In 2017 Nigerians woke up to a shocking leaked audio tape purportedly exposing a highly obnoxious and sinister ethnocentric plan to completely, not just marginalize, but at best frustrate the Igbos of Nigeria and eradicate every last economic influence that they may have in much of the South West of Nigeria, especially Lagos - the economic nerve center. But it wasn’t just going to be the South West alone, it would be a nationwide mop up exercise with more emphasis on Lagos, owing to its robust commercial importance to the Igbos who are mostly traders.
Expectedly, the audio was debunked and the alleged culprits, Governor Shettima of Borno State and Governor Amosun of Ogun state flatly denied the allegation. Many, especially the Igbos obviously took their denials with a pinch of salt, but a denial is a denial. Case closed!
Well, it’s barely two years now and literally everything that’s unfolded against Igbo business owners who live and do business in Lagos and elsewhere ever since, bears the hallmarks of the sinister strategies outlined in that obnoxious audio leak. And they’re unfolding rapidly and shamefully, abrasively. However, it’s worth noting that whatever plan was hatched to decimate the economic formidability of the Igbo man in Lagos and elsewhere had been set in motion, consciously or unconsciously, long before the alleged audio leak in 2017.
Right after President Buhari came into office in 2015, Erisco Foods CEO, Chief Eric Umeofia began crying out over what he termed the “harsh realities of doing business in Nigeria”. All of a sudden, there was now undue favoritism to Lebanese, Indian and Chinese business men in Nigeria in the allocation of Foreign Exchange for importation. Igbos were massively sidelined. Chief Umeofia cried out repeatedly in the media, even called on the First Lady, Aisha Buhari for help, but help was never going to come. And so, on October 5, 2016, Umeofia announced he was shutting down his Nigerian operations and sacking 1,500 workers at his massive factory in the Oregun area of Lagos. He did! And he has since moved his manufacturing to four African countries - Kenya, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ethiopia. Erisco is listed as Africa’s biggest tomato paste manufacturer and is the 4th largest of its type in the world. Erisco moved his $150 million dollar manufacturing business from Dubai to Nigeria in 2009 in a patriotic move to help create jobs in his home country. But according to him, certain government agencies were out to destroy domestic manufacturers like him and it all started after 2015!
In November of 2017, president Muhammadu Buhari approved the appointment of Prof. Moji C. Adeyeye as the new NAFDAC DG (Director General). Prof. Adeyeye’s appointment for a five year term took effect from Nov. 3, 2017. Barely 6 months into her tenure as the new DG, the codeine saga broke out and it bore the trappings of a premeditated witch-hunt against another huge Igbo investment in Lagos. On May 8, 2018 the headlines read: “NAFDAC seals Emzor, two other Pharmaceutical companies”. You know why literally every headline read “...two other pharmaceutical companies” or “Two others”? It is because those “two others” are rarely known and were most likely just being used as a balancing act so no one suspects its a witch-hunt. The main target was Emzor - the biggest pharmaceutical company in Nigeria. The BBC documentary that exposed the codeine menace was so biased against Emzor that it took only a ‘blind bat’ not to see it coming. I saw it coming immediately after seeing that documentary and I called it out right there and then. We raised alarm. Yes, I personally did. There was a nationwide outcry. And I was ready to mobilize against such hasty closure of the company’s manufacturing plant and thankfully, the resistance and sustained protests eventually paid off and Emzor was for the moment, let off the hook. Who knows when and how they’d be roped in again. Hopefully they won’t.
About April of 2018, Seahorse Lubricants Industries Ltd’s Lagos Warehouse was invaded in a commando style by men who were purportedly from SON (Standards Organization of Nigeria). They claimed, according to the CEO, Ebuka Onunkwo, that Seahorse was making substandard products. Seahorse was shocked because there was no prior complaint or warning from anyone before the invasion. Secondly, there was no product out of Seahorse that didn’t have a SON-MANCAP certification, according to the company’s management. The invasion and eventual shut down of the facility followed immediate media trial that saw Galaxy TV and NTA giving Seahorse some really bad publicity on the same day of the invasion. Seahorse is a multi billion Naira Lubricants Industries in Ozubulu, Anambra State. But it has a huge warehouse in Lagos. Till this day, I’m not sure Seahorse has recovered half of the damages caused it by that harassment and eventual shutdown.
CAPITAL OIL, INNOSON & CO
We all know the sad stories of Ifeanyi Ubah of Capital Oil, Innoson Motors, Ibeto Group, and a host of other Igbo billionaires (the list is almost endless). It sounds pretty much like “operation no Igbo Billionaires in Nigeria”! But it’s not just the billionaires they’re targeting for extermination. The millionaires too! Nearly 50 -60% of all Igbo importers who had thriving businesses until 2015 have now lost their importation and or other trading businesses.
The Ladipo market traders in Lagos woke up one day, just a few weeks ago and saw their shops vandalized and goods either destroyed or catered away and it wasn’t a secrete. Neither was it the first time such a thing has happened. They know those who are doing it and the threat of more attacks hang over them as they continue to ponder hopelessly, their future as Igbo business men and women in Lagos, Nigeria. Harassment, threats to life and businesses have all become synonymous with being an Igbo trader or businessman in Lagos, of late. In the beginning, it was not so.
At the offset of the current APC administration in Nigeria, something very bizarre and historically incomprehensible unfolded in quick successions. It was the lopsided appointments by president Muhammadu Buhari. No one in present day Nigeria can remember seeing a thing that scary and worrisome. Most Nigerians, including those who fought to see him elected were in deep shock. Others tried to explain that it was due to the initial lack of trust arising from numerous years of betrayal. They made us believe he’d soon make things right with such appointments. Well his first term in office is almost over and the appointments didn’t get any less lopsided. Most appointments by the APC regime have dangled unapologetically between Northern and South-Western appointees, but mostly Northern. A new alliance (North/South West) is born before our eyes and few there be that comprehend it. Nigerians hold their breaths as the historic North/West alliance crystallizes into a formidable, seemingly indivisible power block.
The billion dollar question is: why the renewed frantic push to bond the North with South West at all costs? What or who is behind the consequent consolidation of this alliance that seems to defy and condone deep sociocultural and ideological differences between the two regions? Yes, they may have a common ground with religion, but they differ in virtually every other ideological consideration, yet the bond is getting stronger by the day.
Back to the audio leak: remember, the audio leak was roundly debunked right? But wait a minute...On Tuesday, November 6, 2018 Prince Charles and his Duchess were in Abuja visiting and to the utmost dismay of most Nigerians, first class Nigerian chiefs were summoned to Abuja to see the Prince rather than the other way round. But that wasn’t all, a particular photo taken during the visit was trending on social media for all the wrong reasons. It drew outrage from many, including the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike. It was the picture of the British prince flanked on his left hand side by the Ooni of Ife (South West) and on his right hand side by the Sultan of Sokoto (North). The monarchs from South East & South South of Nigeria vis the Obi of Onitsha and the Oba of Benin were relegated to a rear sitting position and it was very obvious. Question is: how did we get to hear of a roundly debunked anti-Igbo North/West alliance in an audio leak, and barely a year after, a principal representative of Nigeria’s colonial nemesis suddenly tells the same story with pictures? Doesn’t that smack of colonial restructuring of their holding powers in Nigeria? I see clearly an effort by the colonial entities to blend North and West together into their control machinery and use them both to subjugate the Eastern block (South East/South South). You don’t believe me, right?
On August 21, 2018 Bukola Saraki claimed that Bola Ahmed Tinubu confided in him that Buhari has promised to hand over the presidency to him in 2023, and that even if Buhari was dead on the sick bed, that he would work for his re-election.
October 25, 2018 Babatunde Fashola, the former Governor of Lagos state and Nigeria’s current minister for works, housing and power was quoted as saying that “for power to return to the South West in 2023, the Yorubas must vote for Buhari”.
December 23, 2018, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was widely reported in the media admonishing Yorubas to vote for Buhari in 2019 to pave way for the South West to clinch the presidency of Nigeria in 2023! That’s the Vice President! Nigeria’s number 2 citizen. To the best of my knowledge, he neither retracted nor ever apologized for using such an esteemed political office for parochial and divisive ethnocentric postulations. Is there still a shred of doubt?
Meanwhile, the so called promise of 2023 presidency to the Igbos has been their lie to the lost souls and political orphans of the Igbo nation who actually believed and still do believe them.
But that’s not even the point. The point here is the sheer heartlessness and barefaced insensitivity to an ethnic group that has been beaten blue black for decades and warned never to cry or protest the inhumanity meted out to it by the Nigerian political establishment.
After the war, Igbos were told “No Victor no Vanquished”. Sounded very much like Nigeria was ready to forget the past and effectively integrate the Igbos into the Nigerian project. Well, unfortunately, after nearly 60 years of post-Biafran War Nigeria, Igbos have no distant hope of ever playing a key role in the polity of Nigeria. The worst part is, it’s being robbed on their faces like faeces.
With former President Jonathan’s accidental ascendance to power and his eventual inglorious exit from same, coupled with Federal Appointment discrepancies in recent times, the average “South Southerner” now understands that indeed, he shares a historic destiny with the South Easterner. What all that means is that the Eastern bloc (South East/South South) has already been tactfully excluded from active participation in the “New Nigerian Project” - they are marked for perpetual subjugation!
So you see, the puppet masters have already roped the Old Eastern region (South East and South South) together as ONE in the colonial misery of political isolation/marginalization, economic emasculation and intense psychological subjugation. It was not until the CJN Onnoghen saga that our “South South” Governors finally got the message and luckily, they showed some defiance. It paid off! The bully got bullied and heavens didn’t fall. Both parties have now retreated to their drawing boards to deliberate and strategize on their next lines of action, given the glaring realities. The problem is, it might already be too late for my brothers on the Eastern bloc to change a thing. And if that is the case, it would be the prize we paid for political docility, lack of foresight and sheer lackadaisical disposition to proactive interventionism.
These realities aren’t new. Neither have they been clandestine. On the contrary they’ve lingered around in daylight nakedness. It’s either our politicians were hexed into this unprecedented political numbness or they were genetically disposed to same.
After the South South governors’ historic show of defiance in the face of perceived Onnoghen persecution, I was tempted to attribute it all to our obedience in abolishing the Osu Caste System from our lands on December 28, 2018. Such unanimous show of defiance has never before been seen in the modern political history of our people. It was as though we finally found our voice. It wasn’t the militants this time. It wasn’t Edwin Clark. It wasn’t Ohaneze. It was the “South South” governors! They did it! And the message went home.
Heartbroken over the complete loss of our “South East” Governors to political lunacy and diplomatic orphanhood, I was encouraged by our brother governors next door who were hosted by Governor Dickson of Bayelsa state. They gave all of us the hope that the humanity in us had not all but depleted. Yes, they should’ve been awake a long time ago. They should’ve listened to those cries of a hungry soul from Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and my own little wake up calls for Emergency Brain Reset (a total attitudinal change in our approach to political engagements in Nigeria). Unfortunately, we were labeled noisemakers. But I’m still grateful that someone woke up. By the grace of God, the governors in the heartland will awake as well and smell the coffee. Hopefully they will realize soon enough that their ambitions will never be allowed to swallow the collective destinies of our people. It will Never happen! The earlier they retraced their steps and embraced a permanent unity of the Old Eastern bloc, the better for our eventual survival as a people.
Our people say “it’s only a tree that would hear of plans to hew it down, and it doesn’t make a move”! We’re not trees! We’re people. And we must act like people with brains and fast! No better time to act than now.
A BIT OF HISTORY
Many people do not know till this day that the 1966 coup actually happened because ‘the boys’ wanted to make Awolowo, a Yoruba man president. What you hear everywhere is that it was an IGBO COUP. Indeed, most of the coup plotters were Igbos but what was their aim? Many do not know, but I have just told you. It was to make Awolowo, not another Igbo man, but Awolowo President! For this reason, Igbos have paid and continued to pay the ultimate price. The body count runs into millions. Take a moment to ponder this.
Such was the strength of the unity that existed amongst the Southerners. That unity scared the colonial elements to death. They have worked for years, using the specialized psychological warfare machineries of their Intelligence Units to entrench deep divisions between the Yorubas and the Igbos and sadly, it is paying off big time! By their calculations, a North/South West alliance to subjugate the Eastern Bloc (South East/South South) will be far more beneficial, manageable and safer for them. Unfortunately, things don’t seem to be turning out according to plans, because rather than a subjugated Eastern Bloc, we’re seeing early signs of an awakened Eastern bloc ready to seek autonomy by whatever means possible. With that level of alertness, the very thing the colonial elements feared the most seems all set to come upon them...that thing is called Breakup - the actual constitutional and or otherwise breaking up of the British experiment called Nigeria. That’s what I see and we’re almost there!
In summary, I hear a screaming question in my head: How ONE is “One Nigeria” and how realistic is the “Nigerian Unity”? You now know what it is already, right? “One Nigeria” is a FRAUD and “Nigerian Unity” is a FARCE!
May the forces of heaven Deliver the children of Light from the shackles of darkness in the land of the living.