Biafra Is Not The Only Nation Crying Out
Farouk Martins Aresa
Biafra is not the only one crying out for space, respect, equity and fair play in this Market where familiarity breed contempt. Delta market, Arewa market and Odua market, also want a form of confederation. Even conjoined twins require skillful and delicate separations. Unfortunately we lack ingenious surgeons to perform this life threatening operation. Our country is sick but the institutions required to balance separation of powers are weak, motivated and united by greed.
Chinua Achebe could have declared that in this situation, the center cannot hold. As the world and us benefit from Africa biggest Market: greed, insecurity and marginalization blind ethnics. Unfortunately the same politicians will rule separate nations; not based on what they promised new nations. There is no reason to believe that they will be more united by greed in separate markets than they are in Nigeria. They would rather create inter-ethnic tribal wars than market.
While other nations create economic cooperation and foreign markets, Africans create ethnic wars for individual powers to loot. Despite all the cry against the North or Hausa/Fulani, their talikawa are the most marginalized people in the Nigerian market. They have leaders that have ruled Nigeria after Independence more than the Southern leaders, yet most of the poor in the country exist among them. Their leaders remain stubbornly selfish but are firmly in control of the majority of the folks by force of the Armed Forces and more important Ė Religious drug.
Institution of the Sharia law was nothing more than control in disguise. The drug does not apply to their leaders. It only applies to the poor that convert whatever does not belong to them. He could lose his hand for stealing food or cow. In that case, you can imagine the proportion of the punishment for their leaders stealing billions in disguise of distributing crumbs into poor bowls. Sharia works by keeping the most marginalize in trance. Boko Haram cannot deliver prosperity.
North has arable land and food for market survival not Islam; known to Africans before Usman Dafodio introduced his radical form to conquer the Hausa Ruling Houses. Hausa that had ruled the Great African Empires became Fulani slaves with no right to their kingdoms unless they can prove a relationship with Fulani. So religion is a scam to subjugate and tranquilize human minds like drugs or opium. Otherwise, there is no rational reason Hausa would be ready to slaughter his own brothers as non-believers for a faith that is not his, that displaced his indigenous belief.
There is nothing wrong with agriculture, indeed there is everything right with agriculture when turned to finished products locally for export. Every raw material deserve a finished product by manufacturing them into finished goods for local and foreign consumption. Otherwise, we will exhaust our raw materials to import their finished products like sardines taken from our shores.
Ijaw, the children of Earnest Ikoli (Awo supported as his leader), Issac Boro that declared Niger Delta before Biafra and many greats are not the only ethnic group in Niger Delta that includes Ogoniís Kenny Saro-wa, Urhobo, Itsekiri etc.; and one of manís ancient Ekoi writers of Nsibidi now embraced by neighbors as far as Kanuri! They only demanded a clean environment and fair compensation for resources derived from their land. They just want to fish and farm as usual in order to feed their families. Anyone would demand the same equity as fair play in any market.
What they got was the worst environmental degradation and polluted land than anywhere in the world. These are crimes against humanity perpetrated by the big corporate companies that took advantage of both local and Federal Government to ship as much oil as they desired but flared gas that could be harnessed for economic development unchallenged. We donít know what they make or take from the market but left crumbs for locals and Federal to fight over.
When Niger Delta finally got control of Government, they amassed wealth with impunity since oil income is derived from their farms. The way their leaders were looting, one would think they were building paradise in Europe and America in case the oil runs dry. Unfortunately, paradise only belongs to individual ministers and leaders that bundled out fortunes. Neglected areas remain environmental disaster that is useless to their people before and after their own rulers.
This is the infectious disease that fouls everyone in the center. Avarice creates indifference to humans. Nigerians rule nation as Federal leaders opening Market for the world but ethnic wars for us. So Odua nation also complain of marginalization since they felt that they were excluded from the center of Government. The irony in this case is that the Western Region made gains, progressed and were better off when left out of the center government than when included.
Instead of insisting on regional powers, Yoruba sold their birthrights to the Federal Government in return for laziness, complacency and immoral character as individuals than as a people. Their collective culture for mass education, industrial areas, free healthcare to be productive, pursuit of knowledge, novelties as Firsts in black Africa, in Medicine, law etc. As educated consumers, Yoruba created the major market in the country. Who abandons such market for national cake?
Ajayi Crowther as the Bishop of Onitsha, translated the bible into first written Igbo and Yoruba. The religious opium has never gripped the Yoruba as they remain the most tolerant of all world religions demonstrated in each family; while ingrained steadfastly in the indigenous belief. The advantage of this is that religion has never driven them to charlatanry controlled by Rome or Mecca. At the height of world religious riots, Yoruba were reminded of their cultural tolerance.
Olaudah Equiano, excel as an abolitionist of slave trade and master of English literature in his days in U.S.A and England; less than a century before Ajayi Crowther who was rescued in a slave ship. Equiano could have been the translator of Bible into Igbo but left home as a child. His Igbo native intelligence for hard work and survival never left him. Ndi-Igbo were not only the hardest working folks on earth but for the record: they were trusted by most Nigerians in those days.
Indeed, a Yoruba business man would rather employ an Igbo man than his own in those days because he knew he could trust an Igbo man. He would not steal a kobo and would do his task without grudge. It got to a stage in Lagos at least, but common in the West: Igbo were the preferred neighbors and tenants. Even when their Yoruba Landlord got so greedy, Igbo would pay for all yearsí rent as demanded!
They were so amicable that they assimilated easily within their hosts. Actually, there are Igbo today nobody would trace to the East except they tell you about their mother father brotherís sister. These are apart from god-fathers, sisters and half-brothers. Though they came to Lagos after the Edo, Ibibio, Togolese, Dahomey (Beniose), Ghanaians; they quickly gained political power. Azikiwe that succeeded Herbert Macauley as NCNC leader, represented Lagos in Ibadan.
There is a reason most Igbo billionaires that made it through Lagos in particular got it right. It is called Market Demand. The biggest market that exist in the West made it easier for all Africans to excel and the Igbo took that opportunity. One can only make it where free market regardless of ethnicity exists. The market in the North or the East are not as cognizant as those in the West where people buy and sell without hindrance or being dictated to on what to sell.
Those asking Igbo to come back home must provide the same market where they can flourish as they do in the West, North and the world. Many people cannot become billionaires when all of us are sellers. With the amount of vigor and zeal Igbo pursue small businesses, did displace many locals leading to jealousy, even outside Nigeria. So, as long as there is market for selling, Igbo would find the products that may not move or lack demands as well at home.
Sir Ojukwu was one of the first Igbo Millionaire in Lagos. He found his market by transporting people from and to Lagos, for goods and services. Those asking Igbo to invest at home are right but they must create a market to create Igbo billionaires as in other places like Lagos. A good example is the Innosson automobiles. What that company needs is a market that will demand more of its products. It may not survive in Biafra unless it reaches out for broader markets.
This article only picked some ethnic groups in Nigeria while there are many more. The point is they all have qualities that can be transformed into a great African Market collectively as when allowed to trade with one another in a common market instead of daring one another. Trade leads to peaceful coexistence, isolation only lead to war sooner or later. Everyone follows the fallacy that the crumbs left after superpowers take your raw materials is worth fighting for.