HANDSHAKE ACROSS THE NIGER.                                                                                                         

Cornelius Onyeulo

 Barring any unforeseen circumstances, an event of unimaginable significance and magnitude will take place in Enugu, Southeast Nigeria on Thursday January 11, 2018. This event is tagged, “HANDSHAKE ACROSS THE NIGER”. This even is anchored by Nzuko Umunna, an Igbo Socio-Cultural group and think tank, and it is aimed at bringing the Yoruba nation and Igbo nation together politically for the first in Nigerian history to articulate the way forward in view of the numerous problems that had held Nigeria down.

The Igbo nation would be represented by Ohaneze while the Yoruba nation would be represented by Afenifere. During this event two great sons from these two ethnic nationalities would be celebrated and honoured for their friendship, loyalty, patriotism and service to the Nigerian State. Their desire, vision and defence for an equitable Nigeria made them pay the supreme price. There is no doubt that Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi and Colonel Francis Adekunle Fajuyi died defending what they believed in as true patriots and defenders of a united Nigeria. They fell in the hands of blood thirsty colleagues whose interest for the unity and progress of Nigeria they claimed had ever remained in question.

There had never been any tribal wars between the Igbo nation and the Yoruba nation but they have lived with unmitigated suspicion of each other to the detriment of their political and economic progress. This suspicion that gained prominence during the Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe political days is about to be destroyed for the two largest ethnic nationalities in the Southern region of Nigeria show their people the light of life. The Igbo nation and the Yoruba nation have what it takes in this 21st century to transform Nigeria and unshackle their people from the strong hold of religious and hegemonic feudalism.

The time is now and never in the near future that it would be told that the elder remained at home and the mother goat delivered tethered to a stake. The political feud between the Yoruba nation and Igbo nation is man instigated and not organically oriented. The third major ethnic nationality in Nigeria, the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy had thrived on this Yoruba/Igbo feud for decades and would not want to give up this divide and rule benefit. This is the reason why they will fight tooth and nail to prevent Yoruba/Igbo political and economic solidarity. But times have changed and the political awareness on the high and the need for good governance and demand for meaningful life of the citizens on a pedestal of no return.

However, the current happenings in Nigeria have fast tracked the need for this Southern Solidarity because the citizens are in agony. The general situation in Nigeria seems to jeopardize the citizens’ right to freedom of speech, association and religion. The security of lives and property had been questioned by the incessant and callous killings of fellow citizens by Fulani herdsmen without proactive initiative to stop the attacks. Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians and so this event would have the onerous responsibility to look at governance in Nigeria with reference to the highly skewed 1999 Constitution. These two ethnic nationalities would not be forgiven by their generations’ unborn if in the aftermath, the status quo remains after the 2019 General Elections without any meaningful and significant changes in governance. It must be made clear to the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy that political business in Nigeria is no more as usual and they must be willing to shift ground for the progress of a united Nigeria.

The people of the Southeast are agitating for self-determination and this should not be overlooked by Ohaneze. This should be one of their cardinal points that would be brought to the table. Ohaneze would not and should not come to this event without bearing in mind what the people they are representing have as their aspirations. The Igbo people are watching carefully how Ohaneze goes about this important event in view of the numerous allegations that the body does not unequivocally represent the interest of the Igbo nation. This event and subsequent ones are crucial for the future of Ndigbo in Nigeria and my hope is that Ohaneze comes out in flying colours.     


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