Opinion | The Igbo Need Economic Freedom, Not Biafra

By Russell Bluejack

You want Biafra. You desire Biafra. Biafra is your last hope. I understand that Nigeria has not been fair to the Igbo after the Civil War, but that is the usual consequence for losing the war. All the nations in France and elsewhere that worked hard to leave but couldn’t are suffering. After the American Civil War had ended, maltreatment continued for some years. There is always a VICTOR and a VANQUISHED after a war.

Nigerians grip with fear each time Igbo presidency is conceived. I am sanguine that we all know why. But the palpable fear of having an Igbo president is needless. No single individual can break Nigeria. The process is always very long. Besides, no Igbo man would want to waste his chance of becoming the President of Nigeria. The Igboman is a self-thinking being when it comes to political administration.

Now, back to the matter at hand. If you must engage the sovereign state be ready to fight to the finish. The war does not really end: it leaves physical combat and settles as an economic war. This has been the experience of every nation that tried and failed. The rejected Bill that sought to develop the Eastern Region is an economic warfare. I hope you understand. The 20 Pounds and allocation of properties were economic wars. The refusal to give Enugu facelift is an economic war. The dereliction of ports in the South-South and South-East is an extension of the war. We will continue to lick our wounds for going to war unprepared.

Catalonia had a quite different experience. Catalonians started preparing for the quest to break free a long time ago. Instead of engaging the Sovereign State of Spain, they participated actively in politics and used political power to develop their economy. Does someone still recall Mandela’s LONG WALK TO FREEDOM? Catalonia became economically free before aspiring for political freedom. You don’t place the CART before the HORSE.

Some Igbo youths have fallen for the gimmicks of another youth. Their new emperor has told them beautiful things about the same Biafra Ojukwu regretted fighting for. This young man who has never thrown a stone in his life has impregnated the gullible minds of some youths with white lies about the possibility of breaking away from Nigeria. His sermons segued from outright war to peaceful agitation. He still makes them think that a very broke United Nations can break Nigeria. Wishful thinking indeed! None of his blind followers has cared to ask him why he did not use his protracted stay in the UK to penetrate the British Parliament. He has lived in the UK for very long, but has failed to take Biafra to British Parliament. A blind leading the blind.

The emperor of the foolish regaled his susceptible followers with fables at a radio studio and, like slaves following the command of a merciless master, they are everywhere asking for what they know nothing about. He told them that Biafra is a spirit, but they are too inept to note that it has always been an apparition devoid of materialism. Will Biafra ever leave the spirit world to become a material enclave? Time will tell.

My worry is this: our Igbo brothers and sisters are agitating for Biafra while the road linking the East to the South-South is worsening. They are still waiting for the same Federal Government they want to leave to fix their roads, airports, and ports. Can we see the difference between serious separatists and Biafra agitators? You must be economically free enough to talk about political freedom.

Our Igbo brothers and sisters are the richest in Nigeria, but the presence of this so-called wealth has never been felt in the economy of the East. The billionaires from Igbo are busy developing Kaduna, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and every other state. The truth is, as far as business is concerned, no ethnic group unites Nigeria like the Igbo. They are everywhere, which means the capitalists from Igbo believe in the unity of Nigeria. Who then is talking about freedom? Perhaps the youths, deceived, disoriented, enslaved, and criminals.

The Igbo don’t need to leave Nigeria: they need to use their resources to improve the economic condition of the East. Whether they agree with me or not, what matters is economic growth and development. With the rich human resources at their disposal, they should be able to make the Federal Government bewilder at the incomparable level of development taking place in the East. Now that it is an undeniable fact that the opulent capitalists from Igbo are happy in other regions, who then will supply the needed funds for the freedom project? Can a disunited people talk about freedom?

The fact that some badly trained youths are being used by a notorious fellow to insult Ohanaeze and the political class in Igbo is itself enough to show that the Igbo have not learned from the past. Ojukwu spent his time hounding those that disagreed with his style – the ones he called saboteurs – only to realize that he had lost vital human resources. Today, a young man that has not fired a shot before wants to command his elders with disdain. What a way to become free! Freedom in chains is what I call it. Jean Jacques-Rousseau talked about freedom in chains. If the youths in Igbo begin to insult their elders in their quest for freedom, they will become moral slaves. A moral slave is someone on a speed lane to perdition. A moral slave is wrong about everything. Let me prove it.

Those agitating for freedom are wrong in every way. First, they have erred by attacking the stakeholders in Igbo. The political class is very important. Ohanaeze is a voice Nigeria listens to. You cannot fight them and get what you want. Work with them and get Nigeria restructured. The captains of industry in Igbo are not with those talking about secession. The rich in Igbo have nothing against Nigeria. What it means is that IPOB is swimming across the deep waters alone. You cannot walk to freedom as a broomstick. You will be broken. You need the broom mentality. The leader of the noisy group is too callow (inexperienced) to talk about freedom. He should rather free himself from the grips of a destructive temperament.

Let the Igbo focus on their economy. The Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway has become impassable. My lady left Port Harcourt very early today, but she called after two hours to tell me that she is still in Oyigbo. I just wonder when she will get to Aba, finish shopping, and return. We can fix our roads without waiting for the same government we claim to hate. Biafra is billions of miles away. Let the Igbo start with economic freedom. All the noise about the success of the Igboman comes to nothing, if the East remains the most underdeveloped region in Nigeria. The Igbo must work hard to curtail the exodus of Igbo human resources from “Alaigbo”. Develop your region and become free without firing a shot. Be wise!

Russell Bluejack is a political thinker, strategist, social organizer and columnist.