Nigerians, Listen to Olusegun Obasanjo

13
Olusegun Obasanjo

Eddie Mbadiwe

Chief Obasanjo’s reaction to a recent BBC well researched and popular programme “Hard Talk’’ was published in the Republican News. One wonders why the majority of Nigerian newspapers have not reproduced it. It is weighted. It is germane and is spot on and relevant to the Nigerian issue. If I had to recast and re-set that contribution, the title would be “What the Igbo Have Known All Along.’’

Just to jog our memories a bit. General Obasanjo as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Third Marine Commandos brought the civil war to an end. He was also versed in the workings of the civil war Federal Executive Council which had General Gowon as Chairman and Chief Obafemi Awolowo as his deputy. Of course, he also belonged to the Supreme Military Council. All these highlight Chief Obasanjo’s knowledge of the workings of government pre and post-civil war.

The Federal Executive Council short-changed all Igbo by creating a flat level of poverty with Twenty Pounds. That government in 1972 went on to promulgate and execute the indigenization decree which sold government industries to Nigerians. Government in many cases guaranteed the bank loans with which these companies were bought. This was at a time when most Igbo in Nigeria were financially castrated and emasculated. In spite of all these almost insurmountable road blocks, the Ibetos, Ezumas, Ezennias, Ekes, Ofong, Nwandus, Innosons et cetera continue to float, swim and compete. This however is the story for another day.

General Obasanjo went on to become Military Head of State and two-time Civilian President. His name therefore is indelibly etched in Nigeria’s history and when he speaks, courtesy demands that Nigeria pays attention; whether one likes him or not is immaterial to his standing in Nigeria’s history.

I was not in Nigeria when Chief Obasanjo launched his bid for third term presidency. I opposed it vehemently from the U.K. where I was residing. Kudos to Senator Ken Nnamani and his Senators for scuttling third term as nobody else will take this risky gamble.

This discussion is limited to snippets culled from the General’s discourse and will not attempt to reproduce the entire article for reasons of copyright and plagiarism.

Chief Obasanjo’s remarks are properly captured in quotes. Here he comes: “After the civil war, Nigeria placed glass ceilings and no-go areas for Igbos’’. While the country was too embarrassed to put the discrimination programme on official gazette, it was there for anyone who cared to look “No Victor, No Vanquished was a slogan mouthed for the consumption and deceit of the outside world.”

Chief Obasanjo continues: “It was there when Buhari appointed 47 people to man the critical areas of his government and no one from the South East was there.” The Igbos cry of marginalization was official policy. Chief Obasanjo laments further: “How can any nation grow when leaders are mandated to keep a viable component of her resources subjugated and useless because of insecurity?”

Sometimes one cannot help but identify with Dame Patience Jonathan and shout “There is God O-O”.

Let us return to Chief Obasanjo: “Go to the South East today, since the 1970’s and the oil boom, Nigeria has invested in critical industries across the country. None has been cited in the South -east. None.

Recently, it was only the South-east that was conspicuously missing in the new National Railway Plan and nobody cares. Even President Buhari changed the plan to include his village but a major zone of the country was not included.

Yet Amaechi is Minister of transportation. I hear from the grape vine he says he is not Igbo. Someone has to explain the names Chibuike and Amaechi or have they been transformed and subsumed to Rotimi of the South-west.

Let us welcome back ourselves to Baba: “You cannot preach unity and indivisibility of the country on TV and all your actions point to discrimination against the components of the hypocrisy. It is also dangerous as it is fool hardy. Let those who preach unity walk the talk and stop open discrimination of their countrymen. History has shown that you cannot decree peace.” Words of Wisdom General.

Real progress will only happen when we say it as it is. The Pre-Christ Chinese Sage and Philosopher, Confucius, said that “Knowing what is right and not doing it is the greatest cowardice”.

During the civil war, Her Majesty’s government sent Lord Shepherd to try and mediate between Nigeria and Biafra. After a few briefings with the Biafran Leader General Ojukwu, the Ikemba replied the British Government with one sentence saying: “This particular Lord cannot be our Shepherd”. By the same logic, anybody who has bad belly and bad heart cannot solve the problem of the Igbo. For emphasis, APC cannot win an overall election in the South-east unless INEC is under instruction to write the results.

In the very grim and dark days of the 2nd world war when the nation of England was threatened with obliteration by the Germans, Sir Winston Churchill in mobilizing the spirit of the English ended one of his speeches with these words: “If we must die, then let us die like men, not like chicken, some chicken and some neck”. In the same spirit of resistance, a group of proud Romanian citizens who had been condemned to death for a crime they believed they did not commit were taken before Emperor Julius Caesar to beg for a pardon. They believed in their innocence and all they could muster in unison was “Murituri te salutamus”.

Let me end with the words of the Beatles: Let it Be

––Rt Hon. Dr. Eddie Mbadiwe writes from Abuja.