By Tochukwu Ezukanma
I am incontrovertibly Igbo, and I am unwaveringly committed to the good of the Igbo. However, I am unrepentantly anti-Biafra. I am opposed to Biafra because the Igbo have the most to lose in the case of a break up of Nigeria. Secondly, Biafra is not realizable. It is a fantasy championed by a few narrow-minded, self-serving individuals, not genuinely motivated by the good of the Igbo. These bigots and their followers, in their opinionated obstinacy, cannot understand that you do not have to be pro-Biafra to be a true Igbo. Therefore, to them, any Igbo that is not pro-Biafra is a saboteur, sellout or slave, fathered by a Hausa/Fulani. Interestingly, it is the pro-Nigeria Igbo that have contributed the most to the peace and prosperity of the Igbo, and the pro-Biafra Igbo that have continually brought the Igbo untold calamity.
Nnamdi Azikiwe, who made the greatest contribution to the advancement of Ndi Igbo, was not pro-Biafra. When the Igbo adhered to his One Nigeria philosophy, we held sway over Nigeria. The Igbo-dominated political party, National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC), controlled two of the then four regions of Nigeria (Eastern and Mid Western Regions); they had Igbo premiers. Also, the NCNC was a partner in the federal coalition government. In addition, the Igbo distinguished themselves and established a preponderant influence over the entire spectrum of the Nigerian social life: business, academia, federal bureaucracy, army officer corps and the professions. And the other ethnic groups of Nigerian lamented “Igbo domination”. Somewhat intoxicated by success, the Igbo boasted of extending their preponderant sway beyond Nigeria to across the whole of Africa. A onetime American president, Ronald Reagan, once said, “I do not quarrel with success”.
Chukwuemeka Ojukwu quarreled with success. He jettisoned the One Nigerian policy of Azikiwe and the other earlier Igbo leaders that had been magnificent for us; he treaded the path of secession. There were powerful, almost insurmountable, local and international, obstacles in the path to Biafra. It was unambiguously opposed by the Igbo military and political elite, the ethnic minorities of Eastern Region, the federal government of Nigeria, African countries as represented by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and the British and American governments. In his reckless and senseless extremism, and in total disregard for the advice of the experienced, knowledgeable and farsighted Igbo and other concerned Nigerians, Ojukwu declared Biafra. It was that suicidal political move that sparked off the civil war. As predicted by those opposed to Biafra, and were castigated, arrested, imprisoned, and sometimes, murdered as “saboteurs”, the war utterly trounced Biafra; it surrendered unconditionally.
In place of our earlier accomplishments, hopes and goals, Ojukwu’s Biafranism brought us death, destruction, dispossession and despair. It brought us sorrow, pains, and, worst of all, psychological depredation. As Biafra collapsed and Ojukwu ran away, the consequences of his recklessness, senselessness, and disdain for reason and advice were palpably and pervasively evident all over the former land of Biafra. It laid prostrate and powerless at the feet of a conquering army flush with victory. With a collective physiognomy that revealed contortions of pains and sorrow, and a blank stare of despondency, the Igbo stumbled out of the last hold-outs of Biafra. The war had decimated the youths, the flower and promise, of Igbo land; hundreds of thousands of their skeletal remains were strewn around makeshift graves and former battlefields. More than one million men,women and children had died from starvation and other afflictions of war. In the encircling gloom, the entire Ndi Igbo mourned: in subdued tone, fathers groaned and, with deafening din, inconsolable mothers and widows wailed.
To give what was one man’s selfish ambition a coloration of a struggle for Igbo survival demanded excessive falsehood. The falsehood of the Biafran propaganda taught us that the rest of Nigerians were murderous vandals, who, unified by their relentless hatred for the Igbo, have a master plan to exterminate us. Feeding on this instilled fear of our complete extermination, it propelled us to fight to a finish but stripped us of the desiderata for co-existing with other ethnic groups of Nigeria in a heterogeneous country: trust of, and the appreciation of the good in, other Nigerians. The psychological damages of the the Biafran propaganda on Igbo minds was not readily evident because at the collapse of Biafra, Igbo leaders from the First Republic, were again at the helm of Igbo political affairs. Having never believed in Biafra, their concept of Nigeria and the place of the Igbo in Nigeria were neither shaped nor tinged by Biafranism. They were confident in the Nigerian system and its obvious advantages for Ndi Igbo. As usual, Igbo commitment to one Nigeria paid off. By 1979, we had re-constituted ourselves politically; there emerged an Igbo Vice President and Speaker of the House.
The golden ages – the most flourishing periods – of Ndi Igbo were those times we were unambiguously committed to one Nigeria. On the other hand, the worst evils that ever befell the Igbo were all associated with Biafra. Like Ojukwu, Nnamdi Kanu, for selfish reasons, is treading a path that will offer the Igbo nothing but death and disaster. And like Ojukwu, Kanu, in his recklessness and senselessness, is disdainful of reason, caution and advice, and ignores the prevailing sentiments amongst Nigerians, including the Igbo; the unwavering obligation of the African Union and the United Nations to respect the territorial integrity of its member countries; global geo-political dynamics; and the interests of most of the Western Powers in the continued existence of a corporate Nigeria. Like Biafranism, neo-Biafranism is an absurdity that portends nothing but catastrophe for Ndi Igbo.
Already, neo-Biafranism is endangering Igbo lives, casting us as irredeemable rebels and implacable trouble makers, and imperiling all we have managed to build from scratch in the last 50 years. Driven by selfish ambitions and personal aggrandizement, the leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has no qualms in bringing incalculable calamity on Ndi Igbo. In essence, they are the real haters of Ndi Igbo.
Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
We Must Renounce Our Tribal Identities; I’m Nigerian NOT Igbo
By Fredrick Nwabufo
The recent current of the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the US has surged tremendously in Nigeria – a country in the thrall of its own unique kind of ‘’racism’’ – tribalism. Nigerians held protests at the embassy of the US in Abuja, condemning the murder of George Floyd, an African-American, by a Caucasian Minneapolis police officer a few days ago. Really, while the protests are for a righteous cause, no doubt, we need to re-wheel and deepen them to square up to our own fundamental imbalances.
The US is a society that is attuned to its frailties and rises to the occasion when need be to confront them. While there are laws to address issues of racism in America like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there are no laws assiduously tackling tribalism in Nigeria. In fact, the laws we have in Nigeria are designed to accent tribalism and nepotism; for example, the Quota System, ‘’Federal Character Principle’’ and ‘’catchment area’’ policy.
I must say, while the Quota System and the Federal Character Principle were ideated to rugby-tackle concerns of ethnic representation in the public sector, they have over the years become the fulcrums on which tribalism, nepotism and ethnic dominance are scaffolded. These policies have also enthroned incompetence, discrimination, lack of healthy competition, indolence and indiscipline in the national life while supplanting meritocracy and competence.
I scored 284 in JAMB – high above the cut-off mark of the course I applied to study at university. But I could not secure admission at the university I wanted which was in another part of the country where I am supposedly not a native. I was robbed of choice because of the ‘’catchment area’’ policy. This was many years ago, but the academic apartheid still persists in Nigeria today. There is no change even in 2020!
Now, I have an eight-year-old son, and if I elect that he studies in Nigeria, that will be putting him through the same mill of discrimination and institutional apartheid that I faced. I think, this is the worst kind of ‘’native racism’’. We really have got to make Nigeria work for all Nigerians.
We live in country where to transact any official matter you have to declare your ‘’state of origin’’ and not your ‘’state of residence’’ – even when you have lived in a particular area in the country since your nativity.
I recall, in March, the Cross River state house of assembly rejected the appointment of Akon Ikpeme as substantive chief judge of the state — because she is from Akwa Ibom, even though she is married to a Cross Riverian.
In a voice vote at a plenary session, the assembly rejected Ikpeme’s appointment after receiving a report by the committee on judiciary. In the report, Godwin Akwaji, representing Obudu state constituency, and five others, recommended her rejection on the loony grounds that she is not a native of the state. Ikpeme hails from Akwa Ibom state, but she is married to an indigene of Cross River.
Is this not apartheid? We subsist on the worst kind of discrimination based on tribe and religion. And what is more tragic is that these prejudices are institutionalised.
We cannot pontificate on racism in the US, when some Nigerians cannot buy land in certain parts of the country. We cannot sit in judgment on racism in the US, when some Nigerians kill other citizens in the cognomen of ethnicity and religion. We cannot be indignant with racism in America when some Nigerians cast ethnic slurs like — Inyamiri, Ofe nmanu, Aboki – on their fellow countrymen. We cannot be more outraged by a foreign blight than by the sickening plight of our own people and the system. That is classical hypocrisy.
We must begin to erode ‘’tribal identities’’ and revive the ‘’Nigerian identity’’ to make progress as one country. I am Nigerian. That is my tribal identity.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.
Girl Child In Nigeria: When Will The Agony End?
By Alex Enemanna
Our dear country is increasingly becoming a toxic habitation for the vulnerable, particularly women and children to live in, thrive, explore and exercise fundamental rights unhindered. It is a sad reminder to the cruelty and unkindness with which human mind is desperately coated.
Tina Ezekwe, 16-year-old student recently felled by a trigger-happy cop’s bullet in Lagos, Vera Uwaila Omozuwa a 22-year-old microbiology undergraduate of UNIBEN, who was not long ago raped, dehumanised and eventually killed in Benin, Edo state, Barakat Bello, 19-year-old student of Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training who was also raped and killed in Ibadan on Monday, June 1 as well as Jennifer, 18-year-old lady raped in Kaduna on April 27 this year are just four of the legion of freshly baked bestialities from the evil temple that have today attracted unabashed condemnation. These patriots were murdered in cold blood under very painful circumstances.
While the careless death of any Nigerian is inexcusable under any circumstance, the female gender appears to have fatally been at the receiving end of bountiful harvest of sexually related crimes going on in our academic institutions, corporate offices, religious houses and indeed our homes on daily basis. Again, Tina’s death speaks to the enormous job the police authorities must urgently carry out on their officers and men.
The Medieval, anachronistic and infectious unprofessional conduct of some officials has continually robbed off on the collective entity of police force. State agents that ordinarily ought to be drivers of security of our people’s lives and property, including that of Tina, a teenager ended up as the nightmare that brought to abrupt end her stay on earth in a horrific manner. The decision by the indicted police officers, Theophilus Otobo and Oguntoba Olamigoke to on Tuesday May 26, 2020 open fire on a crowd around the Iyana-Oworo area of Lagos in the name of enforcement of COVID-19 curfew is to say the least in a bad fate and negates both common sense and most archaic policing ethics. Sadly, the unprovoked release of life bullet on citizens has become a big festival in our country’s security and defence sector. The trend has continued to thrive on the account that adequate deterrence mechanisms are not meted to offenders.
While conversation towards enthroning a more rewarding policing system continues, it is instructive to state that the degradation and dehumanisation of these sisters of ours is an eloquent testimony that we have as a society succeeded in raising a vicious and monstrous army of demons who do not deserve to co-habit with those of us with a sense of decency. They see womanhood as a crime. They feast on their agonies and drink the tears of their sorrow. Their insatiable sadism preys on the misery and despair of their victims. They wear human flesh, yet heart of a beast. Their facial outlook appears human but behind it is a thirsty vampire.
There is no limit to which we must condemn in strong terms any act of gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and harassment of our women and children. It is callous and Luciferic. It is heartless, wicked and unjustifiable. These young ones were green with visions and aspirations. They paid the supreme price chasing their dreams at various levels of learning. Like a candle in the wind, these visions have been permanently cut short never to see the ray of light again.
Poignantly, none of the most recent cases in the public domain leaves a trace of non-vigilance on the side of the victims. They were not at the wrong place at the wrong time, nor were they in confrontation for supremacy with their tormentors. While Vera Uwaila Omozuwa was killed in a church environment where she had gone to study, Barakat Bello was killed in her home after a routine sexual violation. It is reprehensible to adduce any escape route for rapists. More insensitively unguarded is the satanic excuse that mode of dressing could make a lady susceptible to rape. Making such comment is akin to advertising one as a serial or potential recruit to rape confraternity.
At the risk of sounding pessimistic, this cycle of violence may tarry with us for a long time to come law. This is not unconnected with our legal system that makes it difficult for victims to get justice. There is no time frame for the completion of rape-related cases just like the election petitions in Nigeria. It lingers for God-knows-how-long and when justice finally comes, it comes like a slap on the risk. It does not command the needed fear in the mind of a would-be sexual violator. How many were able to remember the case of Ese Oruru, the Bayelsa teenage girl who was abducted from her home to Kano, raped and later converted to Islam in 2016? It is heart-warming to note that she got justice when the perpetrator, Yunusa was recently handed 14 years imprisonment. Added to this is also the usual template of silence that accompanies each sexual crime. The fear of being blamed and discriminated by a people that ordinarily should he sympathetic to her will have the traumatized victim permanently seal her lips and live with a bruised conscience in lifetime.
Again, high profile cases of sexual violence always fizzle away into the thin air on the weighty influence of the perverse perpetrators. The law is usually at the mercy of a top ranking government appointee or head of agency who uses his position to coerce and obtain sexual gratification from subordinates. He can bribe his way through and come out whiter than snow. Lecturers who engage in orgy of sexual crimes against their female students gloat over it, yet only a negligible percentage eventually appear in court to account for their nefarious deeds.
Cheeringly, if the Sexual Offenders Register launched in 2019 by the federal government is really what we were told, it will document identified predators and put their names in the dark side of history for a long time to come. Their children’s children will read how their grandfathers went about dispensing anguish and torment with his manhood.
Parents must be watchful of characters they are releasing to the corporate world. Fractured upbringing cannot be totally extricated from the skyrocketing rate of rape everywhere across the country. It takes a man of extremely low moral to contemplate, execute rape and murder. Religious and traditional institutions also have their jobs cut out for them in teaching and admonishing their subjects and members. The Child Rights Act, Violence Against Persons Act and other numerous legal frameworks should be domesticated across the state to provide succour to victims. No thanks to the complacency of security agencies in these entire contraptions. The investigation of sexual exploitation cases are treated with levity.
We cannot continue to fold our arms and watch our daughters, sisters, aunts and friends being vociferously defiled with impunity in a country they call theirs. It is time to activate the full weight of the law against any sexual rascality and untamed libido.
Enemanna is an Abuja-based journalist.
HELP! RAPISTS ON RAMPAGE!
By Odunayo Oluwatimilehin
“It’s not consent if you make me afraid to say no” — Anonymous
RAPE is a condemnable, despicable and unjustifiable act; No justification at all for rape, it is a sheer act of wickedness!
We Say No To:
R – Repression
A – Against
P – Poor girls by
E – Eccentrics
The harrowing experience of sexual assault and rape is not peculiar to the female sex, it can indeed be unleashed on any member of society; male or female, boy or girl. However, for the purpose of this write up, my main focus is on sexual violence and rape against women and young girls.
Sexual violence is defined as “any sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or act to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victims, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work”.
Rape is a form of sexual violence; it is defined as “physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration – no matter how slight – of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object”, (World Report on Violence and Health).
Under the Criminal Code of Nigeria, “Rape is defined, as having unlawful and carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or means of threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false act, or, in case of a married woman, be personating her husband”.
Harassment of girls by the opposite sex is in all likelihood a global problem. According to data from Justice Systems and Rape Crisis Centre’s in Chile, Malaysia, Papua, New Guinea, Peru, and the United States, about one-third and two-thirds of all victims of sexual assaults are aged 15 years or less.
The Nigerian social media has been flooded with fierce calls for justice, from different corners of the country, following the news of a 22 years old 100 level Microbiology student, of the University of Benin, Vera Uwaila Omozuwa who was raped and gruesomely murdered after the dastardly act inside a church in Benin, Edo State.
Quite a handful of reactions has trailed this sad incident; nevertheless, we shall continue to mount pressure on the appropriate quarters until the culprit is brought to book. We just cannot take it any longer. We are really sick and tired of watching abnormalities become the order of the day in our society. How long shall we fold our hands and watch injustice triumph over our helpless girl-child?
A random case of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa which attracted the attention of the world might have been numbered among the countless unheard and wounded cases if not for her gruesome murder. Cases of rape that are reported cannot be compared to magnitude of such that had been swept under the carpet or allowed to die a natural death in different parts of the world. This few reported cases may be viewed as an iceberg floating in water.
Sexual violation is the greatest injustice anyone could experience, especially in a country whose law on such violations seems to be partially blind to the ills being done to her citizens. Not dishing out deserving punishment to rape culprits will be tantamount to denial of the inalienable rights of the victims.
Spaking of what could be the trigger for such evil acts from the male folks, some have attributed it to indecent and provocative dressing by the females folk which the male counterpart often misconstrue as a subtle and irresistible cue. Other noted triggers according to the male folks are; peer pressure, societal failure, drug abuse, early exposure to X rated movies such as pornography and social media promotion of nudity, as well as joblessness, amongst others.
While responding to Vera Uwaila’s rape case, a Facebook user commented that, ‘Eighty per cent of guys today are rapists; they might not be the serial rapist on the street, but most guys raped their partners on the first date.’ (Emphasis mine)
For those who claimed that indecent and provocative dressing by the female folks is their turn on, please I have some questions for you;
- How about the innocent girl-child you defiled? Was she seductively dressed?
- How about the voiceless baby in nappy? Did she arouse the rape demon in you with her innocent nappy?
- How about the lady in flowing gown you violently raped? Was it her long dress that turned you on?
- How about fathers who sexually abuse and rape their girl-child with impunity? What is the moral justification for this?
- How about the married woman whose husband violates her body against her wish? Oh yes! Don’t be surprised, rape happens even in marriage.
For crying out loud, Vera was raped and killed while studying inside the church, what justification has the rapist and murderer?
Let us face the fact head on; most times when a girl/lady/woman is raped, it has nothing to do with her dressing. Rape does not just happen; it takes a state of the mind. A rapist rapes because he has no self-control. So stop selling me the provocative/seductive dressing bullshits!
Listen up, all the above-listed supposed triggers do not provide a substantial justification for rape. If only the culprits were aware of the overwhelming damages and horrific life-long mental torture their victims would have to grapple with, I am persuaded they would have a re-think.
Sexual violence has a profound impact on physical and mental health of the victims. Rape victims are made to suffer immeasurable anguish, some become diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociation from reality, depersonalization. They also sometimes get infected with sexually transmitted infections, have unwanted pregnancies, and it ultimately leads to untimely death.
Studies have consistently proved that gynecological complications are related to ‘forced sex’. These complications includes: vaginal bleeding, fibroids, decreased sexual desire, genital irritation, chronic pelvic pain, and urinary tract infections.
The social approbrium that is attached to rape victims has promoted to a large scale the ‘Silence Culture’, among the victims who are often helpless. It is high time we freed rape victims of rape from our critical hooks; stop the blame game, and encourage them to speak up.
Many victims of rape and sexual assaults do not report these violations to their families or the police because they are ashamed or fear being blamed, not believed, or otherwise disparaged.
Societal reaction that blame rape victims and exonerate the culprits will always create a thriving environment for rapist to walk away with impunity; this ought not to be so.
“We need to listen to survivors when they gather the unspeakable amount of courage it takes to speak up and say “me too”. We need to fight for the people who can’t fight for themselves. Something has to be done to make a change”. – Molly Given.
Charity they say begins at home; the onus is on parents to teach their boy- child to always relate with the female gender with respect and self-control; it should be instilled in them that the fact that a girl/lady/ women walks about naked is not a reason to harass, molest and abuse her.
On the flip-side, parents should teach their girl- child: dignity, self-respect, self-awareness, and decency in all areas, because freedom without caution is tantamount to suicide.
For both genders, the above-mentioned morals and values should be established early by parents for the sake of humanity.
It is high time we came together to fight this menace against our girls/ladies/women. No rapists should be allowed to walk freely in our society without facing the full wrath of the law; as this would curb the crime and signal a warning to intending rapists.
~ Odunayo Oluwatimilehin, OYEWOLE
A Post graduate Student, University of Ibadan.
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