The immortal Chinua Achebe, the Father of Modern African literature in his critically-acclaimed magnum opus, Things All Apart, submitted through the protagonist, Okonkwo, that: “when we gather in the moonlit village ground, it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.” Okonkwo said that at a feast organized in his honour; he alluded to the fact that feeding your neighbours doesn’t always imply they are hungry but the underlying principle of brotherhood causes a man to leave his house to attend such events. Africans, adopting the phrase from Nguni-Bantus call it Ubuntu: I am because of who we all are.
Nigeria, a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious country has failed terribly to manage its rich diversity. The naked nepotism exhibited in the past eight years has further exacerbated our already delicate fault lines. For the low standards we have infamously set for ourselves during previous elections, we somehow conspired to go even lower and descend into this political abyss in 2023. It used to be that at least, people would vote, then their votes would not count because the numbers would be cooked. What we experienced during the last elections was a dark and dystopian model of politics where they were crudely disenfranchised after being profiled by their ethnicity and religion.
Defeating the very idea of democracy by suggesting that: some Nigerians are more Nigerian that others and ethnicity trumps citizenship – signatures of descent into a full-fledged feudalism where taxes are mandatory but voting rights are alienable. There is no single ‘megacity’ On God’s green earth that was exclusively developed by its indigenes; the ‘foreigners’ in such places also pulled their weight and have become key stakeholders in the politics, culture and economy of those cities. We all know that ethnic profiling was a smokescreen for subverting the will of the people who have become increasingly livid with the abominable governance they have been subjected to.
Specifically, the Igbos were brutally disenfranchised, profiled and in many instances – they were verbally and physically assaulted as they attempted to vote in the gubernatorial elections in Lagos State on 18th March 2023. Perhaps for the first time in a long while, the ruling party starred at an inevitable defeat in a state they have managed to capture for the past 24 years. However, instead of making the right overtures to woo voters, they believed that suppression was the surest path to victory and the Igbos were targeted as collateral damage in achieving such Machiavellian plot.
This has necessitated a robust plan of action beyond the usual megaphone diplomacy of “condemning” such unfortunate actions or worse, unlooking the stark evidence altogether. Politics is indeed is not just a game of numbers but one of interest. The fallout of the March 18th elections in Lagos State have necessitated a call for the Igbos to do what they have had to successful do many times before: self-organizing – which is crucial to protecting the interests, life and properties of Igbos in Lagos State.
Note that “Igbo” here refers to people who are not indigenous to the other “major” ethnic groups in Nigeria, being Hausa-Fulani in the North, and Yoruba in the South-West.
The code is as follows:
1. If you are not Yoruba in Lagos, and you are not a Northerner, you are “Igbo” and the ethnic irredentists and bigots who wrongly represent the true Omoluabis within the Yoruba community consider you alien and a second class. Thus, regardless of your ethnic group, you are subject to the challenges and discrimination of an Igbo person. It is important to add that you could be ethnic Yoruba but if you look “Igbo”, then same applies to you.
2. Following up from (1) above, if you are Igbo, you should consider every other ethnic group, including Yoruba people as your equals and should not preach or practice discrimination against them or anyone. This philosophy will be called the “non-aligned political ideology” (NAPI).
3. The right of Nigerians to live, integrate and aspire in a place of their choice without fear of discrimination or relegation to a second class citizenship status, tribe regardless should be absolute.
4. “Igbos” should start reorganising themselves and actively vying for elective positions in Lagos State to protect themselves from an active discriminatory system of government in Lagos State.
5. “Igbos” should select a political party and actively preach the progressive gospel – no violence unless attacked, no discriminatory policy against any person (Indigenous, foreign, alien or the aboriginal inhabitants of Lagos).
6. Every “Igbo” should support only people that openly profess the pledge that “Lagos is All Man’s Land”, protection of the “non-aligned” minorities and their commitment that everyone should be treated equally and fairly.
7. “Igbos” should start creating residency based clusters of strongholds from which they should start launching their non-aligned political views and aspirations. These clusters will be communicated as we proceed.
8. “Igbos” should apply the political gains received to ensure the security of their lives and properties and most importantly, their votes and political aspirations. The communities should be organised to take over local governance and the use of such offices to advance the interest of all within such communities. The target political offices are Local Government & Council Chairmen, House of Assembly positions and ultimately, Governor of Lagos State.
9. Members of these cluster communities should always encourage and support “Igbos” as new members of these communities. The objective is to continue to expand these communities till they expand into other designated communities. Each designated community should be based on polling units and should have an active organizer. The above stated cluster should be a composition of 20 polling units with a Cluster Chairman, then a local Government Chairman representing all the clusters in the local government area within Lagos State.
The Igbos are not hungry; they are an enterprising people both by nature and nurture; they can also see the ‘moon’ from wherever they are. That they choose to gather in the moonlit village ground shouldn’t suggest they don’t have the option to do otherwise. The Igbos are highly republican in their politics; they hardly ever queue behind incompetent leaders or dysfunctional ideas simply owing to ethnic affiliation. Perhaps, this entrenched philosophy is the reason they have become a perceived threat to political figures who wear the mask of democracy but have the face of fascism which is intolerant of divergent political views.
I personally believe that injustice to one is injustice to all. You don’t have to be of Igbo-descent to speak up for justice, equity and fairness. Two truths can co-exist at the same time; I very much believe in the concept of “One Nigeria” but also that such unity is very much negotiable. The man dies in all who keep quiet in the face of tyranny.
Inyang, a writer, is based in Lagos.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Kaaynan’s editorial stance.