WHEN A COUNTRY LOSES ITS SENSE OF JUSTICE
Nigeria is a country that was founded on injustice, built on injustice, and sustained by injustice. It is a country where everybody will be happy to see every other person suffer injustice so far he is not the victim; a country where there is conspiracy of silence, where nobody hardly raises a voice against injustice, so far he is not the one suffering.
Before now, we have witnessed various forms of injustice perpetrated on some people in the country, but we have never witnessed the level of injustice that is as barefaced, as brazen, as unapologetic, and as conscienceless as the current injustice being meted out by the present administration on the people of the South East, or the Igbo, in particular.
Nigeria, we were told, was built on the geographical tripod of the East, the West, and the North, and when reduced to ethnic level, is made up of the Igbo, the Yoruba, and the Hausa/Fulani.
Successive administrations in the country always tried to manage or maintain this tripod, to create a semblance of its existence, the balance of power, no matter how ephemeral, how awkward, how jaundiced, they may seem to be.
The belief was that if any of the legs of the tripod was wounded or has a problem, it would create some ripple effects, some spillover effects on the system, and the entire country would be worse for it. That what happened in 1966/67, when some vicious people unleashed terror attacks on the people of former Eastern Nigeria resident in different parts of Northern Nigeria, but nobody was bold enough to speak against the attacks, against that injustice, to condemn it. That was how Biafra was born.
With the complete exclusion of the over fifty million Igbo people from participation in the governance of what they say is their country, there appears to be no much difference between what happened to them in 1966/67 and what is happening to them now. The battle cry of the 1776 American war of independence was “no taxation without representation”. And the people of the South East are expected to pledge their full allegiance, and perform their civic duties before a government that has completely excluded them.
In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari categorically stated that his political reward system would be based on 97% versus 5% voter ratio, and he kept to his words. This time around, everybody is expecting a worse scenario. That was why the APC led federal government of Nigeria has decided to share out all positions in the executive, the legislative, and the judicial arms of government, without considering anybody from the South East or the Igbo area suitable or worthy of any of the positions.
Look at how the APC has allotted out key positions of its government: *President – North West. *Vice President – South West *Senate President – North East *Deputy Senate President – South South *Speaker House of Representatives – South West *Deputy Speaker – North Central *Chief Justice of Nigeria – North East.
Thus, the APC, with the active support of President Buhari, has shared out the country’s principal positions in government and completely excluded the entire South East zone. But the Igbo people are not perturbed. They are not disturbed. They are not apologetic. They are not beggarly. They already knew it was going to be like that.
Olaudah Equiano, a nineteenth century Igbo slave boy, who later bought his freedom, said his people, the Igbo people, were “happy clean people, without beggars, without unemployment, without prostitution…”
When the South East voted against the APC in 2019 election, they knew what to expect, that they were not going to be fairly treated, and they were prepared for it.
When Chief Orji Uzor Kalu said he was going to contest the position of Deputy Senate President, some people thought he was serious. But, alas, Orji Uzor Kalu, at the last minute,decided to chicken out, probably due to pressures from the powers that be. This was to make way for a mace snatcher, a brigandage, to coast home to victory, unchallenged.
Who then would take up the gauntlet? Who would take up the challenge to ensure that the South East or the Igbo registered their presence in the contest no matter what happens? That was why we should commend Senator Ike Ekweremadu for bracing up to the challenge, even though he probably might have known that it was not going to be an easy task, that he was swimming against the tide.
Ekweremadu coming out to contest for the position of Deputy Senate President had two important effects. One, if he did not come out to contest, they would have said that had a credible Igbo person come out to contest, they would have voted for the person. But now that Ekweremadu contested and did not vote for him, it becomes clear that they really do not want the Igbo around.
Second, it really sounds odd, very reprehensible, that somebody who led some thugs to snatch a mace in parliament should be rewarded for such impunity, such brigandage, by leaving him unchallenged to clinch the exalted position of Deputy Senate President.
But this is Nigeria where anything goes in so far you are part of the system.