I will start this with the story told by an Igbo chief, Onukwube Uche Ezechukwu.
Ikenna is the son of his host on a foreign travel away from home.
Ikenna: Daddy is it true that Igbo people are second class citizens in Nigeria?
Father: That is utter rubbish. Whoever said that is a compound fool!
However his wife refused to accept such a facile resolution of what she saw as a very weighty issue and demanded to know the author of those ‘satanic verses’.
Ikenna: Ibrahim my classmate said that he heard it from his father (Ibrahim’s father was a foreign mission staff from Nigeria to the same country).
Ikenna’s father and Chief Ezechukwu looked at each other in bewilderment.
Onukwube: Don’t listen to them Ikenna, maybe Ibrahim’s father has not travelled to Nigeria in a very long time .
Both fathers kept silent and in their mutual conception as Uche Ezechukwu calls it, of what they knew, was a sad, but hard reality of the Igbo existence on the fringes of Nigerian nationality.
Weeks later, Chief Ezechukwu was confronted by his own child with a similar question.
Daughter: Daddy, is it true that an Igbo person cannot be president of Nigeria?
“I replied her in the same idiotic way of mischievous and dishonest Nigerian politicians: it is only God who says who will be president; if he says that an Igbo person will be president, no one can stop that,”
Onukwube recounts. “Honestly I was relieved that my facile answer satisfied her young and impressionable mind. Or so I had thought.”
I wonder whether other Nigerians appreciate that every discerning Igbo person understands that we see and recognize an ‘Ibrahim’s father’ in almost every other Nigerian.
I also wonder whether our compatriots know that we are hardly deceived by all the public lip service paid to us , Ndi Igbo , as equal partners in the Nigerian project. Do they know that we know the gospel truth, which is that, most other Nigerian groups merely tolerate us, and are content to see us confined to the backwaters of national affairs?
Do they realize that we are aware that a certain declaration of Mrs. Dupe Adelaja, an ‘honorable’ minister of the Federal Republic, that Ndi Igbo should be content with ‘buying and selling’ , and leave more serious endeavors of the society to the other more eligible first class citizens, was not a verbal faux pas, but rather an honest word from a flippant Amazon who is used to saying it the way it is?
We have always known the truth about the reality of our existence in Nigeria, and that is precisely why it no longer hurts.
Chidozie Awuzie is a medical doctor and political activist. He tweets from @GhenhisKhan.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.