Opinion Politics

IAADHR Issues Statement on Alleged Marginalization of Igbos in Nigeria

This press conference is meant to disabuse the minds of Nigerians to the claim that Ibos are marginalized in Nigeria. On the contrary, the Ibos are not marginalized despite being responsible for the coup d’état that occurred in 1966 which in turn led to the overthrow of the first democratically elected civilian government in Nigeria and the attendant introduction of instability and authoritarianism into our system which in turn has led to genocide and killings of eminent and innocent Nigerians.

A BRIEF CHRONOLOGY OF THE FIRST CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT IN NIGERIA AND FUNDING OF NIGERIA ARMY

The history of Nigeria can be traced to settlers trading across the Middle East and Africa as early as 1100 BC. Numerous ancient African civilizations settled in the region that is known today as Nigeria, From the 15th century, European slave traders arrived in the region to purchase enslaved Africans as part of the Atlantic slave trade, which started in the region of modern-day Nigeria.

The first Nigerian port used by European slave traders was Badagry, a coastal harbor Local merchants provided them with slaves, escalating conflicts among the ethnic groups in the region and disrupting older trade patterns through the Trans-Saharan route.

The history of the Nigerian Army dates to 1863, when Lt Glover of the Royal Navy selected 18 indigenes from the Northern part of the country and organized them into a local force, known as the “Glover Hausas”. The small force was used by Glover as governor of Lagos to mount punitive expedition in the Lagos hinterland also to protect British trade routes in Lagos. In 1865, the “Glover Hausa” became a regular force with the name “Hausa Constabulary”, while performing both police and military duties for the Lagos colonial government. It later became “Lagos Constabulary” and by incorporation into the West Africa Frontier Force (WAFF) in 1901, it became “Lagos Battalion”.

In addition to this force, the British Government included the Royal Niger Company (RNC), Constabulary Force in Northern Nigeria in 1886 and in 1889; Lord Fredrick Lugard had formed the incipient body of what was to be known in 1890, as the West Africa Frontier Force, (WAFF), in Jebba, Northern Nigeria.

The new unit expanded by absorbing the Northern Nigeria-based elements of the Royal Niger Company (RNC) Constabulary. By the end of 1901, it had incorporated all paramilitary units in the other British dependencies into its command, thus fully meriting its designation “WAFF”. The establishment of West Africa Frontier Force (WAFF) led to the merger of all units into regiment in each of the dependencies.
 
These mergers in Nigeria produced the Northern Nigerian Regiment and Southern Nigerian Regiment. The First commanders of the Southern Regiments of WAFF were Lt CHP Carter (1899-1901) and Col J Wilcox (1900-1909) respectively. The two regiments were later used for expeditions during the annexation of Nigeria by Lord Lugard between 1901 and 1903

Lagos was occupied by British forces in 1851 and formally annexed by Britain in the year 1865 and Nigeria became a British protectorate in 1901. The period of British rule lasted until 1960, when an independence movement led to the country being granted independence and Nigeria became a republic in 1963.

The ‘broad-based’ national government was form and led by the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, prime minister and the regional premiers of the Northern and Western Regions, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello and president of the country, CHIEF BENJAMIN NNAMDI AZIKIWE and others, which was installed after the federal elections held from December 1964 to March 1965, to lay down and formulate internal democratic systems in Nigeria.

The first time the military in Nigeria will overthrow a civilian government in Nigeria was during the coup d’état of 15th and 16th January,1966.

This coup was led by a group of middle-rank officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces, and it effectively ended the ‘broad-based’ legal national government led by the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) the government of the country in upheaval, inadvertently putting Nigeria’s nascent democracy on hold and create authoritarianism of instability and violence into our democratic systems in Nigeria till date .
 
The leaders of the coup d’état were Nigerian soldiers led by Major Cbukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Major Emmanuel Ifesjuna who assassinated. people including the Prime Minister of Nigeria, many senior politicians, many senior Army officers (including their wives), who are majorly of igbo officers including army officers of Colonel E.K. Kotoka, Major A. A. Afrifa, Lieutenant General (retired) J. A. Ankrah, and Police Inspector General J.W.K. Harley, justified their takeover by charging that the CPP administration was abusive and corrupt, and moral of military, which has being the government slogan till date in Nigeria.

THE ISSUE ON ALLEGED MAGINALIZATION

The question we should be asking ourselves is how the people that orchestrated military incursion into our democratic systems in the first republic of 1963 and abuse our legal democratic system of governance in Nigeria, can now be saying that they are marginalized in a democratic system they willingly dethroned and set the country on fire with authoritarianism systems of government that create instability into our democratic systems of governance and increase disunity among ethnicity Nigerians that make Nigeria not to have internal democratic systems of government.
 
Although African countries have gained independence for quite some times now, however, we are yet to be convinced that our mental decolonization have taken place. If this have been achieved, our people would have been in position to resolve a myriad of problem facing us as Africans (in the words of Former President of Chad, François Tombalbaye)

Thus the internal struggle for power influence and position that permeated African countries right from independence for which Nigeria was not an exception have led us all to the sorry state we’ve found ourselves.

I submit that if the democratically elected government was not overthrown illegally in 1966, perhaps Nigerian democracy would have been deepened and the benefits derivable would have been so immense such that every tribe that made up this wonderful country would have benefited.
 
This position would avail us more than the call for sympathy by the (Igbos) and some authoritarianism elite of misleaders who are the beneficiaries of authoritarianism systems of government in Nigeria and whose actions back then in 15th and 16th January 1966 coup d’état, was the foundation for what we are all experiencing now, snuffing life out of ordinary Nigerians citizens.

God bless Nigeria
 
This piece was researched and put together by President, International Association for Advancement and Defense of Human Rights (IAADHR), Comrade Bature Johnson.

_info@iaadhr.org, or johnsonbature.company@yahoo.com

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