avert another imminent pogrom. It must be re-stated that, government statements in recent times are hardly backed up by meaningful actions thus; this threat to lives of a people must be seen as a grave accident waiting to happen if necessary precautions are not taking. This matter is grave. It must be seen as it is and should be taken seriously by governments at all levels in the north before it is too late.
The criminal intent of the groups is clearly seen in the recovery and control of landed property section of their address. “As a first step, since the Igbo have clearly abused the unreciprocated hospitality that gave them unrestricted access to, and ownership of landed properties all over the North, our first major move shall be to reclaim, assume and assert sole ownership and control of these landed resources currently owned, rented or in any way enjoyed by the ingrate Igbos in any part of Northern Nigeria. Consequently, officials of the signatory groups to this declaration are already mandated to commence immediate inventory of all properties, spaces or activity in the north currently occupied by the Igbos for forfeiture at the expiration of the ultimatum contained in this declaration. In specific terms, the groups are directed to compile and forward an up-to-date data of all locations occupied by any Igbo in any part of Northern Nigeria including schools, markets, shops, workshops, residences and every other activity spaces.” This is a wicked reminder of the “policy of abandoned property” introduced by the Federal Government of Nigeria which deprived the Igbo people of access to their hard-earned properties all over Nigeria after the civil war. There is dignity in labour and Igbo people should in the fullness of time reap the fruits of their labour. Nigerians own luxury apartments and properties all over the world. I think nothing stops Igbo people from retaining their hard-earned properties in the north even if they are no longer part of Nigeria.
Nigeria should not be deliberately plunged into another senseless conflagration by those whose intents are bent on destroying even the north they are poised to protect. The industry of an average Igbo man and his contribution the development of the north and Nigeria as a whole cannot be over-emphasised thus; he should be seen as a friend not an enemy. The failure of the Nigerian state to address the lingering issues of injustice and fairness will continue to rear its ugly heads until all of us; all of us see the need to restructure our nation. The entity called Nigeria was deliberately foisted on us with this K-legged structure to create all these emerging problems. Therefore, the auspicious time to renegotiate the indivisibility of Nigeria is here with us.
The agitation for self determination all over the world constitutes no crime as it is the inalienable right of a people. Any group of nationalities in Nigeria which felt distraught with the ways things are done has the unbridled right to determine the fate of its people in the entity called Nigeria. Doing this has to be peaceful and in line with the dictates of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.
Sunday Onyemaechi Eze, a Media and Communication Specialist is the publisher of thenewinsightng.blogspot.com. He wrote via [email protected] and can be reached on 08060901201