“I freed a thousand slaves; I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” – Harriet Tubman
For weeks now, the issue of Biafra agitation has been at the front burner in the polity. Every Vendor’s stand has been turned into a theatre of arguments by free readers and potential customers, who spend hours analysing the fresh Biafra movement being propelled by Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) via peaceful protests ravaging the old Eastern region. Social media was not speared by torrents of intellectual fireworks by proponents and opponents of Biafra struggle. Almost every known and unknown columnist has written in support or against Biafra’s resuscitation by the promoters of IPOB led by the illegally detained Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
What prompted me to embark on this intellectual exercise to express my thoughts about Biafra agitation is the dimension the whole argument of Biafra struggle is heading, especially where spine doctors who are known agents of divide-and-rule have gone back to their age-long work of dividing the indigenous people of Biafra. The major target of these divide-and-rule elements which tend to cry more than the bereaved is to Igbonized this present struggle of Biafra restoration by working very hard using the instrumentality of the media to tag Biafra agitation Igbo “affair”. The irony of the debate is that majority of those divide-and-rule advocates who have sworn to keep inciting Biafrans against each other are non-Biafrans, who ordinarily should not have any say in determining the future of old Eastern region. I think the future or restoration of Biafra should strictly be left for Indigenous people of Biafra to decide.
Before I proceed, I would like to expose some of the antics of these divide-and-rule agents, who can only keep enslaving us by creating division amongst us. The following thought-provoking and mind illuminating questions would help in highlighting the points of my submission: why is it that Hausa and Fulani which comprise major ethnic groups especially in Northern part of Nigeria are always referred to as Hausa/Fulani—as one indivisible people, instead of Hausa and Fulani? Why do we have South-South as a geo-political zone carved out of old Eastern region, but there is nothing like North-North in the Northern Nigeria? How did the creators of this South-South mantra invent this word that is not in line with known cardinal points as enshrined in the principles of geography? How come there is Niger-Delta in the South but nothing like North-Sahara in the North? Why is there one Northern Governors Forum in the North, but coming down Southern Nigeria; we have South-East, South-West and South-South Governors Forums; all in one Southern Nigeria? Why do we always hear about Northern Elders Forum and nineteen Northern states as one socio-political block and one North, but we hardly talk of Southern Elders Forum, seventeen Southern states or one South? Someone should put on his thinking cap by now.
Yoruba as one of the major tribes in Nigeria has roots in North-Central states of Kwara and Kogi—which are outside Yoruba-dominated region of South-West yet Yorubas in Kogi and Kwara are all seen and respected as full-fledged Yoruba-speaking people with their rights and privileges protected in line with Yoruba customs and traditions. There is nothing like Kogi and Kwara Yoruba being inferior to Yorubas in Lagos or Ogun or other South-Western states.
In line of this thought process, why would divide-and-rule propagandists keep on referring to Igbos in Delta and Rivers states as not being “real” Igbos by branding them Delta or Rivers Igbo with sole purpose of creating division between them and their brothers and sisters in the South-East? As a result of years of propagating these wicked falsehood and deceits via the media owned and run by divide-and-rule proponents, these baseless conjectures and unproven innuendos have ended up sinking deep into the psyche of majority of Igbo people from these states born after the civil war, who now ignorantly view their brother as strangers or even enemies!
If Yorubas in Kogi and Kwara states are “true” Yorubas like their brothers and sisters in Osun and Ekiti, why on earth would Igbos in Rivers and Delta states—who are of Igbo origin; bear Igbo names and speak its languages be made to believe unconsciously using the media that they are “half-cast” Igbos in other not only to divide old Eastern region but to limit the so-called “real” Igbos to Five states of South-East—thereby consolidating and deepening the seeds of division and discord in the region. Could the ill-conceived purpose of this segregation and creation of anti-geography mantra called South-South be to reduce the size of Igbo-speaking people in old Eastern region or to continue referring to South-East as landlocked?
The unfortunate angle in this scenario is that so many of our brothers and sisters born during and after the civil war bought into this gimmick unknowingly until now. The emergence of Radio Biafra has help to deconstruct this mountain of falsehood and deflate the balloon of fallacies bandied by divide-and-rule campaigners who now termed undiluted and unalloyed truth emanating from Radio Biafra as “hate speeches”, what an irony!
I have asked these questions several times without getting reasonable answers: why do we have BBC Hausa Service broadcasting in the Northern Nigeria and there is no BBC Yoruba Service and Igbo Service or Ijaw Service broadcasting in the West or East? Who is afraid of Radio Biafra? Could the difference between BBC Hausa Service and Radio Biafra be that one is propagating divide-and-rule antics cum born-to-rule ideology, while later is championing restoration of rights of Indigenous people of Biafra via self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations Chatter? Where were those anti-Radio Biafra elements when Radio Chanji setup by the APC apologists in the North before the presidential election for the only aim of inciting Northerners against President Jonathan by heartlessly misinforming them that President Jonathan and General Ihejirika were the ones funding the dreaded Bokoharam—the same insurgents they were fighting?
Former President Jonathan lost the last presidential election as a hero but the campaign that preceded the election unified the entire old Eastern region for once since after the Nigeria-Biafran civil war to the detriment of divide-and-rule antics that are at it again to divide us. The 2015 presidential election result map showed clearly that Jonathan got eight per cent of his votes from old Eastern region, the remaining twenty per cent votes were given to him by Biafrans residing outside old Eastern region.
It is on record that Igbos sacrificed a lot to ensure re-election for Jonathan during the campaign not because of government patronage they were enjoying—of course an average Igbo man doesn’t need government to survive but as a result of the umbilical cord intertwining Ijaws, Ibibio, Igbos, Ogonis, Uhrobo, Efik and other ethnic nationalities that make up old Eastern region together. The Igbos voted en mass for Jonathan to entrench justice, equality and fairness in the overall interest of old Eastern region in particular and Nigeria at large.
For my brothers and sisters in Ogoni, Ijaw, Enang, Efik and other ethnic nationalities that make up the so-called South-South zone, who are still under the spell of divide-and-rule propaganda by believing the concoction sold to them by those who want to continue to enslave us that Igbos are their problem. Can I ask the following questions: was he an Igbo man that killed Ken Saro Wiwa? Who murdered Isaac Idaka Boro? Who ordered the invasion and massacre of thousands of innocent people in Odi town of Bayelsa? Why Northern Nigeria does normally referred to as one North irrespective of hundreds of tribes in that region, yet we allowed ourselves to be divided into states and villages?
What is the ethnic affiliation of those in control of eight-three per cent of oil blocs in Niger-Delta, how many of them are Igbos? Weren’t the same people who are trying hard to divide us now conspired to remove your son, President Jonathan from Aso Rock? Why would we remain in perpetual slavery by allowing outsiders to divide us by rewriting our history for us? The time has come for all lovers of freedom and prosperity in old Eastern should to stand up and be counted. There is a time when silence is no longer golden.
Nwobodo Chidiebere wrote in from Abuja.