Wed, 03 Jan 2024 Feature Article

Urging Tinubu To Revisit The Implementation Of The 3Rs To Appease The Igbo People As January 15 Beckons

Urging Tinubu To Revisit The Implementation Of The 3Rs To Appease The Igbo People As January 15 Beckons

“Do you love the Igbo people?” The foregoing question is without doubt a result-oriented question that can be posed to an Igbophobe (someone who for obscure or unconscious irrational reason (s) has a morbid fear or distrust towards an Igbo) in Nigeria or in the Diaspora to ascertain how far the Igbo people have fared since the end of the civil war in 1970.

The reason for asking the foregoing question cannot be farfetched as the seeming pervasive and deep-seated level of hypocritical love which not a few Nigerians exhibit towards the Igbo people is by each passing day becoming worrisome and suspicious, particularly as it usually elicits Bob Marley’s lyrical line in one of his songs that goes thus: “Some Will Hate You Pretend They Love You Now Then Behind They Try To Eliminate You.”

Given the foregoing no holds barred view, you may go ahead to criticize this writer and calumniate him if you like for saying the truth. After all, there is a quote credited to Bikram Choudhury that says “The toughest thing to accept, swallow, and digest is the truth. When you speak the truth, you lose popularity. But I don't mind. I have found my life's mission: to help people live their lives fully while they still can”.

At this juncture, it is not unexpected that not a few readers may find it difficult to grasp the rationale for expressing this view, particularly as a new year just began few days ago. However, it is expedient to say that there is no better time to express this view than now, particularly as the Federal Government is gearing up and putting logistics in place to celebrate the Army Remembrance Day on January 15 as it is traditionally done by each passing year.

Still in the same nexus, it is germane to further clarify the foregoing view by saying that January 15 is yearly marked as Armed Forces Remembrance Day in Nigeria. It is an annual event to commemorate the nation’s servicemen and fallen heroes. Also, the event, celebrated each year, also honors veterans of World War I and II, as well as the Nigerian Civil War. It is a day set aside for sober reflections on the significance of the armed forces to the country.

In fact, while the Armed Forces Remembrance Day is celebrated on November 11 every year globally, and known as the Armistice Day, commemorating the end of the First World War, but with the formal end of the Nigerian Civil War on January 15, 1970, the date was changed to mark the restoration of Nigeria’s unity.

Ostensibly to attain the restoration of Nigeria’s unity, as necessitated by the end of the Nigerian Civil War, the Federal Government embarked on the policy of the 3Rs which acronymically means, Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation. This was aimed at fixing all the damages occasioned by the civil war, including psychological damages done to the Igbo people, particularly as they were unjustifiably fought against with the instruments of starvation and currency.

Unfortunately, since the policy that is inherent with the 3Rs initiative was made public, nothing has pragmatically and sincerely been done to implement it in favor of the Igbo people, particularly as to literarily calming their nerves, and assuring them that their collective nationality as Nigerians is not been discounted.

At this juncture, it is expedient to ask whoever dares to pooh-pooh the foregoing viewpoints in this context to tell this writer how the entire expanse of Igbo land has been reconstructed since the civil war ended, how the Igbo people that fell victims to the war have been rehabilitated and the entire aggrieved Igbo people have been reconciled with in line with the dictates of the 3Rs policy.

Rather, as not a few political leaders look forward to January 15, 2023 to remember our fallen heroes and civilians whose lives were cut short by lethal ammunitions that went astray, or calculatedly guided by some mischievous soldiers during the Biafran/Nigerian Civil War, it would not be surprise to watch our political leaders on TV on that day as they would predictably resort to hypocritically making promises to the Igbo people, assuring them that Nigeria is one, as they would be heard mouthing the cliché, “We are one Nigeria” amid backslapping and clinking of glasses.

Without resorting to campaign of calumny in this context, permit me to say that that is how it has been since the 3Rs was initiated at the end of the war. There has never been any concrete seriousness or political will to implement it to the letter. Rather, on every January 15, our political leaders would be seen turning the venues where our fallen and maimed soldiers, and civilian victims of the civil war are to be remembered into political jamborees without addressing issues that ought to be addressed. It has been that bad!

In as much as Nigeria is usually mouthed to be one, whereas it is pragmatically not, it is however incumbent on our leaders not to forget the words of Jay Weatherill that says, "You don't get unity by ignoring the questions that have to be faced."

Without doubt, the fact remains that the unity of Nigeria, particularly as it concerns the Igbo people has successively been taken lightly at different political dispensations.

At this juncture, permit me to make reference to an interview which Dr. Chukwuma Ejemba, a close confidant of the IPOB leader and co-founder of Radio Biafra, granted the Online Guardian edition of 21 February 2016, where he unarguably threw insight into how Nigeria’s continuing economic war against Igbo was fueling agitation. When he was asked, “Why exactly do you want a separate Biafra country? and “What is your dissatisfaction with Nigeria as currently constituted?” he partly replied thus:

“This is the million naira question. But it’s a simple one. It’s a combination of reasons and it’s because of the failure of the Nigerian government to implement agreements reached at the end of the Nigerian Civil war in January 1970. The Federal Government declared the three Rs – Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation! But the Federal Government did not implement these three programmes. If you remember the recent statement of former Akwa Ibom governor, Mr. Godswill Akpabio, when he said ‘Reconstruction was not carried out in war-ravaged parts of Biafra but in Lagos,’ which did not experience war.

“You must also remember how the Federal Government used hunger as a war weapon during the war, which was a war crime— the blockade that was used to starve Biafra people to death. Then after the war, FG confiscated money in the bank accounts of Igbo people from eastern Nigeria and only gave them 20 pounds out of all they had! You must remember how hardworking Igbo people are, how they were in every field of human endeavor during the colonial era before independence and how they dominated in the civil service and business. There were billionaires among them. And then you gave them only 20 pounds out of all they had. It did not only destroy people’s lives, it destroyed their economies. It was a great injustice done to them.

“So, the three Rs were not carried out. Then the FG carried out the Indigenization and Nationalization Decree, which was the privatization that nationalized foreign companies and gave them to Nigerian ownership. It enabled Nigerians to buy shares of foreign companies. It happened shortly after the war, and Igbo people did not have money to buy, as it denied us the opportunity to participate in being part owners of nationalized companies in Nigeria”.

Given the fact that the root of the agitations of some Igbo people is yet to be addressed or looked into, I am through this write up to urge Mr. President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to ensure that as January 15 once again beckons that deepening the process of implementing the 3Rs should be of topmost priority as the Igbo people has been patient enough on its implementation since 54 years down the line. The reason for the foregoing view cannot be farfetched as the implementation of the 3Rs is unarguably unsatisfactory.