Book Chapter review: Why Igbos must stop blaming Zik:
Why Igbos must stop blaming Zik….deconstructing our thought processes
By Dr. Robert Anayo Dikeukwu.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe; Setting the records straight!
Zik, the great Igbo son, the greatest Nigerian ever lived! The man in the ranks of Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela! The champion of Pan- Africanism, the one who showed light to Africa and fought for independence of the black African race!
It is true that some people may say you were not as tribalistic as Awolowo and the rest, and therefore, you did not help the Igbo’s, but they forget that the average Igbo man is by no means tribalistic even till today, therefore they commit the same offense, if not let them leave the North and the West and come back to Igbo land; they forget that before the civil war, Igbo’s were in the most strategic positions in Nigeria by hard work and merit. You showed them light to education especially, the liberal American styled education.
Some believed in the propaganda that you never supported Biafra, not knowing that you wrote the Biafran National anthem; that it was you who convinced President of Tanzania Julius Nyerere to recognize biafra; they did not know you were a roving ambassador to Biafra; they did not know you addressed the United Nations on behalf of Biafra, that the peace plan and cease fire you proposed was rejected by the UN on the advise of evil Britain; but later that ‘Ziks proposal’ which was rejected as unworkable formed the frame work of UN peace keeping force till today;
Chief Obafemi Awolowo
Those people who crticize you do not know that you withdrew your support for Biafra in 1969 not because you did not support the cause of Biafra but because you saw that the war was unwinnable and the longer it was allowed to go on, the more the Igbos especially children and women will die from starvation imposed by Awolowo and Gowon. You advised Our Ikemba, the Peoples General on this, but because of his love for Ndi Igbo, he did not listen to you, he felt that you wanted him to compromise and saw you as a compromiser.
But you compromised to prevent the extermination and annihilation of The Igbos which Awolowo and Gowon wanted so badly. A very wise decision you took to the discerning and the unbiased mind whose only source information was not a non documented propaganda.
Is it not ironical then that those who criticize you cannot point to a single bad thing that you did to Ndi Igbo but will readily point to your numerous achievements for Igbos , Nigeria and Africa? Is it your fault that you were a collossus, a giant of Africa himself who became not only the Father of Igbos, but of Nigeria; of Africa?
Are they then justified who criticize you! NO ! They just do not have enough information. After reading so many books and especially Chinua Achebe’s ‘There was a country and Dr S. Okechukwu Mezu, I have come to the conclusion that you were a great Igbo son who indeed loved the Igbos and that those who criticize you do so probably because they are very likely to have half informations. I salute you Owelle, the first President( ceremonial or not) of the federal Republic of Nigeria. We are proud of You and Proud of Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu and other great Igbo leaders! May your souls rest in peace!…Randie Dikeukwu.
“The real Igbo problem in Nigeria started after the 1966 coup which lead to a counter coup, killing of Igbo officers, a porgrom and finally a civil war”..
I will begin by arguing that before the Nzeogwu coup, Ziks one Nigeria mantra for which he is vilified today benefitted the Igbos.
Igbos were more likely then to benefit from one nigeria than otherwise and than they are in the present contraption- Nigeria as structured and constituted.
Ziks politics then was based on this vision, it worked and advanced the Igbos who because of their bold spirit and competitiveness excelled in almost all fields to the envy of others and therefore endangering the Igbos.
Zik did not play tribal politics and yet those wicked brutal people had a cause to kill igbos who were spread every where, then imagine if Zik had played tribal politics….from the outset, it would have been worse.
The Igbo problem started after Nzeogwu’s coup mainly and the civil war and for both, Zik had no hand in any. Infact he was to be executed alongside the others had he been around and had the coup succeeded. Lately, it has been widely and evidently proven that the coup was not an Igbo coup and even some school of thought had it that it was the Yoruba ethnic group that killed Tafawa Balewa and that the Major aim of that coup was to install Awolowo-a Yoruba man as president.
This therefore means that hatred purely driven by the competitive spirit and successes of the Igbos in then Nigeria was fully rife and people of the North and the west were merely waiting for an opportunity to carry out a well ochestrated act of genocide on the Igbos; by first hyping the coup via the vibrant Yoruba press as Igbo coup which triggered the porggrom which was the first in the series of a systematic elimination of the Igbos( Genocide)
You can see the invisible hand of Yoruba’s and Awolowo also in this coup that was dangerously and misleadingly dubbed Igbo coup just to create the opportunity to carry out a well thought plan of extermination of a people whose hard work, boldness and competitive spirit had come to be a threat to the tribes. The over reaching effects of the porgrom was a snowballing into a cataclysmic civil war, another inhuman war and another opportunity for a systematic elimination( genocide) of the Igbos through a well orchestrated plan by mainly Gowon and Awolowo.
This was the beginning of the Igbo problems in Nigeria…Again, it is not about Zik.
Zik was committed to the cause of Biafra and preferred negotiating Biafra out of Nigeria rather than war, but still went on to support the war as Biafras roving ambassador. Read Dr Okechukwu’s ‘Ziks one Nigeria; Ojukwu’s Biafra! He supported Biafra till 6 months to the end of the war when he saw that the war was unwinnable and continuing the war at any rate will achieve nothing other than the extermination of the Igbo race as the killings of children and women would have continued unabated mainly through the food blockade effected by Gowon and Awolowo. His advise to negotiate for a peaceful cease fire was bluntly rejected. He felt that withdrawing his support will be one of the ways to bring the war to a quick end and thereby preventing the ambitious agenda of Gowon and Awolowo in completely exterminating the Igbo’s (a vey wise decision if you ask me) and again check Adekunles widely publicized genocidal statement of “I dont want to see no red cross, no caritas, no pope, we will shoot at everythin that moves until the Igbos are wiped out”
After Ziks advise was rejected and his subsequent withdrawal, a high degree of war propaganda was instigated against him and most information we have about Ziks role in Civil war was from the information bank of the propanganda network and not mainly the truth.
I once believed and so are many people who are not adequately informed about the war like I use to be, that Zik never supported Biafra and was all the way with the federal vandals and was therefore a ‘SABOTEUR’ as we were made to understand until I started interrogating history and sieving the truth from the chaff;
Prof. Chinua Achebe
And most recently, Chinua Achebe, a most honest man, outlined Ziks role for Biafra during the war, his efforts as Biafras roving Ambassador, his world class presentation of the Biafras case to the United Nations, how he shed tears and embarrasingly cried and convinced Julius Nyerere of Tanzania to be the first country to accord Biafra international recognition. Most of these facts we did not know before and I am sure most people who do not interrogate history still do not know these facts and still believe in the war propaganda picture of Zik as a saboteur. Very unfortunate!
He was of the view that though Gowon relegated on Aburi, that Aburi could have been re- worked or re-negotiated. Infact the failure of Aburi if properly managed would have launched the Biafra into the eyes of the international community and draw the much needed international sympathy to the cause of Biafra before anything else.
On one Nigeria and not being tribal:
Those who condemn zik for his one nigeria stand then, would likely spit on the face of Nelson Mandela for canvassing one South Africa and for not chasing the brutal whites away or even killing them..otherwise it will be lack of intellectual appreciation or outright hypocrisy
Those who disparage Zik for not being a wicked tribalist like Awolowo will quickly turn around today to condemn racism and apartheid..another lack of intellectual depth and gleeful hypocrisy.
Biafran SoldiersHave you imagined what Nigeria would have become if Awolowo and Sarduana were humane and intelligent enough to play like Zik! Nigeria would have become the real giant of Africa and one of the super powers of the world. The problem of Nigeria wapredicated on tribalism, ethnicity and nepotism- basic philosophies of Awolowo.
Or are we upholding tribalism just because the civil war gave Awolowo the opportunity to trample on the Igbos and confiscate their financial interest and endowment to advance the cause of Yoruba? Was it a fair practice? Is that not wickedness, is that not akin to barbarism and yet the same Igbos who have been so debased, so deprived, depraved and insulted by a concocted and wicked mind will turn around and APPLAUD AWOLOWO in public and shoot themselves in the leg by insulting their own son ZIK thinking they are displaying intellectual forthrightness not knowing they are making themselves a laughing stock and generally lowering themselves as a people.
It is good for Yoruba’s to worship Awolowo, yes, it is said that Awolowo advanced the cause of yorubas but how did he do that? Was he open to competition? Did he not use approach similar to racism and apartheid to achieve this? Did we applaud Piet Botha of the South Africa for the achievements he brought to his white people by stiffling the blacks? Or we applaud the evils of racism and white discrimination?
Why are we such a huge hypocrite?
1914 amalgamation was not Zik that made it possible, infact he was 10 years old then..and you still accuse him of one Nigeria. Did he amalgamate north and south. What were those famous Igbos of your dream doing then? Why did they accept the amalgamation? Why are you not seeing beyond Zik and criticize those before leaders…?.. Another display of intellectual shallowness and and an arbitrary hastiness in the interrogation of history.
What was the Igbo condition in that amalgamation when Zik returned from America and single handedly started fighting for independence and liberation of Africa?
I guess if Igbos were not comfortable and benefitting from one nigeria, Zik would have opted to fight for “Igbo independence” rather but because the Igbos were blossoming in that arrangement then, it was highly neccessary to keep the union and first liberate it from the shackles of the British.
That Igbos were highly successful in the said Nigeria drew the ire of the other tribes who were not as competitive and as progressive as Igbos and that comes Awolowo with his ethnically charged policies and politics, the infamous carpet crossing which sowed the seed of tribal politics in Nigeria? And is it not tribalism and ethnic politics what has held Nigeria down and prevented her from reaching her heights, including the dwarfing of the progress of the enclave of ethnic champions especially in Sarduan’s Northern Nigeria!
And was it not because of this, the perceived domination of Igbos that led to the porgrom and that led to the wicked machinations of Awolowo to starve Igbos to death and further impoverished the ones alive by giving them 20 pounds to survive while at the same time selling the idea of indigenization through. ( Read Chinua Achebe’s; There was a country)
Must Awolowo use all these crude means to further the cause of Yoruba’s? What level of injustice do you say this is and YET a deprived and depraved Igbo will have the unsual effrontry to applaud Awolowo? Are we not all racist then who applaud a tribalist? What is the difference? Substitute colour of skin with tribe and ethnicity, it is equal ..and you still blame Zik when you also claim that you can not afford to be racist and very quick to condemn apartheid and white discrimination?
What is the difference between colour based discrimination and tribe based dicrimination?
The later can be so bizzare that it can lead to genocide especially in uncivilised, racially charged Africa..cf: Tutsi’s and the Hutsi’s- the Rwandan genocide. Was it not the same that led to the genocide against the Igbos? And you praise its champions for that? So in your view, it is applaudable when evil thrives over good just because it did not benefit you?
Tribalism pushed with the wicked intentions to progress ones people at the the calculated detriment of others, committing wicked and unethical acts, and even systematically trying to eliminate others for your people to progress is worse than racism, condemnable and outrightly unjustifiable. That was Awolowo’s contribution to nation building
I respect Chinua Achebe, that candid Igbo man, that Lion of Igbo land for indellibly placing Awolowo to where he should belong in history- a genocidist and for having the courage and effrontery to expose what Awolowo represented. He never applauded Awolowo because he was a man of wisdom who had a high intellectual depth and comprehensively understood the wicked machinations and anthics of Awolowo..
A true and discerning Igbo should see and speak of Awolowo through the same prism and not to praise him. Leave the praising to the Yorubas who were the beneficiaries of the genocide and Igbo deprivation by Awolowo.
Do not get me wrong, I believe that there is nothing wrong in championing the cause of a people, there is nothing wrong in advancing the cause of a people, but there is everything wrong in opportunistically suppressing a people using unethical and unfair practices; There is everything wrong in taking advantage, in frustrating in a most unethical way and brutally killing other people just to further the cause of your people. Awolowo contradicted and contravened these very basic principles and rules of engagements. There is everything wrong with the way he sought to advance his people. I am not envious of him!
Was it not Ikemba Ojukwu who in the spirit of fairness released Awolowo from prison on certain terms and conditions and did Awolowo not betray him and turned around to be more wicked than Gowon? It then means that even Ojukwu with all his wisdom was not immune to Awolowo’s treachery, uncivility, deceit and wickedness..why blame Azikiwe.
The truth is, Igbos are a rare specie in Nigeria, they do not have the wickedness of these other tribes in them, they robust, dring, competitive, innovative and die hards. they are physically and spiritually fit and even a thousand Awolowos or a million of Sarduanas cannot stop them. And we still operate on the same level till today.
But at end, good usually prevails and triumphs over evil!
So blame not Azikiwe.
On unitary system of Government against Ziks regional Government.
It was Aguiyi Ironsi, not Zik that advocated and made it possible for a unitary system of Govt for which he was killed.
Ziks Nigeria was based on regionalism which encouraged competition not this present day contraption.
How could one insult zik and applaud awolowo? then applaud mandela and disparage the whites or cast aspersion on racism..unfortunately very hypocritical
You cannot condemn a good man because bad people turned events around.
I keep wondering what would have been the fate of Nigeria if Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello were to play like Zik. The blame I think should be the other way round. Yorubas would have benefitted more and also igbo and hausa. To eulogise Awolowo by tribes other than the direct beneficiaries of his tribal vindictiveness is fraud.
The problems of nigeria today are caused by the tribal framework laid by awolowo and sarduana with the active supoort of colonial masters who found sarduana as a willing tool.
About the Author:
Dr. Robert Anayo Dikeukwu:Dr Robert Anayo Dikeukwu is a medical consultant and specialist Family Physician with honours from Univerisity of Wits where he obtained a post graduate masters of medicine degree.
He is the President and leader of African Catholic Community in Robertsham Johannesburg South Africa
He is also the Chief mission strategist and leader of ‘Imo Medical Mission’- a group of health care professionals and a network of medical doctors both at home and diaspora dedicated to providing free and quality health care services to poor people in the rural areas of Imo state.
Dr Dikeukwu is also the founder and Executive Director of ‘Project Mobilize Nigeria’- a mass mobilization and advocacy group dedicated to promoting good governance in Nigeria.
He received the Statesman Award from Imo State Government for leadership and community development in 2012.
He is a professional and academician per excellence with his works published in international medical/scientific magazines.
He graduated ‘Cum Laude’ (graduating with distinction) from the prestigious University of Witwatersrand and was one of the best graduating post-graduate students of same university and was subsequently inducted as a life member of Golden Key International Honours Society!
He is currently enrolled for Ph.D in public health.