Biafra phenomenon isn’t what we can sweep under the carpet anymore, with the coming of Nnamdi Kanu, his imprisonment, release and soaring popularity has endeared him to many Nigerians either for his intellectual sagacity, his courage or his stand. The Igbo nation has rallied around him and they have seen him as a “Messiah” of a sort and reasons are not far-fetched. Today, a lot of proponents of referendum or Biafra have called on the need to have a national dialogue or what I can call a “Chit Chat”. Some people have said that, for Biafra to be realistic, Igbos must leave their places of sojourn for Igbo land. With accusation and counter accusation, a lot have been said with the Northern Youths leading the herd by declaring October 1st as sacrosanct and imperative. How this plays out, time will tell.
As objective as I want to sound, though a lot of sensibilities would be hurt, as it is a popular cliché, Truth Hurts and I know that some of my readers would not find this comfortable.
Referendum: Nnamdi Kanu and his Biafra followers are calling for a referendum, and from my engagements with some Nigerians over this issue, a lot of Nigeria seems not to understand the meaning of referendum, they get agitated and the shout of war or is it repetition and revisiting 1967 fiasco comes to their mind. Maybe, it has to do with the way the process is sounding or the big name “Referendum”. It will be nice for us to understand this concept and know that this concept isn’t a stranger in Nigeria. Though it is claimed the the Nigerian constitution does not recognize it but also not mentioning it in the constitution doesn’t mean that the constitution is against it. It basically means that the constitution is silent on the salient term “Referendum” and we must get this clear. Maybe, I will engage my lawyer friends and in-law more of this. In a simple term, a referendum is basically a civil process and a general vote by the electorate on a single political question that has been referred to them for a direct and simple decision. As you can see, it is not a war room term or military term, but a civil and democratic term, and Nigeria being a democracy, must adhere to the rules of democracy. That is what civilized people do and Nigeria as the giant of Africa must demonstrated that, we must learn how to solve and settle issues nicely and in a civilized way, just like the European Union settled with Britain on the Brexit. Nobody threatened the UK with missiles and nuclear annihilation. They had a simple vote and so be it. Unity of any entity is always talked about and agreed upon and not imposed. This is what African leaders must understand, Nigeria inclusive. Remember that we had referendum in Nigeria during the Northern Cameroon referendum where some parts of Cameroon decided to be part of Nigeria in 1959 -1961. Also the Midwest creation was as a result of referendum around 1963.
Some other “intelligent” Nigerians would parrot is that all Igbo must go home, we have seen that in the narratives of the Northern Youth elements, the Igbo are still Nigerians at least for now and they deserve the right to stay anywhere in the country , provided that they are doing the right thing, until the creation of Biafra. This is when they can be tagged immigrants. Nigerians didn’t leave United Kingdom when they gained independence from her, nor did the United Kingdom and British citizens leave EU when they voted out. This is one thing we must understand and stop these animosities and bickering. Let us assume that Biafra comes to fruition or reality, if Biafra is in ECOWAS region, it also means that Igbo have the right to be in Nigeria and any other country in ECOWAS region. This is what these “intelligent “analysts must understand and come to terms with.
Africans don’t learn, especially from history. Nigerians have a lot of these unlearning folks. A lot of countries are attracting high capacity building and quality immigrants to their countries and states, while Africans are busy swimming in the waters of xenophobic tendencies as demonstrated by the Northern Youths and their lousy declaration. A quick one, Uganda, a country in the eastern flank of Africa was once ruled by Idi Amin, one of Africa’s finest dictator, he addressed himself as the conqueror of British Empire, at a point, he thought to himself or advised that the Asians are milking the Ugandan economy, he made a decree that all the Asian community in that country should leave. 1972, a whole lot of Asian of Chinese heritage around 80,000 left Uganda to countries of Canada, United States, Kenya and India .
One thing that is common, these countries accepted these Asians, they came with their expertise and the host countries are better off. Today, all these countries are better in terms of development with Uganda surpassed by Kenya. The same thing played out in Zimbabwe where the foreign farmers were chased out, by the primus interperes dictator ever known to the mankind, Zimbabwe’s strong man, Robert Mugabe. The farmers left, the economy left with them, as of this time of report, Zimbabwe is in a sorry state. A country that once considered printing one trillion dollar note. This is to demonstrate how the country has fallen from a thriving country known as Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, a charity seeking nation to say the least, competing with the poorest of the poor like Haiti et al. Now, as of 80s, I learnt that Nigerians chased Ghanaians away, in their Ghana must go mentality by Lagos mob. Oh, yes, it might be a sore part of our history but we must say it, we felt or the Lagos mob felt that Ghana was taking over the jobs, precisely 1985, I was six years old then, this madness of chasing away of our brother which started in 1983 and reached a climax of 1985 saw Ghanaians leaving Nigeria especially Lagos. They ate the humble pie and went back to build their economy. Today, Ghana is better than Nigeria in many aspects like electricity, stability and higher international ratings.
Now, they are saying that Igbo will leave Lagos, though in a hush – hush tones, what they have refused to understand is that if Igbo leave Lagos, Lagos will be in the same league of desolate cities like Ibadan, once regional capital that Lagos robbed its aura. A country and city is made thick not by the structures alone but the humans and quality of economic activities therein. A critical analyst will understand that non Yorubas make up to 55.5% of Lagos population. The Igbo, Hausa, Efik and other Minorities like Urhobo , Esan etc make up Lagos. Now, Igbo makes up about 70% of this non Yoruba group, contributing to the economic wellbeing of the state, which contributes to what makes the city thick. Now, let us assume that about 4 million Igbo residing in Lagos leaves, like the way some leave during Christmas seasons, taking with them a minimum of N10, 000 Multiplied 4 million by 10,000 is equals to N40 billion. This is the minimum amount of money that would leave the city, excluding the expertise, investment and other ripple effects that will be affected by this exodus as we see during Christmas. If such a money and expertise leaves any city in Africa, the money follows the expertise and this would be the downfall of Lagos, embassies will leave for the new countries, oil majors will relocate, business will relocate, capitals will be repatriated and expertise will be relocated. A vacuum will be created just like it was in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Haiti and other countries governed by the black man. Other forward thinking countries will attract the people, so our loss will be their gain. This will affect the property prices in Lagos and business rating.
We totally understand the way an average Northern youth reasons, we totally understand their psychology and theocracy. They have demonstrated that over the years, but for Lagosians to thinker with the idea is akin to shooting themselves in the foot. The Ghana must go saga is a sore point, let us learn how to attract the best hands and build our cities. Dubai is being built and made thick today by foreigners, Lagos is made thick today by foreigners and failure to appreciate these simple concepts will put Lagos economy on the path of perdition. That is a prediction. Besides that, not all Igbo are in support of Biafra , so how do you sieve the wheat from the chaff? We must find a lasting solution to this and peacefully
Anthony Emeka Nwosu