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What to talk about on October 1: Tackling Marginalisation

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Ojukwu saw an opportunity to clarify the conundrum trailing his move for Biafra in the Ethiopia capital, Addis Ababa, during the OAU summit held in August of 1968 and acceded to attend; and enraptured the delegates on a speech of over two hours in length to set the way for Biafra’s independence, which ultimately did not arrive, anyway. He highlighted out the litany of woes bedeviling the Igbos in the different part of the country (Nigeria), especially in the northern part of the country where a carnage for over thirty thousand people, mostly Igbos, was laid by the northerners to bury the visitors, not to mention the 185 Igbo officers who were shifted to mass burial in the counter coup, also traced to the northerners. Had it ended there, it would had been bad enough, but it can at least be explained as a revenge for the first coup which was considered as one organized by the Igbos; but to cap it all is the odd silence the federal government maintained in the middle of that crisis.

Yakubu Gowon and Odumegwu Ojukwu
Yakubu Gowon and Odumegwu Ojukwu

 

With the easterners looking for words to fall from the federal government’s mouth to punish the offenders and placate their grievances; failure to see that move made them conclude that a government that fail to safeguard the lives of its citizens has no claim to their allegiance and must be ready to accept that the victims deserve the right to seek for refuge through other means —including secession.

 

General Gowon
General Gowon

 

Has this narrative changed in recent times having walked over five decades from that woeful civil war that escalated hence and distracted the progress of the country: the answer is no. In fact, we have witnessed diverse rising and falling, and rising again this time under different names of countless groups clamouring for secession, or at best wanting to control their resources by themselves scattered in different part of the country. What then is the leadership of Nigeria getting wrong? It is simply lack of listening ear to the aggrieved in the country. It is simply the ineptitude of the Nigerian leaders to understand that there is more to threatening people with an arrest and that once a people’s mind is made up arrest drifts from becoming a threat to fascination, in facts it becomes mutual.

Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu
Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu

The federal government should call the leadership of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) on a round table discussion, as well as other aggrieved tribes, and negotiate their grievances. They are not just seeking attention they want to be listened to. Their clamour had been from age long and should be fixed now! It may shock the federal government that what they think (IPOB) may want may not really be what they want if they are given a considerable alternative — probably restructuring. What then should the leadership of Nigeria discuss on October one? They are, “why have we not been listening to the aggrieved until they become a threat? What can we do to make them feel involved in this and subsequent administrations? It dawn on me that Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), and maybe other tribes, may secede if questions like the above are not addressed on Independence Day.

 

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