The Sorry Tale Of Ndi - Igbo And Dearth Of Leadership - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Monday, April 26, 2021

The Sorry Tale Of Ndi - Igbo And Dearth Of Leadership

          •Southeast governors & leaders


By Ugochimereze Chinedu Asuzu

What is this terror? Rains of gun fire, buckets of bombs, screams of death, and a horrifying fear eclipsing the people. This is the height of it, for a people who have been marginalized and relagated in the most demeaning of ways by a system that has vowed to enjoy its resources but not its people. This dossier reminds us of much more.

As I pen down my thoughts as regards the many lamentable facts facing our people, I do this with a heavy, grieving heart,  a forlorn face and heavily distressed mind. Nevertheless my thinking faculties cum acuity are intact and charged for this, such that the clarity of thoughts has never been better. 

Sincerely speaking, the crop of Igbo leaders and intelligentsia we have in this generation of ours are assuredly insipid, bemused, lily livered, totally uncoordinated and stripped of heroic features or appurtenances of candour and mien; above all utterly nondescript, when juxtaposed with their contemporaries from other zones, or placed on the scale with our forebears before them. 

Gradually, though our kinds are getting into the fold of the aforementioned no doubt, hence in our own little ways and means we try, albeit sparingly, not to be so defined, in this regards we raise our voices high at any given time to contribute our own quota to national discourse where it is applicable to our race and ethnic nationality or Nigeria in totality, even at the risk of our comfort and security. 

If one follow the narratives and situational imperatives of the Nigerian state today, particularly under the watch of the present handlers, one wouldn't search deep to unravel the systematic side tracking and complete sidelining of the Igbo in the scheme of things, and this didn't happen overnight; as only a depraved entity wouldn't decipher the systematic exclusion of the Igbo in the key sectors of the Nigerian government, be it in the areas of security or otherwise, we witness a subliminal and craftily planned exclusion, such that today in this country, if the entire echelon of the security architecture of this country is summoned to a closed door meeting, no one from our zone (southeast) would be in attendance, which is a horrendous aberration. 

The abrupt closure of mostly our southern borders was intended to stifling the businesses of Ndigbo, whose major stronghold is commerce, that while the northern borders are intentionally rendered porous, the southern borders are strictly manned, same as ports, that most of the ports in the southern part of the country with exception to Lagos, which those manning them are of the northern extraction, the southern ports are reduced to relics of their old striving selves. 

Are we talking of federal government infrastructures, which are only but beggarly and sparingly cited in our zone? The very issue of railway lines is merely an eye opener to the description of the southeast region as a conquered territory, such that even another country like Niger state is of utmost priority to the government of the day in citing rail lines other than the eastern part of Nigeria. That while all these are ongoing, our people in government are mute, those in the national Assembly are bemused and flabbergasted, moping like decorative features in the chambers of both the higher and lower houses, with the exception of Senator Abaribe, who else of Igbo extraction in the national Assembly has a voice that could be reckoned with in matters affecting our zone? 

Just recently, the current Ohaneze leadership made a rather subtle case for a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction come 2023, how many of our visible Igbo leaders followed up on the broadcast to lend their voices in amplifying the position of the Ohaneze leadership on this germane issue, as is the case with other zones angling for it, forgetting that power is not given but fiercely and stubbornly taken by those prepared for it. Now one is wont to ask: how prepared are we to demand for and take that which is rightly ours for the taking? 

Insecurity in the southeast region is gradually worsening by the day, then one begins to ask if the elders and intelligentsia of the Igbo extraction were not aware before now that things will go sideways the manner it is daily becoming increasingly obvious by the day? I mean, why would our elders and intelligentsia wait till it has become this bad before rallying round our youths to have a heart to heart discussion with them concerning their very legitimate demands? Why would they allow the Nigerian state to butcher and massacre our youths at the slightest provocations, while their contemporaries in other zones do worse and only have a pat at the back? why would they reduce the Igbo youths to sacrificial lambs to be slaughtered by the Nigerian state whimsically without cause or tangible reason? Why, why why? These questions beg for an answer.  

A popular Igbo adage has it that; "okenye no nulo ana egwu ala na ihu beya ogba nkiti, oche na egwucha ala ahu onye ka aga atuya nime ya?" (An elder who gleefully watch grave being dung in front of his house and remained indifferent, not asking questions to know the intention of the diggers, might ultimately be watching his grave being dung without him knowing); our elders and intelligentsia has kept mute for far too long over the maltreatment and obvious marginalization ongoing against the zone, which became even more pronounced and elevated at the watch of the present regime in the country, more like the Igbos have become endangered species to the present leadership in the country, to be slaughtered at will and no question asked, hence the southeast has become one huge killing field, center of government intimidation, theatre of unbridled and insatiable shedding of innocent blood. 

Igbo leaders and intelligentsia watched hand akimbo while a peaceful and nonviolent group floated by our youths in the name of IPOB, to demand their reasonable inclusion in the Nigerian State, even if they demand for self determination, which is still within their rights to so do, yet the Nigerian state hurriedly tagged them terrorists with the active connivance of the governments of the southeastern states scrapped the group, designated them terrorists, while the extremist Meyitti Allah of the northern extraction who are known to be very brutal and murderous in their activities, who are armed with sophisticated weapons and steadily terrorising the Nigerian state in broad range, and who are also labelled "the fourth most deadly terror group" in the world with tales of woes, killing, maiming and destruction trailing their activities has not been do defined, and our leaders and intelligentsia took it lying low, neither made a case for their youths who were unjustly labeled terrorists without qualms by the Nigerian state (little wonder the Igbo youths have no iota of respect for the Igbo leaders and intelligentsia now), the OPC of the Western extraction and other youth motivated groups clamoring for one thing or the other were not so treated, because they have the protection and backing of their leaders and intelligentsia who would issue press releases jointly or individually and follow it up should their own be unjustly treated at any time.

What's ongoing now in the southeastern part of the country, in terms of insecurity and youths restiveness can be attributed to negligence and abjudication of responsibilities on the part of the present crop of Igbo leaders and intelligentsia, and would've been averted if we have leaders and intelligentsia that are proactive, those who see ahead of time, and those who knows their responsibility and living up to them, responsibilities which obviously they are already seen to have abjudicated, and which has become the greatest albatross to cohesion and direction, so to speak, a lacuna that the leadership at the centre has so hatched on to demean, denigrate and utterly desecrated of cherished values and collective pride as a people. 

As Achebe will say, the Igbo issue is not the people or culture but the problem of leadership. Our leaders have failed, woefully. We, as a people, are at our lowest ebbs and it is time to think and pause, more so to determine our collective place in the Nigerian project or not at all. The time is now, tomorrow is already too late to begin. 

Ugochimereze Chinedu Asuzu, is a human rights crusader, social cum political analyst, writes from Owerri, Imo Sta

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