Book on Politics of Ethnic marginalization in Nigeria
Mirroring the mind of late Biafran War lord Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu when he made this attributed statement
“The person marginalizing me is the person who thinks he has something to gain by maintaining the war situation without the fighting. They don’t allow you to fight but they want to keep the war situation alive…”
Although after the war, there was the declaration of ‘No Victor, No Vanquish’, Biafra was re-integrated into Nigerian Federal Military Government (FMG) on a proclamation of the dictum of ‘One Nigeria’, Still the relationship between the Igbo race and people of other races has remained very cosmetic, one marked with maximum suspicion.
Ever, unity of Nigeria has always been called into scrutiny as cry of marginalisation Igbo race continues.
But has over forty two years after the war, Igbo race been fully integrated in real sense?.
Not so and haven’t been easy, writes Godwin Ifeanyi Udibe and Law Mefor. in “The Audacity of Power and the Nigeria Presidency-Exclusion of the South East in Nigeria’s Power Politics and the Spectre of Biafra” launched in Abuja on April 26th.
Chief Law Mefor- Co-author.
The historic launch that brought at the table likes of former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, Senator Ben Obi, Enyinnaya Abaribe and Udenta Udenta. Ben Obi, Udenta, Abaribe and Nnamani, Chairman of the occasion and former Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo represented by Senator Obi lauded the efforts of the authors, stressing that for a truth, the marginalization of the Igbo people is real.
“The book is a narrative of what has been happening to a group of people from the South-East. It is about how Igbo people have been systematically harassed, denied and the political alienation that has been the fate of the Igbo after ill-fated civil war. Despite being economic giant but politically, a dwarf.
Nigeria has not had an Igbo as president though an Igbo man had been elected vice president. This book put enormous pressure on the fragile, politically explosive issues and call to action in those corners.
The unveiling of the Book by Chief launcher and some dignitaries.
The writers, story of the present day, Nigeria shows that the injustice against the Igbo which Ojukwu fought against is still there and the often unspoken truth is the “Biafra Question”. It took one to bare fact, in spite democracy empowers all citizens but to understand the nature and depth of marginalization then one can device first step toward combatting it.
The writers examine and give a face to coherent question “Can Igbo fully, play in the political arena or ever be participants in the civic process of building this beloved country?.
This unsurprisingly extraordinary book,
“The Audacity of Power and the Nigeria Presidency-Exclusion of the South East in Nigeria’s Power Politics and the Spectre of Biafra”, is indeed a bummer, and a thoroughly patriotic one. It deals in the truths that matter, which is to say, the uncomfortable ones; Nigerian/Biafran Civil War of 1967-70 left a dark imprint in the history of Nigeria, an indelible mark on the psyche of Nigerians on both sides of the divide, those who participated and experienced the war first hand and the future generations that followed; nailed the fact of the many unfortunate legacies of the civil war which nurtured atmosphere of mistrust and lack of cohesion between the Igbos and other major ethnic tribes in Nigeria.
This estimable book rides into the Biafra pre-war and post-war like rural electrification. It reminds us that, now is the time to build integration bridges not fences, venting unfounded hidden fear and belief in the people of other ethnic groups that the Igbos have an unfinished business with the Biafra Project.
The authors argue,throughout the volume, on awareness of a cruel aspect of moral complexion and complacent against Igbos; Igbos on scrambling to revitalise and to get ahead economically as well need a chance on seat of power, to be included to run affairs that include them.
The book reviewer, Udenta Udenta put this another way: “We cannot solve any problem without being able to influence the National Assembly to make laws that would work for the people.
The new Biafra is a broken memorization of a lost hope; it is utopian… In creating a new Biafra for example, I, a hard working intellectual who may want to contest election in my own local setting within the new Republic must contend with the billionaire class that may not have abolished the monetization of politics. If politics is still monetized, if you have wage labourers and wage employers, and gender issues; how do you create a nation if you suppress all these other identity issues and expect everybody to answer only one name?” calling on those pushing for agitation to shelve the idea.
The Authors flanked by Families.
Emergence of this magificient book has already started raising dust among Igbo personalities like
Senator Nnamani, during the launch went into litany of what Igbo needs; Restructuring of the Nigerian State to pave way for each of the federating units to grow at their own pace.
“Our people stand to gain from restructuring rather than agitation. By July 6th, it would be 50 years we went to war. I participated in Biafra war. Some other places that didn’t go to war are not doing better than us. If you take a look at Abuja, particularly hotels, about two-thirds of them are owned by people of the South-East or the South in general. The Yoruba are talking about restructuring, not exiting the union.
I am here to encourage our people that the idea of having our young ones who ought to be in the classrooms, parade the streets, demonstrating and trying to kill themselves or get shot at, will not help us.
The Igbo can still do it; we are known for our ingenuity, our industry…We have to be at the place where decisions are being made. Igbo are better off in Nigeria if there is restructuring and we are not afraid to compete. We are asking for a level playing field and we are prepared to compete. This is better than agitation. Go and read and get good certificates,” he said.
The lamentable Igbo political history and present dilemmas the authors raised on this book, bore out all the doctrines Nnamani raised, perceived as mere usual verbal ferocity for race who had survived many political disappointments. In politics rherotics is usual not enough. As a Politician one has to also learn to cast a cold eye on the realities which confront one. Those realities will not yield to any rigid intellectual doctrine but a keen realistic vision, informed by experience and some sense of history. Former Commissioner of Information in Imo State, Nze Elvis Agukwe took Senator Nnamani on this, asking what has become of the education of the Igbo people in the political power game.
“We must continue to agitate for if the North is using Boko Haram to press home their interest, we will use agitation to press for power. Despite the level of our education, we have been left empty-handed,” said the ex-commissioner in a veiled response to Nnamani’s charge that Igbo youth should pick up their books and read their way to a brighter future.
His argument either due to contrary views or Agukwe’s choice of words and the manner of expression, unexpectedly, the former Senate President exited the venue of the book launch, visibly emotional bruised.
Chief Law Mefor being interviewed by the Press.
For the authors, not so much the impulse to give voice to secession but to build extensive political will and legislative framework to usher in discourse on Igbo collective cause not self-elongation and individualistic goals, calling government promises to mix what they say with advocacy. Thereby succeeded in writing an electric book, reminiscing as well refreshing minds of amnesia. Their account are well reported, plainly told and evidently the work of a men who has not grown a callus on their heart. It contains a great deal of reporting, yet never feels like a data dump, will have you squirming in your chair.
But the end of “The Audacity of Power and the Nigeria Presidency-Exclusion of the South East in Nigeria’s Power Politics and the Spectre of Biafra” leaves the reader with a sense of injustice not truly addressed, and it’s no fault of the author — it’s Biafra history and dilemma.