– By Aloy Ejimakor –
Dear Mr Mefor:
Let me begin by conceding that your Letter was vintage and eloquent to boot. Yet, there are a few off-targets, and they are kernel.
First, Dim Ojukwu didn’t press for Referendum, NOT because it was not in the Constitution but because there was NO longer a Constitution in 1967; and Biafrans were embroiled in trying to stave off a genocide.
Gowon and his unconstitutional and sectional junta governed by harsh and half-baked military decrees, the most significant of which arbitrarily abolished the regional autonomy upon which a truly federal Nigeria was founded. Some eminent historians called it a tripod; and one of the three planks – the Igbo was being decimated.
Second, it’s fallacious to postulate that one could’ve asked for a Referendum within the autocratic framework of a military administration that was manifestly dubious on organizing elections.
So, in that Gowon era, Aburi was the next best thing for a tribally troubled Nigeria to return to some regional arrangement but that one too got nipped in the bud, even as it sprang from a foreign-backed ‘Referendum’ of sorts – of Nigeria’s military leaders meeting in Ghana.
Third, even as Referendum was not in the Nigerian Constitution of 1963, it was something akin to it (a plebiscite) that led to excision (or secession, if you will) of Midwestern Nigeria from Western Nigeria, and heavens didn’t fall. Blaming Zik for opposing Referendum in 1959 smacks of Stockholm syndrome and seems to pamper those that shouted ‘Araba’ first, but then turned around to commit genocide for the cause of a dubious ‘unity’.
Fourth, it does NOT lie with the Igbo elite but with the presumptive beneficiary of the Igbo vote (i.e Mr Atiku) to directly approach Nnamdi Kanu and offer him concessions for calling off the boycott. Who knows, but Kanu would have agreed to the ‘irreducible minimum’ you alluded to, and pivot on it as a stop-gap ‘deal’ to test Atiku’s sincerity. Yet, that didn’t happen. And that’s supposed to be one of the main issues you should’ve addressed.
Fifth, this masterpiece of yours should’ve been more effective and sincere if it was directed privately to Nnamdi Kanu or through your younger brother (and his Deputy), Uche Mefor. Being close to these two people and then making this piece public suggests some sort of a ‘public disclaimer’, such that has been the disgraceful conduct of Igbo elites since Kanu called for a boycott.
I must tell you that this is the sort of serial miscalculation that further alienates the Igbo elite from the Igbo underclass and middle-class which are undoubtedly the prime victims of what is becoming an open and notorious subjugation of Igbos in Nigeria of this era.
It’s no magic therefore that Kanu, more than any other Igbo, still commands the messianic respect of millions of Ndigbo and the attention (even hostile) of those that are determined to hold the Igbo down.
So, Mr. Law Mefor … the material issue is not the efficacy of the boycott but whether those who have acknowledged its potential electoral impacts have taken any steps to address the weighty issues that compelled Kanu/IPOB to resort to such drastic measure.