The media is always awash with tributes to the memory of another general on the anniversary of his painful demise and governments, at the centre and states are not left out in pushing the boat out in his memory as well, for good reasons that cannot be discountenanced by me or by others. I don’t begrudge that general and his family this honour.
What leaves me highly frustrated is that such celebratory treatment is never meted to the memory of the equally amiable, General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi who was entreated to rule Nigeria at a turbulent time in our country’s history and who was murdered, July 29, 1966, in a gruesome way as that other general.
This attitude by the Nigerian government it would appear is designed to prevent certain individuals from climbing the hero’s throne while others sit on the chamber with the support of state. How then – is it possible, for young Nigerians to know our country’s history as well as – people who should occupy the seats reserved only for those, on the gilded pantheon of authentic heroes, especially, if the memory of some are discriminated against by the establishment?
President Muhammadu Buhari should hear this
This case of state sponsored discrimination is a national cloud no country desirous of change and growth would ever want their citizens to live under, but it is encouraged in Nigeria.
I wish I could extol the virtues of Ironsi, but his achievements are in the public domain and in the Army Archive. I don’t think it is fair to the people of the South-East where he hailed from if his achievement isn’t put in proper perspective because this sends a wrong signal that they are either perennially under suspicion or that one general is parenthetically better than the other general, a classic case of “upper class” and “second- class citizen”
Surprisingly, I have monitored the media for long and there seem to be none speaking up about this imbalance in official recognition. Could it be that they remain silent for fear of public reprisal, or government? The government policy no doubt, interferes, with basic right to the aspiration of national statehood by individuals from all regions in different professions which should encourage the dialogue that development provides.
The challenge is not beyond the control of the President Buhari administration. What he needs do and urgently, is to unflag the name of General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi from the current pariah status for whatever reasons there are for why the name remains flagged and, explain why this is so – as a father to a child seeking answers would.
Otherwise, the status quo has the capability to erode our national cohesion, security, when many elsewhere perceive that they are being alienated and stigmatized. It is time we began to be more of an inclusive society; a country where everyone is a stakeholder and where no one feels abandoned, and powerless.
Statesmanship bestowed on people shouldn’t be, with a total lack of transparency, and overwhelmingly celebrating just one group.
- Simon Abah,
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