Tunde Fagbenle: The Igbos should take it easy

by Tunde Fagbenle

An article by Mr. Joe Igbokwe, the publicity secretary of the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress published some days ago was a pleasure to read; and not perverse pleasure if I may say, but one of kindred spirit – the pleasure of knowing that someone else shared the same concern.

Titled, “Open Letter To Ndigbo”, Joe, himself an Igbo (though his detractors may label him a “Lagosian-Igbo”) wrote to chastise his fellow Igbo on an ugly trend he perceives of them that is taking the turn of habit. Call it the ethnic-chauvinism bogey, it is the blind, hasty, and needless defence of any Igbo accused of any misdeed, especially of the criminal kind; once such a person is Igbo or of Igbo extraction the trend is for these Igbo-zealots to jump at his/her defence and cry havoc — the accused is being persecuted for being Igbo!

The two immediate instances Joe Igbokwe cited are that of former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, sacked for allegations of impropriety, and the more recent one of Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, former Chief of Army Staff who shockingly was fingered by the Australian Boko Haram negotiator, Stephen Davis, as a “sponsor” of Boko Haram.

And now with Ihejirika, they are back at it again, proclaiming he has been mentioned (by Davis — an oyinbo!) as a Boko Haram “sponsor” because the retired general is Igbo, and to get at President Goodluck Jonathan.


In the case of the former, the bogey took bizarre and ridiculous turn with several Igbo unions, elders and obis (yes, the “new Igbo” has jettisoned the old “republican” tag for the fancy obiship, jo) undertaking protest marches in Abuja and Igboland with placards insisting that their “daughter” was being accused of mismanagement of funds because she was Igbo and she should be left alone!

And now with Ihejirika, they are back at it again, proclaiming he has been mentioned (by Davis — an oyinbo!) as a Boko Haram “sponsor” because the retired general is Igbo, and to get at President Goodluck Jonathan.

Igbokwe went ahead to ask his fellow Igbo: “Do we know how other Nigerians rate us in this predictable primitive defence? Do we consider the feelings of other Nigerians? Don’t we have men and women who will say enough is enough in this madness of defending the indefensible?” He then went ahead to list cases involving office holders of other ethnic stock (Prof. Nike Grange, Tafa Balogun, Patricia Etteh, Ali Modu Sheriff – and, if I may add, Chief Bode George, and pension scam’s Abdulrasheed Maina) who had been implicated or accused of wrongful acts without their ethnic folks rising to put an ethnic label to the accusations.

To be sure, every section and ethnic group in this country is quick to deploy the “ethnic card” for its selfish interests. But rising up each time to deploy it to protect one’s kind facing criminal charges is getting peculiar of certain sections.

Had that piece by Joe Igbokwe been written by anyone other than an Igbo, the common charge of Igbo-hater would by now have rent the air. Indeed, even for Igbokwe he realised he risked “being called names,” and what he called a familiar accusation of being “anti-Igbo.”

The “ethnic card” appeal is a common tool oft deployed for political and fraudulent advantages in this warped country of ours. Checkmating the syndrome calls for what my brother, Okey Ndibe, whose lone Igbo voice roared against the trend in Oduah’s case, demands: the urgent need “for the emergence of a cross-ethnic coalition of enlightened citizens…courageous enough to reject the invocation of ethnicity in defence of nonsense.”

And that’s saying it the way it is!


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Comments (6)

  1. Why do the Jews in America and all over the world always rally round to protect the interest of the Jewish state of Israel? Why do the blacks in US always speak or act in defence of Obama Presidency? Why do blacks in US always go on sometimes violent protest rightly or wrongly each time a black man is maltreated? It is for the same reason that Igbos always rally in defence of their own. Since the end of the civil war, successive Governments have treated Igbo land as a conquered territory. It is like there is an unwritten policy to marginalise them economically and politically. The absence of economic, industrial establishments and lack of infastructure, a deliberate policy by successive central govt. turned Igbo in to economic migrants in Nigeria. Till today there are certain positions which are denied Igbos not because of lack of competence but simply because they are Igbos. All these create the “we” feeling seen today among the Igbos. Until our country Nigeria assuages these feelings the Igbos will continue will continue to rightly or wrongly rally in defence of their own. For those Igbos who may wish to please their masters or hosts by denying their Igbo identity, i refer them to what happened to the Jews who denied their Jewish identity in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. To them i say “agaracha” must return.

  2. If Davis did not prove his accusations on Ihejirika and Sherif, both know what to do to clear their names .

  3. You are right Sir. The authorities that gave them those assignments knew that they are Igbo and gave them the assignments. But if they are accused of any official mismanagement. We will start shouting victimization ever before the investigation. If other ethnic groups can be removed and investigated, why can’t we be investigated?. Let us set our minds straight and free. Ihejirika was not accused because he is an Igbo man. Davis is yet to show any single proof of his accusation and until them, its only good for the weak minds to believe his accusations on Ohe

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