I begin this piece by acknowledging the indisputable fact that Nigeria, the whole, has failed its different parts. The job of fixing Nigeria is clearly a long and possibly an improbable task. In the absence of hope in the whole, one expects the parts to assume the personal responsibility of fixing themselves. But no, the parts are also in disarray.
The usual argument has always been that the whole is meddling in the affairs of the parts. It is often followed with a barrage of excuses as to why the parts cannot be cleansed when the whole is in decay. This line of reasoning condemns the parts to perpetual damnation if the whole never mends or ever melts. What is more likely is that when the parts exert themselves on the path of self-purification, the failed whole will be too embarrassed to negatively intervene.
Chris Uba and his likes are clearly beloved by Abuja. In their acts, Abuja is well pleased. But Chris Uba and his likes are not children of Abuja. Like them or hate them, they are still children of Igbo. It does not matter whether Ngige had Igbo mandate or not, what Chris Uba and his friend Chris Ngige stole belonged to the Igbo. Their actions and in-actions do not just vilify Abuja, they also raise legitimate questions about the state of the Igbo.
What is Igbo? What does Igbo do? What should Igbo do? What use is Igbo? Answers to these questions, I do not know. And I doubt if many Igbo can give a coherent answer to them. More so, the likes of Uba. But no one can do a dispassionate appraisal of the Igbo but Igbo themselves.
Since the coming of the Europeans, Igbo civilization has been on its knees. In the last two decades, it has fallen to an unimaginable depth. The place where Igbo civilization currently is, our ancestors would hardly identify it. It is on the verge of absolute ruin. Unless something is done to change its present state, the Igbo would be vanquished.
When Igbo was Igbo, Uba would not have the audacity to daily insult Igbo intelligence with subterfuge. When Igbo was Igbo, it would have been easy for the Oha to understand that, in spite of Uba’s over-exaggerated sense of importance, he is not different from a little nza bird that overfed himself and is asking his chi to come and wrestle. When Igbo was Igbo, it would have seen that the objects that appeared on Uba like a chest riveted with iron were just buttons umuada could tear away by simply pulling his shirt.
In Igbo of our forefathers, Uba is no real man. He has no personal achievement and no regard for homeland. Though his barn may be full of yams, he has no known farm and was never seen cutting forests across seven rivers, tilling the soil and planting. In Igbo of our forefathers, Uba would be looked at as a crook that he is. He would be monitored, caught, persecuted and sentenced.
Time was when Igbo judged a man by the work of his hands and not by the amount of Naira in the trunk of his Mercedes. Igbo is in an age of personal aggrandizement – unlimited and unguided competition fortified by unrestrained and unaccountable individualism. In this age, people confuse evilness with valor. They confuse thievery with success. They confuse applause with acceptance.
Chris Uba and his group of “abominable gang” have become to Igbo, the new “white men.” To throw down a white man like Uba is now as frightening as “unmasking an ancestral spirit.” But thrown, Uba must be. Whatever anyone says, Uba will not listen. Even when he listens, Uba will not hear you. Calling Uba names, sounds to his ears as sweet as singing his praise. Uba does not speak our language. Uba belongs to an expanding club of ofekes. Like caterpillars, they are on the match, eating up all that is green and hoping to become an institution if not stopped.
When Igbo was Igbo, vanity was not applauded and irresponsibility was not condoned. Then, people not only said courageous things they did them. In Igbo, divine authority is in mortal conflict with human authority. Where both agree, and human authority fails to act, as in the case of Uba, the divine authority should express itself through the Oha.
Assimilation into Nigeria that began with the coming of the white man has gone for so long, unchecked by god and man that the place the Igbo is has no reflective connection to the place the Igbo used to be. Igbo must react to this destructive fate. Igbo must wake that indomitable spirit to survive before it is too late. Igbo must separate the chaff from the wheat. Igbo must bring to relevance something that would make the likes of Uba irrelevant.
Inordinate ambition of men without piety has corroded the legal and moral code. These men leave behind heaps and heaps of nso Ani. Without reprimand and without atonement, it swallows the beauty of Igbo. Everywhere in Igboland is littered with crying gods, withered customs and naked narcissists. Igbo need the return of egwugwu to maintain law and order. Igbo must find a way to surgically remove the evil that Uba and his likes represent.
In recent years, the Igbo has had ajo chi when issues of leadership is concerned. Igbo, like Umuofia without Okonkwo, has lost the power to fight. Otherwise, how did the likes of Uba, men with small anus, swallow the Udala seed called Igbo? How?
The chi of Igbo is still awake. Only that like a shadow, the Igbo show no care. To borrow Achebe’s imagery, Igbo is “like a fish cast onto the dry, sandy beach, panting.” How long Igbo and its civilization stay alive depends on how quickly Igbo gather the strength to tell the likes of Uba, “Lookia’ my frienâ€¦”
Chris Uba & the fall of igbo civilization