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Our noble sons and daughters were key components of the vanguard that spearheaded the long difficult struggle to free Nigeria from the clutches of colonial rule. At Independence, our people by dint of hard work had attained eminent positions in national political leadership, Federal Government bureaucracy and the Armed Forces. Ndiigbo had also played leading roles in the establishment of indigenous network of mercantile outlets throughout the country, which laid the foundations for the evolution of most of the major cities of today’s Nigeria. The 1966 Nzeogwu-led coup that ended the First Republic marked the beginning of a precipitous decline for Ndiigbo in the center stage of national political arena.

The wave of pogroms perpetrated against Igbos outside the East, especially in the North, led to a mass return home and the eventual declaration of the Republic of Biafra. A 30-month genocidal war was unleashed against Ndiigbo and before the eventual collapse of Biafran resistance in January 1970, an estimated 1.5 million inhabitants of the former Eastern Region perished from hunger, disease and the superior firepower of Federal troops. In the immediate post-war period, noble pronouncements were made by General Yakubu Gowon who pledged to commit the Federal Government to a program of “rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation” with the philosophy that there was “no victor or vanquished”. Those public pronouncements were quickly annulled by policy implementations, by Awolowo-led Federal Ministry of Finance and some State Governors, which ended up impoverishing and further dispossessing the survivors of the Biafran mayhem.

Politically, the Igbos have been made to feel and think like defeated people, especially at the national level. With centralization and control of political and economic power by the military junta, which included no Igbo indigene of clout since the Civil War, our politicians and entrepreneurs were relegated to the status of errand boys who had to respond to the whims and caprices of their masters in order to earn a meal at the end of the day. The return of democracy in Nigeria offers Ndiigbo a unique opportunity to begin the process of reasserting and reestablishing the commanding status that they had in the nation’s center stage before the Civil War.

The task of pulling our people out of the mindset of defeat and neglect into the proud society that we have been in the recent past will require a well thought-out agenda and blueprint to guide all of us who must spearhead this endeavor. Agenda Ndiigbo shall depict a clear articulation of ways and means for revitalizing the sociocultural, economic and political relevance of our people in contemporary Nigeria and also streamline future interactions of our people with other ethnopolitical interest groups in the country. All public figures, including office holders and representatives of Igbo origin, will be made to comply to a set of ethical conducts that will meet public expectation as well as not contradict the laid out goals of Agenda Ndiigbo.

Ndiigbo and the former East have what it takes to make a dramatic comeback into the Nigerian mainstream. The concentration of intellectual manpower, cultural pride, political willpower and economic potentials can rival, if not supersede, those of any other geopolitical entity within Nigeria and beyond. The BMP Committee will collaborate with others to ensure that Agenda Ndiigbo is put in place very soon.

Osondu
The Survival Struggle for Ndiigbo

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