(By Andy Briggs) Nnamdi Kanu and most other Biafran agitators are not telling me anything new. Ever since Yakubu Gowon took away my father’s schools I grew up seeing in my father’s face the pain of having one’s life’s work stolen by vandals. Despite the heights of politics to which my father rose in post civil war Nigeria, he suffered pain whenever he returned to Zixton to look upon the great schools he built which the military government was at once ignorantly and gleefully killing, through Ukpabi Asika and his successors.
Was it the design of the ruling junta to slow down education in the Eastern region, sorry, East Central State for the victors to overtake ? Nnamdi Kanu is only howling about pains that two generations of my family has endured. He is howling in pain but he has no solution. The tragedy was caused by the first war and all his actions are geared towards starting another war. He is suggesting a new tragedy as the solution to the first. Does one cure drunkenness by getting drunk again. Does one address the injustice done to his people by feeding them to a slaughtering force. Nnamdi Kanu is pushing gullible young men headlong into a hurricane. That sounds like madness to me and I don not fancy losing my head.
A long time ago, in the nineties when John Nnia Nwodo was the minister of Information, I was impressed by his oratory during a Nigerian Media Awards dinner compered by Regina Asikiya. Therefore, I was glad when he became the Ohaneze president and I have no doubts about his capacity to superlatively articulate the Igbo position at any level.
A war of succession will be a most terrible misadventure. It will only highlight foolish ambition. To embark on a war that can not be won will be the very essence of foolishness, and rather than wait for a reluctant Northern dominated Nigerian Government to redress decades of injustice, NdiIgbo should leverage on their area of strength.
Rather than this belly aching about an Igbo president who may do no better than uninspiring Igbo governors, Igbos should seek to increase their presence in Nigeria’s economic landscape. Ohaneze should also consider domesticating comprehensive steel technology in the South East. Without a comprehensive steel technology to drive the manufacturing sector, the Nigerian economy can not break into the emerging market prosperity that can bring about transformation, right to the grassroots, into an advancing nation with the kind of job prospects, healthcare, lifestyle and democracy drawing Nigerian youths to Europe, America and now Asia.
An industrialised South East would change the power calculus in Nigeria. Oil will cease to be the sole source of revenue for the Federal Government. Tech companies bigger than oil majors will arise. Internally generated revenue in the South East States could put allocations from the Federal Government in the shade. Tech giants in the East would compete with oil majors and the Feds can only get the tax.
The major jobs in Lagos are private sector jobs. Think about it. To a much less extent, most job seekers in commercial centres such as Aba, Onitsha and Nnewi are not seeking government jobs. As greater industrialization hits these centres of the private sector; car assemblies will spring up, computer villages will grow into sillicon valleys. As blue chip companies dot the East, government jobs will become less attractive along with all its quota system, corruption and unequal opportunities.
Who cares about tribe or state of origin in the private sector? Only merit, capacity and profit matter there. Nigeria needs the South East to realise its potential and Ohaneze will fail its most important test if it is unableto galvanise NdiIgbo in this regard. Igbos hold the key of Nigerian economic explosion.
Secession is a pedestrian thought. It is time to think higher. Dumb instruments explode in violence when their minds can not scale the challenge posed by a situation. When did the pedestrian overtake the intellectual in Igboland. It is time to draw back from this strange affliction of working class Kanumania.