Letter From Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu

Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu
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By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

                If you had any doubts about the authenticity of this letter, let me assure you that I am still involved, very involved in all that you do, and experience in our beleaguered country, especially with the stupid wanton killings in the southeast, by unknown gunmen, the ubiquitous Fulani herdsmen, Eastern Security Network and the Buhari-government-outlawed-IPOB. And we are deeply upset hereabouts. Not even in the period preceding the 1967 conflagration did the nation witness so much brutality, hopelessness, uncertainty, and poverty. It is unbecoming of a nation so blessed with natural and human resources!

                How are you all? We know things are not rosy. The entire world is currently in a turmoil. Poverty and hunger are real. Indeed, Nigerians are coping better with the economic hardship than Europeans who have lived a life of luxury. Else, how do you account for a worker on a 30k monthly salary still paying school fees for three kids and feeding once a day and still smiling to church or the mosque? It is not a happy thing. No, not a happy situation.

I’m involved not simply with my beautiful, delectable-First Lady-slapping Bianca whom I parted with when I joined the ancestors! I’m involved in the Nigeria project; an arcane project which was cobbled together by the colonial old-fashioned rapacious British, battered by politicians, and militarized by adventurists in the Nigeria Army and thrown into confusion by the extremists occupying Aso Rock and some State government Houses, north and south currently. I’m still at a loss why and how the people of Imo State allow Hope Uzodinma to happen. We know the role of the Supreme Court in the whole matter, and we are waiting for those renegades to join us and face interrogation from their ancestors! Injustice fuels rebellion. Guerilla rebellion creates permanent instability, thereby making progress difficult or impossible. In a sense, Nigeria is the very definition of injustice. I will dwell on this at some length in future.   

It is true that I led the movement to dismember Nigeria into different sovereign nations. Looking back now, I do not regret the breakaway effort. It is also true that if that quest for Biafra had succeeded the nation would have been better for it. Nigeria can only fully develop its potential in a truly federal state; not the unitary system that was foisted by the military and now sustained by civilians. Isn’t that why different movements for ethnic and regional autonomy have sprung up? This is not the purpose of my letter which I am writing on behalf of the Assembly of Past Stakeholders in the Celestial realm! Sorry for going into my personal thoughts.

I’m involved at a higher, indeed the highest level, that of an ancestral statesman, sitting in conference with such veterans as Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Anthony Enahoro, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, JS Tarka, KO Mbadiwe, Abubakar Rimi, Aminu Kano, Efe Jereton-Mariere, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh (Omimi Ejoh), Sir Adesoji Aderemi, Chief  Ladoke Akintola, Umaru Dikko, Shehu Shagari, and the many others. We asked the soldiers to stand aside because we haven’t forgiven them for plunging the nation into years of administrative misadventure. Murtala Mohammed has been in the forefront of apologia, stating that their intervention was in the national interest. Who determines the national interest?  

The last letter from Chief Awolowo to your earthling conveyed our worries. I was advised to write this time because of the uncertain situation in the southeastern part of the country. It is the belief of Conference that the armed boys in the southeast are killing that region. What sense does it make to order all peoples in Igbo land to sit at home every Monday, the first day of business? Who does it help? Who does it hurt? Where did such foolishness, unknown among the Igbo spring from? I am at a loss.

So, this is an appeal from me, erstwhile main fighter for Igbo liberation to my people. I know that you are yet to reap the state benefit of reintegration after the civil war. But my advice is that you should reconsider your strategy. Conference of Elders here has decided not to endorse any candidate. Out of respect for plurality and the need to remain united up here, we have decided that every Nigerian should vote according to their conscience. The presidential contest is a four-way track. They all have their strengths. I have my candidate and have since sent my personal endorsement to the leaders in Awka, Enugu, Owerri, Aba, and Abakaliki. Some of them were arguing with me about mainstream politics, but I ignored them. They argued that Ifeanyi is also our son. No problem with that. He has my support too. Let the kite perch. Let the eagle perch. One of them will eat the lion share and the reward will come to Ndigbo. This is my personal response to them though as a conference we have not endorsed any candidate.  

Am I talking from both sides of the mouth? You should be discerning enough to know that the wind could blow in any direction. We are not clairvoyant yet, though we have joined the occupants of the multiple-storey building. So, we are not too certain. By the way, what has become of Nigeria Air? There was so much noise about flying the Nigerian Flag through the skies. Too bad. A national carrier will give the nation great mileage apart from ferrying millions of Nigerians across the world daily!

It is foolishness to continue to import fuel. It is another level of foolishness to hinge the stoppage of fuel importation on one man, I mean, Dangote. This is the time to diversify things. What has happened to the country with cement monopoly should not be replicated in the oil sector. The danger is that if anything goes wrong, we will return to Square One. Let a thousand flowers bloom in the fuel refining business. It is our considered view that a southern businessman or a group of southern businessmen should float a refinery too. Such a project should be in the Niger Delta. Equity demands this.    

 Finally, we wish you well as you move nearer the month of February when elections will be held. We are not likely to write another letter till after the elections. Just remember that there is life after elections. 

Prof.  Eghagha writes from the University of Lagos (UNILAG). His syndicated column appears in The Dream Daily Newspaper on Mondays

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