ATTAINING THE NEXT LEVEL
Professor Chinua Achebe was correct when he said that once a people have been dispossessed and subjected to dictatorships for such a long time as in Nigeria’s case, the oppressive process also effectively strips away from the minds of the people the knowledge that they have rights.
Since that black day of 15 January 1966 when the Nigeria Armed Forces first aborted the democratic evolution of their country, the Igbo have never had it easy. Across states and over the years, salaries have never been paid on time to working class families. Young school leavers have continued to roam the streets daily in search of jobs that are nowhere to be found. Electricity supply has remained epileptic. The educational sector has become shambles. Medical services have remained inadequate and the hospitals have always remained short of drugs. Infrastructure has remained obsolete and unable to sustain growth. Igbo children, among other Nigerian children, have had to hawk commodities along streets in most of our towns. In this way, they have been unreasonably exposed to such dangers as road accidents, rape, kidnapping and as we know from a case in Lagos, stray bullets from bank robbers. Most families in Nigeria have continued to starve while a few “well-connected” ones have kept enjoying the people’s collective oil wealth alone. Nigeria’s journey towards true democracy has remained pitiably rough, wobbling and tumbling. And the Igbo have continued to wonder why.
Even as we counted down on the day in February 2019 when the Igbo went to the polls to elect a new president or to confirm the continued stay of the incumbent one, many were not sure of what to do. As the 2019 presidential election drew near and there was an intense, widespread social media campaign for citizens to get their permanent voters cards and vote wisely when the time came, a number of Igbo citizens were still asking a few questions, like: “Who do we vote for?” “What are our options?” Those questions showed that although a lot of people were not satisfied with the performances of the Buhari-led APC administration, they were ignorant of the options before them. Yet, it was up to the Igbo to make the right decision for their future and the future of their children. That is why belonging to our network became a necessity. Knowledge, we say, is power.
What the voters were into in 2019 was not just a fight. It was a battle – a battle of the mind. It was a battle into which every adult Igbo civilian prepared to throw in the towel. The Igbo, and indeed, the Nigerian people needed urgent deliverance.
Look at Nigeria today! The people are fast becoming the laughing stock of developed and even developing nations. Things that shock the civilized world have become the daily rituals of the Nigerian people. There are the daily killings of innocent citizens by Boko Haram and other insurgencies in the north. There are various kinds of agitation for resource control in the south, some of them militant. Cultism, ritual murders and extra-judicial killings, bank and armed robbery in both the north and the south have continued to make law-abiding Nigerians sleep with their eyes wide open.
Although these atrocities did not start with the present government, their intensity and the inability of government to stop them as it promised in the days of “anyone but Jonathan” have become a source of great embarrassment not only to the Igbo but to the Nigerian people in their entirety. The intense expressions of disgust that Nigerians have made in the past four years have never been experienced before in the chequered political life of their nation.
Across the land, from east to west and from north to south, a strong and fear-inspiring shadow had lain across the land over the years. Nigerians were unhappy with the general situation of things in their country. They were disenchanted. They were disappointed. They were frustrated. They felt defrauded. And they were angry. The Igbo felt just the same way.
The campaign promise of change the ruling APC made to them, and for which they overwhelmingly voted for the party with faith, and hope for a brighter future, had become their illusion, their nightmare. And so, many stood shoulder to shoulder with Dr. Mohammed Junaid in not mincing words about the failure of the APC government. If there was anything to say, it was that the APC only succeeded in raising the hope of most Nigerians and then mercilessly dashed it into irretrievable pieces.
But let Nigerians thank God, the Merciful, that all hope is not lost. In the few days before the battle of the mind began, the Igbo went back to the polls to elect a President who will yet again be saddled with the management of affairs in the country for another four years. The time was just ripe for the Igbo to take their own destiny in their hands. Every adult Igbo knew that this issue of hassling for the leadership of Igboland, everybody wanting to be seen as an Igbo leader, was part of what was making it difficult for our people to be properly focused. Perhaps, Nigeria needed a brand new set of political leaders. That election period was the time for the Igbo to look out for credible men and women who would be dedicated to finding a permanent solution to Nigeria’s perennial social and economic problems and by extension, the problem of our own people. It was going to be a battle. A battle of the mind!
Now that the APC government is still at the helm of affairs in the country, we should all rally round the public officers and make the best use of our opportunities. It could be better and it could also be worse. With all hands on deck, the Igbo will definitely get to “the next level” which President Buhari spoke about.