By Rev Fr Angelo Chidi Unegbu
Despite the litany of the injustices and horrors meted against the Igbo people that led to the secession and eventually the civil war, there were still some Igbo people/Biafrans who stood on the side of Nigerian government, the same government that unleashed genocide on their own people. Such people were referred to by Ndigbo as “saboteurs”. One of such persons was Ukpabi Asika.
The government of Gowon rewarded Asika for his loyalty by appointing him the Administrator of East Central State at the beginning of the civil war in 1967. Unable to take up his post due to the war, Asika remained in Lagos until 1970, when the war ended. No sooner had Asika resumed duty as the administrator that he began to play the script handed to him by those who appointed him. Despite the slogan of the 3 Rs (Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reintegration) that hallowed the end of the war, the Nigerian government was bent on doing anything that would forestall any future agitation for a sovereign state by the Biafrans.
The “arrogance” of the Igboman was believed to have been exacerbated by his intellectual sophistication, which was made possible by his good education, thanks to the avalanche of missionary schools in the area. On January 10, 1970, Ukpabi Asika enacted the edict “Public Education Edict: East Central State of Nigeria Gazette Number 3 Enugu, May 1970” which dispossessed the Churches of the ownership and administration of their schools.
The same government of Asika saw to the expulsion of the Catholic missionaries in Igboland on February 18, few weeks after the promulgation of that education edict.
On 14 January 2020, the Supreme Court of Nigeria against the mandate of the people and against the rules of logic, mathematics, feelings of the masses and common sense removed the people’s choice (majority), Emeka Ihedioha and imposed Hope Uzodimma as the governor of Imo state, the Igbo heartland. Uzodimma was sworn in on 15 January 2020 which was the exact date that the Biafran soldiers surrendered to the Nigerian troops, and of course that was the date Asika’s administration actually began. Was that supposed to be a coincidence?
We all saw the script that Asika was handed over to play and he played it perfectly well. Which one is Uzodimma required to play this time? Is history repeating itself? My fellow Ndigbo, this is a very fragile and perilous time in our history. We are worried because we have passed this road before. Through the actions and inactions of the present government especially on security of lives and property and the recent decisions of the Supreme Court on January 14 and March 03 2020, we don’t need a prophet to tell us that the die is cast. Our actions and inactions as a people in the next 4 years will determine whether we shall continue to exist as a people or not.
The government is doing almost nothing to protect the lives of Nigerians, particularly Ndigbo, from the murderous Fulani herdsmen that have surrounded the country. The same government is at the same time frowning at regions/ states establishing their own security outfit. Just yesterday, March 04, 2020 at about 11.30 P.M., it was reliably reported that unidentified gunmen at the cover of the night were shooting sporadically at people in Okigwe. At the end, at least 7 persons were said to have been killed while several others were wounded. Up till now, nothing is known about the killers. No national daily carried it. Worse still, the whereabouts of the assailants is unknown.
My beloved Ndigbo, this is not the time for pecuniary politics. It is not the time for looking for where money is being shared. It is not the time of jumping from one political party to another just for personal gains. This is the time to put our greed and grievances aside and put heads together to protect Ndigbo from being wiped out. We are indestructible when we are united. No one can destroy us without us.
Churches should not only pray harder now but should also be on the alert. Church members should be educated on the situation we are in. Our Churches should pay more attention to security than any other thing now. Security competence should have a major priority among us – learn how to effectively protect your family, property and community. Churches, especially in Imo state, should as a matter of necessity desist in these four years from inviting politicians to their churches or asking them for financial assistance.
This is not the time of hoping that the international community will come to our aid. They have their own problems and other interests. It is not a time of waiting for our elites to speak or act for us. At this time everyone is an elite. If you can talk, please talk. If you can write, please write. If you can preach or sing or act movies that will expose the dangers facing us, please kindly do that. You have social media, please use it. This is not a time of being politically correct. Be guided only by the truth, justice and self-defence.
They can put whoever they want as governor. They can only succeed if we allow them to use us. The Supreme Court can decide anything but it is our own collective decision that stands only if we are united in love, truth and justice. Everyone should be part of the local vigilanté. Comb the whole bushes steadily. Install CCTV at many places as possible. Be prepared to video any suspiscious scene and circulate when necessary. Use your mobile Phone…..create a village WhatsApp Group to communicate security issues with each other! Give tips to others etc. Create gates with locks in your villages. This should be locked after 18:00 hours in the evening allowing free entry ONLY to people who can identify themselves.
Suspect everything! Report everything! If you cannot tweet retweet. If you cannot write, then share. If you cannot share, like or comment. But please no fake news and hoax. Scrutinise everything! This is no time for jokes or pranks. But in all remain calm. With vigilance and God on our side, we shall conquer.