Igbo Plan To Leave Nigeria - Part 1

  [ Masterweb Reports: Osita Ebiem reports ] –  Igbo Plan To Leave Nigeria Because Igbo Economy Exceeds Igbo Geography: This is the first part of this essay. It is divided into two parts and derives its title from the argument that Ojo Maduekwe presented in response to Vin Otuonye who wanted Maduekwe to clear the concern of Igbo masses that some Igbo elite seem unfazed by the plight of this and coming generations of their people in Nigeria. The current generation of Igbo believes that there is no prospect for them and their children by remaining part of the Nigerian union. They are convinced that their interests and those of their subsequent generations will be better served only in a state that is separate and independent of the Nigerian state. For this reason the masses of the people are progressively feeling betrayed by their leaders who they think should be at the forefront of the struggle to liberate them from one Nigeria. They think that some of their leaders of thought like Ojo Maduekwe, Obi Nwakanma who is an intellectual genius and others like them, for the sake of some temporary personal considerations, have sold out and mortgaged their people’s future to a hopeless project that is one Nigeria by insisting on the continued existence of Igbo people as part of it. Vin Otuonye called out particularly to Maduekwe to respond to this accusation by Igbo people. Maduekwe in his characteristic articulate haute sense of responsibility was courageous and humble enough to respond. We salute his boldness. We encourage readers to read in full Ojo Maduekwe’s intelligent presentation in order to get a better perspective of the points made in this article. Maduekwe’s piece will be reproduced below this. We consistently and deliberately avoid using titles to address individuals when discussing Igbo matters because we are conscious of the very negative effect those have had on the general psyche of our people. Thank you for reading.



In the past few years, due to increased cases of agitations by several groups within and outside the country for the division of Nigeria, some people are genuinely asking why Igbo people and other Biafrans want to be free from Nigeria. Some Igbo people have also asked for reasons to convince them to join forces with pro-freedom movements and organizations which are agitating to separate Igbo and other Biafrans from the oppressive unity of one Nigeria. A few Igbo people like Ojo Maduekwe that oppose separation of Igbo from the Nigerian union argue that because “Igbo economy exceeds Igbo geography” therefore Igbo should remain in Nigeria, no matter what, to take advantage that the bigger size and population present.


Ojo Maduekwe though had fought as a Biafran soldier during the Biafra-Nigeria war years but today he can afford to see things differently from, perhaps, the way he did in the 1960s while the war raged. Maduekwe is both brilliant and articulate but most importantly, he is a beneficiary of and participant in the current Nigerian dysfunctional state of affairs. He has served Nigeria quite capably in different capacities, including federal ministerial and ambassadorial positions. He has consistently proved to be an innovative and efficient Nigerian civil servant. He is therefore qualified to comment on the issue of Nigeria’s disintegration and Igbo’s proposed exit from the country.


Before we go any further, let’s quickly provide what we consider to be a simple and adequate answer to the group that wants to know why Igbo people are anxious to exit the one Nigerian debacle and put the nightmare of a forced “national unity” behind them. (Other answers will come in the second segment of this essay). Some separation advocates like the internationally acclaimed scholar Herbert Ekwe-ekwe believe that Igbo people do not have to give any reason for choosing to want to be free from Nigeria. The people in this school of thought argue that wanting to be free just for the sake of it is reason enough. To the people in this group, freedom for the sake of freedom is good enough reason for them and anyone else that may care to know. In their opinion freedom is just as fundamental to human beings everywhere as breathing and eating. For this reason, the separationists believe that no one should feel ashamed or embarrassed for wanting to be free and stay apart from other people just for the sake of it. In this case Igbo people have expressed their desire to be separate from Yoruba, Hausa and Fulani peoples as members of the same country.


It has been argued that the desire for freedom and the ability to choose are basic human instincts and therefore among our fundamental human and peoples’ rights. On that basis, no one needs give any explanations on wanting to exercise these rights. So, the desire of Igbo people to want to be free from Nigeria does not have to make much sense to those who do not share the same feeling. In the existing Nigerian arrangement Igbo people as well as others who are conscripted into it were never given the opportunity to choose to be Nigerians or not. For the Igbo and others in Nigeria today it is citizenship by compulsion. The real essence of freedom is the ability to freely choose who one wants to associate or live with. The current arrangement of one Nigeria is a choice made by another for the Igbo and others without due considerations or consultations. Colonial Britain made that arbitrary choice for the indigenous peoples some one hundred years ago. Hence, separation advocates are asking for a referendum to afford the peoples the opportunity to choose who they want to associate and live with as fellow citizens of a country.


Because it seems that people like Ojo Maduekwe are sincere we will try to respond to their argument about economic consideration as basis for Igbo membership of Nigerian union. No doubt, the economic state of any people, Igbo’s inclusive, should be considered as a top priority when making decisions that will affect both their present and coming generations. But as a people and society evolve further away from the basic animal instinct of mere survival (or subsistence) level, they begin to realize that freedom, liberty, dignity and prestige actually take precedence over economic considerations. And it is in the light of this that the economic argument pales and becomes even embarrassing when Maduekwe and others like him sincerely think that Igbo people should remain part of the Nigerian union even at the risk of total annihilation of their population and or undignified ethnic/religious discrimination, unfounded fear and hatred and inhuman subjugation of Igbo people by Nigeria so as to have a wider geography for trade and economic activities.


Admittedly, when Maduekwe eloquently came up with the phrase of “Igbo economy exceeding Igbo geography” he must have been satisfied with himself. Who wouldn’t be? After all isn’t it an art to be able to find plausible and persuasively sounding words or phrases for any debates. There are usually two types of debaters. One group wants to persuade their audience by respecting their sense of reasoning so they try to present to them honest and realistic reasons and facts. On another hand, the second group thinks that all they need to win is to excite and satiate the sentiments and emotions of their listeners enough with high sounding phrases; the people do not really have to think, they believe.

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