The Unambiguous Messages of Northern Youths

NIGERIA – I admire the courage and clarity of northern youths. I love specific and decisive people.

Their messages to the Igbo, of which I am one, are sharp, unencumbered with rhetoric and point-blank. They are not difficult to understand.

For a start, they are telling us, the Igbo, that they are happy with the way Nigeria is structured and governed. They are comfortable with the way the country is and would not tolerate anyone who would want to alter it.

One of their perspectives is that the Igbo are to accept Nigeria for what it is and how it is, or go form their own country Biafra. They are not ready to make any concession, be it restructuring or Igbo presidency or federal appointments or additional state or oil block allocation or resource-sharing formula or any of those demands to accommodate the “whining” of Ndigbo about marginalization in Nigeria or, I think, their Nigeria.

So Ndigbo have to choose their poison: leave Nigeria the way it is and keep their mouths shut forever or quit to forge their own country. The choice is for the Igbo to make.

Another perspective of the northern youths is that the Igbo should make do with whatever they have in Nigeria today, as that is the much the north can tolerate for them to possess, otherwise they can go create a country of their own. The north has not hidden their disdain for calls for restructuring Nigeria. And if this Biafra agitation is going to give traction to restructuring, then it is in their interest that the Igbo are severed from Nigeria entirely.

The northern youths are also wary of the number of Igbo people resident in the northern region, doing one trade or the other, owning a lot of street shops – about 100,000 shops in Kano alone, they said. Maybe it will give them some respite seeing that these Igbo in their communities are gone, hence the facilitation to carve out a country for them.

They are even bold enough to quote for the Igbo the United Nations Charter Article 1(2) that has to do with the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples. They called for a referendum: “Aware that the right of self-determination in international law is the legal right for a ‘people’ that allows them to attain a certain degree of autonomy from a sovereign state through a legitimate political process, we strongly demand a referendum to take place in a politically sane atmosphere where all parties will have a democratic voice over their future and the future of the nation.”

Coincidentally, these recent calls from the north resonate with the calls by some groups in the south-east. So instead of scaremongering about a “looming war”, I see a decent cooperation or collaboration between the youth of the north and the youth of the east in helping each other to ensure that the issue of marginalization or quest for self-determination or demand for restructuring or desire for the status quo is either achieved or quashed once and for all.

The moment does not call for trading abuse and insult but making a choice and making it decisively. If I should make a plea to the northern youths, it should be that they put their quit notice on hold pending when the referendum is conducted and the result declared and the will of the people implemented.

Should the Igbos backtrack and decide to remain in Nigeria and accept whatever is dished to them, then, there would be no need for the quit notice and the north would be free to ride Nigeria as they please. But if the Igbo heed their advice to forge a new republic, they could go ahead with their quit notice after the republic is birthed. That’s a fair deal!

— By Chukwuemekam Chukwuemeka

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