Caution, not fear.
You must have heard, dear reader, (if you haven’t heard, biko, come out from under whatever rock you have been dwelling) about the ultimatum given to the Igbos in the north to vacate their houses and return to the south-east or face the consequences. For avoidance of doubt, in the event that you really have been under a rock, or you have somehow managed to miss it in the deluge of information that pours over the internet on a daily basis, or like me, you could be busy for days on end and only go to the net when you come up for air, let us do a brief recap.
A group of northern youths claiming to represent a number of youth organizations in the north came together and issued a statement at a WELL ATTENDED PRESS CONFERENCE at the Arewa House, Kaduna, ordering all people of Igbo extraction in the nineteen northern states to pack up and leave, OR BE FORCED OUT. The deadline given for the Igbos to vacate the entire north was October 1st 2017, which is incidentally Independence Day, but that’s not where I am going. The press conference was organised by the following groups:
Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF)
Arewa Youth Development Foundation (AYDF)
Arewa Citizens Action for Change (ACAC)
Arewa Students Forum (ASF)
Northern Emancipation Network (NEM)
Northern Youth Vanguard (NYM)
The president of the NEM, Abdulazeez Suleiman, in reading out the text of the statement, said their action was necessitated by the persistence of the Igbos in their agitation for Biafra, stating that it had led to the impediment of other people’s rights in the south east by the Indigenous People of Biafra, and their covert and overt sponsors.
They then issued instructions to all civil societies and pressure groups to begin campaigns at all possible places, ranging from local government headquarters, government houses, legislative chambers, and traditional palaces. The campaigns being, I suppose, for their statement to be backed by law.
They said their first MAJOR move shall be to reclaim, assume, and assert sole ownership and control of those landed resources currently owned, rented, or occupied by the Igbo in any part of northern Nigeria. The group warned that the failure of the Igbo to heed the warning would lead to the group mobilizing the people of the region against the Igbo.
Fielding questions from pressmen, the AYCM president they did not need to consult the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Northern Elders Forum, or any of the other regional bodies because “they were part of the decadence in the North.”
Some have bashed the press statement, calling a thinly disguised attempt to grab the properties owned by igbos in the north. It is not a lie that the igbo man is renowned the world over for his business acumen and skill and prudence in matters of trade, but I think it runs far deeper. How many of us can remember the way the igbos living in the north ran away in 1967? My mother recounts stories of panic and terror, how they ran and hid, trying to stay out of sight of the hordes of northern soldiers who were killing people suspected to be of igbo extraction, but my real irritation stems from the paltry sums they were given when they returned to their former cities after the war. And yet the igbo man has rebuilt, and risen, in the face of daunting odds.
Ohaneze Ndigbo has warned igbos living in the north to be extra careful and vigilant when going about their daily socio-economic activities.
I couldn’t help but notice a few people of hausa extraction on social media (facebook) denouncing the so-called marching order, and saying it is nothing to be worried about. My own response to the “I am a Northern Youth, these people do not represent me” faction, especially on facebook, is
Biko, miss me with that bullshit. If they do not represent you, that is because you, not them, are in the minority. If you are anything like observant, you would have noticed that the conference was well attended. I can categorically tell you that the conference was attended by a lot of people, who share largely the same ideologies and opinions as the issuers of the press statement. This statement is equivalent to a lone, single, individual wolf, walking up to a farmer, who is scared for his sheep, and saying,
“I am a wolf, and due to the fact that I personally have no interest in eating any of your sheep, please ignore any threat the wolves make on your sheep, and feel free to turn over in your bed and snore deeper when you hear wolves baying in the night.”
If they don’t represent you, who do they represent? A vast crowd of similar minded individuals, who have one thing in common: they are not you.
Ndi Igbo should be cautious. But not afraid. Nkuja a buro ujo.