Since the colonial era, there has been a palpable phobia that has been well entrenched in the psyche of Nigerians across different tribal divides. There is a long held generational fear and suspicion by virtually all ethnic groups against the Igbo- the phobia of Igbo domination or what could be termed: “Igbophobia”
The Igbos who have been largely marginalised, oppressed and exploited are often made the scapegoats once there is a civil unrest.
This systemic exploitation of our tribal divides has become a sort of tribal innateness, giving the generational implication. This is a sort of tribal bias that has become natural and nearly ineradicable.
Politically, over the years and particularly in our current political reality we have seen that what matter first and above all else is loyalty to one’s tribal tribe and its leaders, not facts about issue, not the truth on any given controversy, not the right of policy to adopt–all of these are often pushed to the background. This pervasive political tribalism by the privilege class has been plotted out in a matrix of exclusive privileges and oppression.
However, beyond the focal agenda of the #ENDSARS peaceful protests that have rocked the Nigerian polity, we saw a sign of a new normal. Despite the mass discontent and social disequilibrium that have motivated the Protests, the level of organisation and charitable dispositions among the protesters without any tribal preference or discrimination signposted rebirth of a “new Nigeria”.
At the protests ground across the country we witnessed an incredible level of bonding that places premium on our nationality as Nigerians above tribal profiles. Protesters sang the national anthem with one voice, clean up venues after every protest, donated willingly to assist the cause and looked out for the security and wellbeing of each other. These were very refreshing and inspiring, giving a sense of rising hope that the current crop of young generations are breaking away from the stranglehold of the past that has exploited our tribal differences.
Even amid the carnage that disrupted the peaceful protest at Lekki Toll Gate and created the infamous “Lekki Massacre”, we have seen Nigerians defiling tribal divides and political differences to collectively condemned in strong terms the horrific incident. A demonstration of a collective angst against state ordered human rights violations. A welcome step in the right direction.
It was however quite sad to note that some forces that have continued to exploit us along tribal lines want to take advantage of the sad incident to counteract the trend by inciting the public along their usual divisive mainstream cultural distrust.
Amidst the lamentaions of the trend of dark, brutal and violent reality that have thrown Nigerians into sober reflections it is very disheartening to note the reverberations that have erupted from the inciting outrage by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the controversial Leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
It has been widely reported that the Leader of the Pro-Biafra Group, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu had ordered the Igbos to destroy properties belonging to the people of southwest geopolitical zone.
The reverberations that have erupted thereof, especially the press statement issued by a Pan Yoruba Group, the Apapo O’Odua Koya ( AOKOYA) on the on-going youth uprising in Nigeria particularly in Lagos as it relates to Ndigbo youths, tend to push the concept of “Igbophobia” into mainstream conversation. Sadly, the unsuspecting public and fifth columnists have allowed this to become an unnecessary distraction from the main issue, capable of escalating the current state of palpable anarchy.
The assumption that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is the defacto leader of the Igbo race and he speaks for millions of Igbos is utter ignorance. The sweeping claim that Igbos are the ones behind the looting of public spaces following outrage from hoodlums is a bizarre view that is either ignoring the compelling reality or it is a subtle conspiracy to exploit the civil unrest along an age-long tribal line.
This is not the moment to allow tribal sentiment put blind loyalty to a tribe above our own first-handed grasp of the truth and of right and wrong.
The fact remains, and it suffices to note for the purpose of emphasis that Mazi Kanu Nnamdi does not represent the collective sentiments of the Igbos. And for the record, his leadership of IPOB does not translates to being the leader of the Igbos.
While he has attracted thousands of fellowership from some teeming youths, there is no mindless obedience to his orders from a large extractions of the Igbo race.
So, on Kanu’s remark, he is entitled to it. Igbos, who are bonded in solidarity and shared in the mutual pains of the sad incident would not condescend to the path of anarchy.
Hence, the controversial order credited to him is regrettable and stands condemned.
It should therefore be noted that being an igbo does not infused our thinking with the tribal inclination that becloud us from understanding rational sense of civility, especially in the face of the current situation. We are bonded with the shared notion that acknowledged common humanity and a wider circle of inclusion, as we joined the yorubas, Hausas, Tivs, Ijaws, Ibibios etc to seek and pray for national healing and restoration from this dark cloud hovering over Nigeria.
It is instructive to state that we must not allow anyone exploit our tribal differences for ulterior motives. We must not allow them to widen the historical cracks. Whether Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB, AOKOYA or Miyetti Allah, it is expedient to note that these individual and groups do not represent our collective national interests. Now is the time for us to reject primordial tribal differences to focus on building a NEW NIGERIA from the debris of yesteryears of tribal supremacy conflicts.
Public Affairs Commentator