Why do Ndi’Igbo still believe the false stereotype that the omo Oduduwa (Yoruba) are cowards? In the history of Nigeria, only two men have returned to Nigeria to face almost certain death even when they had the option of a very comfortable political asylum abroad. Both of them are Yoruba.
In 1985, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida toppled the Buhari regime while Major General Tunde Idiagbon (mixed Yoruba/Fulani) was at Mecca yet Idiagbon returned. In 1995, Olusegun Obasanjo (pure Owu Yoruba) was accused of planning a coup by the blood thirsty tyrant, Abacha (if you don’t like the truthful description of Abacha you can go and join him where he is) while he was away in Copenhagen. He returned to face almost certain death.
I admired Ojukwu, but I was disappointed that he fled. I wish he remained. I also admired Azikiwe, but Awolowo would NEVER abandon his people as Azikiwe did when he defected to the federal side during the civil war. Awolowo was in prison because of his people and he could have been released had he compromised his beliefs but he stoutly refused. That is courage not cowardice. I have been in direct communication with Gowon whom I admire but he did not return after he was accused of being behind the Dimka coup.
Obasanjo and Idiagbon are probably the bravest Nigerians ever. They are certainly braver than Murtala Mohammed who was safely in London waiting for Joseph Garba and co to topple Gowon. The stereotype of Yorubas as cowards is false. Every ethnicity has cowards and brave men.
As we celebrate #BiafraAt50, I hope the Yoruba and Igbo can find common ground and unite as Southern Nigeria’s two main ethnic nationalities otherwise the South will continue to be politically disadvantaged even when it is the most educationally advantaged part of Nigeria.