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The injustices meted out to the Igbos in the North – Emeka Reuben Okala

The injustices meted out to the Igbos in the North and senior military officers of Igbo extraction in the West in the madness of the 60s are regrettable anytime and very unfortunate. That unacceptable pogrom and indeed ethnic cleansing was the root cause of the secession of the defunct Eastern Region from Nigeria and the formation of a new nation-state in the name of Biafra that culminated into a civil war that cost Nigeria hugely in both human and material resources.
I dare say that it was the realisation of the ill-treatment of the Federal Government to the Igbos that led General Yakubu Gowon to declare a “no-victor-no-vanquished” policy that set the stage for reconciliation immediately after the war, even amid the irrefutable fact that Biafra was defeated BIG time in that war. 
As a defeated people, Gowon could have chosen to subject the East to one kind of sanction or the other for the damages losses and expenditures suffered as a result of the war. But he did not. In addition to the “no victor-no vanquished”, he came up with a policy of “Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction” (a.k.a. 3Rs). By every yardstick, that was unqualified magnanimity that only could be occasioned by remorse and patriotism.
Though the Igbo nation suffered more but permit me to say that there was no part of Biafra that did not suffer terrible loss in the hands of the Federal might as a result of that war. The 3Rs was not exclusively for the Igboland, it also included the Niger Delta and all other parts of Nigeria that suffered war damages.
 Aside from the known fact that the Niger Delta region of the SS is virtually the owner of the chicken that produces the golden eggs upon which the nation-state of Nigeria is sustained, the effect of the 3Rs was virtually nonexistent until the advent of a three percent (3%) of the national cake, which was later upped to thirteen percent (13%) – of which most of its benefits ended up in the personal pockets of our political leaders. This is a case for another day.
Be that as it may, I can say without fear of contradiction that when we talk of neglect and marginalization in the scheme of things in Nigeria, the Niger Delta areas that produce the golden eggs is the epitome. 
Until the clueless President in the person of GEJ accidentally became the controller of the Nigerian affairs for six wasted long years, Niger Delta had hitherto never been considered an important geo-political zone in the affairs of Nigeria since the war ended.
On the other hand, the Igbo nation has always produced people in the control of the affairs of Nigeria since the war ended. The Vice President of Nigeria in the second democracy was Dr. Alext Ekwueme – an Igboman. Naval Officer Ebitu Ukiwe was second in command to General IBB. He is Igbo.  In addition, Dr. Chu Okongwu and Kalu Idika Kalu were strategic ministers of that regime. Kalu Idika Kalu was the author of SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme) who injected the terminal illness into the naira. Naira has never been the same after SAP. And it may never be!
In the new dispensation, the Nigerian Senate was reserved for, and occupied by one Igbo after another during the reign of OBJ. The roll call: Evan Enwerem, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Ken Nnamani and Anyim Pius Anyim. In addition Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the Nigerian Finance Minister, Kema Chikwe was in charge of Transport and Frank Nweke and Chukwuemeka Chikelu each controlled the affairs of Information and Orientation at different times, etc.
During the short-lived rule of Yar’Adua, Ojo Maduekwe an Igboman was the Minister of the country’s Foreign Affairs. Others were; Charles Ugwu and Achike Udenwa (Commerce and Industry, Igwe Aja-Nwachukwu and Sam Egwu (Education), Dr. Dora Akunyili (Information and Communications, Diezani Madueke (Transport).
In GEJ’s era, the affairs of Nigeria were virtually piloted by the Igbos. The roll call: Anyim Pius Anyim (SGF), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Finance/Coordinating Minister), Diezani Alison-Madueke (Petroleum), Dr. Viola Onwuliri (Foreign Affairs), Stella Oduah (Aviation), Bart Nnaji later Chinedu Nebo (Power), Onyebuchi Chukwu (Health), Chukwuemeka Wogu (Labour and Productivity), Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho (Interior), Dr. Dora Akunyili (Information & Communications), Lt-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika headed the Nigerian Army as the COAS.
With the above evidences, I cannot see how Nigeria “has pursued systematic state policies that are geared toward the persecution, the marginalization and exclusion of the ethnic Igbo from the Nigerian social, political and economic affairs since fifty years and how the ultimate aim of everything of course is to finally exterminate the Igbo.” as allegedly claimed by the Igbo.  Frankly speaking, I cannot see how!
It’s on record that the Igbos invested wholesale in Jonathan’s campaign to return to the Aso Rock, but that goal did not materialise as Jonathan lost that election. The campaign for the secession of Ndi-Igbo from Nigeria only gained momentum immediately it became clear that Jonathan had lost the election to Buhari. I’m constrained to ask: 1). Had Jonathan won that election, would there have been this agitation and madness for secession as it is today? 2). Did Ndi-Igbo just realise that they were “marginalised” in the aftermath of the Jonathan’s big loss?
If the Igbos refuse to go along with their fellow Nigerians for the restructuring of the polity because they lost their stake in Jonathan and, want to secede instead, good luck to them. But they should limit their campaign to their boundaries. Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB should be properly advised that Port Harcourt is not a part of the Biafra of their dream. 
Henceforth, Port Harcourt should be fumigated to prevent Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB from disturbing the peace of the city in the name of Biafran secession.

Emeka Reuben Okala
London, UK

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