By Tochukwu Ezukanma
The Igbo delight in the feeling that they are universally hated in Nigeria. We dwell on the hatred of other ethnic groups of Nigeria for us, and make our endless list of Igbo haters. The longer the litany of our inexhaustible haters, the better we feel; it gives us psychological satisfaction because it panders to our self-deceit and provides us culprits for our blame game. No Nigerian ethnic group is totally devoted to hate and none is totally consumed by love. All of them have the capacity to hate and love. In their hate, greed and violence, every major ethnic group of Nigeria, Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo, have contributed to the problems of Nigeria. So, when we, the Igbo, blame other Nigerians for hating us, but refuse to acknowledge that we have also, at different times, acted out in hatred for others, we are lying to ourselves.
When, on January 15th 1966, four Igbo majors and one Yoruba major, in a coup attempt, murdered the innocent in cold blood, the two most important northern Nigeria political leaders (Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Belewa) and the four highest ranking northern army officers, it was an act of love by an Igbo-dominated group of coup plotters. But, when in reprisal to the lop-sided killings in the coup and the obvious Igbo insensitivity to the sensibilities of the aggrieved northerners, northerners killed Aguiyi Ironsi, hunted down Igbo soldiers and mass-murdered Igbo civilians, it was an act of hate by murderous “vandals” driven by their implacable hatred for the Igbo. At the end of the civil war, the Nigerian government, in its hatred for the Igbo and planned extermination of the Igbo race, released many Biafran prisoners, both soldiers and civilians. But the Biafrans had no prisoner to release because, in their saintliness, godliness and unconditional love for all, they had killed every Nigerian soldier they captured. What nonsense? How can a people be lying, so brazenly, to themselves?
For our own good, we must stop lying to ourselves. The worst thing anyone can ever do to himself is to lie to himself. It is our lying to ourselves and its attendant self-deceit, self-pity and culture of victimhood that is holding us down in Nigerian politics. It make us nostalgic for that suicidal escapade, Biafra; fuels the neo-Biafran insanity; makes us believe the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) nonsense that the Igbo are enslaved in Nigeria; and makes relevant that confused confusionist that is disturbing the peace of Nigeria and endangering Igbo lives, Nnamdi Kanu. It has been said that, “madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. Our self-deceit, blame game and victimhood approach to Nigerian politics have, for so long, undermined our progress in Nigeria politics. It is high time we snapped out of this debilitating mindset.
Most of the times, a man’s problems are not caused by his relatives, neighbors, friends, and even, enemies, but himself. Therefore, progress and success in any sphere of human endeavor usually demand that the individual cast a critical eye on himself and have the courage to tell himself the truth: that he has caused his own problems. Those that lack the courage and gumption to do these refuse to take responsibilities for their actions; they blame their blunders and failures on others. Taking responsibility for your actions is unpleasant but most helpful. On the other hand, blaming others for your problems is gratifying but most destructive.
By the time of the 2019 presidential election, it was obvious that the Mohammadu Buhari presidency was detrimental to the Igbo. He had already dramatized his anti-Igbo bias in his political appointments. For example, no Igbo made the list of his thirty eight appointees to head the different Nigerian security agencies. Secondly, his administration’s tacit support for the murderous binges of Fulani herdsmen has left a trail of death, destruction, pains and sorrow across parts of Nigeria, including the Igbo states. In their periodic blood-spattered sorties into Igbo land, the killer herdsmen raped women; killed men, women, children and even babies; and ravaged and pillaged communities. Therefore, the Igbo should have labored assiduously for the electoral defeat of President Buhari. Paradoxically, the majority of Igbo governors campaigned for the re-election of President Buhari.
The opposing presidential ticket, Atiku Abubakar/Peter Obi, provided a refreshing alternative to Buharism and its attendant obscurantism, nepotism and blunders. Its victory would have brought an end to Buhari-emboldened Fulani irredentism and its associated herdsmen butchery of the innocent in Igbo land. In addition, it would have made Peter Obi the vice president, and positioned him for the presidency in the very near future. Perplexingly, Igbo governors rallied against the Atiku/Obi presidential ticket. These are a few examples of how we, the Igbo, cause our own problems and bungle up our political opportunities, and, in our self-deceit, blame them on the Yoruba, Hausa/Fulani and other “Igbo haters”.
Was it not supremely ironic that the governors of a people that have been victims of the killings of killer herdsmen campaigned for the re-election of a president that is supportive of the herdsmen’s bloodshed? Was it not tremendously contradictory that despite our long-running cries of marginalization, Igbo governors worked against the possible emergence of an Igbo vice president? To shoot ourselves in the foot and blame “Igbo haters” for it is self-deceit. To lament the murderousness and criminality of Fulani herdsmen in Igbo land and the dwindling political lot of the Igbo in Nigeria, but campaign for a president that supports the herdsmen and undermines the political significance of Ndi Igbo is political schizophrenia.
Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You can reach him via email: [email protected] or phone call: 0803 529 2908