My .dear Venerable & brother in the Vineyard, let me first thank you for the admirable leadership & mature restraint that you so consistently display on this platform. About an hour ago, I was in the middle of a response to your post when my phone lost battery power. Out of respect for your person, intellect & civilised approach, I do really owe you a response which I hope may be useful.
As I am sure many are aware, the victory of the LP in the Lagos Presidential elections was powered by a combination of ethnic Ibo votes but more by votes from non ibos who were showing their disapproval & disenchantment against the other serial candidates of the old order which they felt had become bankrupt, unresponsive & corrupt. The youth & the majority of artisans in Lagos were voted for a symbol, which time , space & divine munifiscence brought Obi to represent. Subsequently, the immediate ibo attitude was to convert that victory for a new symbol of hope to an ethnic Ibo trophy. Unrestrained by their elites, the Ibos were all over Lagos boasting that their next trophy was the Lagos Governorship & that will be their gateway to the entire South West & other states.
We live in Lagos & experienced the aggression first hand. Within only 3 weeks between the Presidential & Gubernatorial elections, the Ibo aggression had mismanaged an unprecedented symbolic victory into a tribal self defeat. Many of the non ibo youth & artisans were alarmed on seeing through this tribal facade. Some switched allegiance & many did not even bother to show up to vote on the 18/3.
But the medium term repercursion is more poignant. When you show a General your smoking gun & you fail to kill him, he will naturally come for you. I assure you that aggression & obstinacy is not restricted to any one tribe. For Ibos in Lagos, it is not likely to be business as usual going forward. I think they will soon realise that they took a lot for granted about their kind hosts. Even as far away as my Ekiti State, people are communally aroused towards self preservation of their heritage. Unfortunately, such consequences will also affect the innocent Ibo business people who have lived peaceably & quietly without undue aggression with their hosts for decades. When the Ibo pogrom happened in Kano in the 60s, we were young lads in secondary school but we lost some of our best friends for ever.
At 70+ now, I would not desire to relive that type of pain. The Yorubas may not be as eruptive, but I assure you no human being goes to bed with fire on the thatched roof or snakes under the bed. Frankly my brother, the Ibo aggression has been on the hyperbole. Even on this small platform of supposedly educated Christian elites, we often wonder at the language, intolerance & incivility identified in posts from a particular tribe. If under this controlled environment we are unable to express the fruits of the Spirit & the signature of our education & maturity as leaders, where is the difference between us & the street / mass market boys of Mushin & Ajegunle?
Yet, many of us who have schooled & worked with Ibos outside Nigeria know that the race has special God given endowments of hardwork, tenacity & acumen. It is in honour of this that one would like to make suggestions through your ministry for consideration by the Ibo elites. Elsewhere, many people have made it abundantly clear that the Ibo leadership rather than stick to unproductive self justifying arguments, need a massive dose of rapprochement & measured diplomacy. These suggestions & more represent the unspoken thoughts of many other well meaning non Ibo Nigerians.
- The first is that a little self introspection may not hurt. Please take another look at Sardauna’s opinion of 1952 which has been subsequently confirmed serially within & outside Nigeria. Remove the chaff of tribal slur & see if the hardcore message bears any factual remedy for tribal recalibration. Would an objective third party assessor agree with that opinion today seeing the behavior of Ibos? Is that ultra aggression of the Ibo still there or not 70+ years on?
- If Northern Nigeria was wrong in the 60s, are the people of South Africa, Zimbabwe, UAE, Ghana, Thailand, Malaysia, China etc where various degrees of xenophobic attacks against ibos have occurred, also wrong in this contemporary season?
- My point of positive departure is the effusive personal & corporate confidence that Ibos have of themselves. This confidence is justified but should never be counted as the instrument to ride over & oppress others. In Yoruba, if God gives you a bountiful harvest, you cover your big yams & eat it in humility. The Bible says that pride comes before destruction.
Our Ibo brothers & sisters often proudly trace their roots & hereditament to Israel. The total population of Israel today is less than 10million versus the Ibo population of 30-40 million in Nigeria. Israel landmass is under 22,000 square kilometres versus the 45,000+ Square kilometres under the 5 South Eastern States in Nigeria. The Israelis were scattered all over the world in prolific & profitable businesses & investments. But they were also persecuted.
After the massacre of Jews in the world wars, they took a conscious & deliberate decision to head home to Israel to potentiate their God given land & heritage. In a few short decades, Israel is today one of the world’s leading economies, with leading innovations in agriculture, medical & scientific innovations. Israeli Army has successfully defeated conglomerate armies of several larger surrounding nations and are highly respected around the world. Israel boasts one of the highest per capita income for its citizens today.
Being descendants of Israeli, I am sure that our Ibo brethren can energise the economy of the South East , their heritage to become a world leader. Rather than propaganda, this actionable dimension is the litmus test of the much advertised Ibo spirit & business acumen. Afterall, the Accountants say cash is the fact, profit is only an opinion. Rather than counting your wealth in diaspora ( assets at risk by contemporary social accounting definitions), put your money where your mouth is: invest in your neck of the woods, your land & heritage.
Isaac dwelt in the land of the Philistines & was richly blessed despite famine (Genesis 26:10-13). He was cheated & serially oppressed but still he became extremely wealthy. Many times his property & economic sweat were taken away from him but he maintained Christian docility & faith. Not one day did he show any undue aggression to usurp rulership over his Philistine hosts. In the end, the Lord restored to him all that was taken & more( verse 32) after he forgave his hosts & blessed them. His son Jacob also went far afield in business to live with Laban, his maternal uncle. He arrived Laban’s house with a Shepherd boy’s stick & a small Shepherd boy’s haphersack bag. He was tricked by Laban to serve 14 years to get his beloved wife. Even after he married 2 of Laban’s daughters & prospered exceedingly, not one day did he rise to take over leadership from his host. The Lord blessed him exceedingly & he returned home to the heritage of his fathers with 4 wives, children & dependants numbering over 70 & tens of thousands of animal flock.
I am sorry it is a lengthy post. I did not have enough time to make it shorter & I really wanted to send my unedited thoughts. Every blessing.
By Segun Agbetuyi( Venerable)
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