By Fredrick Nwabufo
The vocal minority will always have their say, but the silent majority will have their way. Nevertheless, it is capricious to let the pesky minority govern and dominate the narrative. A solitary story by a negligible decimal could be held as the belief and view of the bulk. This is why the silent Igbo majority who are opposed to the secession of the south-east from Nigeria need to speak up.
We cannot discount the perils, ills and concomitants of the civil war. But it has been 51 years since the end of the war, and the Igbo have built back better and stronger. We people every corner of Nigeria and have made where we settled our home. It is customary to find an Igbo native who can speak Hausa and Yoruba fluently – even much better than their indigenous tongue.
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A united Nigeria remains a viable emporium for the enterprising Igbo.
We have made magic out of the ordinary with enduring resilience and turned dust into gold in the places we have settled. Whether in the north or the south, we dominate commerce. We have forged bonds and made families with host communities. We have crossed bloodlines and have nourished our gene pool with the rich ancestry of other peoples of Nigeria. We have become aboriginal Nigerians.
It gladdened me when the Igbo Delegate Assembly said they are opposed to the breakaway of the south-east from Nigeria in June. The Igbo leaders from the 19 northern states declared that there is a new tribe – The Northern Igbo. This melange of Igbo whose histories have become intertwined and many others with roots in the south-east and even residents there are in the majority.
Really, there is a new and only tribe – the aboriginal Nigerian; a cross-genetic breed.
Those crusading for the secession of the south-east today are deficient students of history and sociology. Even the late Odumegwu Ojukwu, the captain of the secessionist struggle during the war, regretted that devastating episode in our history. Ojukwu said: ‘’I don’t think the second war is necessary. We should have learnt from the first one.”
There is no victory in war; only pain, blood and death. Nobody should provoke another war in Igbo land. Ndi Igbo must not let the vocal minority drown them out. They must speak up and be heard.
At the weekend, I had a robust conversation on Nigeria and the southeast with some friends. It jogged something in me. While the claims of marginalisation by Ndi Igbo cannot be brushed off, Nigeria has not been all grim for the Igbo. The Igbo are perhaps the most financially fortunate of all groups in Nigeria. I recall, under the Jonathan administration, the Igbo ruled the commanding heights of the economy. They peopled strategic places in the government. In fact, the Jonathan administration was passed off as an Igbo government, and rightly so. What we did with that opportunity will be discussed in subsequent columns. But Nigeria has not been all ash and sackcloth for Ndi Igbo.
And who says we cannot seek justice and fairness within Nigeria? Operating in a democracy affords us several vehicles to realise whatever we seek – within the orbit of the constitution. But our pursuit of equity must not come with bloodshed. It must not be at the cost of precious human lives.
So, in our discussion, we idealised the possibility of a movement to drive the quiet thoughts of the silent Igbo majority. That is, a non-partisan and strictly ideological platform to mobilise Igbo voices and consciences for a united Nigeria and to counter secessionist narratives. We came up with the concept of ‘Ndi Igbo for One Nigeria’. Yes, Ndi Igbo stand for One Nigeria. Our voices should be louder than those who seek to divide us.
I believe many are reluctant to speak up for fear of violence. I have been threatened many times for my views, but my belief in a united Nigeria is stronger than my fear. Should we remain reticent by a fit of fear and watch our years of hard work tumble down? Do we keep our hands suspended in the air while our kith and kin are slaughtered in avoidable violence?
The silent Igbo majority need to speak up. It is an existential struggle for us and our children.
We need to rise and take a stand. Nigeria belongs to us and every other Nigerian. We must hold the fort.
‘Ndi Igbo for One Nigeria’ berths and our voices against secessionist agitations just got louder.
Nwabufo tweets @FredrickNwabufo