And the book was opened, and the name of Southeast was not there. Then I returned to the map of Nigeria to know if it still has southeast as part of its territory. Lo and behold, it is still part of Nigeria. So what happened, why will the Southeast not share from this 22.7 billion dollar cake of development? Oh, maybe the southeast has suddenly become a developed region and putting down money for more development may be an overkill. Then I asked my friends in the region if the federal highways in the region are as smooth as that of Singapore or as wide as those in England and Canada. I enquired from them if the River Niger is dredged for ships to dock in Onitsha, I enquired if people now board train from Aba to Abuja, from Enugu to Lagos, and all the answers I got was in the negative.
Southeast is the region that has cried about marginalization since the civil war. Over fifty years after the civil war, the ghost of rejection still hovers round the region. This ghost has constantly been fed by many administrations in the past, but it seems like the Buhari administration has taken it to an alarming ‘next level’. While the people of the Southeast perceived many past administration, especially the military, as beating them with whips, they perceive the Buhari administration as beating them with scorpion. While the ‘Buharists’ sweat blood to debunk this narrative and perceptions, the Buhari government tend to get neck-deep into building of more walls of hardship round the people of the southeast.
The Buhari government has taken these injustices to an excruciating ‘next level’ since assumption of office in 2015. Recall when the president made the infamous 5% and 97% votes assertion ,he was emphatic about it, and has since seemed to be firm and steadfast in this pseudo-democratic and myopic policy. I am compelled to assume that the unwavering implementation of this 5/97% policy may have jolted the former head of state Gen. Gowon into his recent admission of this ageless truth of the marginalization of the people of the Southeast. In his words “I believe a lot of injustice has been done to the Igbos and a constitutional debate on restructuring must address all imbalances and restore hope and confidence”.
Now that Gen. Gowon who led the civil war against Ndigbo has found some grains of morality to condemn the unjust treatment the southeast people have received since the civil war, it is, therefore, incumbent on all lovers of justice and all friends of equity to rise against this zero allocation to the southeast from the 22.7 billion dollar loan. I consider it devilish that a government that swore to treat Nigerians equally and fairly will consistently and deliberately be severing off a part of the country from developments, appointments and opportunities. As it stands, no southeasterner partakes in the making of top security decision of a country they are part of. They are probably viewed as not being trustworthy to head any national security outfit or an arm of government.
A lot of questions have laden my mind as my heart grieves over this glaring oppression.
Will the southeast be part of the loan repayment? It will amount to grave injustice, a national transgression and an express rape of the southeast for Buhari administration to exclude the southeast from the development that the loan will bring, only to include them in the liquidation of the loan. So, why is this conspiracy of silence by people who should speak up against this injustice? Why are Igbo elites not asking questions? Is there a drought of men and women of moral rectitude in other regions of the country? This silence is not golden, it is deafening.
Will a man’s hair be shaved in his absence, I ask? Where are the members of the National Assembly from the southeast, where were they when this cruelty was meted to their people? Time is ticking; the people of the southeast are taking records of the stand of every national Assembly member from the region during the hatch of this malignity. In 2023, the lines of political parties will be blurred and individual contribution to the cause of Ndigbo will be considered.
Ebube Umeh is a political analyst and social critic