Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Biafra Is Larger Than Nnamdi Kanu ....By Ijabla Raymond

Fellow Nigerians: Hate or love Nnamdi Kanu, it is undeniable he has brought the issue of injustice in our country to the front burner. But Biafra is not about him. It is about all of us. If you a Nigerian then you are a Biafran. Unless, of course, you are one of the perpetrators of injustice against the Nigerian people. 
BIAFRA IS AN IDEOLOGY that cannot be extinguished by military force. We tried in the 1960's but did not succeed. You do not defeat an ideology with brute force - this is the same argument I have been making about jihadist extremism. If we had addressed the issues that led to the Nigerian civil war in 1963 we would not be here today talking about Biafra. Nigeria is not working for the common man and we cannot continue like this. Anyone who has the best interest of ordinary Nigerians at heart would agree we need to restructure this country. 
I now understand why a revolution is impossible in Nigeria. We are too divided and distrustful of one other. Biafra is bigger than Nnamdi Kanu. Biafra is about the injustice suffered by the ordinary man in Kano, Maiduguri, Birnin Kebi, Owo, Asaba, Yenagoa, Kalabari, Orlu, Abeokuta, Makurdi, Ilorin, Jos, and in every nook and cranny of this country. Biafra is the fight against the injustice of our corrupt leadership. Biafra is about all of us! 

Ijabla RaymondThe fundamental concern of Biafra is an injustice. Our citizens are literally eating from bins whilst our political elites are feeding fat on our commonwealth. A few days ago, a seven-year-old child died from typhoid fever that was complicated by a bowel perforation. His father took him to several hospitals including a tertiary hospital but he did not get the care he needed because the hospitals were grossly under-resourced and poorly staffed. This child suffered right until the last seconds of his short life. Meanwhile, Buhari spent nearly three months in a London hospital. It was reported that the presidential aircraft was parked in London all that time. Think about the high-quality medical care he received which this child had no access to. Consider the number of dead children that could have been saved with the parking charges of Buhari's aircraft. I shudder to think what his medical bills amounted to. What does Aso Rock clinic do with its generous budgetary allocations that it cannot treat an ear infection? Is Buhari's life more valuable than the life of this child? For as long as our public officials can continue to treat themselves and their families abroad they will have no incentive to fix our broken healthcare. For as long as these people can continue to school their children abroad they will have no incentive to fix our broken schools and stop the incessant strikes. But I digress.
Predictably, some of us are blinded by our hatred of Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB and the Igbos, and cannot see past the distractions and the smokescreen. You may rejoice the government has used the "terrorism" card to crush IPOB but you can be sure they will deploy the same tactic against you tomorrow. What you do not realise is this: the government is also sending a clear message to you - put up with your suffering or complain and get crushed. Citizens have a right to protest against injustice and bad governance. In Nigeria, instead of listening to the legitimate concerns of its citizens the government just rolls out armoured tanks.

What makes IPOB a terrorist organisation? When were Fulani herdsmen killing innocent citizens - how many of them were charged to court or even arrested? When Buhari was in the opposition, he was widely reported to have asked the Jonathan government to stop killing Boko Haram jihadists and to grant them amnesty. To my mind, Boko Haram is not comparable to groups like MEND which received amnesty from the federal government at that time. MEND was campaigning for resource control, better governance and an end to the exploitation and degradation of the environment. Therefore, it seems to me that the people who question Buhari's judgement have a valid argument.
We need to refocus this debate. You can disagree with Kanu and disapprove of his methods but your enemies are not Kanu or IPOB. Your real enemies are the people who make it impossible for your children to have quality education and healthcare. They are the people who benefit from the current system and who tell you Nigeria cannot restructure. Therefore, let us unite and seize this moment to demand reform and the restructuring of our nation. Enough of the bickering and the divisions. 
How do you deal or engage with a government that refuses to listen and slams the "terrorism" label on you in order to legitimise military action against you? This strategy of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it is not new. It was used by the South African government against Nelson Mandela and ANC. But as someone said: those who make dialogue impossible make violence inevitable. Mandela eventually took up arms against the apartheid government. His organisation was labelled a terrorist organisation by enablers such as the British and American governments. In truth, the terrorists were the apartheid government and its sympathizers. 
The solution to this impasse is dialogue. IPOB has a legitimate grievance - this country is not working for ordinary Nigerians whether they be in the north, south, east or west. It is much easier to label IPOB a terrorist organisation and crush it militarily. But this does not solve the problem that gave rise to IPOB in the first instance. If I were to advise the President, I would tell him to dialogue with IPOB. Listen to their concerns. Treat the disease, not the symptoms. 
Ijabla is a humanist and writes from the U.K. 
Email: ijabjay@me.com
Twitter: @ijabijay

Sunday, September 17, 2017


by Chiefololo
Fellow Nigerians, let me confess my admiration for security forces generally. It is not just because of the cleanliness and crispiness of their uniform or the famed discipline that they imbue in their members. It is because I find their job too risky. I often wonder why any man or woman would voluntarily sign his or her death warrant. For me, they appear more like suicide bombers. As a toddler in the ancient city of Ile-Ife, I remember being told by older people that “soldiers are trained to kill” and we were told to avoid them. The myth flying around included that most of them were recruited without having much education. But as I grew up, I began to acquire a special fascination for them, especially the elite squads in the Navy and the Air Force. I would later interact with many soldiers at home and abroad. I love their uniforms, jackboots and in particular their menacing guns.
I still imagine till this day what it takes to be a killer. We were told soldiers were regularly injected with special drugs that makes it impossible for them to have the milk of human kindness in them. But with time, I saw and met many soft-hearted soldiers. I used to tease them about what we were told as kids. I must say I became one of their fans and good friends. I visited our soldiers in Sierra Leone and Liberia and gave them my humble support and they were very appreciative of my modest contribution and inspiration.
The reason for my preamble must be obvious to you all. I was seriously angry after seeing a video purportedly showing how our soldiers were brutalising fellow Nigerians and subjecting them to the worst indignities known to mankind. I’ve been praying that the videos were shot in outer space and not anywhere near Nigeria. But if what I saw very vividly actually took place on our planet and in this our dear beloved nation, then we’ve truly missed the road. I did not see any sign of weapons with these hapless victims of oppression and repression. At the very worst, even if as the military authorities claimed, that the soldiers were pelted with pebbles and stones, the treatment meted out to the personalities in the video is undeserved by any human being. How was the response from the military commensurate to that of the supposed hoodlums? Was it not an act of provocation in itself for soldiers to be engaging in drills in an area already soaked with tension?
Let me stretch the argument a bit further. Whose idea was it to draft the soldiers onto the streets to intimidate Nigerians in areas where there was no war? How can anyone send soldiers to threaten a people who already feel marginalised and are saying so very resoundingly? What is wrong with empowering members of the Nigeria Police Force and especially the anti-riot police squad to tackle cases of hooliganism and even terrorism. Soldiers are meant to come out in open battle only in extreme cases where there is total chaos and mayhem. President Muhammadu Buhari has wittingly or inadvertently walked into the trap cleverly set for him by the Biafra secessionists. Kanu and company have read the President well knowing his proclivity for no-nonsense and high-handedness.
If truth must be told, this is the height of intolerance on the part of the Nigerian State. I have not seen any Lawyer who believes in the legality of what our soldiers have done. Kanu may be reckless and irresponsible by promoting internecine wars and heating up our country unnecessarily but no one can deny him the right of expressing himself and agitating for his beliefs. What could have been done to him was very simple; send the police after him and get him rearrested for flouting his bail conditions. Some of his hard core loyalists and acolytes could be easily identified and kept out of circulation. For the past few months, Kanu has been raking and ranting but he has not fired a bullet. As a matter of fact, this government has unfortunately resurrected a man who was already on his way to Golgotha and at a time his bravado was becoming increasingly irritating to many of those who took him seriously initially. The staccato fashion of his argument was becoming boring and predictable. I really don’t know who misadvised our leaders into thinking they can fight all wars and win all. Believe me please, I know Nigeria a bit, it is a dangerous gamble.
I’m aware that our President is a retired Major General, a man well known for his taciturnity, who packs his punches and loves to take on known and imaginary enemies. But we supported him because we believed Baba had transfigured into a born again democrat. The Buhari we supported was not the man who ruled with draconian Decrees from 1983-85 and was forced out of power and his detractors rejoiced openly and widely. The same Nigerians who praised you for beating your child would soon turn around to castigate you and ask why you’re so wicked. That is the reality of Nigeria. This particular case is even more precarious. Some Northerners had issued threats to the Igbos to quit their territory or face monumental reprisals. A few of the respected people in the North cautioned them but they were rebuffed with insults in a most vicious manner. No security arm ever tried to even invite them for any chat not to talk of arrests. The then Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, did so well by engaging different sections of Nigeria in peaceful dialogue and we were happy that the ticking bomb was carefully detonated. Just imagine what would have happened if he invaded parts of the North or East with soldiers blazing with guns and bayonets. He would have been accused of all sorts, including ethnic cleansing.
Our President should be told in very clear terms that the world has changed drastically in the last three decades. No leader can order his troops out in the streets to kill and destroy wantonly. We should not over-stretch our luck. Nigeria cannot afford a second civil war. Our economy is already in shambles. We should prosecute how to return to economic recovery urgently and resist the temptation of wasting our scarce resources on persecuting our fellow citizens. The videos in circulation tend to portray us as barbarians who belong in the prehistoric age. We’ve suffered enough negativity and should not invite the wrath of the world upon ourselves. Believe it or not, Nigeria may find itself in the bad book of War Crimes Tribunal. It is not impossible, no matter how long it takes. Mass graves have been reported in some parts of Nigeria with concrete proofs. Nigerians have been detained indefinitely in near solitary confinements without trial. This are not the best examples to lay for our future. Many of those who should speak up against tyranny are too squeamish for obvious reasons. But it should not be so.
I’m not a supporter of Biafra. I don’t have to be. I love and prefer a bigger, stronger and more prosperous Nigeria. But there are reasons for many Nigerians to detest Nigeria, today. They feel they have been horribly marginalised and treated like second class citizens in their own country. Their perception is that they believe all or most of the following things. Their children no longer attend the good schools for which the Igbos have become well known. The goods, some of which they even make themselves in Aba, have become only available for the rich.
Infrastructure is sorely lacking for the most part. Where they exist, they are decaying and nobody is really attending to them. There are no new jobs and the few old jobs are being lost in droves. The state of healthcare is almost hopeless. Federal character has become a total charade. We can go on, ad infinitum, reeling out the litany of woes that our brothers and sisters in the South East believe is responsible for the unusually strident agitation that we are now witnessing. To be fair and charitable they do have cause to be aggrieved in many respects. Our government should address these issues instead of attacking those who disagree with them. One of the surest ways to do this is by education, information and public enlightenment to demonstrate that the position is not as bad as they feel. The social media is awash with facts and figures for and against the depth and seriousness of the so-called marginalisation of the South East. The next step would be to identify those issues which are of critical concern, proffer solutions to resolve them and then act on these solutions. The third and equally important duty of the government is to ensure an equitable distribution of resources and positions. Indeed, this is the major reason for the clamour for restructuring. Whilst we still operate in a system where government provides practically everything, it is only just that people must have a sense of belonging and participation. However, the best form of restructuring that Nigeria needs now is not merely to decentralise power but to cede power completely to the private sector whilst government contributes its quota by providing the enabling environment for the much needed industrialisation and technological advancement that will take us out of our present doldrums..
In the name of God, the omnipotent and merciful, everyone should beg our Federal Government to end this self-immolating war of attrition. We have nothing to gain. In fact, we have more to lose.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

[HISTORY] Col Tim Onwuatuegwu and the Biafran S. Brigade

Col Tim Onwuatuegwu and the Biafran S. Brigade

Col Tim Onwuatuegwu and the Biafran S. Brigade was about the most dreaded Biafran Army Unit. They liberated many Biafran cities from the Nigeria forces and fallsatll the immediate fall of Biafra
28 September 1967
Enugu the capital of Republic of Biafra was in disarray. Civilians were quickly fleeing the town. Even soldiers were scampering to safety. Some hastily preparing to leave town for their respective villages. In effect, Nigerian Army thought the end of the war has come. Enugu was penetrated by Nigerian forces after the infamous Opi Junction withdrawal of Biafran troops without a fight. The saboteurs at Biafran Army Headquarters had been at work. They had ordered the withdrawal of the soldiers at the Opi Junction thereby enabling the easy run by Nigerian forces to Enugu.  The plot was, since Enugu was the capital of Biafra, its fall would have led the collapse of Biafra and the end of the war, barely months after the beginning of the war.

But they were mistaken. The fall of Enugu crystallized a new set of Biafran soldiers determined to reverse the course of the war. Unknown to the Nigerian forces, a new crop of Biafran soldiers were being galvanized by General Odimegwu Ojukwu. As Enugu was being deserted by civilians and soldiers alike, Ojukwu mounted a road block at Awkunanaw junction stopping fleeing Biafran soldiers from leaving the capital, without a fight. The sight of Odimegwu Ojukwu at the checkpoint brought a sense of order and strength, which boosted the morale of the Biafran soldiers whose commanders some of whom were the saboteurs had disorganised.  Ojukwu was at the Awkunanaw Boys School 24/7 organising a formidable Biafran strike force to defend Enugu and stop the advance of the Nigerian troops to other parts of Biafra. Trusted Biafran soldiers were quickly drafted into the new unit to be headed by the fearless Major Timothy Onwuatuegwu. Thus the Ojukwu Special Brigade otherwise known as the S. Brigade was born.

The S. Brigade had three battalions headed by newly promoted Major Archibong, Major Atumaka and Major Okoi, under the leadership of the newly promoted Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Onwuatuegwu, who was later promoted to the Colonel, within a month of the formation of the S. Brigade, due to the achievements of the brigade. Onwuatuegwu’s 2nd Battalion had been disbanded before the fall of Opi Junction by the saboteurs at the Biafran Army Headquarters, as they could not eliminate him as they did Chukwuma Nzeogwu.
Onwuatuegwu, Archibong (3rd Battalion), Atumaka (2nd Battalion), and Okoi (1st Battalion) of the S. Brigade formed the super four of the S. Brigade. The S.Brigade frustrated many efforts of the Nigerian forces to capture Enugu to the surprise of everyone. They held the federal forces in an urban warfare that stopped further advance. For months the relatively well equipped Nigerian army was pinned in Enugu by the S. Brigade.  After months of formation of the S. Brigade, Col Onwuatuegwu formed the Biafran Ranger Regiment, under the command of Captain Matthias Nwadiegwu. Nwadiegwu and Onwuatuegwu had selected about two hundred recruits for training in guerrilla warfare. The emergence of the Ranger Regiment facilitated the activities of the S. Brigade. The first Ranger Regiment, commanded by the then Lieutenant Ignatius Obi Ebbe, were infiltrating enemy grounds in Enugu and wrecking tremendous havoc on them. They Rangers supported the S. Brigade battalions, in flanking operations.
A notable operation of the Ranger Regiment was the attack on Nigeria officers highly fortified rest house, at the former colonial Eastern Nigeria Government rest house at Akpasha, in March 1968. The commando-like operation of Rangers took the Nigerian forces by surprise and weakened their activities for a while. The operation killed many top officers of the Nigerian forces.

When it became clear to the Nigerian forces that they could not advance to Agwu through the defences of the S. Brigade, they resulted to penetrate via Oji River axis. The saboteurs at the Army Headquarters ordered the withdrawal of Biafran forces from Oji River junction without a fight. This forced the S. Brigade battalions to pull out to Agwu as the Nigerian forces came via Oji River axis to cut them off.

Perhaps, the greatest accomplishment of the S.Brigade was the recapture of Owerri. After the capture of Owerri, combined forces of the S. Division and 14th Division came to the rescue. By then the S. Brigade has been upgraded to a division, and the three battalion commanders Okoi, Archibong, and Atumaka who had been elevated to brigade commanders and promoted to Lt Cols. Col Onwuatuegwu, the head of the division had his eyes of the recapture of Portharcourt after the recapture of Owerri. The saboteurs had however became very worried and agitated with the recapture of Owerri. Within weeks, two commanders of the S. Division, Lt Col Atumaka and Lt Col Archibong were assassinated in the same style Nzeogwu was killed. They were both gunned down by Biafran saboteurs in a no-enemy-territory-zone. The plan was to disorganise and frustrate the S. Division. Despite the loss of two brave brigade commanders within a short period, Col Onwuatuegwu quickly reorganised the S. Brigade by infusing some new commanders into the division. A strategic plan was to bring in the commander of the Rangers Regiment, Captain Ebbe to head one of the battalions (69th Battalion) of the 67th Brigade.
With the changes, the S .Division was almost cruising to Portharcourt and have already captured Elele Rubber Plantation and environs. The saboteurs at the Army Headquarters saw this and became quite desperate. To frustrate further advance of the S. Division, Col Onwuatuegwu was removed as the commander of the S. Division and was replaced with Col Asoya. Onwuatuegwu was sent to Biafran Military School in Orlu. Lt Col Okoi the last remaining original commander of the brigades of the S. Division was equally removed and sent to Oguta were there was no strong enemy push. Col Asoya, a saboteur was brought in to disorganise and undermine the progress of the S. Division. The S. Division under the command of Col Asoya was deliberately starved of arms and ammunitions, despite the fact there arms at the division headquarters. He made various attempts to eliminate remaining brave commanders and soldiers of the S. Division. Needless to say that the advance of the S. Division towards Portharcourt was halted as soon as Asoya took over from Onwuatuegwu. It was only a matter of time, before Owerri was recaptured by Nigerian forces leading to the end of the war.

At the end of war, the Nnewi-born Onwuatuegwu who knew he has been marked by Nigerian forces because of how he frustrated their efforts to overrun Biafra and had earlier predicted that if Biafra loses the war, the Nigeria forces will torture him to death, made arrangements to escape via Cameroon. Unknown to him, some of his Nnewi friends, working for the saboteurs who were privy to his plans informed Nigerian forces. They arrested him at Ogoja and brought him back to Enugu, which was under the command of I.D Bissala. Hassan Katsina, who Nzeogwu spared his life during the January 1966 coup, because his wife was pregnant, flew down to Enugu and killed Onwuatuegwu in cold blood, while he was in detention. An act of genocide that was never investigated by the Nigerian government that had declared “No Victor No Vanquish”.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cisterna celebra la “ricchezza della diversità”.

Torna la Festa dei Popoli, venerdì Cisterna celebra la “ricchezza della diversità”. Negozi aperti fino a mezzanotte per la Shopping Night organizzata dall’ASOC

Tutto pronto a Cisterna per la terza edizione della Festa dei Popoli, manifestazione interculturale che celebra la ricchezza della diversità.

Domani (venerdì 30 giugno) a partire dalle 17 e fino alle 23, tra Palazzo Caetani e Piazza XIX Marzo si alterneranno iniziative di diverso genere tutte finalizzate alla promozione dell’integrazione sociale tra cittadini di nazionalità e culture diverse. 

Si parte alle 17 in Sala Zuccari con il convegno dal titolo “Accoglienza e integrazione per una responsabilità condivisa” al quale interverranno, oltre ai rappresentanti dell’amministrazione comunale di Cisterna, anche il vicario della Prefettura di Latina, Vincenzo Scipione, il vicario generale della diocesi pontina, monsignor Mario Sbariggia ed una rosa di esperti relatori che operano nei settori dell’accoglienza e della mediazione culturale sul nostro territorio.  

Dalle 18:30 si accenderà la festa in piazza con degustazioni di cibi tradizionali locali e delle comunità straniere residenti a Cisterna, performance artistiche straniere e cisternesi seguite da tante altre iniziative a cura delle associazioni che si sono messe a disposizione per animare una serata di gioia e condivisione.

Nel frattempo, all’interno della Sala della mimosa di Palazzo Caetani, sarà aperta al pubblico la mostra “Africa nel cuore” a cura dell’associazione Oltre i Confini Onlus.

Domani sarà anche la serata della Shopping Night, iniziativa promossa dall’ASOC che prevede l’apertura prolungata delle attività commerciali del Centro fino a mezzanotte.

Cisterna di Latina, 29 giugno 2017 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

History of An African People: Igbo people of Nigeria... By Dr. Leonard Madu.

Know Your History - History of An African People:

In a White House memo dated Tuesday, January 28, 1969 to President Nixon, former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger describes the Igbos as “the wandering Jews of West Africa-gifted, aggressive, westernized, at best envied and resented, but mostly despised by their neighbors in the federation”(foreign relations document, volume E-5, documents on Africa 1969-1972).
Kissinger's description aptly portrays the Christian Igbos and their experience in Nigeria. Over the years, the Igbos have been the victims of numerous massacres, that they have lost count. Most of the violence directed against the Igbos have been state sponsored. One can say that the Igbos knew how to spell “state sponsored terrorism” before the rest of the world did. The state sponsored terrorism directed against the Igbos in 1966, led to the declaration of the Republic of Biafra by the Igbos and subsequent civil war. Over two million Igbos died in the civil war, primarily by starvation. One will not be wrong, if they call the Igbos the “Tutsis” of Nigeria. Today, an Islamic terrorist Conglomerate led by the dreaded Boko Haram are still slaughtering Igbos and other Christians in Northen Nigeria. Igbos have always seen themselves as a bulwark against the spread of Islam to Southern Nigeria, and as a result, a perennial target of Islamic zealots.
African events picture of Ibo women dancing and celebrating
African events picture of Ibo women dancing and celebrating
However, the Igbos are one of the largest and most distinctive of all African ethnic groups. Predominantly found in Southeastern Nigeria, they number about 40 million worldwide, with about 30 million in Nigeria. They constitute about 18% of Nigeria's population, with significant Igbo populations in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Ivory Coast. Igbos predominate in five states in Nigeria-Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Abia. In three other states- Rivers, Lagos and Delta, they constitute almost 25% of the population.
During the slave trade, Igbo slaves were known to be the most rebellious. Most of the slave rebellions in the United States, Haiti, Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana were led by Igbo slaves. In South Carolina, Igbo slaves were reported to have drowned themselves, rather than be kept as slaves. Today that place is called Ebo Island in commemoration of the slaves who died there. The Gullahs are Igbo. Igbos were one of the 13 African ethnic groups that provided the bulk of the slaves who were brought to the Americas. Majority of the slaves who ended up in Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Maryland, Arkansas, Mississippi, South and North Carolina and Georgia were Igbo. An Igbo museum has been built in Virginia to honor the contribution of Igbo slaves to the state. One of the Igbo slaves who was sent to Liberia by the American Colonization Society-Edward Roye- became the fourth president of Liberia. Another Igbo slave, Olaiduah Equiano wrote the famous slave chronicles.
An Ibo barn of yam at an African event
Picture of a make shift Ibo barn of yam at an African event
During the colonial period, the British disliked the Igbos, because of their supposedly uppitiness and argumentativeness. During military service in Burma and India, the pride of Igbo soldiers amongst other African soldiers was proverbial. In the company offices and orderly rooms, the first few words from the White officer speaking to an Igbo soldier was followed by “don't argue, you! Or “you want to be too clever”, and similar expressions. Their expressive and aggressive mentality which they enjoy in their culture at home, does not always allow them to accept false charges or accusations without responding. The late famous writer, Langston Hughes, observed “the Igbo looks proud because he is bred in a free atmosphere where everyone is equal. He hates to depend on anyone for his life's need. He does not mind if others look proud. He has much to be proud of in his land. Nature has provided for him. He is strong and able to work or fight. He is well formed. He is generally happy in his society where no ruler overrides his conscience. He likes to advance and he is quick to learn. He likes to give rather than take”.
Culturally, the Igbos are a very diverse group with different clans, families, subcultures, and subgroups. However, the customs are similar with local varieties. Although there are disagreements about the origins of the Igbos, there is a consensus that they originated from Nri in Anambra State of Nigeria. The language of the Igbos is Igbo or Ibo. It is one of the largest spoken languages in Africa, with Hausa and Yoruba. Igbo speaking people are divided into five geographically based subcultures-Northern Igbo, Western Igbo, Southern Igbo, Eastern Igbo and Northeastern Igbo. Not as urbanized as the Yoruba, they live in multitudinous villages, fragmented into small family groups. They do not have hereditary chiefs like the the Yoruba or Hausa/Fulani. Every Igbo more or less is his or her own master. The Igbos operate the “Umunna System”, which emphasizes the patrilineal heritage, rather than the matrilineal. Some of the important Igbo cities include, Onitsha, Enugu, Umuahia, Aba, Asaba, Abakaliki, Owerri, Nsukka.
In commerce, the Igbos are a mobile, vividly industrious people who have spread all over Nigeria and Africa as traders and small merchants. In countries like Gabon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Gambia, Igbo traders predominate in retail trade. Most Igbos are clannish, despite their individualism and hold closely together in non Igbo communities. They are often very unpopular in the communities they live in, because they push very hard to make money and often dominate the retail business in alien communities. In his book, the Brutality of Nations, Dan Jacobs describes the Igbos “as ambitious, dynamic and progressive people whose education and abilities did not endear them to those among whom they lived. Even during British rule, there were massacres of Igbos in Northern Nigeria-in Jos in 1945 and in Kano in 1953. The Igbos have acquired the sobriquet, Jews of Africa”.
Industrious Ibo youths in a farm - working to survive from a young age
Industrious Ibo youths in a farm - working to survive from a young age
Education is highly emphasized and given priority in Igboland. Converted to Christianity by Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian missionaries, they took up self improvement with such enthusiasm, that by the 1960's, the Igbos had the highest percentage of doctors, lawyers, engineers, physicists, and teachers than any other ethnic group in Africa. Because of the abundant educational talent in Igboland many newly independent African nations recruited them to fill vacancies in their civil service. The first American style university built in Africa was in Igboland-the University of Nigeria at Nsukka. Its founder, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was a graduate of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. The Igbos and the Yorubas are the most educated ethnic group in Africa.
Politically, the Igbos are very effervescent and volatile. According to author Dan Jacobs “for Britain and for the British civil servants who continued to work in the Northern Region, the Igbos have always been a troublesome element in the federation, a people with a democratic tradition who are not easily controlled. Many British were glad to see them out of a central position in the federation, as were those who had driven them back to their homeland and those who now held the civil service and other jobs they had left”. The Igbos had been the most ardent advocates of a united Nigeria. Upon independence in 1960, an Igbo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe-American educated- became the first President and Governor General, while another Igbo, Aguiyi Ironsi became the first indigenous military chief. Leadership of most of the elite universities in Nigeria were also occupied by the Igbos.
Following the military coup of January 1966, which the Igbos were accused of initiating, Aguiyi Ironsi, an Igbo, became President and Supreme Commander of the armed forces. Tensions rose very high in the country resulting in the massacre of Igbos in May 1966. In July 1966, a Hausa/Fulani/Tiv inspired military coup overthrew Ironsi's regime and a terrible massacre of the Igbos began in earnest. This led to the secession of the former Eastern Nigeria and the declaration of the Republic of Biafra. This eventually led to the civil war. According to George Orick, an American businessman and consultant to UNICEF who was in Nigeria at the time, one million Igbos were to be killed in order to avenge the death of a man called Ahmadu Bello, who was the Sardauna of Sokoto-Prince of the Islamic Sokoto Caliphate. He reported that “one could hear on Northern Nigerian radio the reading of long lists of Igbos who were targeted for extinction”.-see Goddell team report, congressional Record of February 15, 1969, pp51976-7. The Igbos believe, and rightfully so, that had they not fought back, their fate would have been worse than that of the Tutsis in Rwanda. The same way Northern Nigerian radio was exhorting the Hausa/Fulanis to kill the Igbos, was the same way Radio Milles Collines was exhorting the Hutus to slaughter the Tutsis in Rwanda.
Ibo men at an African event - known for their ambition, prowess, and tradition
Ibo men at an African event - known for their ambition, prowess, and tradition
Similarly, Heinrich Jiggs, a Swiss businessman in Nigeria who later became the chief Red Cross delegate in Biafra, reports seeing one of the circular letters in Northern Nigeria which stated that every Igbo down to the age of six would be killed. A Canadian Journalist, Alan Grossman, who had been West African Bureau Chief of Time Life News Service in Lagos from May 1966 to June 1968, testified before the External Affairs Committee of the Canadian House of Commons on what he saw. He told the committee “many thousands of Igbos were slaughtered in towns and villages across the north, and hundreds of thousands of others were blinded, crippled or maimed or in majority of cases, simply left destitute as they attempted to flee to the Igbo homeland in Eastern Nigeria. Some of the fleeing refugees did not make it home. On one train that arrived in the East, there was the corpse of a male passenger whose head had been chopped off somewhere along the line. Another group of Igbo refugees men, women and children whom I happened to see-I would say 100 or more of them-were waiting in the railway station in the city of Kano, the largest city in Northern Nigeria, for about three days, with no security guards, for the arrival of a refugee train, and a land rover full of government soldiers came and mowed them down with automatic weapons. Igbo shops and Igbo hotels were ransacked and looted, while blocks of non Igbo businesses were carefully left untouched”. (see minutes of Canadian House of Commons proceeding, external Affairs Ref. 7 pp. 239-40).
In the final analysis, Dan Jacobs, in the Brutality of Nations, summarizes the plight of the Igbos in the following way, “to the other Nigerians, the Igbos were not only leaving Nigeria, they were departing with the oil under the lands with which they are seceding. Here lay the explanation of the paradox that the Nigerians had driven the Biafrans out, yet seemed to be fighting to keep them in the federation. What they actually wanted was the land the Igbos were on and what lay under it-without the Igbos”.
Picture of Ibo masquerade performing at an African event
Picture of Ibo masquerade performing at an African event
Some internationally recognized Igbo personalities include former president Nnamdi Azikiwe, former military ruler Aguiyi Ironsi, writer Chinua Achebe, former Biafran leader Odumegwu Ojukwu, former justice at the World Court Daddy Onyeama, former commonwealth secretary general Emeka Anyoku, former middleweight and lightheavyweight champion of the world Dick Tiger and Cardinal Francis Arinze-Pope in waiting.. Some African Americans of Igbo ancestry include evangelist T.D. Jakes, actor, scholar and athlete Paul Robeson, actors Forrest Whitaker and Blair Underwood.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Leonard Madu is President of the African Caribbean Institute and African Chamber of Commerce in Nashville, Tennessee.

Monday, June 26, 2017



After that speech my cousin  needed  a translator  to understand the presidential  EID message  to Muslims. I disappointed him because my Hausa didn't capture  everything Mr President said.The irony is that my cousin is a Muslim but speaks only Igbo, English and some  Russian but  he didn't see anything wrong in the Presidents advisers writing a National speech in a particular language only. He rationalised and downplayed the issue   since it an Islamic religious affair  it didn't matter even if Muslims of other ethnic group needed translators to understand it..He saw my criticism as a christian cousin poking nose on my own part I refused to translate the little I understood > I told him your Oga  said "Eid Mubarak "
My Muslim Igbo brother saw that gaff from a religious point of view.

On another issue:  I find it so bizarre  some of the utterances in the social media from some  Igbo elements who are   angry that the Nigerian Police Fore (NPF) arrested  EVANS  (the suspected Kidnapper) calming it is a Hausa/Fulani dominated force. Some wouldn't even mind  if he is released immediately. Some would even want him released and given a title not minding that 80% of his victims  were Igbos. Yes what does it matter,he is an Igbo criminal and should not be arrested by a Hausa commanded force.
My Igbo friends reasoned from the ethnic(Tribal) point of  view.  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Agony of Over One Million Igbos in Benue State

Nigeria: The Agony of Over One Million Igbos in Benue State

Azuigbe Bridge at Umuezeokoha in Benue Igbo.
By Okechukwu Okonjo
Gone are the days where we don’t know where Igboid communities are hidden. I have now put Anioma and them on the map for future reference. They are in 4 local government areas of Benue State namely Ado, Oju, Okpoku and Obi, all in Benue State. These are ethnic Igbo. These are known as the Umuezeokoha people. Some people were speaking about Igbo trying to annex other people’s land, but look at how sizable amount of Igbo were cut off and place in the North as northern communities.
Presumably some people hoped that the Umuezeokoha people will lose their identity as is happening with some Ikwerre people in Rivers State. Umuezeokoha community is in the present Benue state and comprises of over 300 villages of Igbo speaking areas. Ado, Oju, Okpoku and Obi are local government areas that are part of the newly proposed Apa state that, which the Idoma have been calling for.

Inikiri Ichari, one of the market in Benue Igbo serving the Umuezeokoha community
Apa state must be obtained and added to the SE in the interest of unifying the peoples with their kith and kin in the SE.
There are over one million of them spread across four local government areas of Benue State. You can find them in Ado, Oju, Okpoku and Obi, all in Benue State. They are ethnic Igbos. Before the Nigerian civil war, they lived a happy and meaningful life, mingling freely with their kith and kin in the state. But today, things have fallen apart.
Instead of the joyful songs, they were used to, they now sing dirges. The Benue Igbos who are called by the name Umuezeokoha are not happy that they have been neglected for a long time now by successive governments, federal, state or local, and they are blaming this on their ethnic origin and the fact that they are in the wrong state.
Interestingly, the people share the same Benue South Senatorial Constituency with Senate President, David Mark. Though Igbos , the Umuezeokoha Community, due perhaps to accident of history, are found in Benue State instead of Ebonyi State , being the closest Igbo state where their kinsmen, the Ezza Ezekuna kindred are found.
According to the President, Benue Igbo Union, Mr. Nweke Cedrick Ifeanyi, his people are wallowing in poverty and neglect and are often denied democracy dividends, including obtaining local government identification letters for employment in and outside the state. Historical background of Igbos in Benue Mr. Nweke said the Igbos in Benue State; particularly those in Ado, Oju, Okpoku and Obi Local Government Areas were in existence before the advent of Christianity in Nigeria. But since then, he lamented, they have not been recognized by successive governments both at the state and federal levels in both Ebonyi and Benue states.

School constructed by the Missionaries in 1942 at Umuezeokoha in Benue.
“Although before the independence and the Nigerian civil war, which lasted for about three years, we used to experience government attention to the extent that the missionaries then established one local primary school at Umuezeokoha community which comprises over 300 villages of Igbo speaking areas that time. The school was generally accepted by our elders then and we did witness medical attention. “But since after the civil war, we in the entire 300 Igbo-speaking villages in Benue State have been dumped by the Nigerian government.
It is worse for those in Benue South Senatorial District. We have never experienced any government attention, let alone a project from the local, state and federal governments up till date.” The Igbo Union President also disclosed that a place with a population of over one million people has no designated political ward, no councillorship representative neither at the local government level nor at the state government level despite their voting population. He said even Senator David Mark and Governor Gabriel Suswan have been winning all their elections in the area.

Mr. Nweke also narrated how their children die in their large numbers because of lack of immunization, which he said they have never witnessed since the return of democracy. He also painted a gory picture of how they were swindled of N6,000 each for insecticide treated mosquito nets, which were given free to neighbouring communities by the federal government.
“We are lacking so many things, including a health centre, political ward, good roads, good water, and electricity. There is no salary earner in our place to the extent that the mosquito treated insecticide nets given freely by the federal government was sold to us at the rate of N6,000 each, some even paid without claiming it till date,” Nweke said.
“All our roads are narrow; we do not have any motorable road in our area at all, last time when we visited the local government chairmen and complained about the issue of selling mosquito nets to us, what they said was that the era of mosquito nets had come and gone. This attracted exchange of gazes, and the question whether we are still a part of this country. Imagine as we are in this dry season, we hardly see water to drink, wash and cook, talk less of taking bath. Before we see water to do something, one has to trek up to 30 kilometres to a place where there is unpurified dam water, but in this place, you must queue up in a line before it will get to your turn,” he said.
Another member of the community, Chief John Nwali also narrated the ordeal of the people in the hands of successive governments in the state, adding, “Sometimes we do lament whether we are different from other human beings created by God. Some of them that claim to be natives of the state mock us by telling us to wait to benefit from government only when the Biafran nation which we fought for comes into reality.”
“At times we nurse the idea of belonging to another country. In fact, if we are close to another country, we could have declared our intention to become their citizens, but this one we are in the midst of Nigeria, we speak Nigerian language, practice Nigerian culture and religion, in every election we vote and still we are treated with great scorn and neglect as if we do not exist. Yet, we have somebody like the Senate President, living in Abuja with our mandate.
Even in the last 2011 general election, I was the PDP Campaign Coordinator for Benue Igbo branch, but since that time till now, we are still in the same condition. We have been regarded as slaves in the country of our own. Even the only primary school that was built by the missionary before Independence is no more attracting government attention. The school is now in a sorry state. The only secondary school we have as of now is one at Saint Charles Catholic Church at Apa Ogbozu community, which was initiated by one Reverend Father.”
“We do not have anybody in the Benue State Government cabinet both in the local, state and in federal levels. We are all confused on what to do and where to go because we do not know when this indefinite discrimination will come to an end because even to the extent that the local government identification letters are no more being given to us any longer as Nigerian citizens.”
Chief Nwali also said that during rainy season, their people get drowned in water and disclosed that none of the streams, rivers and lakes has any bridge and lamented that during the last flood incident, they lost almost all their farm lands and every other thing they had laboured for.
“The political oppression which we have been subjected to is very serious. Even one of the biggest rivers we have has not attracted government attention, just to build a bridge across it. Last year, more than 20 people died while trying to cross the river for their normal daily business. We made so many efforts to visit our former Governor, Gabriel Suswan and our Senator, David Mark, to table our problem before them, but all to no avail.”
An octogenarian, Pa Nwankwo Alo said: “Our children have not been immunized over the years, let alone polio eradication programme. Our women do not even know what hospital is when they are pregnant because there are no hospitals to attend and yet we have up to 32 polling units. We have even called for more polling units because we are more than the present one but the government refused even as the national confab in 2014 came; there was nobody to speak for us.”

On the September 23, 2016, their umbrella organization, Benue Igbo Development Union – BIDU issued a press release:
Unequivocally, Benue Igbo people are not known as farm settlers, as some prominent Igbo men are going about broadcasting to the public that we are only settle here for sake of farming.
Comprehensively, farming is our pride in relation to our kith and kin in Ebonyi state, namely :.
Ezza, Izzi Effium and Ezzamgbo people. These people mentioned here are today the strength of Abakaliki political block and also the farming strength of Ebonyi people . For more than hundred years ago we have being in Benue state even, during the time of civil war Nigeria government used all her machinery against us in Benue here which later turn to futile and disgrace to them and still today we are pronouncing widely in popularity more than expected. Nigeria government, I think this is the right time to embrace justice and stop the political ostracism against the Benue Igbo. Although, we have being facing a lot of unexpected harassment but we are firmly assuring you people that no amount of political deprivation or subjugation will make us to deny our identity as Igbo speaking people of Benue state and we must forever remain resolute to achieve our political freedom….. People should stop misdirecting the public with messages full of deceit and shenanigans that we are farm settlers in Benue state. WE ARE REAL INDIGENOUS IGBO RESIDENT IN BENUE
Written by Okechukwu Okonjo on 13th October 2014 and edited by Ukachukwu Okorie



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