I was discussing with an East African Indian, who has widely travelled across Black Africa about the failure of highly endowed countries like Nigeria earlier today (18th April, 2006) and he opined that our problem is lack of Education. I have no doubt that this is the general notion as can be seen from our craze for paper certificates at all costs, but the reality as I explained to my Indian friend is that those who are educated are actually the problem we have. The views of Grade-One Clark as expressed in his Igbos' quest to annex the Niger-Delta (Vanguard, 18th April, 2006) and those of many others who use their education as a weapon of mass deceits and incitements rather than for better understanding, clearly vindicate my point. Anyone bordered about this should note that despite the number of Universities in Nigeria having risen to well over 70 and a good number of our graduates making waves across the world that we have still to make any meaningful progress as a nation-state. It may also interest us to know that Nigeria appears to have more national newspapers than the UK yet; the lowest selling newspaper in UK probably outsells all the national newspapers in Nigeria combined because our people acquire education as a weapon to fight ancient village battles which their fathers had forgotten about. The real problem of the Black race in general which has manifested in our inability to build any successful society anywhere on this planet is our inability to organise ourselves or for different ethnic groups among us to devise a means of co-existing. And this debilitating factor has not been helped in anyway by the fact that we now have substantial numbers of supposedly enlightened men and women who have chains of degrees under their belts.

Rather than promote greater understanding among local communities most educated black people have been more instrumental in promoting divisions by way of primitive incitements. What education has brought to us is mainly primitive political awareness. Not political awareness in terms of fighting against corruption at all levels, but harnessing remote and irrelevant communal stereotypes and disputes for selfish political gains.

My greatest concern over the above article is not that it is the worst we have heard or read about Ndi Igbo versus their Eastern minorities neighbours. Of course, we all know about the pre-independence fears of domination and the civil war dirty roles of some dubious ones and most recently the very pitiable claims by Elechi Amadi in the Oputa panel about not being an Igbo man despite bearing an Igbo name and the  language. One is however worried here because we reasonably should have past this stage of reasoning. Recent experiences in Nigeria ought to have thought any enlightened person that our general problems of injustice (or marginalisation if you like) and backwardness cannot be attributed to any ethnic group or individuals. Yes, those of us of southern origin who had condemned the northerners as incompetent and corrupt ought to have changed their stance now. A Yoruba man having enjoyed the greatest level of legitimacy known in our history and above all, unprecedented inflow of revenue for about 7years has proved worse in all aspects than any other ruler in Nigeria's history. The fact that Obasanjo's regime with all the revenues flowing from oil as well as those from dubious privatisations has performed most abysmally by all standards can only be disputed by rogues and idiots who judge by what some dubious  local and western media say. Ten folds of all those things we complained about Hausa/Fulani rulers have long been surpassed by Obasanjo. Is it ethnic bigotry, marginalisation of other sections of the country, corruption or brutality/suppressions of opposition?  Are we really a thinking people?

Even if the Obasanjo example cannot be enough to change the twisted view of Mr. Clark that Ndi-Igbo are the greatest threat to his Niger Delta people, may he kindly direct his mind to the affairs of his state government by way of how the unprecedented amount of resources that have accrued to his state since these years of oil boom have been used. If his state governor has been able to distribute state government resources in any way near to equitable and have not dishonestly appropriated over 70% of the resources, the world would have since heard of him as the most honest leader in Black Africa. Whether we want to be reasonable or not, the crucial issue here is that no Igbo man (whether in the pre-independence or during the Biafran struggle has ever maltreated any group in the so-called Niger Delta region as their best governors are doing today. Of course this is not peculiar to the so-called Niger Delta as it is a national disaster. Maybe, I should cite an example with my home state Ebonyi where its governor was popularly elected by the old Abakaliki being the super majority in the new state based on the sentiment that the people had been wickedly marginalised in the past when they shared states with the present Anambra and Enugu states and needed to produce the first governor to correct the situation. Despite the fact that Sam Egwu comes from the super minority of the Abakalikis, he was supported by the generality of the people, but since may 1999 , he has not only been running the state government like his private estate, but has most primitively been striving to convert his minority people into a majority which would dominate the Abakaliki zone forever. This example is clearly relevant here, because it highlights the seeming endless manifestation of ethnic or sectional conflicts among us in whatever administrative structure we find ourselves. It shamefully tends to vindicate the white supremacists views which justified slavery and colonialism on the ground that we are unable to organise ourselves and co-exist peacefully. Sadly enough, we have not been able to prove that we are indeed not inferior race and our elites largely own the blame for their irresponsible leadership.

The key lesson we have refused to learn from our colonial masters is that a human society cannot exist without an effective judicial system. And it is this effective judicial system which is responsible for the greatness of the western societies and not their white skin. It is the existence of an effective judicial system which breeds trust and co-operation among different ethnic groups that make up the various western societies we all glorify today. The United Kingdom has been successfully existing as 4 countries in one without civil war because they operate a transparent system which of course is based on effective judicial system. In the UK, people from Scotland are not borthered about having an English premier because it would not cause them any deprivation. Gordon Brown will probably become the next Premier not because his Scottish kinsmen are agitating to have a shot at no. 10 Downing Street (the seat of government of Britain), but because he is considered competent by the majority of the labour party and the country in general. Despite the fact that England is about 80% of the UK and can actually rule forever, we do not see such tussle to be prime minister. What elites in Nigeria should be pursuing rather than ethnic based presidency is the enthronement of a system of rule of law and respect for human rights.

We all need a Nigeria where it would not matter whether the president is an Igbo man or Ijaw man for the common man in Iboko or Ikot-Ekpene to enjoy equality and fairness in the system. This is not a difficult and unattainable situation if only our elites could shelve selfishness and primitive instincts and pursue wider issues of greater general good. I had in a previous article made the point that building a successful Nigeria will be much easier to attain in peace if our elites could begin to build from the ground. Yes, let all the ethno-political organisations call it Ohaneze, Afenifere, Arewa or whatever the so-called Niger Deltans call their own first of all start that ideal Nigeria from their respective home bases. Key individual opinion leaders like Mr Clark should equally consider eradicating similar acts of injustices and acts of official wickedness which his people dread from the Igbos in his local and state government first before worrying about the federal level. After all, the Niger Deltans, if indeed there is any group like that in Nigeria(I mean that title is as fake as Nigeria) would be a more cohesive and formidable force against their supposed Igbo enemies only if they are united and devoid of grudges among themselves. Unity and progress at the national level will never be attained unless there are united blocks of ethnic and sectional groups. And it will be idiocy for any none Igbo of old Eastern Nigeria to still be thinking in the year 2006 that Igbo people are greater threat to his people  than any other group in Nigeria. The common sense fact is that people who exist in one   geographical location share a destiny and this wisdom was rightly heeded by Gen. Philip Effiong who refused to be bought over against his own people. Nigeria will only survive not even if we pretend to understand ourselves and live in peace today, but only if we devise a method of co-existing,  addressing with effective laws (not suppressing) genuine fears of ethnic or sectional marginalisation and all acts of abuses of  public offices at all levels.

John Iteshi
Bermondsey, London.
18th April, 2006.


Join the conversation through disqus comments or via our forum. Click on any of the tabs below to select your desired option. Please engage decently.

  • Disqus Comments
  • Facebook
  • Forum Discussion

Re: .What Treat can Igbos pose to Niger-Deltans?
Naija for life posted on 04-20-2006, 03:29:11 AM
Recent experiences in Nigeria ought to have thought any enlightened person that our general problems of injustice (or marginalisation if you like) and backwardness cannot be attributed to any ethnic group or individuals. Yes, those of us of southern origin who had condemned the northerners as incompetent and corrupt ought to have changed their stance now. A Yoruba man having enjoyed the greatest level of legitimacy known in our history and above all, unprecedented inflow of revenue for about 7years has proved worse in all aspects than any other ruler in Nigeria's history. The fact that Obasanjo's regime with all the revenues flowing from oil as well as those from dubious privatisations has performed most abysmally by all standards can only be disputed by rogues and *****s who judge by what some dubious local and western media say. Ten folds of all those things we complained about Hausa/Fulani rulers have long been surpassed by Obasanjo. Is it ethnic bigotry, marginalisation of other sections of the country, corruption or brutality/suppressions of opposition? Are we really a thinking people?

My answer to the last question in the above quote is a confident no! Not only have we neglected our obligation to infuse our existence with strategy, we have also adopted an unwritten declaration, to retard our collective progress as a people, and maintain ourselves on the bottom rung of the ladder of the community of nations.

What other question can one professing love and solicitude for Nigeria ask other than "why at this epochal juncture in world progress, we the clueless and hapless indigens of Nigeria remain obssessed with tribal origins" What discernible good has this stultifying preoccupation ever wrought? What in the name of all things reasonable and progressive have these venal ethnic complexes procured for us? What economic, social or political gains have been spurred by tribal activism? And since legions of us have migrated to foreign lands in pursuit of respite from the sterility of life in our country, how has the obsession with tribe elevated our standing among the international assembly of nations. What accolade ever accrued to any Nigerian on the strength of his or her affiliation with a particular tribe?

Even here in this community boasting numerous participants armed with the airs and graces of "civilized" society, tribalism haunts these spaces like a destructive incubus, tarnishing otherwise pointed intellectual offerings, and indicting many villagers as willing hand maidens of that unseemly failing.

We can convene meetings and conferences to our hearts' content, and we can publish lofty intellectual disquisitions to surfeit. However, no progress will ever bless our nation until we expunge the defeatist tumor of tribalism. We will never see the dawn promised to us during our ordeal in the bleak, impenetrable night.

To those who insist on a preservation of their languages as currently structured, I say good luck and God speed. To those who derive their iddentity, and perharps chauvunistic pride from their current languages, I offer heartfelt tolerance. Against such a resolve I present a countervailing proposal of deliberate mass linguistic extinction. To the invidious Tower of Babel that is comtemporary Nigeria today, I present a panacea recommending a synthesis of a single language from the multitude of languages rending our country into apoplexy. Words from each of the languages indigenous to Nigeria should be culled and blended into a single, national and yes, indigenous language that will bind us tenaciously, and dispense with this distracting division battering our nation.

To those who say, their language is too important to lose, I say never mind, your children growing up in foreign countries will lose it for you. To those who say they can't be assured of protection without the closely knit bonds of kinship that issued from their tribal iddentities, I say never mind. That person of a different tribe that you declined to give credit to because he didn't hail from your tribe feels the same way too.

Your language did not prevent slavery or colonialism, has not brought us prosperity or respect in the world. No one gives a tinker's cuss about any indigenous African language except swahili in the outside world. If we develop a single language, it will eliminate that handle of division outsiders have seen fit to exploit so cynically in victimizing us. Elechi Amadi's situation should enlighten us. Who cares what tribe you belong to? All I have to do is change my name and learn any language for Pete's sake and I am a member of that tribe. I would jettison every one of Nigeria's language for a song if it resulted in unity, progress and prosperity.
Re: .What Treat can Igbos pose to Niger-Deltans?
Rodman posted on 04-20-2006, 06:25:21 AM
John Iteshi,

Her article was just a regurgitation of what Niger deltans think about Igbos.The article is your street type hatred that doesn’t have peace as a vanguard. She starts off her article by saying Igbos have always harboured an interest to subsume the Niger delta into Biafra and have evolved a subtle intellectual approach towards this actualisation. What she failed to tell us is that Niger delta didn’t have this level of oil production in the ‘60s or at least before and during the war then .Old portharcourt was the only place then that may have been actively pursued . But in true fashion of a racist that hates anything Igbo she rushes to feed a biased audience who share the same affiliation. Her voice is a mere drop in the sea of angry Igbo haters found all over the Niger delta,but it was comforting to hear it again. It is very easy to hide under the shed of injustice and propagate fallacies while internal disunity tears and grinding corruption of governors become nothing to you in your quest for "justice".Her article doesn't plumb the depths of her supposed grouse with Igbos but appears to be pent up anger and hatred mixed into a lethal combination--it lacks sufficient depth to warrant any attention but the timing and repetition it brings is illuminating. It is none of her business of Igbos are involved in the Niger delta and neither would she ever achieve it .In her mind there is no Igbo in the Niger delta--Imo and Abia states belong to the fringes of the Niger delta.I know,she has interpreted the mid-west invasion as an act to steal their oil, a place that may have been alien to oil production then. Before the war Igbos dominated Old portharcourt in virtually if not everything in there as they did all over the nation. And like the North there was built up resentment for us and most found a ripe field in the war to express their hatred for us--some of them fought alongside Federal troops and minorities brought in Nigerians to biafra.So I think the problem is deeper than we think. It is a struggle by different groups to entrench independence on all groups by emitting a sense of lordship over others—hence Igbos are seen as a threat with potentially 60% of Niger delta being Igbo speakers.The current governor of Rivers state is an Igbo speaking man and ofcourse Rivers state is almost 100% Igbo speaking with the exception of few non-Igbo speaking groups after years of trying to drown any Igbo trace.Native Igbo speaking groups can be found in the Midwestern state of Edo all the way to Bayelsa.Not a single state in the South-south is immune from them—Opobu Igbo speakers,Ikweres,Igbankes,Anoima et al--but they are all represented by their individual names.After the civil war, minorities with the aid of the Federal government sought to erase as much Igbo trace as possible, which was helped by denials that were non-existent prior to the time--towns all of a sudden had R affixed to them to club off any trace of Igbo and they stopped speaking Igbo publicly. Till today there is a large mass of Igbo speaking groups in the Niger delta--not all(some profess a relationship with Igbos)---who actively deny any attachment to Ndigbo aided by their parents who nurture them at young age to deny being Ndigbo.People that deny their ancestry have to tell us how thy learnt to speak Igbo and have discernible Igbo cultures in them.In America today,there are people that trace their ancestry all the way to Ireland,Spain,Germany et al,despite centuries of ancestral sojourn--they point out distinctly that they are Germans ,Italians et al.But here we have a bunch of people in a mad rush to divorce themselves as far as possible of any relationship with Igbos.I have not read any historical literature that suggests Igbos led expansionist war expeditions as the Yoruba and Benin empires, accounting for a large swathe of West Africa--hence there are countries in West Africa outside Nigeria that bear Yoruba names:Togo,Benin et al.I find it hard to believe that Igbos would sneak all the way to Anoima in Delta and Edo state Igbo speakers,under the tutelage of the Benin empire, and force them to speak Igbo and adopt their cultures without a well document struggle. Until a proper answer is given why they speak Igbo,their claims of being Non-Igbos fall to the ground.Amadi only represents a fragment of mountains of people who throw out Igbo with the baby and yet to fail discover any attachment that they may have with Igbos ancestrically.I’m a Nigerian but I speak English,that doesn’t make me English anymore than living in Europe makes me European—I can distinctively point out that I am Nigerian and that English in Nigeria probably has an early root in slave trade .I see people that divorce themselves from any claim of being Igbos as opportunists who want to ensure their survival within Nigeria--given the paranoia attached to ethnicity .We must not decieve ourselves into thinking Igbo speaking groups are spared any respite in the Niger delta.Perhaps South-east Igbos may have prevented them from killing or chasing out Igbo speaking groups in the Niger delta.Anoimas are constantly reminded that they do not deserve to be in Delta state and that they do not deserve the capital in Asaba.The rivalries between the Ijaws and Itsekiris and so many rivalries hide in a common front against Igbos.As well as the heartless plunder of state resources of their regional governments. An assault on Igbos serves as a release of energy and attempts to give a section of people the misguided belief that they are working in unity by expelling biafranists.This divorcement retains an affililation with sections that have showed them out of the door time and time again,but they remain preferable to a meddlesome East.

Naija for life

I do not believe expunging every language and retaining a common language would bring us to that place of unity any more than removing the "curse" of oil would resurrect people from their communist and socialist stupor to work. The Igbo and Yoruba races can be likened to the English and German races as they embody peoples. Personally I would like to see Nigeria’s survival but within me I question the crust of our unity which appears to swivel around a fragile oil. It doesn't offend me having a Yoruba man as president any more than having an Igbo man does. I would be glad to have a Yoruba man as president next time as I do not see President Olusegun Obasanjo failings as embodying the Yoruba race alone but an indictment on every people in Nigeria. But unfortunately, people are locked in the dusty prison of parochialism with limited air to see that he represents all of us. So having this within me--and the fact that other ethnic groups work with him--I would be happy to have another Yoruba as president. I believe we must take a clinical espousal of our unity and accept a way of co-habiting together as obviously the Nigerian structure is a mess. Not until this happens would we reap the fruit of true unity. In the past two weeks, I must have read more than two reports about impending disasters awaiting Nigeria. They lean on the possible disintegration of the country-- not until we go into overdrive and thwart the course of history, would we save our ship from unavoidable burial. Oil and languages are not problems, but people make problems out of them by discriminating on ethnic lines and waiting for the almighty government to feed,cloth,build schools,hospitals et al.To this lot the government exists to salvage them from any malaise. Oil never produced lazziness,and never will. Almost all our governors depend on oil for sustenance with little or no thought for diversification. I’m all for the immediate abolishment of the lazy remittance of oil and anyone--anyone--that fails to fend for themselves must bear the pain alone. I am not advocating a shift from federal level to regional level but a total eradication of communism and socialism from our shores forever--Nigeria is a history book on the failure of socialism and communism. If the Niger delta struggle is predicated upon securing oil to replicate the federal structure at regional level—easy remittance of oil to public personalities as we have now to states et al--- they are on a hiding to nothing.

Mazzi Rodman
Re: .What Treat can Igbos pose to Niger-Deltans?
Ability posted on 04-21-2006, 20:41:01 PM
Paul Iyorpuu Unongu in one of his writings defined tribalism in Nigeria as "... A phenomenon created by the elites of this country as a sophiscated weapon, wrapped in mysticism and deceit. Which had been designed to be used, and had been used, in the most sophiscated complex power. Bargaining of vested interests, to share power and economic benefits, disproportionately among the few cleverer individuals, who together with their acquisitions help to mystify this phenomenon, through an appropriate juxtapositioning of events, historically or otherwise, to create a perfect though illusionary feeling of transdescental transferability." It is always our elite that see tribalism, marginalization, etc etc and when given the opportunity to help their people end up embezzling and sending their own kids to oversea countries for education, while ignoring and devastating the local educational institutions out of neglect. If God made man in a form like his, that man was not a Nigerian leader. The devil has made Nigeria into his perpetual workshop, where he manufactures the worst kind of leadership calibres. Their mischief efficiency meter makes sure that they never fail. Sometimes, I wonder why such a perfect God made imperfect Nigerian leadership people, and makes sure that Nigerians shall never get true good and honest leaders that will make use of the abundant talents that God has blessed ordinary Nigerians with. Being a Nigerian means you can't knash your teeth in hell, you are already doing it right here on earth.
Re: .What Treat can Igbos pose to Niger-Deltans?
Chinedu Nwobu posted on 04-22-2006, 19:30:09 PM
It is not every time that one bother's to respond to crassly ignorant fellows. The so called Grade-One Clark,is obviously a very ignorant fellow.In the first place the Niger Delta he claims Igbos want to annex is not homogenous. The ignorant Clark probably does not know the ethnic composition of the Niger Delta.Within the Niger Delta proper there are Igbos in Delta state (Anioma) and in Rivers states.So the question is who is attempting to annex whom?.
The youngman in his ignorance,has not taken time to identify his real enemies.Was it Ndigbo that militarised the Niger Delta? was it Ndigbo that massacred everybody in Odi? was it Ndigbo that refused to develop the Niger Delta? so you can see that the youngman obviously does not know what he is talking about.
The handshake across the Niger,was proposed by Dim Ojukwu for southerners to counter the North,whom everybody has identified as the problem in Nigeria.Of course the recent Southern forum has vindicated Ojukwu. 45 years after independence Nigeria cannot produce a spoke,cannot provide electricity,cannot provide portable drinking water,cannot refine crude oil,has Biafra not been vindicated? if Biafra has not been vindicated,why are we still talking of a sovereign national conference 36 years after the civil war?. So my Brother dont mind Grade-One Clark,he is the Judas Iscariot in the South.
Re: .What Treat can Igbos pose to Niger-Deltans?
Pukpabi posted on 04-23-2006, 20:29:52 PM

I wanted to write a rejoinder to what Mr. Grade One Clark, or is it Division One Clark wrote, but when I looked at his whole meaningless name, I moved on.

These fools do not deserve my time. How can an African have that kind of name. Who is Clark? What is the meaning of Clark?

Honestly, I do not take these people seriously.
Re: .What Treat can Igbos pose to Niger-Deltans?
Rodman posted on 04-23-2006, 21:04:57 PM

I wanted to write a rejoinder to what Mr. Grade One Clark, or is it Division One Clark wrote, but when I looked at his whole meaningless name, I moved on.

Maybe s/he feared retribution or was overpowered by a sense of hate guilt.I doubt it if anyone bears that name.

Maazi Rodman
Please register before you can make new comment