By Austin Emaduku
I hail the efforts of the leadership of the Igbo nation – even though it came almost too late – which has led to the temporary cessation of hostilities in the South East. It is better to be late than never. Slim peace is better than war. All these could actually have been averted.
Let’s hope we can build on this momentum to achieve a lasting solution to all the issues that started this in the first place. The Python Dance must also now stop to give everyone a chance to participate in the discussions towards finding a lasting solution to the issues. That is however not to say that anyone who has committed a crime should not be made to pay for it. Special thanks to our brothers in the North for not jumping into the fray and for saving us all a repeat of 1967 pogrom.
The Igbos must thus now use this window to seriously discuss and agree amongst themselves what they truly want and how to go about it. The Igbo leadership should not be selfish in this respect. They must listen to the people and be able to determine what they really want. This should not be without enlightened guidance and pointing out of consequences of actions and decisions.
The rest of Nigeria too must listen to the Igbos. If they truly want to exit the union, they should be allowed go. No one should be denied the right to self-determination, but this must be done within the confines of law and rational discourse.
The Igbos must themselves realise that a peaceful divorce will be of more benefit to them than a rancorous one for obvious reasons. I say this because I have heard it angrily uttered by many pro Biafran proponents and even amongst highly cerebral gentlemen of Igbo extraction, that marriage is not by force as if the rest of us Nigerians are forcefully keeping the Igbos in a marriage they no longer want to be part of.
I for one, as a Nigerian, find this very condescending, provocative and offending. I hope these people, some of whom are lawyers, realise too that to dissolve a legally contracted civil marriage, due process must be followed talk less of a nation.
If the Igbos really want this divorce, they are the ones to kick start it. It is therefore wrong, to expect President Muhammadu Buhari to issue a proclamation directing the National Assembly to call for a referendum in the South East as this seem to be part of the anger against the President and the rest of the country. It is not the duty of President Buhari to so do. He did not take an oath to preside over the disintegration of this country and might even rightly – and you can’t take that away from him – resist any such attempt in furtherance of the oath he took to protect the territorial integrity of the nation.
But the South East with one voice and through their accredited representatives, will surely succeed without endangering the lives of their own people as the world will be forced to listen and in that process put to shame all those from amongst the Igbos, who, for selfish political gains, hope to benefit from the calamity that will befall their own people, or those from without who want to cash in on the crises to avenge an electoral defeat they seem incapable of getting over.
The Igbos and the South East must not allow themselves to be used as pawns by political jobbers and as a theatre of war. The Igbos are renowned for great wisdom. This is the time to apply it.
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