Page Nav


hide author name





Why do some people want out of Nigeria?

Why do some people want out of Nigeria? July 9, 2021 | EASTERN PILOT   By Ikechukwu Amaechi WHEN I hear privileged Nigerians romanticising t...

Why do some people want out of Nigeria?

July 9, 2021 | EASTERN PILOT 

By Ikechukwu Amaechi

WHEN I hear privileged Nigerians romanticising the country’s sovereignty and the inviolability of her territorial integrity, I remember the speech Frederick Douglass gave on July 5, 1852 titled: “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Nigerian leaders talk glibly about the country’s indissolubility.

They insist that her unity is not negotiable. Some claim that the country came into being by divine providence. It may well be. But it is all déjà vu. The history of mankind is replete with stories of those who benefit from an unjust system doing all in their power to sustain the status quo.

But addressing the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society at Corinthian Hall, Rochester, New York to mark the 76th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Douglass, preeminent abolitionist, statesman and writer, celebrated America and reminded fellow citizens of the damning contradictions that define the country – a country that glorifies freedom, yet denies a segment of its population (Blacks) the same inalienable right.

“What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?” Douglass asked.

“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim …. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn,” Douglass said. These same questions resonate loudly with those who want Nigeria splintered up 60 years after independence.

Dreams of the  founding fathers

Many who are clamouring for self-determination are asking those who rule Nigeria whether the great principles of equity, fairness and justice embodied in the dreams of the founding fathers of the country also extend to them. All over Nigeria, the Sunday Igbohos and Nnamdi Kanus are asking those who insist that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable the same questions Douglass asked his audience 169 years ago: “Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?”

For Douglass: “I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.”

The child from Zamfara who gains admission into a Unity College with a score of 25 does not understand what Douglass says but the sentiment resonates with a kid from Anambra who is denied admission into the same college with a score of 120. Douglass says: “The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me.”

Those who claim they are born to rule do not understand what Douglass says, but the Igbo with a glass leadership ceiling above his head understands. That is the crux of the matter. As President Muhammadu Buhari’s supporters argue, these contradictions preceded his Presidency, but he has made things worse in the last six years.

Indeed, “to drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony.” That is what those who insist on “one, indissoluble Nigeria” at all costs are doing. But it won’t work. In any nation in denial over systemic exclusion, peace is elusive. Nigeria cannot be an exception.


In the wake of the kidnap in Kenya of Kanu, leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, by the Nigerian government, and the thoughtless assault on Igboho’s Ibadan property and killing of two of his supporters, many have been ululating, giving Buhari a hearty pat on the back for a job well done. But that is crass naivety.

The attack on Igboho and stern warning by the Lagos Police Command didn’t stop Yoruba Nation agitators from protesting in Lagos. With the massive deployment of security personnel in the South East, the wanton killings and repatriation of Kanu, things may have quietened down. But it is a peace of the graveyard. The spirit of Biafra, which looms larger than Kanu, is alive and well.

In any nation in denial over systemic exclusion, peace is elusive; Nigeria cannot be an exception

I am yet to meet any Igbo whose stance on Biafra has shifted fundamentally since Kanu was rearrested. Instead, many have joined the struggle. What Buhari didn’t know is that while Kanu’s rhetoric and style resonated with the hoi-polloi, it put off many Igbo intellectuals and alienated the middle class.

Now, such people are back in the struggle, hoping to redirect it away from incendiary grandiloquence, unprovoked insults, demeaning invectives and sundry banalities that estranged many compatriots, particularly non-Igbos.

If Buhari were given to introspection, the fact that 86-year-old Professor Banji Akintoye (he became a Professor at University of Ife way back 1974), a foremost Awoist and Senator in the Second Republic, is today leading the Yoruba agitation for a country of their own, should be sobering. But Buhari has no such capacity.

Instead, on Tuesday, he did a victory gig over his regime’s kidnap of Kanu and the gangster-like invasion of Igboho’s home, saying his security agencies demonstrated “significant deftness, guile and secrecy” in carrying out the missions.

He described Igboho as “a militant ethnic secessionist, who has also been conducting acts of terror and disturbing the peace under the guise of protecting fellow ‘kinsmen’. “By this singular action of our security forces, sanity, calm and peace [have] been returned to our communities who previously lived in constant fear of these misguided elements,” Buhari swaggered. But he lied against Igboho whose rallies have been peaceful.

His only crime was the audacity to orchestrate the eviction of murderous Fulani herdsmen from Igangan, Ibarapa local government of Oyo State when security agencies looked the other way. The president boasted that the arrest of Kanu has restored sanity, calm and peace to the South East. How naïve.

When a movement is erected on the foundation of profound idea, it can hardly be crushed. Biafra has become an ideological battle cry for survival. It is a metaphor for equity and justice. That explains why, despite the state brutality and coercion, the echo of agitation is getting louder.

Why would Yoruba Nation agitators dare the police, army, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, and other security agencies with their armada of military hardware to demonstrate in Ojota last week? Did they take the risk knowing the capacity of the Nigerian state for malevolence because of Igboho? No! The quest has acquired a life of its own.

The question that should concentrate the mind of Buhari is: Why would a man of Akintoye’s standing elect to lead Ilana Omo Oodua, IOO, in the twilight of his life? The issue in the South West is not Igboho just as Kanu is not in the South East. They are only symptoms of a stage four cancer afflicting Nigeria’s body-politic.

Rather than resigning to fate and succumbing to imminent death, the people have decided to fight back with a hope that they may still salvage something. But even if death becomes inevitable, they die with some dignity.

Buhari said “assault weapons are not tools of peace-loving people and as such, regardless of who they are and where they are from, the security agencies should treat them all the same.” That is true. But the terrorists whom Buhari advised Benue elders to live in peace with wield AK-47 assault rifles. The ancestral homes of citizens living in IDP camps in Benue, Plateau and other North Central states are now occupied by bandits, most of them not Nigerians.

What stops Buhari holding court with his security chiefs and giving them the same marching orders he gave in the South East and say, any illegal occupant of any farm, ancestral village is given 72 hours to leave or the security people will move in?

Why is Buhari, who is boasting about the military pacification of Alaigbo, not giving the security forces who kidnapped Kanu from a foreign country 30 days to take every Nigerian living in an IDP camp back to their ancestral homes with maximum protection?

Why is he wittingly creating the impression that some Nigerians are sacred cows who can act with impunity and get away with it? The issue is Buhari and what he represents. The issue is poor governance and arrogance of power.

It is indecency in the corridors of power. It is the lack of equity and fairness. These are the reasons for the Igboho and Kanu phenomena – the reasons why most people want out of Nigeria.

No comments