Ndigbo: The Inconveniences of Liberty

Dr Paul Okoye


Liberty is the freedom to live according to one’s desire, way and convictions about life and the right to self-determination. The law comes in to the extent that this ‘your’ Liberty does not impede or constrain others’ right to freedom. In line with this argument, the enlightenment thinkers like Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau reasoned that law governed both heavenly and human affairs, and that law gave the king his powers and not vice versa. A state without it, evidently resorts to anarchy.

Karl Marx had also argued that “it is, therefore, in its substance, a right of inequality as in all rights”. Suffice it to say that liberty exists in the mind of the individual. The basis of this argument and negative freedom gave birth to the reflection of today.

It is negative freedom that gave birth to someone proclaiming that ‘me and you’are under his control in his imaginary non-existent new Nation of Biafra. If you are asking Nigeria for referendum to create your own state, common sense demands that you should start with referendum among Igbos to accept your envisaged new state. British created Nigeria without the consent of Nigerians and now, you want to create your state without the consent of the Igbos. Isn’t that ridiculous? The kettle calling the pot black.

Is the Igbo Nation still free or have we given in to negative freedom? Have we lost our sense of reasoning? It is a consolidated maxim that humans have a VERY poor retentive memory. Have we forgotten so easily the lessons of the war?

Are we trying to start what we cannot finish? Have we forgotten that war is an ill-wind that blows no one any good? Did our fathers not teach us that no problem had ever been resolved through war? Is there not a parable that says ‘anusia ogu achoba ife selu okwu’?

Those beating this drum of war should know that war has daring and disastrous consequences. The examples of Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia and even Cameroon are living examples. There is no doubt that times are hard but the consideration to make is, what is the best alternative (in view of the all the available options) in the present state of dilemma. That is the basic principle of strategic study. ‘The Art of War’ written by Chinese General, Sun Tzu taught us that the best way to win is to win without shooting a single bullet. The war today is of the brain. Holy scripture says that, “the weapons of our warfare is not canal”.

Leaders must be visionary. I have heard people say that it was the uneducated that cued into the charade, but today the educated elites have joined. I tell you this day that there is a GREAT difference between wisdom and intelligence. Intelligence could be imparted but wisdom, no. Wisdom is visionary but intelligent is not. Intelligence applies knowledge but wisdom is knowledge ad infinitum. Big brother, Bob Marley had said that you have universities and college certifications do not mean that you are educated.

I want to say without mincing words that a repeat of an unproductive war as the Biafran War or a guerrilla warfare will definitely turn the Igbo Nation like most northern cities with the consequent insecurity that will scare away the remaining investors. One of the greatest drivers of poverty is insecurity.  Let it be known that it might be easy to arm civilians but disarming them have always proved impossible. It happened in Sudan, Liberia, Iraq and the rest. Even the crisis and succeeding criminal activities of the war between Umuleri and Aguleri is still very fresh in our memory. If the, Eastern Security Network, ESN were for fighting herdsmen, they should be in the bush and will merit my support. Everywhere on earth, there are dare consequences for killing security officers. It is a military principle to instill supremacy by any means necessary. We saw Obasanjo wipe away the Odi village and Zaki Biam, so it’s not an issue of Buhari or Fulani as many will soon insinuate. We witnessed the rampage at Orlu, yesterday military men were slaughtered at Nteje, Awkuzu and Aguleri Junction. In all these, the lives of innocent young Igbos will be wasted.

During the Biafran War the battle field was Igbo land and Igbo Nation was devastated beyond measure. Even Edo State did not feel the effect of the war not to talk of Lagos or the North. I had also argued during the EndSARS protest that you don’t destroy the South on the excuse that the North is marginalizing the South. Go destroy the North and you will merit my support. We cannot afford another battle ground in the South East; no more shedding of innocent blood.

I was taught at school never to embark on a revolution except when I am sure that the outcome is going to be better than the former situation. We can no longer afford to wait and watch the Igbo Nation drift to a point of no return. History will not exonerate us of a willful sin of omission.

The time to act is now. If not us, who would? If not now, when? Let’s be bold for the mantle to deliver the Igbo Nation has fallen on all of us. He shall see us through. I love you all.

* Dr. Paul Okoye is the President General of Ndigbo Royal Heritage Worldwide, NIROH and the author of ‘Memoirs of the Untold Persecution (The Crime Napolitano Committed)’, How Safe is Our Investment (Rethinking a Pathway for a Dynamic Economic Environment), The Fall of the Giant and Only One God, Others Are Ministers.