By Collins Opurozor
There is a debate in the social sciences on the validity of Nigeria’s claim to independence. This is because the country’s political life is still tied to the apron strings of her former colonizers. If independence confers on a nation the right to political choices, then, as some believe, independence in Nigeria is more potential than actual. More so, Nigeria’s economy remains largely, if not entirely, dependent on those of the developed nations. And for many, therefore, the idea of an independent Nigeria is more apparent than real.
At the level of the individual within Nigeria, the concept of independence has no meaning, given that more and more people are captives to poverty and want, the most ancient oppressors of mankind. And, further, the reality that Nigerians are ruled by people whose mandates are questionable and effectively dubious brings home the tragedy of internal colonization.
Nothing also could be more tragic than when a state of over six million people like Imo, through some judicial contrivances, is ruled by Hope Uzodinma, a man they never voted for and they never chose.
The accident in Imo, which Uzodinma represents, is a total reversal to the values that animated and inspired all independence movements in Nigeria or even Africa. It makes mockery of any claim that Nigerians have the power to choose their leaders. It is reminiscent of the infamous colonial order, when Buckingham Palace, not Nigerians, decided which colonial master was to be sent to Nigeria. When the right to choose leaders has been denied a people, it is simply colonialism by other means!
Further, the whole logic of federalism is about independent and coordinate relations between and among power centers. In the Nigerian union, Imo is a semi-autonomous unit, and for Abuja to undermine the collective aspirations of Imo people by imposing Uzodinma on them, what has been murdered too, aside independence, is federalism.
And that this anomie was foisted on a very republican people like the Igbo, with a rich history of rejecting domination as was seen in the Ekumeku uprisings of Anioma people, the Aba Women Riot, the Aro resistances and the ordeals of King Jaja of Opobo, the result will be the same. It is therefore not surprising that Imo people have failed to accept Uzodinma as governor. And time will change nothing about this.
Independence will continue to mean nothing to Imo people unless and until the promises contained in it are realized. First is liberation from poverty, squalor and want. Second is expansion of the political space and giving back Imo people the right to choose their leaders. For now, Imo people are not independent and they have nothing to celebrate.
Imo ga-adi nma ozo!