Ojukwu's comments reflective of larger social unrest

To even attempt to describe the political mess that has occurred over the past ten years in Anambra state is quite the feat. However, Chxta, at his blog has done so, and I commend him for it. Seriously, it reads like a very complicated drama - and I am surprised that Nollywood has not yet picked up on it yet - godfathers, rifts between brothers, dubious shrines - the whole nine.

Currently, the Anambra Court of Appeals is deciding whether to re-instate Andy Uba as governor once the Peter Obi's term expires in 2010. Leader of All Progressives Grand Alliance Party (APGA) and former military leader of Biafra, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, made headlines last week when he claimed that installation of Andy Uba as governor were grounds for the start of another civil war.

“...What we are playing out [in Anambra] is not anything short of playing with the possibilities of another civil war.

I make no apologies about this; the Anambra people are looking unto me, and I am sure most of them have already decided that if we have to fight again, I will be Commander-in-Chief. So, I want to make it clear today I am before you and I am begging. Please I am begging, not drag us into another civil war.

“I make it quite clear that whatever we are playing with we must know the full consequences of it. The full consequences are that we are stepping with our eyes wide open into another bloody conflict. I will not sit around and allow Anambra State to be used as a balloon ball for children to kick around. No. We have our rights. We are a people. I will certainly, to the end, support justice for Anambra State.” (emphasis, mine)

Over the past few days, several have debated whether Ojukwu's calls for justice on behalf of Anambrarians are in essence, calls for another civil war - an invitation for chaos. More than 30 years post-1967, the unsavoury memories of the Nigerian civil war still remain ingrained in the psyche of a number of Igbo who survived the conflict and whose lives remain forever changed by memories of forced conscription, air raids, and starvation. Members of the opposing party and others have strongly condemned Ojukwu's comments and some, not necessarily associated with PDP, have even gone as far as stating that Ojukwu himself, poses a national security threat.

Critics of Ojukwu's critics maintain that Ojukwu's comments were largely taken out of context, claiming that Ojukwu merely stated that decisions taken by the court could potentially destabilise that state. And of course, across Nigerian or Igbo messages boards, requests for Ojukwu's canonisation as the Igbo patron saint have been registered.

While Ojukwu's comments were somewhat misunderstood by the mass media (see bolded portions above), I still question his motives. He did clearly state that if Anambra found itself in such a civil war, he would position himself as the people's "commander-in-chief." Reactions to Ojukwu's careless statements have surprised me a bit, for I was not aware that he still commanded such respect and loyalty from the masses (or perhaps, this is an Anambra thing?). Personally, I am of the opinion that Ojukwu has long expired his usefulness and that his latest rants thinly disguise his selfish desire for some relevance in modern Igbo politics. Also, let us remember that beyond the Biafran war, this is not Ojukwu's first time he has called for popular uprisings on the part of the Igbos. During his failed bid for presidency of Nigeria, in 2007, he ironically states that Igbos will only be fulfilled if there were allowed to live a "separate existence."

Ambitions aside, Ojukwu's recent penchant for civil wars and separate existences reflective of larger trend that has been embraced by several parties, organisations and ethinic groups within Nigeria. When dissatisfied with due process or the rule of law (both of which are have largely been corrupted), the alternative presented to Nigerians is anarchy and chaos. Nigeria's fledgling democracy and tenous stability is oftentimes the target and unfortunate victim of, at times, well-meaning parties. The crisis in the Niger Delta is case-in-point and I would even venture to say that the recent, though resolved, stalement between univerisity unions and the Nigerian government served as a destabilising force within the nation. Ojukwu, Niger Delta militants, unions - all find themselves resorting to methods which put the people they claim to serve at a disadvantage. True change will only come to Nigeria when ordinary citizens are able to effectively petition their government in the face of grave injustices.


  1. SOLOMONSYDELLE said...:

    I have said it before, and I will say it again, does Ojukwu speak for Ndigbo? I am not Igbo, but my mother's people are from the East and our family was affected by the civil war. Anyone who would lackadaisically throw around words like "civil war" is not to be trusted. Anyone who continues to proclaim that Ndigbo needs a "separate existence" is fanning the flames of distrust that continue to exist in our nation.

    Even if his intentions are sincere, the means don't justify the ends...

  1. nneoma said...:

    @SSD - Actually, I was personally surprised by the outpouring of support Ojukwu garnered. I was under the impression that Ojukwu had outlived his usefulness. Perhaps he has been canonized by his own state, but I doubt that such reverence for his person is a pan-Igbo sentiment. I could be wrong since a perceived sense of continued marginalization is shared amongst some Igbos regardless of their state of origin...