Thursday, July 20, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Mazi Moses Ochonu:


Moses:

I have opened so many postings includubg your latest posting and replied to them  before opening this since I anticipated what l would find as rejoiner: a bit of bile there.  Really defensive

First, I admit not having as good a grounding as you on the broad topic of reconstruction as it pertains to minorities but trust me my general attitude even though I have argued in favor of recalibrated federation for decades is that whoever wants to go should be let go: you dont come to nationhood with bound hands is becoming a refrain of mine.  But would the Nigerian hegemony let go?

Unbelievable as it may sound Im hearing of Benue included in Kanus Biafra for the first time which is why I sought clarification from a Benue person who might be more familiar with Benue politics than I am.  Of course I have not read you share this Benue position on this forum before. Now we know.

I am for referendum for deterrmining the will of Nigerians just as you and I repeat Im not so far from your position as you may think Its just that I dont put it so passionately as you do.  I have not felt perhaps those experiences that made you put things so forcefully, I can assure you of one fact: I have lived life as minority in the West (just as you) more years than I have lived as a member of a majority group in Nigeria.

I can categorically state that minorities in Nigeria fare better than minorities in the West. Economic dysfunctionalities, yes Nigeria is worse off individually.

Whatever Benue state decides if its individual separatism I'd still need that visa wont I?  For now you are dethroned as as a Maz (mind you there is no harm in adopting it again after individual separatism. After all Aare Abiola took chieftaincy titles from the  East among scores across the nation just as the academic Aare- Falola- is now doing)


Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


-------- Original message --------
From: Moses Ebe Ochonu <meochonu@gmail.com>
Date: 20/07/2017 16:03 (GMT+00:00)
To: USAAfricaDialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Mazi Moses Ochonu:

Boxbe This message is eligible for Automatic Cleanup! (meochonu@gmail.com) Add cleanup rule | More info
With all due respect, Yinka, this is an offensive and condescending question. I expect better from you. Did you actually think that I had not read Kanu's many statements about the geography of his proposed Biafra?  I find it laughable that you opened an entirely new thread to announce this "news" of Kanu's inclusion of Benue in his Biafra to me, a "news" that is several years old and which has been discussed in the Nigerian cyberspace for as long as Radio Biafra and IPOB have been active. You should know that I support Kanu and his supporters' peaceful advocacy of Biafra despite my having known about his Benue and Kogi and South South inclusion in Biafra for years. I disapprove of his rhetoric and antics but he and his supporters have a right to imagine and advocate Biafra. Don't mistake the man and his antics for the struggle, for the agitation.

I have been following Kanu's career from his Radio Biafra days. I even gave a paper on Biafra that focused on him and his youthful followers at a Simon Gikandi-organized conference on memory at Princeton University two years ago, so I am probably more familiar with his utterances and rhetoric than you are. Kanu says a lot of things, most of them plain crazy. The mischievous rhetorical move from people like you, however, is to generalize Kanu to the Igbo, use him as avatar for the Igbo's agitations and aspirations. You'd protest if someone where to advance OPC's Ganiyu Adams as a spokesperson for the Yoruba's political aspirations, but you have no problem doing the equivalent for the Igbo. This is not a joke. Nigeria is cratering before our eyes. Some people, concluding crazy ones like Kanu, are at least articulating alternatives to this doomed status quo and all you can do is to deride and mock their agitations and aspirations?

By the way, why personalize the question about Benue to me? What has this got to do with me or my position on self-determination? This is the kind of majoritarian arrogance and condescension that infuriates minority rights activists. Do I constitute Benue all by myself? Benue is an entire state for crying out loud. I do not and cannot speak for an entire state. The people of Benue, Kogi, and the South South States have stated clearly that they want no part in Biafra.  That too is in the spirit of their own self-determination. Does that mean that they don't support the Igbo's right to self determination, that they are opposed to Biafra? Or that they support the dysfunctional Nigerian status quo? No! 

What about showing some respect and humility and asking the Benue people what they want for themselves, what kind of political configuration they want from one extreme of the spectrum (retaining the status quo) to the other (outright secession)? Some of you want to preempt the process of reimagining and reconstructing the nation in a more equitable, workable paradigm. Unless you have the gift of clairvoyance, you cannot predict how things will shake out in such a process. No one knows for sure what the so-called minorities will do if the process of national reconstruction gets underway, or even how a referendum on Biafra would go. The activists of Quebec and Scotland thought they had independence in the bag, but the vote shocked them. Allow Benue people and other minorities space to consult and come up with their own autonomous positions on what they want. Do not preempt them. DO not try to scare them with the boogeyman of Biafra. Do not assume that anyone outside their zone speaks for them. Even among them, there is at present little unanimity, but if the process of a referendum or the much talked about restructuring starts, you'll start seeing regional and state level meetings to develop positions. That's how democratic consensus building works. It will be entirely up to the Benue, Kogi, or Cross Rivers people to develop their own agenda. Do not worry about them; they will be fine. It is condescending to think that you can see danger for them that they themselves cannot see, or that you know what is best for them.

My commitment to right of self-determination is total, so total that I believe that even if a small village wants to be its own country, it has a right to aspire to that and that that right is protected and sacred. The only thing I say is that appearances can be deceiving, hence the need for a referendum, an internationally recognized democratic and legally binding instrument of determining these questions and gauging the depth of support for separatist and secessionist movements. You don't seem to believe in the right to self-determination and somehow see the current borders of nation-states, including Nigeria's, as settled, fossilized, and final. For you secession and the quest for autonomy and alternative nations is a crime to be severely punished, to be crushed. I do not. We differ here. You can't convince me, and obviously I've failed to convince you.

When Ganiyu Adams and others were shouting all over the place about Oduduwa Republic, did they not include Ilorin and the Itsekiri people of Delta State in their Oduduwa Republic? Was this not immediately rejected by these peoples concerned? How many Ilorin or Itsekiri intellectuals were asked if they wanted to be citizens of Oduduwa Republic? I believe that most reasonable people simply respected the wishes of these peoples without using those wishes to attack the legitimacy of the Oduduwa Republic struggle. I mean no offense but I'm afraid that, despite my painstaking explanations to you, you don't seem to understand that my position is founded on philosophical and moral convictions, not some provincial or primordial considerations. 

The people of Benue will decide what to do for themselves and determine their political future under a liberal constitution that does not criminalize self-determination and referendum. So will the people of Osun and Ondo and Kebbi and Borno and Akwa Ibom and Abia. Instead of critiquing the current tyrannical constitutional order that forces people to remain in a dysfunctional union without giving them an out or the freedom to imagine an alternative arrangement, you're obsessing over what Kanu is doing. Even among the Igbo, is Kanu regarded as a respectable spokesperson? Does Kanu not have many Igbo critics? Have you been listening to the man on Radio Biafra? The man says a lot of stupid things. He does not represent the Biafra struggle; the struggle predated him. He is in fact a usurper of the struggle, hence the conflict between him and MASSOB and between him and the founders of IPOB. He is a rascal that actually undermines the legitimate struggle for Biafra, a rascal that Buhari turned into a hero with his thoughtless, paranoid way of dealing with him, no doubt ruled by his Igbo-phobia. Buhari took him from the fringe of Igbo agitation and made him a receptacle of undeserved sympathy. Today, he is the grassroots face of the struggle but that is Buhari's doing, and that does not mean that you should use his utterances to judge the legitimate struggle of self-determination of the Igbo people. That would be disingenuous and mischievous.

On Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 6:05 PM, Olayinka Agbetuyi <yagbetuyi@hotmail.com> wrote:
Kanu said he wanted a 7 state Biafra including Benue.

Do you support this view?
Are you willing to be a Biafran?



Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

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