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The Igbo agenda is clear. We want to be truly part of Nigeria in all its ramifications and we want to be given the opportunity to have an Igbo as the President of the Nigerian state whenever we can get our act together. Is it not passed our turn and time? You say our agenda should be hidden, look at Federal appointments and see what it is like. Because we want to have no overt agenda we keep quiet or because some tokenism has been waved in our face. ...... Dr. Ben Igwe

Dear brothers:

I, too, have refrained from replying to communications on the web on the Igbo Question. It is not that some of us who keep quiet do not know what to say. I can tell the Igbo story as well as any of you and very well too from where I can tell it. As a young graduate and senior civil servant, not quite two years out of Ibadan, I was present in front of the new House of Assembly building at Independence layout, Enugu, on May 19, 1967 when Ndiigbo begged (I don't want to start another controversy now) young Lt. Colonel Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu to declare Biafra. I was one of the thousands who said all we needed were machetes (not to talk of the Ohafia headhunters) to go get the Nigerians. (Oh, Chris Okigbo, fellow librarian, committed intellectual, idealist and poet who gave his life for the Igbo agenda) I can see vividly even right now Lt. Col. Kurubo behind Lt. Col. Ojukwu, in heavy dark glasses (Abacha type), that hot mid-day, listening to Ojukwu's declaration absent-mindedly. I can swear to the fact that as young as I was then I told myself that that man whose eyes could not be seen looked dangerous. That thought never left me until Col Kurubo became a saboteur and crossed over to Nigeria and went on to become Nigeria's ambassador to the Soviet Union. Prior to all this and before I went up to Ibadan I was a third class clerk for a couple of years in the Ministry of Finance (Internal Revenue) Enugu. This is by way of history. I know a thing or two about the Igbo story.

Now, how can Manny say that Igbo's best agenda is "no overt agenda." I disagree. We have to have an agenda and leave no one in doubt about where we stand. It could be a two-tier program. The agenda itself, that is what the Igbo want in Nigeria, should not be in doubt. Our strategy is the card we play close to chest. Our undoing thus far is your "ghana-must-go-bags which we believe we must have so we can build mansions in the village and not whether our agenda is overt or covert. Right from the time of Awo, starting from when Zik was booted out of the Western House of Assembly and Zik in turn booted out Eyo Ita in the East, the Yoruba agenda has never been in doubt. It was always clear for all to see. Trace Nigeria's checkered history and you will see that this is the case and that they have always succeeded brazenly. You care, they don't care. We want to hide our agenda for no other reason than we fear what they other tribes will say. (I apologize to all those who have replaced tribe with ethnic group.)

When it comes to the Hausa agenda or Yoruba agenda, they do not care what you say. See what is happening now! The Yorubas wanted to rule Nigeria, did they care if you knew? they wanted a National Sovereign Conference so they can leave Nigerian for you Nigerians, did they care if you knew? When they put up Falae and Obasanjo for the presidency, knowing that either way they would get what they want, did they care if you knew that agenda or strategy? When they declared the Southwest a no-go area and wanted it for AD and Ad alone, did they care what you think? Now that they have decided to give up AD and take control of PDP, do they care if you and I know their long-term plan.

Now, just one example (among many) about agenda from the North. I can still see it clearly now, years after, when in ( I forget the exact year but I was chief Librarian during those years in Owerri) Professor Jibril Aminu, t! hen Minister of Education was interviewed by a very able Igbo young Newscaster, Mr. Chidi Onuzo, on Imo Television Service. Professor Jibril Aminu, now Senator, lately Nigeria's Ambassador to the US, erstwhile, Minister of Education., Minister of Petroleum and Vice Chancellor of the newly established University of Maiduguri, where I did part of my doctoral research in 1981, Professor of Medicine in UCI (University College Ibadan, for those old enough to remember) openly called for a quota system to keep the South (particularly the Igbo) down so the North could catch up in education. This was the Federal Minister of Education publicly advocating a system of educational preparation(quota) that would keep one part of the country in check while the other part went on. Did we not wait for three years longer to get independence for the same reason.

I will not comment on the merit of that system because it is outside the purpose of this writing. Please don't get me wrong. I want all parts of Nigeria to get all the education they can get for the benefit of Nigeria. But I say to you that that advocacy was an agenda of the North and it was not hidden from anyone. It is only the Igbo agenda that must be hidden because we are castrated. If we make it known we lose the "Ghana-must-go" bags that are thrown out to us as in throwing out bones to dogs. The dog says to its owner, throw out the bone and the leave the fight between me and the spirits. The Igbo man says, throw out the Ghana-must-go bag and leave the fight between me and my brothers. Shame on us! How many houses are we going to have in Abuja, Lagos and Enugu. Look what happened to the ones we built in Minna, Sokoto, Kano and Port Harcourt! We will have a known Igbo agenda and then ask a million presidential candidates to stop shaming us.

The Igbo agenda is clear. We want to be truly part of Nigeria in all its ramifications and we want to be given the opportunity to have an Igbo as the President of the Nigerian state whenever we can get our act together. Is it not passed our turn and time? You say our agenda should be hidden, look at Federal appointments and see what it is like. Because we want to have no overt agenda we keep quiet or because some tokenism has been waved in our face. How many of you remember when Dr. Okechukwu Ikejiani (still living) was chairman of Nigeria Railways Corporation, K.O Mbadiwe, R. Amanze Njoku and Mbazulike Amechi were federal ministers. Do you recall or remember the day the Daily Times carried the names and tribes of every appointee or high level employee in all Federal ministries and parastatals? Simply to prove that the Igbo dominated the Federal Government. It was not proven because it was not true even though Dr. Ikejiani admitted that he owned numerous pleasure cars because "I love cars." The scrutiny went that far and low.

Because we fear an agenda, because we don't want to have an overt agenda, because we have no Igbo with guts, most importantly because we love those Ghana-must-go bags Manny refers to, we don't care as long as our individual nests are feathered. Look at Yoruba intellectuals, they leave us in no doubt about the Yoruba agenda. They scream and scream, using all the tools at their disposal until they get a share of the pie for their tribe. Then like the turtle they put back their heads. Talk about agenda. Did not Babangida placate Wole Soyinka, Tai Solarin and the Yorubas with Road Safety and People's Bank respectively, among others. They were all part of Yoruba share of the Nigeria pie, even though like the maestro (Maradonna) that he is, Babangida rubbished them. Is Soyinka's daughter not a Presidential Aide in the presidency as I write? Excuse me!

Dr. Okenwa Nwosu, my good friend, Professor Emma, another good friend (two of us worked together to receive Ojukwu in DC in 1995), Eva Peron said, "Don't weep for me Argentina;" I say to you, weep for my tribe, the Igbo. I am tempted but hate to ask who will bell the cat? but then I remember Ernest Hemingway, saying, "ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." Can we have a 21st Century Conference of the Igbo Nation. I ask you Igbo intellectuals everywhere? I ask you Ekwueme, Ojukwu, Mbakwe, the Igbo Governors and Legislators (Leaders of Thought), Nzeribe, Ike Nwachukwu, Jim Nwobodo, Iwuanyanwu. We are our own nemesis, not our stars.


Ben Igwe, Ph.D. Chief, Philosophy Division, The Martin Luther King,Jr. Memorial Library, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Igwe's comments are partly in response to Dr. Aniebonam's suggestion that a covert Igbo agenda is preferable to an overt one.

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