Back here in Nigeria, those that must never be cursed set up a national Sports Hall of Fame, which, to this day, does not include Ifeajuna’s name. Those who recall that Chioma Ajunwa is the first Nigerian to win an Olympic gold (in the long jump in Atlanta 1996) must go check out “their” sports “Hall of Fame”. Chances are that her name is not there. Not because she committed any offence but because of “from where she from come from”! Yes, it is a capital offence to come from the Igbo country. In 1995, Gideon Akaluka, a young Igbo trader based in Kano was accused of desecrating the Koran. He was locked up. But an organised mob broke into his Police cell, dragged him out, beheaded him and danced through Kano metropolis with his bodiless head. Does Bakare know that not one person was cursed for this atrocity?
The injustice against Ndigbo is pervasive. Take the National Honours. Every head of every hamlet in the far North is an MFR or an OFR or a CFR or a CON or a GCON. Not so for Ndigbo. That is why a personage like Eze (Professor) Green Onyekaba Nwankwo, a distinguished traditional ruler, an accomplished academic who set up the Department of Finance at the University of Lagos, a former Executive Director in charge of banking and monetary policy in the Central Bank of Nigeria and the author of over 20 books has only the MON – the least of all the honours Nigeria can offer. The iniquity is most eloquent in the military. Unless they are in the Education Corps or the Medical Corps or the Physical Training Corps, hardly any Igbo gets promoted above the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Those of us campaigning for an Igbo President of Nigeria are looking at more than the spectacle of a politician from the ethnic group enjoying the tenancy of Aso Rock. That is too simple. We are demanding equal rights. We are saying that a country indexed on lies already collapsed before it got the chance to take a first step to nationhood. An Igbo President is supposed to be the antidote to nearly 60 years of a people’s subjugation. People have no business forgetting that there is a distinction between being a slave and being enslaved. Ndigbo are no slaves.
That was why in 1803, 75 of them rebelled at Dunbar Creek in Georgia, USA, took control of the slave ship carrying them, drowned their captors and chose to walk into the ocean rather than be slaves to white slave masters. That was why, between 1791 and 1804 they rebelled and overthrew the French regime in Haiti to establish an independent country founded and governed by ex-slaves. That is why the Igbo, indigenous to their current geographical space for millennia, find intolerable their insolent subjugation by recent migrants from the Fouta Djalon whose numbers no credible census has put at more than 5 percent of the Nigerian population.
The systematic enslavement of Ndigbo in what is supposed to be their own country has got to be terminated. The epic Igbo struggle has taken various forms and will continue to do so. A prime example is their attempt at secession in the 1960s. Britain, and a genocidal war in which “Starvation is a legitimate instrument of warfare” thwarted them. Back inside Nigeria they are compelled to permanently stand back and keep bloody quiet forever. For any sigh, groan or moan of theirs, goons, troops, the Police and paramilitary contingents are deployed with extreme prejudice and excessive numbers against them. They are called terrorists while those that have stopped Kaduna State and wiped out innocent thousands in many parts of the country are termed bandits and treated with kid gloves. They have been branded “a spot in a circle,” a military euphemism underscoring their unenviable situation as targets for continued massacring.
There is news for the liars and the killers. Nigeria is unsustainable on the diet of lies and more lies. It is true that those that laid into Ndigbo in the 1960s and killed them in the tens of thousands got rewarded with high political offices and oil blocks and whatnot. But the kill-and-go ship of Ndigbo finally steamed into turbulent waters. Although census exercises in Nigeria are a huge joke, there are at least 40 million Ndigbo in Nigeria today. Nobody and no country can manufacture enough weapons to wipe them off the face of the country. Even in the extremely unlikely event of all Igbo in Nigeria getting killed, there are millions of them abroad today. From their number, at least a thousand will eventually pay a visit to the mother country, these question pouring from their flaming tongues: “Why did you slay my mother? Why did you massacre my father? Why did you annihilate my sister? Why did you exterminate my brother?”
For all of the above, and especially at the lectern, the microphone should never be a justification for verbal diarrhoea. So, Mr. Preacher Bakare, the next time the sound of your voice is amplified by the electronics of public address systems, you must endeavour to annexe some circumspection. On disseminating the falsehoods of those who claim the right to perpetually sit and fart on all our heads, you must do two things: DESIST and CEASE!
Iluegbunam is a veteran journalist and an author.