ARISE NDIGBO

First, it was an accusatory attack on Nnia Nwodo. Then the physical molestation of Ike Ekweremadu, then recently the raid against Dave Umahi. All these have one thing in common, a loss of innocence. And an unmasking of our masquerades.

These are the things we now live with. And they’ve been building up for a while. At the background is an unchallenged and unrelenting attack on the rank and file rights of Ndigbo every single day across the country. This has become so normal that it’s no longer news. And the *Copy and paste* Social Media journalists has ceased even to promote it.

We are clueless as to what to do, your thoughts that we should promote the lynching of our past leaders without trial clearly confirms that. We meet and make known to everyone, as the provibial hen that kept shouting when a hawk comes carrying its Chicks away, through Communiques and Press Releases, weak rationalizations of our predicaments. Who really cares?

We have no clear cut plans or is there any attempts at all on preparing for these eventualities. Our youths have been injected with the narcotics of small handouts during elections; this effectively removes them from the equation, because they have already been settled. The support of official power blocs in Igbo land is waning. We do not command the trust and support of the people as should be. Where then, if I may ask, do we expect to pull the human beings to force any revolution? As for revolution, Nwanna it is not decided at the meeting of ụmụnna after deliberations, it’s spontaneous and it has a life of its own. So do not confuse revolution with resentment.

The confusion is wide-spread. Ceartin nihilistic tendencies seem to have taken over our lives. The growing trend is for a die hard, conscious personality emerging from the restlessness of the youths to declare himself God and savior of Ndigbo. God’s they are not and will never be. Saviours? Not so sure considering their antecedents. By their fruits we shall know them, the good book says. We do know their fruits and we sure do know that saviours or semblance of it they are not. This brings me to speak a bit about you in particular. A few years ago, you were in the system. At the center. We both related and had high hopes of what would eventually become of you and our people. Fast forward a year after, you bought a jeep, built a house in Abuja, started one in the village, still uncompleted and you ran out of luck by backing the wrong horse. In between you were carrying yourself as our new prophet if not messiah. All in all you added no plank to the Igbo project, you sadly speak of lost opportunities but you still can’t see your mishap as the reason why we have collectively failed. Nwannem, we are largely our own Judases. Think about this.

Nna, We chat on Whatsapp from the deluded false comforts of our self imposed exiles and the matters we choose to talk about are discussed at most for a few days and then we move on to some things else. How can that be our platform for formulating any strategic plan? When last did you attend your community meeting in Abuja? When last did you start a conversation about our collective development in your community forums? Please, Igbo bashing is not just when Yoruba journalists or Hausa/Fulani fanatics attacks us, it is when we become too big to relate with our own or too ashamed to identify with your people. I recall getting so upset with you when you met me all dressed out as an Alhaji and though how you dress isn’t my business, but for you to say to me that *it is the dress code of leaders and rulers and so for you to belong you must dress thus.* You can see from these pictures am trying to paint that I hardly share your sentiments.

As our walls are assaulted daily and we look more confused as the days unfold I think we should do more than just some of the brash statements we do release from time to time. We must slowly reign in the chaos of emotiveness. Then we need to explore from the outside and from the inside what the hurts are really about. Make no mistake, the umbrella can only protect those under it from rain and sun, and not those outside it. This implies that claiming that your friend or associate owns the best umbrella while you are under the rain shows just how stupid you are. We should make our own umbrella. Not copying or imitating others. If ours as cheap as we can afford keeps us dry and cool, that’s simply great.

Our present groups and alliances are not in any way primed to tackle these challenges, but to bolster the egos of some of you home boys that have made politics without results your jobs. Any alliance with the North where terms are dictated from either Minna, Sokoto or as recently Daura is pure and simple never going to favor us. We simply are mere little clusters of feel good fellows without the will and determination to make any change. We are killed literally all over the place and we talk. Just talk. That’s the attraction of the IPOB to the wider Igbo public. Though they are hardly any more than huff and puff hot-headed youths and jokers, their rhetorics hits and resonates with the people and we all know that beyond rhetorics lies the real thing.

How can we get the real thing going? To know this we must understand ourselves today. We are weak both as individuals and as a unit. Comfort has become a state and an enemy. We are too comfortable or too glued to the gods of comfort that we hardly would ever be capable of leaving our rooms for an open response to some of the attacks. I said that much to you. That both of us under any circumstances would hardly join our folks in the streets to force any change. That’s the lot of the have-nots we think. And how do you expect those have-nots to face the bullets and tear gas alone and agree to your leadership later. To lead we must be in front. Anything else is wrong and wrong is wrong, full stop.

With all the killings, reported and unreported across the SE, our best responses have been social media criticisms and political nonsense mouthed by our leaders. I just checked my exchanges with you when the Agatu massacre happened; you wrote me and copied and pasted over 200 messages in 24 hours. To what effect bro? We both couldn’t visit the ground zero, couldn’t set up a relief scheme or support any, and I noticed that after a week our chats shifted to other things. No one went to the streets. No one took any measures besides the timid squealing. The Enugu Governor was even pictured with a large and wide smile bowing to the Babarian-in-Chief in a handshake. The fire has gone out of our Igbo bones. We are married to comfort and love fettered freedom to full freedom.

I do not see any changes anytime soon. It’s the same-same docility and after a while we are back to the grid. Our responses are loud these days because the attacks has been against high profile persons, our supposed Ijeles. Who speaks for the poor folks in our villages who nomore go to the farms, who have nothing except the daily staples of fears that has become their lives? Poverty and negligence has been put in their plates and we are spoon fed the lies of which the political class in the SE has driven us into. Take for example the staggering revelations about the rape of Imo by the Okoroacha dynasty, and yet this man seats *Sleepily* comfortable in the Senate and roams about as if the world owes him. Nwanna, Ka Ànyị ná echeki kwa! Because the way we are going we may have no Igbo land to worry about because of our ignorance.

The moneyed class are all immune to all these I suppose. For their investments are not at risk they believe and they can always continue with their lifestyles without breaking any sweat. The fall out is that there where some hedge would have arisen to stem some serious social and economic problems, there are a few or none to help with this. We are witnessing a wholesale abandonment of our homestead. Nothing is been done. The best protection any of these moneyed men can have for their investments is to invest in Ndigbo. Small steps at community levels can change a lot. To make sure we do not get caught out again as in the 1970s tragedy of the Port Harcourt abandoned properties saga is to diversify our investments. And where else can we find the richest deposit of human diversity than in our people! Yet we beg them.

Who would bail the cat? What do we do? I don’t know really. Whatever one thinks of requires money, Will, determination and spontaneity. These must somehow find some mind or group of minds to bind it together into a concrete and coherent detailed plan of action. Of all our *gara-gara* we are cowards to the core. Even when our leaders are openly challenged, insulted and derobed, we are largely unperturbed or angry enough to respond in kind. And you still find some calling for caution and urging patience. When no caution or patience is thought of when they bite us on the back, kill us at will and make us non citizens in a country we built, Nwanna, I wish you well in your patience. For me the answer lies elsewhere.

We are in a damaged state. Investors are running from our zone. That’s actually what our detractors want. We are losing on all fronts. Our PR has been so diminished that we are barely able to get any major investor to listen to us. Our knowledge of politics in Nigeria has been tested and am sad to say we have really failed. We are baited by and with all sorts of nonsense and we fall for it. I won’t spare you bro, you are an example of crumb-eating politician. Failure is coming at a dangerous cost. The Agenda which we pursue, is set outside us and without consulting us. We have shifted from shouting marginalization to becoming truly Marginal in thoughts, scope and action.

I want to see us leaving our rooms for an aggressive action against the anarchy that has overtaken our homeland. Let’s rock the boat of comfort. Starting with ourselves. A lot of us, a larger majority of us, think that our salvation lies with some messiah out there. No. There’s no messiah out there except you and me. We have become innured to the life we live even when it is pitiable. We do not participate. We do our trading and deals. Find food even when it’s just crumbs and look the other way when Igbo matters are discussed. We are the key. None else. The Situation is exceptional now. We must start a new chapter by becoming a leading provider of support wherever we are. Let’s put every effort in going back to our village and community meetings. That’s where real life changing politics is played. There we would add our voices to that of our brethren and ensure at least that no stranger usurps our birthright.

We just tout and make noise about our large population across the country. You’ve been pissing me off with your, *Ndigbo nwe Abuja* hymn. And I’ve been asking you to tell me at least one advantage that gives us as a people and you barely can. The individuals who own those properties are the beneficiaries. And I do not begrudge them. But until we find a way to turn those ownership into political capital, then we are largely ignorant fools as a people. What has it translated to? Nothing.

The North we say is home to a lot of Igbo traders and artisans. Many have been there for decades. Speak the language. Carry out their business in the roadless and unmarked hamlets that dot the place. What socio-economic or political value or intelligence has this added to our understanding of and dealings with the North? How has it helped shape our views and plans? You already know the answer. Their thoughts are so limited that the only times they think Igbo is when they fight each other in their mock unions or when they are used as dress photo ops by the powers there. Some, like you and the man I told you about that I met in Kano a few years ago, who told me that he has not visited home for 24 years are the problem. An you still call that man Igbo? Of course, with a BUT! We need to find a good way to get these and others everywhere in the world to be more conscious of their relationship and responsibilities to the SE. A small group, hardly known by many, can embark on a quite outreach to all these people and groups. Painstakingly documenting and profiling them so as to determine of what use they are and a better way to apply them to our strategic objectives. It’s going to cost money and time but above all dedication and human beings. But who would fund this? Who would go?

Traveling to these places with a determined focus can both be a lesson and a challenge. You recall I told you that a few years ago I twice visited the Igbo community in Bamako Mali as the emissary of the late Ohanaeze President Amb. Ralph Uwechue. The trip was an eye opener. First the Igbo community there is large. Very large. If one takes a rough calculation based on the information they provided they should be numbering close to 600,000 in Bamako alone. They are scattered all over Mali even in the almost inhabitable deserts. They are the major suppliers of everything and form the backbone of the informal business sector in the country. They were in the markets, roadside stalls and everywhere. But as all things Igbo, what brought me there on both occasions was a fight to finish amongst them over leadership tussle which led to the splitting of the Group into splinter associations. There was such infighting that a few were killed and many jailed. That’s our state almost everywhere Ndigbo live. Then I figured that if these people were just by any means controlled from home and focused, we would have been deeply enriched. On my last day there during my first visit, I was hosted at the home of one of our own, an Ohafia man who was not just close to the President of the country but extremely considered influential in the country. Such men are never going to feature in our radar. One can go on and on about Ndigbo in very strategic positions, whom we either failed to tap into or groom for leadership. When our biggest capital: OUR HUMAN RESOURCES, becomes useless by a conscious decision to ignore them, we are the biggest losers.

Our visions of ourselves has shrunk, judging from your take that giving us some good for nothing Ministerial position is better than nothing considering that we didn’t vote for the President. Like I said earlier, I don’t know who between us is sane or insane. When the yardstick to measure ourselves in Nigeria becomes the *IMPERIAL GRANTING OF MINISTERIAL POSITIONS* then we are surely doomed. Nwanna take a sabbatical to your village if you can, spend at least 2 weeks uninterrupted with your doors open and revert back to me on if the people you met knows anything about Ngige or Onu’s post in the scheme of things that matters to them. This our bizarre neo-visions of ourselves creates the myopic nature of our plans. How can we make a case for ourselves when we are not worried about the negative vibes coming from the maladministration that has become our lot in the South East since 1999.

Talk is cheap Nwanna. Bullshit as they say works. That’s why the bullshitting has worked so well for our leadership class. The thing is that we think bullets grow in the trees and are watered by the spittle’s of our mouths. If not for all these flimsiness and betrayals, a serious decision would have been arrived at on some of the problems if not all. What are leaders there for? For example, I did a rough check across the SE zone and found out that in the last 3 years, the height of the Fulani herdsmen killings and marauding, more cow meats were sold and consumed from Nsukka to Nsugbe. What does this mean? In simple terms, we are funding our killers! We couldn’t then and cannot now as a show of protest curb our addiction to cow meat. We buy it. We sell it. We eat it. We invite them. We pay for it and they simply turn around and use our money to disgourge the meat from our stomachs! What are our Ndị Eze and Ndị Ichie doing? Nothing. Just romancing the stone. Collecting cheap bribes and cannot even ban or put a moratorium on the buying and selling of cows in their communities. If we stop buying they would simply get the message. Where there is no demand there’s no supply, period. So what’s holding us? Same-same bro. Greed, lack of will and determination! If every Igbo leader, Eze, opinion molders can stop receiving, giving, buying and eating cows in their homes and events, the ripple effects would be tremendous. If a blanket law is passed and enforced across all villages and communities in Igbo land that cows are now an abomination in burials, weddings and meetings, Nwanna what would be left of the Cattle Breeders in the SE? Leaders should lead in this!

I have really rambled enough. I leave you with this: A people whose self worth is equated to the worth of a cow are no people at all.

Ndewo. Kaa Nwannem.

Regards

Irèke A Kalu Onuma

3rd September 2019

Lagos

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