By Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe
It is astonishing that despite the high calibre of Igbo intellectuals/other professionals in exile/diaspora, Igboland has still not been freed from the tottering genocide state that is Nigeria. Even if the expectation, for instance, is that this genocide state will eventually implode, the Igbo, who are at the pulverising end of its vicious existence, must actuate the historic quest for their freedom themselves. Nigeria murdered 3.1 million precious Igbo children, women and men between May 1966 and January 1970. Since then, thousands more have been murdered … Nigeria exists to murder Igbo people; nothing else. Any Igbo who still has some difficulties coming to terms with the genocidal immanence of the Nigerian state urgently needs a painstaking re-examination of Igbo history since 1945.
Contrary to sentiments expressed recently by some, a genocide state is not a candidate for “reforms” or any such outlandish gestures. A genocide state is dismantled in order to terminate its ontological being. Apart from murdering the Igbo, Nigeria also systematically degrades the socioeconomic landscape of Igboland. This stratagem is a cardinal feature of the genocide and, as we all are fully aware, it does not really matter if Nigeria is run by its military or “civilian” cadres. As a result of the ongoing genocide, a significant proportion of the constituency of the Igbo best and brightest has gone into exile … In effect, these Igbo intellectuals/other professionals particularly have their work clearly cut out; they can no longer continue to ignore their historic calling! They can’t just sequestrate themselves in the comfort zones of their academies/hospitals/clinics/other businesses overseas and expect that Igboland will be freed by default.
No such thing happens! On the contrary, history shows that intellectuals/professionals play key transformative roles during these great episodes of resistance and societal reconstructions. Igbo intellectuals/professionals must all work actively for the restoration of Igbo sovereignty and they must appropriate the vast arena of freedom and flexibility of operation that living outside hellish Nigeria affords them all. The genocide state pretty well understands the extraordinary range of this resource and opportunity that the exiled Igbo community currently commands. It is in this context that its recent vile detentions of Igbo bloggers Asiwe and Elendu is profoundly an important development, which the Igbo will ignore at their own peril. Unmistakeably, the genocidist conglomerate in Nigeria is giving notice to the world that it is monitoring the output of Igbo liberatory intellectual work overseas and will detain and torture any Igbo “suspect” who ventures through its degenerate territory. The Igbo response to this crank act of intimidation is of course non-convoluted but straightforward: now is the time to even step up and expand their work of freedom at all sites and spheres. No relenting in the least. Each and everyone of them must ask themselves the following question when they wake up at their varying time zones of domicile across the globe: “What am I going to do today during the course of my work in the classroom, in my laboratory, in my clinic, in my hospital, on my blog/website/newspaper/radio/television, in my office, in my businesses … to advance the cause of the restoration of Igbo sovereignty from the Nigerian occupation?” At the end of the working day, before retiring, some period of quiet reflection would also be useful: “What else could I have done to quicken the pace of Igbo freedom from Nigeria? I hope I didn’t do anything during the day to hinder the realisation of Igbo freedom from Nigeria …” In the meantime, they should saturate all the Human Rights offices in the town/region/state/country/continent where they live and elsewhere in the world with their note of condemnation of the illegal detentions of Asiwe and Elendu and call for their immediate and unconditional releases. Repeat this protest continuously until the two are freed. This is an immediate and urgent task. It should be noted that no regular columnists on any major Nigerian newspapers, including even those who are Igbo, have deemed it fit to write a commentary on the seizure of Asiwe and Elendu. Contrast this with the punishing bouts of editorial material that were churned out by all and sundry in the Nigerian media over Ayoteji Omatade’s maltreatment by British Airways and on that hyper-dramatised intra-regime traction surrounding the dismissal/“reassignment” of Nuhu Ribadu.
Igbo exiled/diaspora intellectuals/professionals should now embark on the boycott of Lagos, Abuja, Kano and other Nigerian airports/seaports/land border crossing points as a mark of Igbo national solidarity with the duo Asiwe and Elendu as well as for the personal safety and interests of all the individuals concerned. Instead, they should use the Igwe Ocha, Enugwu, Owere airports for their journey to Igboland. If any of these airports does not presently have an “international” landing facility, create one! The Igbo are Africa’s most travelled nation. As a result, they possess the financial muscle to dictate where their preferred airport(s) of disembarkation in west Africa should be sited – Asaba, Umuleri, Abakaleke, Akaeze... Within 90 days of a successful Igbo boycott of Nigerian airports, airline operators, who cannot cope with the expected catastrophic loss in revenue, will literally be falling over themselves to accede to the construction of as many airports in Igboland that the Igbo travelling public demands. Besides, an Igbo boycott of Nigerian airports will deny the genocidist treasury of millions of dollars in landing taxes and other expenses that annually accrue to it from Igbo travellers in transit.
The restoration of Igbo sovereignty is the most eagerly awaited event in the Africa of the new century. The Igbo can free themselves from Nigeria; yes, they can! It requires intelligence, bravery, determination and resilience. Everyone knows that the Igbo have no shortfalls of these attributes. Barack Obama’s recent US presidential historic victory, for example, scored spectacularly against all the odds of history, was strategically empowered by these fourfold resource engine. Igbo freedom therefore requires hard work; yes, they, the Igbo, work hard. Without Igbo tenacity, they would not have survived the 1966-1970 genocide. But for the genocide, the Igbo were on course to construct the China, Korea and India of Africa at a time very few political economists thought “China”, “Korea” and “India” were likely propositions within 30 years of the post-World War II epoch. Despite this tragic delay, the Igbo will ultimately construct an advanced civilisation in the aftermath of its freedom from Nigeria.
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe is the author of Biafra Revisited (African Renaissance, 2006)