Iconic singer and broadcaster, Onyeka Onwenu, writes this insightful article on her thoughts on Nigeria, the Igbo nation, Biafra, and the future of the country.
Greetings to All Nigerians. May the Peace of The Lord reign supreme over This Land.
Nigeria On My Mind.
I have been made aware of a post circulating on the Internet on the ‘Operation Python Dance’ in the South East which I DID NOT WRITE but which has been attributed to me. It is reproduced below in italics.
“On the Python or crocodile dance operation in the South East, a peaceful region, on a Christmas season and criminal silence of all southeastern governors, state assemblies, senators and house reps.
“I say this to you, you may hide under the altar of cowardice and hypocritical silence, be assured we know why you are silent.
“When we voted for you guys, we entrusted our collective welfare into your hands. In matters like this, we look up to no one but you. Silence speaks one language betrayal. Yes you betrayed our trust. We feel
abandoned. We will wait for you during election time.
“From the slaughter of our old men, children and rape of our women by Fulani herdsmen, to the beheading of Bridget and the acquittal of the murderers, to the slaughter of pro Biafra agitators praying, those celebrating memorial of our fallen heroes to this final occupation of our land, we tell you Biafra shall arise.
Biafra is our destination.
“The youthful spirit of our ancestors. The eternal city of all who desire to live in freedom for self actualization. That day will come when the oja will sound, the gong shall herald the rising of the Sun, the victory of the wise men from the east. That day as Martin Luther King Jr said, “we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”
“And for Nigeria, the grave of Biafra ingenuity, keep your evil intent on the people of Biafra. You must know that it is your hatred, marginalization through policy of exclusion and your murderous policies and impunity to our people that fuels our energy.
“We will not give up. Biafra is all we ask and only that we shall accept. No presidency. No restructuring.”
For the avoidance of doubt, let me repeat that I did not write this.
The following is my effort to present in my own words, my thoughts on current issues in our beloved Country. It is an outpouring of my feelings, presented in a simple manner, as God gave me utterance.
I delivered an impromptu speech at the launching of Tony Nnadi’s book, Land of My Birth at Muson Center on Wednesday, November 30, 2016. I pointed out that the bane of the Igbo Nation is the fear of the men, of sharing political leadership with Igbo women, women who have demonstrated time and time again, unequalled capability and capacity, commitment and drive to lead Nigeria to greater heights.
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I mentioned the exploits in national life, of the likes of the late Dora Akunyili, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili, to name just a few. I offered no apologies for being Igbo, rather, I reveled in it, asking Ndigbo to keep their heads up and take pride in the fact that in spite of losing the Civil War, decimated by a one sided conflict with super powers arraigned against us, hunger and genocide to boot, we are were able to pick ourselves up from the ashes and are not only standing, we are striving and thriving, in spite of continued marginalization, hatred and unspeakable atrocities directed at us.
I spoke about our position as the fastest growing economy before the war and the fact that we did not have a unitary system at the time but the regions were in control of their individual economic trajectory.
I also blamed subsequent Nigerian governments for not building on the technological developments recorded by Biafra, due to the necessities and exigences of the Civil War.
I asked where Nigeria would be by now had the war not taken place and where Biafra would have been, had it survived.
I finally asked everyone to ask themselves this one question: what they are doing individually to ensure that we get to Eldorado as a nation, which ever way our destiny leads us.
In attendance at this book launch were, Ndubuisi Kanu, Ochi Agha Ubitu Ukiwe, Professor Anya O Anya, Pat Utomi, who left before I spoke, former minister of petroleum , Ajumogobia, Alex Oti, Rev. Dr Abayomi Lawal and many others.
Speaker after speaker expressed support for the points I raised and demanded that my speech be reproduced verbatim for wider dissemination. Out of this presentation has grown what is now being circulated on the Internet, of me calling for the breakaway of Biafra.
My stand is that there must be a restructuring of Nigeria, for equality, fairness, development, and peace; That we must have a legal and workable constitution; that there must be the respect of the rule of law, respect for human rights and equal rights for women. I love my country Nigeria and I have invested in it, materially, spiritually, physically, emotionally and in every way possible.
However, right now, I cry for my country and for us as a people. I am pained that so many innocent people are being slaughtered for nothing, other than power, religion and hegemony. My heart bleeds for those in Southern Kaduna, for my people in Enugu, Abia and Middle Belt who are under siege right now, for the Shiites, for the IDPs in the North East, for Nigerian women and girls without rights, for those economically disadvantaged, men and women who cannot put food on the table for their families and those who are not free to practice their religion, in a country where supposedly, there is freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
I die a little every time I see pictures of brutality perpetuated by Boko Haram, Fulani Herdsmen and our security forces. I am sad and I am aggrieved.
I say to my president, our governors, our elected representatives at the National Assembly, do something before it is too late. Nigeria is dying, Nigerians are fast losing hope. Stop the killings, release those in unlawful detention and listen to the grievances of Biafrans and every other people who feel aggrieved.
The essence of democracy is freedom of speech and expression.
Begin now to genuinely engage with the Niger Delta. They have sacrificed and suffered so much for the rest of Nigeria. The Niger Delta cannot enrich and empower everybody else while the majority of the people wallow in poverty, deprivation, and ecological devastation.
For sure the problems facing the country are enormous, for sure, they did not start with this administration. But things have gotten worse, much to the chagrin of everybody, those who voted for ‘Change’ and those who did not. However, when Nigerians see well thought out, genuine effort at governance being made, they will respond positively, they will give their support. We are really, not too difficult a people to lead.
Finally, Nigeria has demonstrated with the maltreatment and obvious dislike, fear and despise of Ndigbo, that no matter how hard we try to be a part of this country, we will only be allowed, as second class citizens, to be used and massacred at the whim and caprice of those who say they are born to rule the rest of us.
The Igbo spirit can never be extinguished. Like everybody else, we are God’s children, created for a purpose. We will not go under, we will not be held down. If we are not wanted, if we cannot be free in Nigeria, as free citizens, with equal rights and opportunity like others, then let us go. God bless Nigeria.
Onyeka Onwenu is an iconic Nigerian musician and member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR). She is also a veteran journalist and broadcaster. She is also a politician.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.