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Ndokwa Vanguard

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RENO Omokri, false consciousness and the Nicer Delta Question

May 22, 2024

By Gozie Irogboli

When Sam Omatseye wrote his obtrusive essay in the Nation Newspaper attacking Peter Obi the Labor Party presidential candidate and Ndigbo in the build-up to the 2023 Presidential Election, a friend had asked why I did not punch him as expected.

But I told him sincerely that I had sympathy for him not just because he had more than what he bargained for from the Obidient Movement, but because Omatseye and his ilk are suffering from what scholars call “false consciousness”. Omatseye wrote his trash not because he wanted to please his pay master but because he has the conviction that he knows what he was writing about whereas the basis of his tirade was wrong fundamentally. False consciousness occurs when you join in the battle without knowing why.

In truth, his case wasn’t so much as to please his pay master as it was to voice out what he erroneously believes to be true. And there are so many Omatseyes in Nigeria especially in Niger Delta today whose brains have been clotted with inherited falsehood, prejudices and hatred so much that it has made them blind to the truth and existential realities.False consciousness makes one engage in struggles in the things he knows not the origin or the reason.

And it is one of the many ugly phenomena in the Niger Delta, Nigeria today where many people dissipate energy fighting the Igbo man because of what they were told. When you analyze their actions and attitude toward Ndigbo, you will discover that they are more of victims of inherited prejudice and stereotypes. No doubt, false consciousness is the result of ignorance, fear or morbid hatred for others.

It comes from naïve minds corrupted by propaganda and false narratives. A man who is naïve might be as dangerous as the wicked man because he is malleable and available to be used as a willing tool in the hand of the oppressor.It is in the light of the above that I wish to look at Reno Omokri’s recent misadventure, where he is using the social media platforms to launch an unwarranted attack on Peter Obi and Ndigbo, and other matters.

Ordinarily, there wouldn’t have been any need for this riposte seeing that he has got more than enough repartee from the social media already, but for the fact that the issues of this kind help to correct some misconceptions in the Nigeria media space. It is also an opportunity for historical revisionism.

Yes, it is easy to ignore Reno Omokri’s farcical comments as what William Shakespeare might describe as “a tale told by an idiot full of sounds and fury signifying nothing,” but not in this case. Obviously; he has been hired as a social media influencer by some political pettifoggers to attack Obi and Ndigbo preparatory for the 2027 election. Reno Omokri has made himself a hack-writer to do the hatchet job for some unscrupulous political figures, who regale on smear campaigns and mudslinging, for pecuniary gains.

Sincerely, I sympathize with Reno who may have gone broke, having been out of the corridors of power since the exit of Jonathan, and needed some lifeline to finance his grandiose lifestyle as is characteristic of the average Nigerian politician, and his surest way to that is to take up the ignoble job of throwing brickbats at Obi and Ndigbo.

What a shame!The feeling of resentment against the Igbo man by his Niger Delta brothers and neighbors is real and deep. But if examined dispassionately, you will discover that these false conscious and misguided activists are victims of ethnic and evil regimentation and prejudice; who carry on based on the stories they were told and who have not taken time to interrogate some of the things they have heard. Certainly, some of them need pity, pardon and prayer for they do not know what they are doing.

They also need enlightenment to realize their folly.When I was in the university, I had an Itsekiri friend who told me cockily that he hates the Igbo man and when I asked him why, he told me that the Igbo are not good people. But when I prodded him further about how he arrived at that sweeping generalization, whether it was as result of personal experience or what he was told, he remained speechless for almost five minutes.

And when he regained consciousness, he admitted that he had never had any ugly encounter with any Igbo man and that Ndigbo were his best friends whom he had enormously benefitted from and that his unreasonable phobia for the Igbo was as result of what he heard about them.And so it was with many others as it was with my Itsekiri friend.

I had an Urhobo friend in the office in those days who accused the Igbo of killing the foremost Urhobo political leader, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh. I told him that it was the wrong portrayal of Okotie-Eboh in the Lagos Press that led to his execution by the coup plotters. Okotie-Eboh was portrayed in the press as the most corrupt person of that era.

His supposed flamboyant lifestyle was the subject of negative media attention. My Urhobo colleague was aghast when I told him the position of Finance Minister which Okotie-Eboh held was first offered to Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu who was the major financier of the NCNC, before he nominated Okotie-Eboh. He was also surprised to learn that the Urhobo political leaders of that era like Okotie-Eboh, Jereton Mariere and others including the Ibru family were allies of the great Zik of Africa.In truth, there is widespread hatred and stigmatization instigated against the Igbo by those who live in perpetual fear of the Igbo man.

The Igbo man is a bugaboo figure of a sort to some people—the drones, usurpers, supplanters and the interlopers in the Nigeria state.Historically, the attack on Ndigbo started with the British who felt that the Igbo are uncontrollable and that the only obstacle they have towards the total subjugation of Nigeria is Igbo and that if the Igbo are allowed to lead Nigeria, that the country will be out of their control and they poisoned the minds of other Nigerians against Ndigbo.

During the colonial era there were minor skirmishes occasioned by envy and ethnic differences but the civil war provided the fertile ground to carry out the grandiose campaign of calumny against Ndigbo and when the war ended, the battle shifted from the trenches to government offices and was sustained in the Lagos Press otherwise known as Yoruba Press. And the battle has continued till date. I have taken time to do a systematic study of the umbrage paranoically thrown at the Igbo man.

The battle is promoted and sustained by those who felt that the only obstacle between them and complete domination of Nigeria are the Igbo. Ndigbo received the butt of everything as they are blamed for every problem of the country. It is fashionable to criticize the Igbo. Every verdant newspaper columnist begins by attacking the Igbo. Every arm-chair critic tries his popularity with the Igbo.

Every attention-seeking political wannabee would want to start with Ndigbo. Every person seeking public relevance would begin by vilifying the Igbo man. Whatever the Igbo man does is mischievously misinterpreted. That is why In Nigeria hard work which the Igbo man is known for is misinterpreted as love of money while slothfulness means otherwise. False stories and prevarications are contrived to smear the image of the Igbo man, to portray him in bad light, to induce hatred and brutalize his psyche.

This why the Igbo man is hated and stigmatized in Nigeria despite his hard work and non-violent conduct.Unfortunately, it will take years of reorientation and mindset reengineering to decongest the minds of Nigerians about the many lies against Ndigbo. It is like what Chimamanda Adichie called the single story syndrome as the Igbo man never bothered to give the required response to the debilitating narratives and portrayals in the press.

And so the Igbo man seems stuck with these ugly stereotypes. The likes of Reno may not have never bothered to find out the truth neither have they care listen to scholars of Niger Delta extraction like Prof. Tekena Tamuno, Prof. Obaro Ikime and others but instead subordinated their thinking to those of the interlopers, crank intellectuals and ethnic irredentists masquerading as right activists in the country.Thus, the likes of the Reno Omokri and co grew up in Nigeria to know the ugly stereotypes associated with Ndigbo.

They grew up to the negative enlightenment and false consciousness without knowing the truth and without caring to find out the truth. So, when they talk or write about the Igbo man they do it with aplomb believing that they are doing the right thing without knowing that it is false consciousness.Undoubtedly, Reno Omokri and co grew up to believe that the coup of January 1966 was a plot by Ndigbo to take over Nigeria but he was not told that no Igbo leader was privy to the plot and that the said Igbo Coup was also foiled by Igbo officers and that the ideologically misguided mutineers intention was to free Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a Yoruba leader, who was jailed for treasonable felony in 1963, from prison and install him as Nigeria’s head-of-state.

He might not be aware that the supposed Igbo Coup had an Ijaw, Urhobo, Ishan officers among the plotters.Reno and co may have grown up to believe that the Civil War was fought to liberate him from Igbo domination. He might be blinded from the divide-and-rule strategy of those in control of the Nigerian state designed to keep the Southeast Ndigbo and his Niger Delta kits and kin perpetually divided. Reno might have heard about the Abandoned Property saga and might not know that it was externally instigated to keep Ndigbo away from his comfort zone to regions where they would be vulnerable for those who instigated it opened their arms for Ndigbo to come and develop their regions.

Again, Reno and his ilk may have grown to believe that the problem of Nigeria is the Igbo man. He might have assumed that Ndigbo are after the oil wealth of the Niger Delta without looking at the facts on the ground. The decree 13 of 1970 that placed the oil resources into the federal government hand was not promulgated by the Igbo man. The Aboyade Commission of 1978 that placed the whole oil earnings into federal government consolidated revenue account; that took away the right of the oil producing state from the control of the oil revenue was not established by an Igbo man. It was not the Igbo man that ceded the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon. Igbo man has never done any act of violence against the Niger Delta. It was not the Igbo man authorized the destruction of Odi…Oil is drilled in the Southeast and Niger Delta. The oil blocks are owned by the Fulani. The oil wells belong to the Fulani. The major oil marketers are Fulani. The owners of the oil companies are Yoruba.

The oil companies drill oil in the Niger Delta, operate their headquarters in Lagos and pay taxes to the Lagos state government and make no effort to develop the Niger Delta region. The managers are Yoruba, who usually keep their families in Lagos and Ibadan, live in hotels and company guest houses, fly out to see their families on weekends and fly back on Monday. And it seems rather astonishing that the Niger Delta man is comfortable getting the crumbs, which he is ready to fight his brother for.

He will fight to get the contract to guard the oil pipelines. And yet the man in Niger Delta thinks the Igbo man is his problem. That is unfortunate in the extreme!No doubt, Reno must be aware that Tinubu has restored the controversial OPL 245 to Shell Eni Company, withdrew all existing cases against them in the international Tribunals and shortly after Eni transferred its onshore assets to Oando, a company run by Wale Tinubu who is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s nephew. The lame duck Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, a Niger Delta man, who is privy to this shady deal will tomorrow when he leaves office accuse Igbo man of wrong doing. What an irony! As my people would ask in this situation, “why would somebody spare the buttocks that farted and then give knock to the head?”The Niger Delta environment is polluted through oil exploration and exploitation. There are no visible government amenities and development to show for it. The owners and managers of the oil companies don’t invest in the area; they would rather invest in Dubai and UK than in Niger Delta. The federal government would create agencies for Niger Delta and underfund it and turn around to accuse the Niger Delta leaders of failure and corruption. The ports in the Niger Delta are undeveloped and unutilized. Just before he left power, Buhari government approved a whooping sum of $2.59 billion dollars for a deep sea port in Badagry Lagos. That sum of money is more than enough to fix all the ports—Koko, Warri, Port-Harcourt and Calabar—in Niger Delta. And yet the Niger Delta man thinks that the Igbo man is his problem because his brains have been conditioned to think that way.

Who bewitched you O’ foolish Niger-Deltans!Niger Delta leaders are branded corrupt by the powers that be to justify the criminal neglect of the region. DSP Alamieyeseigha was hunted and hounded until he died. Diezani Alison-Madueke is being exhibited as a very corrupt woman by the authorities whereas Kemi Adeosun, the certificate forger and former Finance Minister that corruptly threw Nigerian economy into recession in 2015 was given a soft landing and her case fraudulently suppressed. And Sadiya Umar-Farouq, the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management who fraudulently spent billions feeding ghost school children during the COVID-19 era is walking freely. And of all those who worked with Buhari during his eight years of misadventure, only Godwin Emefiele, a Niger Delta man is being accused of wrongdoing. In Nigeria, it is only the Igbo and the Niger Delta man that are corrupt. No Fulani, no Yoruba crooks have been convicted, no matter the severity of their cases.The Igbo man is not unaware of the woes of the Niger Delta Region. But if Niger Deltans are victims of the Nigerian State, the Igbo were the first victims. Ndigbo have always identified with his Niger Delta brethren and have always supported the Niger Delta course. During the 1999 Constitutional Conference, it was Ndigbo that voted along with Niger Delta region for derivation as a means of revenue allocation against the North and Southwest. It was Dr. Alex Ekwueme that fought and got the current 13% oil revenue allocation for the oil producing states. It was Ndigbo that stood with President Jonathan when the Yoruba betrayed him. Even during the colonial era it was the Eastern Nigeria government that sited industries in the minority’s areas. Reno must know that forging a common front with Ndigbo is the solution to Niger Delta underdevelopment. And this is what those who do not want change the status quo are against. It is an exhibition of slave mentality to attack fellow victims while you hobnob and celebrate your oppressors.Is it not ironical that Reno Omokri could attack Obi and Ndigbo who stood behind Jonathan, his former boss, when the Yoruba branded him clueless and betrayed him in 2015 and turn around to work for them? Asari Dokugbo can castigate Obi and support Tinubu despite what he did to Jonathan, the Niger Delta man, because according to him, Tinubu paid his children school fees while he was incarcerated for fighting the course of Resource Control by Obasanjo, Tinubu’s kinsman. But he would berate the Igbo man who has always been supportive of his brother, President Goodluck Jonathan because his brains have been configured by false narratives to reason so.Reno and his group may think that they are educated and informed but they seem not to understand the ruse and antics of the oppressors otherwise they won’t be easily beguiled and distracted. Today, they are rooting for the East-West Road without knowing that it is a deception. Why would the Niger Delta man prefer the East-West Road to the development of the Ports in the Niger Delta? Perhaps, they may have been brainwashed into thinking that the ports will benefit Igbo importers only.Evidently, Reno Omokri has shown a high level of hypocrisy and intellectual laziness by picking on Peter who by every standard, stands out as an epitome of a public officer of repute. In so doing, he has downgraded his rating and reputation as a social crusader. He has also exhibited himself as one with poor sense of history. If he is not, he would have known the fate of those used to do the hatchet job in the past. Isaac Adaka Boro was used to fight the Igbo but was killed by those who used him. It was the same for Ken Sarowiwa. Rotimi Amaechi has been used and kept in the limbo. I am sure the EFCC radar is on him now. The tough-talking megalomaniac from Obiokpor, Wike, thinks that he is on top of the world now without knowing that he is already perched like a prey on a firing line.It is indeed pathetic and tragic that people will devote time, dissipate energy fighting imaginary enemy while the real enemy and oppressor are doing the damage. I must state unequivocally, that, if at this time, after their harrowing experience in the hands of those that have been in control of the Nigerian state since the civil war era till now that the Niger Delta people still think that the Igbo man is their problem, then they don’t know what their problem is and may never get the solution to their problem.

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