• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Ndi-Igbo interest and the Boko Haram charge against Gen. Ihejirika

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Ndi-Igbo need to understand the game that is being played by the Hafukawa (Hausa-Fulani-Kanuri-people) forces that have accused Gen. Ihejirika of being a sponsor of Boko Haram. Unless they do, they can’t see what the appropriate response should be.

The Fulani have a story about how they keep their more numerous subjects in line. They point to a single frail Fulani herds boy controlling a herd of hundreds of big beasts, and explain how he does it. Their story goes like this: any time a beast begins to stray, the boy walks up to it and gives it a good hard whack with his stick. The others see what happened to the straying beast and, not wanting the same painful experience, stay in line and don’t dare to start straying.

Let’s face it. The general is just being hit, even with a crazy accusation, so as to teach Ndi-Igbo a lesson: That any one of them can be hit with a crazy charge and harassed and brought into, or kept in, line at any time. It is Ihejirika today; it could be you tomorrow. There but for the grace of God goes any Onye-Igbo who does not mind his manners and dares to act against any Hafukawa interest.

That is the context for understanding why Ndi-Igbo need to take vigorous and collective action, and be seen to take such action, to defend the General. Ndi-Igbo need to serve notice that they will not allow any Onye-Igbo to be persecuted without serious cost to the persecutor.

From their Hafukawa point of view, Ihejirika—a member of a conquered group—stepped out of line by doing his job and leading a fight against the Boko Haram agents of his Hafukawa overlords. An example has to be made of him for all Igbos to see and fall in line and never step out to defend any Ndi-Igbo interest. For their purposes, the more ridiculous the charge the better. Their point is better made: You can be accused of the most ridiculous thing and harassed and punished if you dare go against any Hafukawa interest.

The attack on Ihejirika is simply part of their divide and rule game.  If Ndi-Igbo scatter and abandon the general to fight it alone, they will have made it less likely that any Onye-Igbo will in future dare say or do anything that the Hafukawa might dislike.  Any Onye-Igbo who wants to promote or defend any Ndi-Igbo interest will reflect and “prudently” counsel himself (and be counselled by others): Look what happened to Ihejirika! If this Ndi-Igbo interest that I am stepping out to promote or defend clashes with the Hafukawa interest and they come after me, will Ndi-Igbo protect me from Hafukawa vengeance? And recalling that Ndi-Igbo abandoned the general, he would pull back from working for the Ndi-Igbo interest.

That’s the despicable and spineless behaviour Ndi-Igbo would be encouraging if they shy away from defending the general in this Boko Haram matter.

Which is why I say: even if he himself should take bad advice and treat the charge as patently absurd or a kind of joke, Ndi-Igbo should not. The group has a duty to itself, in its own interest, to step out and fight this charge. Ndi-Igbo, in their group interest need to serve notice that whoever persecutes any Onye-Igbo in the belief that he stands alone and can be killed like a solitary snake, will pay dearly for doing so. If you do, all Ndi-Igbo will come for you. That’s the lesson Ndi-Igbo need to teach their Hafukawa enemies. This crazy accusation is a unique opportunity to teach them that lesson. Ndi-Igbo should not pass up the opportunity.

The lone herds’ boy’s ability to rule the herd and drive the hundred beasts to slaughter rests on the fact that these beasts are cattle-brained and individualists lacking the concept of Igwebuike and the cohesion that flows from it. If they were human-brained and had the cohesion of Igwebuike, instead of cringing individually in fear of being whipped, just a few of those near the whipped beast would mob the herds boy. Wouldn’t a rush of ten cattle trample him to death?

Do Ndi-Igbo wish to be seen as cattle-brained beasts or as intelligent humans who have and practice the concept of Igwebuike? The choice is theirs.

On this understanding of the game being played by the Hafukawa, the ADF is more than correct in stepping forward to defend the general. Its mission of addressing the Igbo Question in Nigeria, of promoting a healing of the Igbo crisis, demands that it do as it is doing. Part of the Ndi-Igbo problem has been that, since their defeat in the civil war, all too many Igbos have found it expedient to serve the anti-Igbo interests of the Hafukawa. That behaviour needs to be curbed, and Ndi-Igbo defending the general, collectively and visibly, is a first step towards curbing it.

CHINWEIZU