One comment on “ooduapathfinder’s” editorial titled “Awo or Zik” from Mr. Nebukadineze Adiele deserves some attention, if only because the current agitation by the Igbo makes it so. Hence, “ooduapathfinder” will address the issues raised in order to ensure some clarity in the thought processes driving Mr. Adiele’s comment.
Nebukadineze Adiele: Igbo made its position known in 1967 at Aburi, Ghana. It insisted on that position until it led to a war that Igbo lost, hence Igbo has been forced into what Nigeria of today is. Igbo’s position was confederation, which is even a more liberal and freedom enshrining setting for the peoples of Nigeria than the federalism that you attribute to Yoruba. By 1967, Igbo had categorically renounced the Unitarianism that you attributed to NCNC.
“ooduapathfinder”: Aburi was a consequence of the accumulation of a series of events whose history can be traced to the origins and praxis of the anti-colonial movement. To say that “Igbo made its position known in 1967 at Aburi, Ghana” flies in the face of the flip-flops that accompanied Igbo positions throughout the pre-and post-independence era; failure to recognize which will end up creating another conundrum for the Igbo within the context of their current agitations. What the Igbo demanded at Aburi was contrary to positions the Igbo took pre and post-Independence where the largely Igbo-dominated NCNC connived with the NPC to foist the first post-Independence regime on the country which eventually led to the illegal declaration of the State of Emergency in the Western Region setting the stage for the political crisis that eventually enveloped the country. Furthermore, in spite of the attempts to deny the Ethno-National coloration of the January 15,1966 coup, the facts are that none of the Igbo politicians suffered any attack, for whatever reason; just as Ironsi unilaterally neutralized the Regional Structure in favor of a unitary structure, dominated by the Igbo and which led to the July 29, 1966 counter-coup by northern officers.
Taking the supposition of Igbo position at Aburi at face value, after the war and at the onset of civilian politics, it was surprising that a people clamoring for “Confederation” would be unable to situate such demand within a political and electoral paradigm but would go ahead and subvert it by once again aligning with the north in order to ensure victory for the largely northern dominated party. Even if all of these could be attributed to the Igbo experience during the war, it must also be noted that if, as being stated here, confederation was the Igbo demand, aside from outright war, the electoral platform offered another opportunity, especially when the 1979 electoral configuration would have played its part. Nnamidi Azikiwe’s NPP won all of Igboland plus Plateau State, but he did exactly what he did in 1959 in 1979—aligned with the North to secure northern power in the NPN. When the military seized power and began its long dance to civilian rule, with the Abacha period in tow, the Igbo helped weaken the anti-military opposition coalesced around NADECO, all in an attempt to spite the Yoruba which now appears as the foundation for the “Confederation” demands of the Igbo.
All of these, and more, were contrary to the Igbo position at Aburi meaning it could not have been correct to assert that “the Igbo made its position known at Aburi” more so when the question will arise as to what exactly was the Igbo position. Failure to deal with this question will only keep the Igbo flip-flopping such that they will be content with whatever is handed out to them—which of course will become justified as the “Igbo position”.
Compare with the Yoruba. No political effort in the land succeeds outside the True Federalist framework; when such efforts succeeded, it was usually the effect of illegalities, as witnessed in 1965, 2003 and 2007. Such that whether in victory or defeat, the core True Federalist paradigm drives not only the political consciousness but also the configuration of power and its politics in the land. At no point in time is this Yoruba imperative limited by time unlike what Mr. Adiele outlined as the Igbo response at Aburi.
It can thus be safely concluded that confederation becomes an Igbo demand only when the Yoruba cannot be neutralized, otherwise, any and all political means were and are embarked upon to ensure this neutralization. To “ooduapathfinder” therefore, the only consistent Igbo pursuit is the neutralization of the Yoruba.
To continue to insist that the Igbo lost a war and was forced into what Nigeria is today, is to deny the fact that losing a war does not necessarily translate into accepting the loss. Different strategies may need to be adopted, especially if the original aim was confederation as we are now being made to believe; just as it had been shown all over the world, where a military defeat did not stop the pursuit of autonomy or Independence hence could not have been a reason for the Igbo to backtrack unless Mr. Adiele is accepting the colonizer’s inference of the African and in this particular instance, the Igbo as being an inferior specimen of humanity.
Nebukadineze Adiele: Yoruba killed Igbo’s administrative device for the peoples of Nigeria in a Nigerian nation state. The fact of history has it clearly that the Yoruba intelligentsia talked the North into reneging on its acceptance of the political arrangements devised by Igbo for Nigeria in 1967. Yoruba encouraged the North and other Nigerians to wage a genocidal war on Igbo; Yoruba led the participants of that vicious war in visiting genocide on Igbo.
“ooduapathfinder”: If by “administrative device” Mr. Adiele is referring to the Aburi Accords, he is not being true to history; for the Yoruba Position is on record, as clearly stated by Chief Awolowo in his Speech to Western Leaders of Thought in 1967, which among others, stated that “ If it is claimed that an attack on the East is going to be launched by the Federal Government and not by the North as such and that it is designed to ensure the unity and integrity of the Federation, two other insuperable points also become obvious. First, if a war against the East becomes a necessity it must be agreed to unanimously by the remaining units of the Federation. In this connection, the West, Mid- West and Lagos have declared their implacable opposition to the use of force in solving the present problem. In the face of such declarations by three out of remaining four territories of Nigeria, a war against the East could only be a war favored by the North alone. Second, if the true purpose of such a war is to preserve the unity and integrity of the Federation, then these ends can be achieved by the very simple devices of implementing the recommendation of the committee which met on August 9 1966, as reaffirmed by a decision of the military leaders at Aburi on January 5 1967 as well as by accepting such of the demands of the East, West, Mid-West and Lagos as are manifestly reasonable, and essential for assuring harmonious relationships and peaceful co-existence between them and their brothers and sisters in the North.” AND “I wholeheartedly support the following demands among others, which we consider reasonable and most of which are already embodied in our memoranda to the Ad Hoc Committee….That revenue should be allocated strictly on the basis of derivation; that is to say after the Federal Government has deducted its own share for its own services the rest should be allocated to the regions to which they are attributable. That the existing public debt of the Federation should become the responsibility of the regions on the basis of the location of the projects in respect of each debt whether internal or external. That each region should have and control its own militia and police force. That, with immediate effect, all military personnel should be posted to their regions of origin….If we are to live in harmony one with another as Nigerians it is imperative that these demands and others which are not related, should be met without further delay by those who have hitherto resisted them. To those who may argue that the acceptance of these demands will amount to transforming Nigeria into a federation with a weak central government, my comment is that any link however tenuous, which keeps the East in the Nigerian union, is better in my view than no link at all.”(all emphasis ours-eds)
From the above, it is very clear that Igbo did not devise anything new for Nigeria in 1967. The Igbo were not in any position to do so. The Igbo had become a victim of its own militariat, who continued to see Nigeria in a militarist image, vowing that no military force in Black Africa could defeat its army thus unable to take advantage of Decree 8 of 1967 which effectively made Nigeria a confederation and which was rejected by the East hence the war. The Igbo, represented by the Igbo militariat did not see and could not have seen the political pitfalls in the rejection, especially when discussions between the West, led by Chief Awolowo and the East, led by Odumegwu Ojukwu did not enjoy the active participation of Igbo politicians of the Awolowo generation. These Igbo politicians, Azikiwe, Okpara et al were not allowed to be part of the discussions.
What their particular contributions to the entire outcome would be a legitimate question and the response would equally be legitimate, as speculative as it may be: these were people who had gone through the rough and tumble of anti-colonial politics, often under the canopy of a potential Nigerian post-colonial State and are now confronted with the fate of their various peoples, which, if not addressed, would suffer from the hands of the post-colonial State. Moreover, in spite of Azikiwe’s post-independence collaboration with the North, his “gilded cage” experience as the country’s president and all of the things that happened between then and the onset of the war, the politicians would have been able to stem the tide towards militarism, the failure of which eventually enabled the war mongers on both sides.
It would be a simplistic rendering of the events of that era to claim that the “Yoruba encouraged the North and other Nigerians to wage a genocidal war on Igbo; Yoruba led the participants of that vicious war in visiting genocide on Igbo”; for once war was declared, every side to the conflict had to devise its response, part of the Yoruba response being the removal of northern troops from the Western Region, and of course, the Yoruba could not sit idly by and watch Biafran troops invade the land under the military pretext of capturing Lagos, being the federal capital at the time without a simple consideration to the fact that Lagos is in Yorubaland and the Yoruba would not fold their arms to see their land being taken over by a sovereign country that Igboland had declared itself to be. This singular action by the Igbo not only made its militariat the controlling force in Igboland but also exposed the real Igbo Unitarist Agenda which was its forte during the anti-colonial struggles and which would have been consummated by a successful take-over of Nigeria’s capital at the time.
To make matters worse, a Yoruba commander was provided, as a token, to the invading forces and was told in very clear terms as to where political and military decisions would be taken once Lagos had been taken over. Only a militariat unable to live up to its expectation would reduce its military adventures to some other forces at work outside its own limitations, primary of which was the denial of Igbo politicians in direct talks with their Yoruba counterparts before the formal declaration of Igbo sovereignty which could now be construed as an attempt at achieving the Unitarism its politicians failed to achieve in all its years of anti-colonial praxis, which would also account for the denial of their participation in pre-war talks with the Yoruba and subsequent rejection of Decree 8.
Nebukadineze Adiele: If the Yoruba intelligentsia has today known what Igbo knew 50 years ago, Yoruba must come cleanly and honestly, instead of pulling this insulting cunningness brazenly articulated in this easy. This cunningness merely tells Igbo and the minorities of Nigeria that Yoruba is still not politically trustworthy, especially so when Yoruba ganged up with the same North just last year to chase away an Ijo of the East from the presidency of Nigeria. In addition, anytime that the youths of Igbo land clamor for Biafra, the nation founded by their fathers but which was thwarted by the machinations of Yoruba, the most violent attackers of their clamor are usually the Yoruba.
“ooduapathfinder”: The Yoruba had known what the” Igbo knew 50 years ago” before the Igbo came to know it which was why the Yoruba had been advocating for True Federalism right from the beginnings of the anti-colonial struggles, which was definitely before 50 years ago. Furthermore, whether the Yoruba are trustworthy or not is neither here nor there. Assuming that the Igbo are now certain of what they want, just as the Yoruba are, the question is not about trustworthiness, since we are not fighting each others’ fight; the question is what strategies to adopt in pursuing our different or similar quests; for as long as the contradictions of the Nigerian post-colonial State exist, so will the different attempts at reaching some sort of solution. The singular test of a solid solution is that it must rest on its own foundation. Thus, for the Yoruba, regardless of what the Igbo think, we will settle for Independence, Confederation or Federalism (and “ooduapathfinder” will not demand any less for the Igbo)—the bottom line being that the Nigerian Post-Colonial State CANNOT and MUST NOT continue like this. That is the ONLY pre-condition.
Once this is agreed, any of the three options would be up for negotiation. Before such negotiation takes place, none of those involved must ally with the post-colonial State in order to play any one-upmanship, which was what the NCNC did in 1959, the NPP in 1979, the anti-NADECO posturing of the Igbo, the “alliance” with Goodluck Jonathan and now the romance with Buhari. Thus, when “Igbo youths” clamor for Biafra partly on the platform of killing the Yoruba while other “ Igbo youths” outside Igboland lay claim to ownership of Lagos while yet other “youths” promote Igbo monarchies in Yorubaland without mentioning the conscription of non-Igbolands in the East into Biafra, it must be very clear that such a clamor will not receive Yoruba blessings just as it should be very clear that the quest for autonomy or independence is not and could not be for any reason other than the rejection of the colonial contraption which was not made for the progress of the peoples of Nigeria. So, as long as the Igbo see the Yoruba(or any other Nationality) as it enemy, it cannot be said that they are fighting for their own liberation, as it were. In all of these, at no time, pre or post-Independence had the Yoruba made any claim to anywhere outside Yorubaland or any geographical space indigenous to the Yoruba.
The Nigerian post-colonial State is an entity in itself, but not for itself since it is anchored on a particular foundation, Fulani hegemony. It could not be for itself because it cannot exist without this foundation so it could only exist in itself as an entity and thus had to be engaged on that recognition. When it is now being said that the “Yoruba ganged up with the same North just last year to chase away an Ijo of the East from the presidency of Nigeria” it simply proves the point being made about the post-colonial State being “in itself” and not “for itself”. For while the “Ijo of the East” was going about in Yorubaland claiming that we are minorities in our land, that our leaders are rascals, pumping money and mercenaries to effect a change in our electoral formulations and not paying heed to fundamental Yoruba demands even after a memo was submitted to him by the Yoruba on Restructuring Nigeria as a necessity, the Igbo played along and actually seized “on the moment” to declare their monarchies in some areas in Yorubaland, magnified their claims as to Lagos being a “no man’s land” etc all of which would necessarily trigger a response from the Yoruba unless the Igbo had already concluded that the Yoruba are stupid which would also flow with their historical unitarist agenda.
This was besides the fact that it was mainly the Yoruba who made it possible for the “Ijo of the east” to become the President in the first instance just as the Yoruba also “chased away” the PDP in Yorubaland as a force to reckon with; which goes on to show that the Nigerian post-colonial State is an entity in itself being anchored on Fulani hegemony. On the other hand, were it “for itself”, Nigeria will be a function of its multi-ethnic nature thereby changing the character of the Nigerian post-colonial State from a Fulani anchored entity into a “Nigerian” entity, which in any case is impossible unless all of the other Nationalities are defeated and politically neutralized in such a way that they become irrelevant in Fulani pursuit of its hegemony; all of Nigeria then becomes Fulani in character just as the Hausa were so forced into becoming Hausa-Fulani.
Remove the hegemony and Nigeria will be different. Instead of pursuing this course, the Igbo always try to become part of that hegemony, as all the examples show. Now, the Yoruba rightly allied with the hegemony to chase away the “Ijo of the east”. The alliance that brought about that change would have been in a position to change the maxim from being “in itself” to being “for itself “ if only this paradigm is recognized and no one is now playing to become a part of the hegemony which will only reinforce its being “in itself” since the hegemony is left untouched. The hegemony relied on certain characters from Yorubaland to pursue this goal and these Yoruba characters will now get into a conflict with the new found Igbo characters who will battle each other for acceptance into the Fulani hegemonist calculations. What would happen could only be left for the imagination if both the Igbo and the Yoruba and indeed other Nationalities can recognize the “in itself” problematic and act within such recognition.
Nebukadineze Adiele: Yoruba has violated Igbo’s vision for equal coexistence of all the ethic groups that make up Nigeria since 1967 up to the present. It is insulting that instead of the Yoruba approaching the Igbo with a mea culpa, to the effect that it now understands where Igbo stood all along, it comes through the backdoor, claiming to being the true champion of Nigeria not dominated by the minority Fulani. This approach will never work; it will only ensure that Nigeria remains a playground of the Fulani’s where Igbo, Yoruba, and the minorities are peckers of woods and fetchers of water. Igbo is prepared to work with anybody to make Nigeria workable for all, but such a work cannot begin from the stand point of fraud, distortion, and cunning coercion.
“ooduapathfinder”: The foundation of Yoruba quest for True Federalism is equal co-existence for all the Nigerian Nationalities; right from the days of the Egbe Omo Oduduwa to the debates and declarations at Independence conferences through all of the republics Nigeria had passed through, up till date and the Yoruba had not wavered from this. So if there is any need for any mea culpa, it must come from the Igbo. Even if 1967 is recognized as the starting point for this, the Igbo owe everyone a mea culpa for scuttling any attempt at restructuring Nigeria since at least 1947!!!! But “ooduapathfinder” will not go this route for it is not necessary. Going that route shows a lack of understanding of what self-determination takes. If the Igbo are prepared to “work with anybody to make Nigeria workable for all” the first step is to deny those Igbo among them who are angling for a piece of the pie from Fulani hegemony. These characters also exist within Yorubaland, as the recent Ondo State electoral experience has shown and the Yoruba also have to find ways and means of making them politically irrelevant.