By Joseph Ken Chibogwu
As Nigerians prepare to celebrate the independence day of our nation Nigeria, there is need for one to express one’s view on this “TOGETHER” attached to the Nigeria 60th Independence logo unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari. Like Odumegwu Ojukwu once said, “For unity to be meaningful, it has to be creative, not the unity of Jonah in the whale but the unity of holy matrimony.” One can therefore ask, can the people live ‘together’ as a ‘united Nigeria’ where there are obvious lack of equity, disunity, senseless killings, corruption, bad leadership, intimidation and suppression of people’s identity. Biafra and Nigeria as case study.
Early modern maps of Africa prove that ‘Biafra’ has been in existence even before Nigeria came into existence in 1914. It is therefore right to describe the indigenous people from this region as “Indigenous People of Biafra”, just the same way those from the South West Nigeria do see themselves as the People of Oduduwa (Oodua). In 1967, Biafra was declared as a sovereign nation under the leadership of Odumegu Ojukwu and Philip Effiong, which led to Nigeria/Biafra civil war. In 1970, the Biafra army surrendered. Considering the implication of this surrender, one can rightly say, that what was surrendered in 1970 was the “Sovereignty” and not the “Identity” of the people. One can therefore draw the conclusion that the people from this region are from the Biafra region of Nigeria, and that they remain Indigenous People of Biafra.
The discrimination and marginalization of this region (Biafra), after the civil war led to the creation of different movements like MASSOB, BNYL, IPOB ETC. Rather than looking into the issues that led to the creation of these movements, the federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari proscribes the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Respectfully, the proscription of IPOB was only made to justify the killings, intimidation and inhuman treatment of youths who see themselves as Indigenous People of Biafra. This region (the Old South East) remains Biafra region, and we the people from this region remain the indigenous people of this region (Biafra). The proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra is unjustifiable and this has led to intimidation, harassment, and inhuman treatment by the law enforcement agencies against the people from this region (Biafra). This act of marginalization, intimidation and suppression of people’s identity contradict the declaration of “NO VICTOR NO VANQUISHED.”
Tell me, together for what? Shall we continue to sing song of ‘togetherness’ in the face of senseless killings, disunity, corruption and bad leadership? Tell me, together for what? Shall we continue to dance to the tone of ‘togetherness’ in the face of continua marginalization, intimidation, inhuman treatment and suppression of people’s identity? Tell me, together for what? Shall we all hold our hands in ‘togetherness’ while the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra is still active and thousands of youths are being locked up for being Biafrans? Just tell me, together for what?
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