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The South-South should be grateful to Igbos by Ifeyinwa China Onyeabo

As an Igbo, with the advent of social media, the power lies in my hands to correct the misinformation, lies, propaganda and outright falsehood that has bedeviled this country and which have to a large extent caused the deaths of thousands of a section of the country just because some soldiers decided to carry out a coup back in the days.

This rejoinder would not have been necessary, more so because the man who is being written about is not an Urhobo, a tribe from which Ena Ofugara who is spreading the propaganda that needs to be corrected emanates from. However, when lies, misinformation and propaganda are not corrected and left to linger, it automatically festers, becomes the truth and the hundredth generation sticks to that single story. Consequently, for the benefit of those who may have read and believed the recent lies written by Ena against the Igbos, there is a need for them to know the truth.

In order not to make the same kind of error of generalisation which Ena’s post is guilty of, there is need to mention that this post is about correction of Ena’s falsehood and not an attack on the entire Urhobo people. Emeka John Onyema, made a facebook post reminding Nigerians about how Ken Saro-Wiwa was murdered by the Nigerian government Wiwa fought for during the war. This is even a recent event and only a man who chooses to grandstand would deny this fact. It is on record that Ken Saro-Wiwa, who has a problem with the Igbo ethnic group fought against Biafra and after the war was won against Biafra, he turned around and started complaining about the Ijaw ethnic group and even declared that he would rather not be a Nigerian. The same reason Mr Ken Saro Wiwa gave about the Igbo was the same reason he advanced about the Ijaw ethnic group- marginalisation. Please refer to his letter to Awolowo wherein he said,

“I was a graduate student when the cataclysmic events of 1966 happened. Apart from my revulsion at the needless murders of the innocent, nothing upset me more than Ojukwu’s dishonest formulations and his attempt to kidnap the Ogoni, among others, into his Igbo empire called “Biafra.” I knew that he pinned his hopes of the economic viability of “Biafra” on the oil of the Ogoni and the Ijaw. I rebelled. I became Secretary of a small committee which met nights in Port Harcourt and issued a communique calling on Gowon to create a Rivers State by decree”.

Curiously, Mr Wiwa in his piece added: “With the war ended, and as a Commissioner in Rivers State, I soon found that the Rivers State for which I had fought did not end my nightmare. In the first place, oil money from Ogoni country (as well as Ijaw country) was being carted away to Lagos, leaving the Ogoni illiterate and backwards. This is anti-federalism. Worse still, the Ijaws were taking their frustrations out on the non-Ijaws of the State. For the Ijaws alone number more than the eight other ethnic groups in Rivers State put together. Though historically disunited, the Ijaws find unity when it comes to lording if over the non-Ijaws. The Ijaws will want to perpetuate this”.

In essence, Mr Ken Saro Wiwa blamed the Igbo, Biafra, Ojukwu, Ijaw for his troubles. But in 1995 his Northern military friends hanged him and Ogoni nine (9) specifically November 10, 1995. The Provisional Ruling Council at the time was made up of Abacha, Maj. General Patrick Aziza (Minister of Communications under Abacha); Major Gen. Tajudeen Olarenwaju (General Officer Commanding); General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Chief of Defence Staff); Lt. General Oladipo Diya (Chief of General Staff); Maj. Gen. Victor Malu (GOC); Ibrahim Coomasie (Inspector General of Police); Mike Akhigbe (Chief of Naval Staff); Maj. General Ishaya Bamaiyi (Chief of Army Staff); Nsikak Eduok (Chief of Air Staff); Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni (Minister of the Federal Capital Territory); and Michael Agbamuche (Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice).

Ena either wrote out of ignorance or he deliberately wanted to misinform his readers, because the 13% derivation was the product of the 1995 constitutional conference and direct intervention of the Igbo delegates led by Ojukwu, Ekwueme and Mbakwe. At the constitutional conference, the leading light was Chief Alex Ekwueme. He came up with the 13% derivation, and the current 6 zones, rotational presidency etc. This fact, Ena failed to mention to his readers because his mind has been perpetually configured to undermine and discard the efforts of the Igbos towards the economic welfare of the minorities. He rather gave all the glory to Mr Ken Saro Wiwa. Yes, Wiwa was hanged 1995. But he was not at the Constitutional Conference of the same year nor influenced its derivation decision. Igbo delegates acted in the interest of the oil states of which they belong to.

Permit me to deviate a little. Many people knew that On June 11, 1994, in what is now known as the Epetedo declaration, Chief MKO Abiola declared a Government of National Unity and asked for his mandate to be duly recognised but not many people knew that he went up to Epetedo with two Igbo men, Chief Ralph Obioha and Bobo Nwosisi. Many people knew that Prof. Wole Soyinka went to prison on account of Biafra but not many people knew that Olisa Agbakoba did same on account of June 12. Not to mention men like Rear Admiral Ndubuis Kanu, Chima Ubani and Joe Igbokwe. The only reason Ena Ofugara grew up worshiping Ken Saro-Wiwa was because Wiwa derided the Igbos.

Ena Ofugara alleged that Yorubas who joined the Igbos were killed, however, he never mentioned that Banjo, Ifeajuna and co were executed for treason including plotting to overthrow the Biafran government. Ifeajuna was an Igbo man. Can Ena tell us which other Yorubas were killed by Ojukwu, according to him? He used the term in plural like Ojukwu rounded up and killed all Yorubas in Biafra.

The overwhelming part of Ena’s falsehood was the area where he said that Sunny Okosun was sacked from Radio Biafra. One would think that Ena knows anything about history but it appears the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as the president have thrown up emergency historians. Okosun was from the Midwest. Okoko Ndem was Biafran. Non-Biafrans were sent back to their place of Origin before the war broke out to avoid reprisal attacks on them. It was done to protect them. At this point, the impression Ena wanted to give his readers was that Sunny Okosun was driven because he was a minority, an Ishan however, he conveniently forgot that the anchor man of Radio Biafra was Okoko Ndem, a.k.a Lord Haw Haw, from Ikoneto in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State who died August 2003, and who distorted the reality of the war on the radio so much that even his “employer(s)” – and a generation of Biafran(ist)s are/were deceived. That was how “good” he was – a little too good, one might add. He was a minority easterner who nevertheless, worked as a highly effective Biafran radio propagandist. Biafran radio also used the same nickname for Mr Ukpabi Asika, a pro-federal Igbo intellectual who was appointed on October 27th, 1967, by General Gowon as Administrator of the East-Central State. The term Lord Haw, Haw, dates back to the Second World War because of the British radio fans called William Joyce, an American-born British man with an English mother and Irish-American father. He had Nazi sympathies and worked for Goebbels as a German weekly radio broadcaster. The British hanged him for treason in 1946.

Again, how could one believe that even Ena Ofugara did not know that an Igbo man was also killed during the so called Igbo coup? This is Ena Ofugara justifying the deaths of 30,000 Igbos and Easterners on the death of Chief Okotie-Eboh. This is quite shameful!

Mr Ena should know that reminders of the atrocities meted towards the Igbos by the minorities will not stop the development of or progress of the Igbo people. We have progressed and will continue to progress unless, in his opinion, progress means Igbo people not getting to lead Nigeria considering that his latest diatribe is typical of what most Nigerians usually threaten and manipulates the Igbo with. However, if development and progress are what reasonable people know it to be, Ena and those who think like him must be told that the last time the minorities stopped developing was when the Igbos stopped controlling their economy. On the infrastructural benefits derived by the minority groups from being part of the old Eastern Region. Standing facts like the Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt which is better than the one in Enugu; the Obudu cattle Ranch; the Port Harcourt Port; River State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) which grew from what Okpara put on the ground; the East West highway built when Awolowo gave the swampy terrain of the West’s riverine areas as excuse for not extending projects to them; Cocoa development in Cross Rivers etc.
Some of their best like Elechi Amadi and Ken Saro-Wiwa owe their erudition to education in Igbo land. Adaka Boro was in the University of Nigeria Nsukka on the Eastern Regional government ‘s scholarship and chose to be the student union leader just to thump the chest and failed to pass his courses. The Petroleum Research Institute moved to Warri by Gowon was Ojukwu’s brainchild. The Petroleum Act of 1968 was Gowon and Awo’s law that gave the Federal government total control of the sector. The Igbos fought alone to snatch the 13% derivation formula from the North and West at 1995 Constitutional conference, helped create Bayelsa from Rivers and suffered, still suffering happily for supporting Jonathan.

Ena and all those who think like him must desist from subtly threatening the Igbo with presidency using the cheap term “alliances”. If an Igbo is improbably elected President, like an Obama, it will only be a sop for the political class. The overwhelming majority of the Igbo, could not care a hoot any more. They want out of Nigeria, because they know that an Igbo President in Nigeria, as presently constituted, cannot do any better than other previous Presidents, just as Igbo Governors are not doing better than the Governors of other non-Igbo states.

The Igbo know that the problem is the structure stupid! The political class, always predatory can be bought, but the people want out. They know that there will not be many more Innossons and Aba manufacturers, even if an Igbo were President. The Yoruba and Ijaw, nearly died in the Presidency of a son of the soil. The Igbos now know better. Ena does not have to worry about the Igbo kidnapping the Urhobo like KeSaro-Wiwawa alleged because today, right thinking Igbos know that the best societies are homogenous societies. It is very dangerous to build a nation with a constituent you will consistently and eternally massage their feelings.

“Ojukwu boldly canvassed for 13 per cent derivation at the National Constitutional Conference of 1994, convened by late General Sani Abacha” -Peter Odili, Feb. 2012


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