‘Thank God Boko Haram was not started by the Igbos’

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Major Chukwuma Nzeogu speaking to British reporters after the January 15 1966 coup.

The title of this piece is an extract from a discussion with a an elderly man, who as a Biafran soldier during the Civil war of the 60s played an active role. Now retired from a life of service Emeka Odili(true name withheld), made these comments while lamenting on the recent abductions by the violent group. I understood where Emeka was coming from, words like GENOCIDE, BIAFRA, and CIVIL WAR began flooding into my head and I knew instantly I could not blame him. No other ethnic group has better experienced the consequences of conflict and war than the Igbos.

A close observation will reveal one crucial truth; a majority of people in the south are completely disconnected from the events in the north. To a large fraction of those who reside South of Nigeria, giving historical developments and the current trend, a secessionist movement by a radical Islamist group cannot be a surprising development.

“I really thank God, at least this time people will not say the Igbos are the ones who want to divide the country”

He added during our discussion. Here was a 75year old man from Onitsha in Anambra state whose region had attempted to separate itself from Nigeria in the 60’s. A man, who had probably lost family members not only to the house to house ‘search and eliminate’ tactics of the angry northern mobs, but also to shells and shrapnel’s from Nigerian driven British bombardier jets. More than anything, he understood the dynamics of regional conflict.

Although many have called for the break-up of the Nigerian state, especially those in the South-South states were the oil which feeds the country is found, for some reason state actors from the Igbo community have remained rather silent. Perhaps the Igbos understand Nigeria much better now, to know that such calls hinge at the social fabric of the state and that if the country were to go apart, what better position would exist than to remain silent about it. After all those in the South-South are already doing a good job at it.

Looking back at Emekas words, the events of yesterday does change the dynamics. Yes the Igbos may not be responsible for this activities that attempts to undermine our social structure but this does not mean they will not be equally affected by it.

Another Igbo youth I spoke with just two days ago while conducting a sample opinion of the everyday people on how they felt about the nation’s insecurity held a completely different opinion. Ikenna a victim of the Nyanya bomb blast now going about his activities in Wuse market Abuja maintained that he did not care who was responsible for the blast that left him almost paralyzed.

“Most people are concerned with blaming others, but if you were in the bus that day, you will know that you never want to witness such an event in your life again”

Ikenna had a point, wherever the finger points, names like Al Shabaab, Al Qaeeda and the Hizbollah are no longer television theatrics. Machine gun battles, air raids and IEDs are no longer well packaged ideas of brilliant movie producers. Not in Nigeria anyway. If you are along any of the Nigeria states in the north, chances are that you will get blown up.

I remain rather confused that since the beginning of the crisis in the north which has led to the death of scores of people, the only true work that has been done has been that of finger pointing. The APC blames PDP, the Christians have blamed Muslims, Muslims have blamed President Jonathan, President Jonathan has blamed northerners and the Northerners have blamed poverty.

No clear process of investigation has been carried out and there has remained insufficient evidence to explain not only the end game to the activities of the deadly group Boko Haram but also in the government’s approach at a more viable solution.

I can relate with 75year old Emeka who maintains the he is grateful the recent security problem that threatens the nation’s unity is this time not of Southern Nigerian origin, but somehow I also believe like Ikenna holds, this problem is one which may consume us all.

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4 thoughts on “‘Thank God Boko Haram was not started by the Igbos’

  1. I am not for nor against the coup although I feel the old soldier’s pain. But its only fair to say the Nzeogwu brought death upon his own people.

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  2. People always want to blame someone when something goes wrong. Even corruption, everyone blames the people in power. I’m not vindicating them but, corruption is everywhere. Even mothers bribe their toddlers to behave. Take out d plank in ur eye b4 u point out d speck in someone else’s, just saying.

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