The January 15, 1966, we are told, was not an “Igbo coup” even though it was led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu (Anioma by tribe from Delta state) but somehow, we should believe the July 29, 1966 Coup is an “Hausa coup” even though it was led by Yakubu Gowon (Angas by tribe from Plateau state). Let us not forget that another “Hausa Coup” removed Gowon exactly nine years after in 1975.
We are to forget that the Owelle of Onitsha, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and his NCNC teamed up with “oppressors Hausa-Fulani” NPC not only in 1959, they also teamed up to send political sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, to jail in 1962. The coalition to weaken the Western Region was perfected with the creation of the Mid-Western Region while at the same time the AG was calling the creation of Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers (COR), Ilorin/Kabba and Middle Belt provinces which fell on deaf ears. Nowhere did Awo complain of “marginalisation of Yorubas” despite the hell he went through in the hands of this formidable coalition. No one recalls Yorubas calling for the head of Igbos for such shabby treatments meted out on the politician!
In parenthesis, Chief Awolowo warned the actors in the coalition of the consequences of their actions especially when they declared State of Emergency in the Western Region in 1962. Little did they realise it will shape events that will come later in 1966 and 1967.
The same pattern repeated itself in 1979. Let us not forget that Zik led his NPP to congratulate Alhaji Sheu Shagari (from Sokoto) after the most controversial election in Nigerian history. The party even joined the Shagari government (at least till 1981). No one called Igbos betrayers for this. Even when the Yoruba-dominated UPN was boldly rejecting fraudulent election results in Ondo and Oyo states in 1983, Hausa-Fulani dominated NPN ‘stole’ Anambra (Zik’s home state), yet he led his NPP once again to congratulate Shagari’s NPN all to spite Awo. Again, no one called Igbos betrayers!
We should also not forget that ex-Biafran hero, Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, on his return to Nigeria in 1982, about two decades after the war, joined and contested for the Nigerian Senate under the Hausa-Fulani dominated NPN in 1983. He lost, and somehow, we are to forget that.
In 1993, a certain Arthur Nzeribe was used by the military government to scuttle the presidential election was by Chief MKO Abiola (an Egba man from Ogun State), Igbos were never tagged by Yorubas for this unfortunate incident as betrayers or bad people. It wasn’t the case of “Yoruba betrayal by Igbos”. Everyone condemned only Nzeribe, not Igbos. I doubt if there was anything the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Chairman, Professor Humphrey Nwosu could have done to change that!
Let’s not forget the main arrowheads of the elongation of Abacha’s tenure were the Iwuanyawus, Ojo Maduekes, Daniel Kanus (the YEAA man), Onyeka Onwenus and the likes were Igbos supporting a Kanuri man’s ambition. Yes, there were Yorubas too, like Sunny Ade, Shina Peters, Lamidi Adedibu and business mogul, Alao Arisekola, but no one called it an “Igbo” or “Yoruba” agenda!
Apart from core PDP supporters in the South West, and I mean the Fayoses, Gbenga Daniels, Alao Akalas etc, that supported the Obasanjo’s infamous third term, it was vehemently rejected in the South West. But in South-South and South-East, governors were trying to outdo each other to be seen to be supporting the Obasanjo’s agenda. In fact, in the heat of the debate over the constitutionality of Obasanjo’s ambition, Professor Joe Irukwu-led Ohaneze Ndigbo, endorsed President Obasanjo’s ambition to contest for a third term. We should, for the sake of history, not forget to say it was the Senate, under Senator Ken Nnamani, that save the nation from Obasanjo’s brigandage!
My point is for people to tackle whoever offends or offended them, not his tribe or where he came from. A bad man gives his tribe a bad name even though the tribe contains a host of angels.
I will end this piece with a quote from Frantz Fanon, in his book, The Wretched of the Earth, where he writes:
“The collective struggle presupposes collective responsibility at the base and collegiate responsibility at the top. Yes; everybody will have to be compromised in the fight for the common good. No one has clean hands; there are no innocents and no onlookers. We all have dirty hands; we are all soiling them in the swamps of our country and in the terrifying emptiness of our brains. Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor.”
On Fanon’s note, we are all victims of our history. So, no one is innocent or guilty!