Too often in socio-political conversations, claims of the Igbo man’s disunity is held as a badgering totem to rationalize the ‘how and why’ of the entire tribe receiving the short end of the political stick in the chequered history of this country. From suffering through the civil war pogrom to targeted discrimination in the eco-political and federal setup of Nigeria which has stemmed and fed a visibly growing dissatisfaction with the idea of Nigeria in the Land of the Rising Sun. The Igbos have been fingered as the victims of their own lack of cohesion as a single bargaining force in the acquisition and application of power to the benefit of their people- a popular opinion which, however, was only last week dispatched by the show of communal and tribal loyalty to one of their own, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu who has been in the swirling storm of President Buhari’s government’s spite and apprehension.
Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, the Most Supreme Leader of the rudely proscribed self-determination group IPOB, has been a reluctant guest of the DSS and his controversies and battles courted the attention and compassion of some of the most senior and respected elders of his tribe who rallied before Mr. President to make representations on his behalf to seek an amicable resolution of the trial of one they describe as ‘our son’. The visit which was led by a First Republican Parliamentarian and Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, underscores the calculated compassion of the Igbos to one of their own even at the risk of opprobrium and scorn in federal circles. They could truly be no better show of tribal love, unity and commitment which puts paid to insinuations of Igbo disunity.
As a Yoruba man, the irony isn’t lost on me. As opposed to the wrongfully held conclusions on Igbo unity, the Yoruba ethnic group are touted as one bound by a rich cultural heritage that has forged a communal bond that eschews strife and neglect of selves and fellow tribesmen. While the first part is indisputably true, the latter part which envinces a claim of unity has been tested and found wanting in the regrettable contrivances of the federal government against a proud son of the land which has gone without strong comments or purposeful action by the leaders of Yoruba Land. I speak with no hesitation about Chief Sunday Igboho whose ordeal parallels that of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu in original intent, blackmail and oppression by the powers that be. Unlike the latter whose kinsmen and kiths have rallied around in an unequivocal display of affection and compassion, Chief Sunday Igboho and his associates continue to be hounded like orphans without roots and bearing.
With all due respect to the elders and leaders of the Yoruba tribe and without an iota of spite, the Yoruba Leaders have failed Chief Sunday Igboho and his aides. Those on whom the Yorubas have pled fealty as Leaders, Kings, Kingmakers and Bearers of the Authority of the Tribe have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the sufferings and agony of Chief Sunday Igboho whose seeming offence is seeking a better lot for his people. While there may be hesitation with his audacity, vigour, personality, there is no questioning the integrity of his intentions.
Therefore, and as a matter of urgency, Yoruba Leaders must urgently borrow a leaf from Igbo Leaders by approaching President Buhari to secure the liberty of Chief Sunday Igboho and that of all his associates from the contrived charges against them. The hounding of Chief Sunday Igboho and his aides is a needless discrimination with political undertones that serves no true unifying purpose for the Yorubas or Nigeria as a whole. In fact, at a time when disaffection with the status quo has led on to tears in the fabric of our unity, it would be self-defeating of the Buhari-led government to reply legitimate queries of the state of the nation with antagonism and badly hidden spite.
This is a defining moment not just in the history of Nigeria but in that of the yorubas, too. The Igbo Leaders have shown the world how it is done for a lack of precedent, the Yorubas must now go and learn from the east. I mean prominent Yoruba sons and daughters with a voice and a platform, I refer further to religious, cultural and political leaders who have the ears of Mr. President and on whom is vested the trust and expectations of Leadership. It is a time for action and not banter, words of reconciliation and not finger pointing. It is, indeed, a time for communal pride and ancestry to overwhelm the differences that have driven a wedge amongst our people.
Pelumi Olajengbesi is a Legal Practitioner and the Managing Partner at Law Corridor.