United people do not discuss unity. That Igbo unity is being discussed proves that the Igbos are not united. United people discuss plans, projects, and performance of the tribe vis-à-vis other tribes. Unity is organic and is manifested in action. We do not hear Hausa-Fulanis discussing Hausa-Fulani unity, Ijaws discussing Ijaw unity, Yorubas discussing Yoruba unity, Tivs discussing Tiv unity, or Kanuris discussing Kanuri unity to the extent that Igbos discuss Igbo unity. Only disunited people discuss their unity. Outside Nigeria, there is no discussion of Jewish unity. European unity is in focus again because Europe is becoming dis-united. Insular Britons who created dis-united countries all over the world are spearheading this European disunity after Brexit. Nigeria is the best example.
Nigeria was stitched together from disparate peoples that despised each other. Dis-united people form organizations with unity in their name such as Organization of African Unity, not African Union. The change to union is an afterthought and mimicry of Europe. The African Union has not responded to the migrant crisis, which has truncated the lives of thousands of promising young Africans “swimming” across the Mediterranean Sea in dinghies.
Igbos used to consolidate resources to send their children, mostly sons, overseas for further education. The whites were admired for their knowledge and mastery of the world. Their raison d’être was, “Why not sponsor our young men overseas to find out where the white man got his mojo?”
Nowadays, Igbos expect manna from any relative abroad. They do not care if you are a drug pusher, prostitute, or working yourself to death by juggling three jobs. Just send the dollars and Euros to your “starving” relatives in Igbo land via Western Union. Some of these relatives are living big, but they would not give a hoot inconveniencing you!
Igbo Town Unions building schools, hospitals, electrification projects, pipe-borne water, bridges, roads, health centers and recreation centers are not a manifestation of unity. It is the Igbos doing what they do best – competition. Africastallestman saw unity in action in Israel, where Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem was built by funds donated by Jews in the Diaspora. Town-based infrastructural developments are not manifestations of a united people. There is no regional or clan-based hospital in Igbo land. Hadassah Hospital serves all of Israel and Palestine. A good beginning is to establish an Igbo Hospital in Enugu, Enugu State. Why Enugu? Enugu is the capital of Eastern Nigeria.
To no avail, Africastallestman has been urging Igbos in the US to band together and build a world-class medical center in Igbo land. Instead, they collect money from unsuspecting donors and embark on junkets called medical missions. In my opinion, these are medical mismanagement missions.
Igbo unity is on an off and on switch. Igbos unite in adversity, especially when faced by an external aggressor. The Igbo State Union was formed in Lagos in 1923 to advance the Igbo cause. The naive Igbo general, Major General J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi in 1966 proscribed this association, which protected Igbos from violence orchestrated from jealous and hateful tribes. The Igbo State Union acted as a bulwark against Yoruba oppression and discrimination but later expanded nationwide.
It is remarkable that Igbos living in parts of Nigeria where their lives and properties are at risk always coalesce into an organization to fight their enemies. The Igbo Community Association (ICA) was formed in 1964 to protect the interests of Igbos in Kano from Hausa-Fulani maltreatment. That Igbos unite on an ad-hoc basis is corroborated by this citation:
“According to the current Eze Igbo, the Kano Igbo are more united than those in the south; ‘We accept aspects of Igbo culture that are good and discard those that are bad. We are recreating what you might call ‘the new conservation’. Given the variety of Igbo (sub) cultures, an attempt has been made to blend them. Individual town unions get together, for example, to organize state cultural days like Anambra day and Imo day. The ICA once set up a committee to work on blending the cultures in an effort to establish a basis for Igbo unity in Kano. The ICA has actually worked hard at this unifying process, and it is to this consideration that we now turn” (http://books.openedition.org/ifra/895).
When the Igbos are not under threat, they revert to their egomaniacal and ostentatious proclivities. In the Detroit, Michigan Metropolis, there are over 30 individually strong Igbo organizations but one weak central Igbo organization. In the Houston, Texas Metropolis, there are over 200 individually strong Igbo organizations but not one strong paramount pan-Igbo organization. Once Americans decide to start killing Igbos in the US, the Igbos will form a strong organization, but it may be too late. Unity of convenience is not unity.
The Nigerian-Biafra war was a war of survival. The Igbos had nowhere to go but to fight. After the war, that sense of unity disappeared. Sub-ethnic Igbo divisions were exacerbated by the creation of 5 Igbo states. Igbos owe allegiance first to their town unions, secondly to their states, and lastly to Igbo land. If Igbos were united, their allegiances should be reversed.
The Igbos supported Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, an Onitsha indigene. Dr. Nnamdi rode the Igbos to fame but did not support Igbo causes. It is an open secret that Onitsha people are Yorubas who migrated to Onitsha through Benin. After losing out to Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his quest to become the premier of Western Region, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik) claimed persecution by the Yorubas. At the same time, Onitsha people were referring to Igbos in Onitsha as “Ndi Igbo” (strangers). But when his Yoruba brethren manifested their treachery once again, Zik remembered that he spoke Igbo. The Igbos “unanimously supported and voted for Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe all through his political career,” because the Igbos were hoodwinked into believing that Zik was on their side. He was to take the fight to Igbo enemies, but, instead, he was fighting for his self-aggrandizement. The dethronement of the Premier of Eastern Region, Professor Eyo Ita, an Efik by Zik, started the Igbo-minority chasm in Eastern Nigeria in 1954.
That Zik in his fifties acquiesced to the creation of the monstrosity called Nigeria questions his commitment to Igbo survival and unity. Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello openly stated his dislike for Igbos prior to independence in a televised interview (https://africastallestman.com/2016/08/18/362/).
If that was not enough to dismember Nigeria, I do not know what would have convinced Zik to pull the Igbos out of the Nigerian gossamer (https://africastallestman.com/2016/08/29/zik-is-africa-and-awo-is-yoruba/).
Zik’s ultimate act of treachery was to counsel the Igbos to end the Biafra-Nigeria War during a press conference in Lagos, Nigeria, during the war. He could have held the press conference in London, Banjul or Paris. He committed two sins: first, you do not communicate with your “people” in a press conference, and second, he should not have held the press conference in an enemy territory.
Nnamdi Kanu is an Igbo hero. No Igbo of any significance has held any world press conference condemning the continued illegal detention of Nnamdi. With two courts of competent jurisdiction discharging Nnamdi, any pronouncement by a leader of the “united Igbos” will have solid legal backing. The same courageous Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) members who were killed with the connivance of Igbo Governors are the ones sacrificing their lives for Biafra. Octogenarian and Nonagenarian Prominent Igbos waiting for crumbs from Abuja are yet to demand an unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu from prison. As a writer in the Sahara Reporters noted, these so-called leaders would rather see Nnamdi Kanu dead than making him the new Igbo hero.
The Igbos will be united when Igbo governors, Ezes, Igwe, Ohaneze, and Igbo elders start agitating for the release of Kanu. They should stage a public protest demanding the immediate release of Nnamdi in the Gandhi tradition. All Jews wanted a convicted spy, Jonathan Pollard, released from a US prison. This is unity in action.
Some writers have claimed that Igbos are united because they voted en masse for the (People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Jonathan Goodluck in 2011 and 2015. Voting for Dr. Jonathan Goodluck is not a vote for Igbo unity but a vote against Hausa-Fulani domination. Having Ebere Azikiwe in his name makes him an Igbo despite his Ijaw origin.
Historically, the Igbos voted en masse for the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroon (NCNC) and the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) not because they were united but because they were rejecting Hausa-Fulani hegemony. The Middle Belt (Angas, Tivs, Eggon, Utong Kong, etc) voted NPP not because they love the Igbos. They were revolting against Hausa-Fulani hegemony. These same tribes participated in the Igbo genocide in 1966. As the train carrying the Igbos south from the deep North made stops in their territories, Igbos were escorted off the trains and hacked to death. See https://www.amazon.com/Nigerian-Revolution-Biafran-War/dp/9781561173/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488422907&sr=1-2-fkmr1&keywords=the+nigerian+revolution+and+the+biafra+war.
Markets in Igbo land have been closed on MASSOB orders to prevent vandalism. Some Igbo governors in a show of Igbo disunity have warned MASSOB not to interfere with commercial activities in their states. Is this a sign of “Igbo unity” or “Igbo disunity?” Igbo sympathy to the MASSOB Agenda is another evidence of the short-lived reactionary unity spearheaded by the educated and unemployed Igbo youths. Their elders with their umbilical cords attached to Abuja have distanced themselves from MASSOB by promoting the state of disorder called NIGERIA.
Igbos teaching other Igbos trade secrets is not a sign of Igbo unity but a sign of commercialism. If you do not encourage, train, and nurture your successors, your trade will become extinct. This is done through a system of apprenticeship, pure and simple. You use somebody’s brain and brawn for 3 to 5 years without pay. A lump sum payment at the end of the apprenticeship kick starts the individual’s entry into that line of trade. The apprentices are usually from the same town as the merchant. That is why Orlu people are known for patent medicine, Nawfia for vinyl records, Agulu for bread, Enugwu Agidi for timber, Abriba/Ohafia for stockfish and so on. Nowadays, some merchants do not “settle” their apprentices but manufacture one reason or another to deny payment for their labors.
When the Igbos were zoned the position of Senate Presidency, their intra-tribal infighting manifested itself once again. I wish that the Igbos would forget the shameful senate presidential roulette where President Olusegun Obasanjo exploited Igbo disunity to install 5 Igbo Senate Presidents in 8 years. He could not have done it with the Yorubas or Hausa-Fulanis.
Some will counter that Northern generals overthrew Northern generals, but the North is not a monolith. Comparing military elections or coups to the democratic process is like comparing cassava and plantain. The North is not a homogeneous entity. Yakubu Gowon is Angas and Murtala Mohammed, who overthrew him, is Hausa. Muhammadu Buhari is Fulani, and his overthrower, Ibrahim Babangida, is Gwari. Sani Abacha, who succeeded Ibrahim Babangida, is Kanuri, while caretaker President Abdulsalami Abubakar is Nupe. No Fulani general has overthrown another Fulani general.
Unity has a strong element of “blind followership.” The Yorubas followed Chief Obafemi Awolowo blindly and were richly rewarded. Igbos followed Nnamdi Azikiwe blindly, but he was not fighting for Igbo causes. Uniting around a wrong leader is the same as disunity. Igbos have elected questionable characters into state and national offices. These characters have mortgaged Igbo interests to other tribes for a pittance. Igbo votes are indeed for sale.
Uniting to protect your interests, as the Igbo State Union or Igbo Community Association, does not imply a conspiracy against other tribes. The Igbos are the least conspiratory tribe in Nigeria. As stated earlier, Igbos unite for survival. With the continuing massacres of Igbos in Northern Nigeria and now in the Igbo heartland by bloodthirsty marauding local and imported Fulani herdsmen, there will be a resurgence of calls for Igbo unity. If Igbos unite, no Fulani herdsman will dare harm an Igbo man, woman, or child in Igbo land!
Africastallestman does not support the call for a “Homogeneous Igbo Nation” because Igbos are not homogeneous. The Enugu State Government rusticated Igbo civil servants of non-Enugu extraction after the creation of Enugu State. Abia State also sent Igbo civil servants of non-Abia extraction packing from Abia State. What is happening in South Sudan will be a child’s play if a homogeneous Igbo State is created. I support the creation of a state out of the old Eastern Nigeria. In the old Eastern Nigeria, a Fulani man was mayor of Enugu, an Efik man Premier of Eastern Nigeria and another Efik man, Chairman of the Eastern House of Chiefs. The Igbos need other tribes to distract Igbos from their intra-ethnic jealousies and hate, which is amplified in the absence of external aggressors.
Africastallestman loves the Igbo people and hopes that they would get their act together before the next major cataclysm in Nigeria.