21st Century Questions: Understanding Biafra Without History

By Nneka Aroh

I was speaking with a very young pharmacist from the South-East yesterday. I advanced the restructuring/true fiscal federalism as what I believe is the way out of Nigeria’s muddle. He would not buy it.

“Forget it ma’am. It’s better we just go. Give us 10-15 years and see how Biafra will be transformed.” He spoke with conviction. His eyes shone with what I thought was longing. “Just forget it. There is no need dragging this thing with them,” he concluded.

A good number of Igbos, and I dare add, other young Nigerians, are totally not understanding Nigeria as it is right now. It is not enough to make dismissive remarks like “They were not even born when the war happened.” Or remarks like “They don’t understand what they’re asking for.”

Make them understand. That is, if you understand what you’re asking them to understand. If it makes sense to you. It even gets more annoying when you hear the older ones, the actors and spectators of the unfortunate war, urge the younger ones to learn from history.

According to Osinbajo, “experience is the best answer for a fool. History is a much gentler teacher.” I agree.

But comments like that could even draw the ire of the young ones who have today been denied history classes in school. Who keeps a people ignorant of their history? But even more annoying is the fact that those who urge this learning have themselves not only failed to learn from experience, but have bluntly refused to learn from history, the much gentler teacher.

And what is there to learn? What is there to understand?

That a boy from Anambra State aspiring to get some education at the prestigious Unity Schools has to score about 139 marks in the entrance examination while his counterpart, perhaps even his classmate or neighbour from Zamfara State would only have to score 4 marks. And that it takes an even weirder turn when they are done with school, at which point the Zamfara boy would have over 80 per cent more chances at a federal job than the 80 per cent more studious boy from Anambra. How do you explain that to a young Nigerian so that he may understand?

How can they understand that a state like Kano, created at about the same time as one like Lagos, has about 44 local government areas while Lagos State has a paltry 20 constitutionally recognised local government areas. Bear in mind that Kano State has long been sub-divided into two states of Kano and Jigawa. Jigawa alone has 27 LGAs of its own. You can say that the old Kano State has 71 LGAs while Lagos still lags behind with 20. And that the entire South East of five states has only about 94 local govt areas? Did it strike you that the South East is the only region still dawdling with five states? It would not have mattered of course if the National cake wasn’t shared on the basis of local governments. Only if it was baked on that same basis. How would any young person without a brain for understanding twisted things get this?

How can they understand that in the present government the entire South East has no representation in the security body of the country. So when the security chiefs sit to discuss security, the primary role of any govt, there is nobody from the entire SE region in attendance. How can anyone understand this.

How can even a gentle teacher make anyone understand that a South South youth would die for daring to steal crude oil from what used to be his fertile and arable farmland, while his Northern counterpart can freely mine minerals from his backyard. We only get to hear anything about it when lead poisoning begins to ravage communities.

How do you understand that we have Petroleum Equalisation Fund which ensures that petroleum products get to the people in the North at the same price at which it gets to those in the South but we do not have Tomato equalization fund or Carrot equalisation fund to trim the cost for people in the South? Break it down for me so that I may understand since I didn’t witness the war.

How do you break down the brazen massacres of Igbos, Christians and other innocent Nigerians any time the North wakes up from the wrong side of the bed? Or when an artist draws a denigrating sketch of Mohammed in countries some of the victims have never heard of? Or when a group of girls decide to bare their bodies in beauty pageants? Or when a man cannot win elections? Or when a farmer must till his farmland? Or just about when anything … Just unbelievable impunity. And no one ever gets justice.

But we can start by explaining how Katsina State alone just got allotted more slots that the entire SS, than the entire SW, than the entire SE, than the entire N. Central in the ongoing (or is it completed?) recruitment by the DSS.

And a host of flustering matters.

So what is it you want History to help you teach? That the oppressed should stay calm and “ask nicely” like Obasanjo put it? They should ask nicely for their share of a piece of cake jointly baked by all? They should treat Nigeria with love like Obasanjo again suggested. It shouldn’t matter that they get only rebuffs in return. I don’t blame Obasanjo. It’s probably the way he knows love and reconciliation…one sided. Any wonder his daughter would literally disown him publicly?

I listened to all the speeches made at the Biafra@50 event. They were all rich in flowing grammar, beaming with rhetorics but glaringly bare on commitment. Nobody but Nwodo dared point a way out.
Osinbajo’s speech had no mention of restructuring, something I can bet my last finger that he believes in. It would seem like we don’t want to find a way out of our predicament yet.

Make no mistake, the clamour for Biafra is getting more tumultuous by the day that I fear that the voices of some of us preaching ‘restructure’ may soon be drowned.

And this house may come crashing on us all.

*This article was sourced from ITREALMS … everything news digitally!

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