At least, these two characters, Abraham Lincoln and Sunday Igboho share the same philosophy of emancipation, civil rights and the liberation of their citizens: who are believed to be trampled by elements of oppression, internal suzerain and direct coercion, thus, making it succinct that only a fierce step to face the tall order would be the sure ticket for the total freedom of people who ought to be by virtue of providence, free to live the way they want.
Such a daring and conciliatory role played by the late America’s political sage, Lincoln, ushered him into the stardom of a “ Great Emancipator”, which literally means, a “ bondage breaker”. Abraham Lincoln helped in halting the unending slave trade and oppression of the people of the Southern America by elements of aristocrats or democratic apparatchiks, and would later call for a “one America”, in the face of the already established Southern Confederacy, even though such was achieved by war that claimed the lives of over 600,000 soldiers and millions of innocent citizens, alike.
Although, this title might pose absurdity in that some set of intelligentsias might be peeved that how can an ‘Igboho’, be likened to a great man and a father of democracy in America? They might want to showcase divergence of opinion that the Yoruba self-acclaimed emancipator is way too low in all ramifications to the American sage. Yet, to many, Sunday Igboho, might not be a brilliant persona, but his radicalism ideologies in a topsy-turvydom terrain like ours may have earned him much followership and allegiance by those who felt aggreived about the encroachment and incursion into Yoruba’s land by marauders masquerading as herdsmen.
Even though, Lincoln was the president of the United States of America then, he wielded enormous power to combat the overbearing forces from the South, Igboho on the other end is a private citizen that does not enjoy any federal power other than for his bravery and traditional fortification. The duos have the same thing in common: freedom for the people.
“Every field of history has its heroes”, said Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, who is a Professor of History and chairperson of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. This statement is not only apt but having a towering approach over inferior context on how hero emerges. That is the same reason that made Martin Luther King to rise up to declare and preach for equality in the face of widespread discrimination, oppression and killing of the Black Americans.
In contrast, Yoruba land is seriously under threat. The safety of life and properties have been compromised if not, uncertain. That was the background that birthed the Igboho’s ideology, who was bittered about the killing of his kinsmen by suspected Fulani herdsmen. Part of his vexation was that, not only that the killing was done unabated, there is also a copious degree of kidnapping, rape, destruction of farm land, among others.
Statistics showed that a total number of over 2500 innocent Nigerians were killed between ( 2017—2020), according to a report published on Thisdaylive Newspaper. This data might not be totally accurate but it is indeed, a smoking gun indicating that the people of the country were killed just because they wanted to wage war against hunger and starvation.
Despite Igboho’s temerarious, his recent declaration of secession of the Yorubas would be the disharmony path between him and Abraham Lincoln’s ideology. According to him, “If any police attack us for that, we are ready for them. We don’t want Nigeria again, but Yoruba nation.” As daring as his intentions were, Igboho made the biggest flaw by announcing that the Yorubas are no longer part of the Nigeria’s union without following the right part of referendum— even in the face of some fragments of secessionists in some part of the southern part of the country. How can he achieve the secession by mere public declaration without causing total dislocation in the polity of the country? As laughable has that seems, it only shows that there is a lot of task to put forward by the government of the day In order to avert another bloodbath and civil war, just as Lincoln was unlucky to stop the civil war several years ago.
Over 150 years after the end of the civil war between the north and south in the United States, she is still being faced with various degree of conundrums. Despite the interventions of both Lincoln and Luther, there seems to be a no end in sight to the state of racism and other vices which has become the modern day threat and of course a replacement to the slavery and insecurity as at the time of the civil war. Just as we have seen the gruesome murder of George Floyd, several other Black Americans have been killed. Recently, there was a shooting spree at a Spa located in Atlanta which claimed the lives of several Asian-Americans.
As a matter of fact, the labour of patriots in the biggest seat of democracy has yielded result of upholding the integrity of the country, but, there are still divisible elements of racism, discrimination and white supremacy that is tearing apart the country, just as our dear nation, Nigeria, has for decades continued to battle insecurity, insurrection, banditry, terrorism, kidnapping, unemployment, poverty and many other social malady.
There is urgent need to see Igboho’s questions as a ‘national question’ same way Lincoln saw the slavery and abject poverty of the Blacks which made him declare a total war on the culprits masquerading as aristocrats. Our own version of albatross is not even majorly about the Fulani herdsmen but about the structural settings of the country which has breeded nepotism, marginalization, promotion of ineptitude and a deliberate murder of federal character. As highlighted by Igboho, even though he sounds aggressive and bittered, what he listed has been the long age struggle of the country towards attaining greatness without leaving anyone behind.
In the lecture delivered by the Nigeria Governor’s Forum Chairman, and the Governor of Ekiti State , Dr Kayode Fayemi at the Arewa House, Kaduna, Dr Fayemi, was quoted as saying, “While we set out as a country on a somewhat progressive footing under the ‘Founding Fathers’, the reversals that we experienced mainly from the implosions that arose within the polity and the incursion of authoritarian rule, alongside its ‘civilian’ inflections, enthroned a paradigm of government and public governance that coalesced around waste, bureaucratic inefficiency, red-tapism and certainly, corrosive corruption”. While this statement remains ricocheting , it calls for a holistic approach in dealing with our “national questions”, which a character like Igboho has further buttressed and emphasized.
Although, like our founding fathers such as Chief Obafemi Awolowo as few others , Abraham Lincoln was positive about one indivisible United States and that prompted him to protect the sovereignty of the nation using a lethal approach. His stance and call for unity cannot be compared with the way Igboho may be handling the emancipation of the people of his race which to a large extent a wrong step even though if his intention were right and beneficial to the Yoruba race. Instead of calling for a national dialogue, consensus and debate on the root cause of our problem, such a brazen call for dislocation of the country by Igboho may not be well thought of especially at this volatile time in the annals of the country.
Like Igboho has itemized, the Fulani herdsmen incursion is a mere apppurtenance to the real problem facing the country which can only be addressed by leadership sincerity and commitment.
The observance of rule of law, government policies that would be active but, impartial, genuine anti-corruption war, job creation for the teeming youth population and ultimately promoting federal character in a manner that would see no part of the country as superior over the other. Though our problem might not be slavery in literally context, but it can also be likened to slavery in guise, imposed on us by our people: I think this is the type of slavery Lincoln fought sincerely for five years to a standstill. Whither Nigeria?
•Gbadebo Adeagbo can be reached via email@example.com