At eight two, Chinua Achebe finally bid the world goodbye. He was no doubt a great writer and an interpreter of Igbo folktales. He more than any other writer of igbo extraction brought the Igbo literature to the world map. He was a great son of Igbo land, and there was no pretense about where he stands. The man was a Biafran never a Nigerian; let’s put a stop to eulogizing him as a nationalist.
Late Professor Chinua Achebe, last essay was titled “There was a country”, where he laboriously tried to cast aspersion on late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He accused Awo of genocidal hatred against his ethnic group. His kinsmen who should know better and caution him of his unwarranted hatred and misguided utterances turn the other way. Instead, some of them supported his assertions. At that point I was compelled to write an article, where I explained the genesis of Achebe’s lifelong hatred for Awo and his ethnic group. Towards the end of the article I warned that Achebe should cure himself of this misguided bitterness and envy before it too late. Obviously, my warning was not heeded, the man died as embittered as he lived the better part of his life. What a pity!
The call that a national monument like the National Library be named after Achebe, should be rejected by all and sundry. Achebe never pretends to be a Nigerian; he never recovered from the failed attempt by his kinsmen to create a country of their own. He rejected many national honors to show his disdain for the citizenship of Nigeria. Why should such a person at death, have a Nigerian monument named after him?
More than twenty years after Papa Awolowo’s demise, Achebe harden by bitterness kept postulating theories and propagandas to discredit him. The African adage that discourages the living from speaking ill of the dead was disregarded by Chinua Achebe. Now he had cross to the other side, where he can no longer feed the world with his lies.
Our country’s stagnation is because we have refused to face the truth. The first coup in Nigeria was planned by Igbo political elites, using officers from their ethnic extraction. The coup had the backings of Igbo leaders of that era including late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. The coup was to make the Igbos have political dominance over the two other major ethnic groups; something they couldn’t achieve in a political setting. Have we ever pondered why Azikiwe left the country, months before the coup and refused to return? Beside one of the prominent characters in the coup (Ifejuna) was his nephew. No single Igbo political leader was killed or detained in that coup. Yet the present crops of Igbos are quick to tell the rest of us that Awo was to be the beneficiary of the coup. Such fallacy can only be told to the marine. These same Igbos under the leadership of Ironsi kept Awo in prison, until a counter coup ousts him out of office.
Biafran was never the last option for Igbos, they had it planned from the onset. It was the plan B, the Igbos were to adopt if they failed to dominate Nigeria militarily. Their quest for dominance was based on the new found oil deposit in Nigeria. With political dominance, Igbos would have kept substantial wealth accruable from oil sales to their region and their people. That was why Ironsi introduced unitary style of governance to have the entire country answerable to him.
After the counter coup, the Igbos resorted to their plan B, which is to annex the part of the country that produces the oil and coerced them into a country of Igbos called Biafran. While Awo and Gowon wanted to avoid war, Ojukwu and other Igbo elites were adamant. They wanted a country not just of Igbos but one that included the oil producing south-south zone.
The fall of Biafran, had denied Professor Chinua Achebe the opportunity to be a one eye king in the midst of blind people. Had his dream Biafran realized, he would have been the Minister of Education. Achebe never forgave Awo, Gowon and any other person that stood on the way.
It is laughable that Igbos have been asking for reparation for their perceived sufferings in the civil war. A war they masterminded and engineered themselves. The truth is, Igbos should have been forced to pay reparation for the killing of innocent Yorubas, Hausas and other nationalities. Equally the families of police men sent to the then eastern Nigeria to check what Gowon thought was a civil unrest but were massacres by Ojukwu and his men also deserve compensations from Igbos.
Maybe it time a legislation is promulgated detailing that 20% of the monthly allocations due to the five south eastern states be dedicated to paying reparation to the people of the south west and North, who were worse hit by Igbos’ greed of 1966.
Chinua Achebe is no longer alive to feed the world with half truths. His essays, only tell stories from the perception of an ill-informed Igbo man or one who is just being mischievous.
Like every mortal, he had played his role and has left the stage. He was honest enough to admit both in his utterances and writings that he was a Biafran. The man simply lived for the Igbos; he was never a nationalist and should not be decorated as one in death.
By Olurotimi Adeola