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There is no doubt about the reality of a renewed and arguably more stringent push for the actualization of the sovereign State of Biafra. The most vocal of which is the one championed by a group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), whose leader, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, a dual British and Nigerian citizen has remained incarcerated for the past four months in defiance to about three court orders granting him bail.
Many Igbo intellectuals are not comfortable with Nnamdi Kanu’s approach to the Biafran struggle as he is seen by some of us as having patterned his own struggle after the terrorist styled speeches of Sheik Shekarau, Osama Bin Laden and other notorious terrorists whose stock in trade is tirades against not just authorities but anyone even from among them who shows the slightest dissent to their ideals. More people, even among his youthful followers would not have given Nnamdi kanu any attention if not for the frustrations the government has consistently plunged Ndi Igbo into. One thing almost every government in Nigeria, since 1970 seem to have succeeded in doing is implementing a secret blueprint for the subjugation, marginalization and underdevelopment of the area known as Igbo land, hence, the angst against the government.
Also a splinter group of MASSOB has emerged. Led by one Uche Madu, the group is more creative, organized, diplomatic and disciplined in its approach to the struggle than the Nnamdi Kanu led IPOB. While they struggle to put their feet on the ground, the original founder of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike has changed the name of his own group to Biafra Independence Movement (BIM), claiming that the splinter group of MASSOB has derailed from the original and more noble visions of the group. Comrade Uche Madu on the other hand claims that the Okwe born attorney turned freedom fighter is a traitorous trader who uses the Biafran struggle to make money for his own personal comfort, while abandoning his soldiers to languish in poverty with a good number of them being killed in the struggle with no welfare packages from the organization for their families. Youthful intellectuals and less combative Biafran sympathizers are joining the Uche Madu faction of MASSOB in droves. There is also the Biafran Zionist Movement and smaller and less influential groups claiming to fight for Biafra.
More than anything else, the incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu and the extra-judicial killing of his supporters who embarked on peaceful protests to push for his release from detention have drawn the world’s attention to the Biafran secession struggle once again. International news medium now train their satellites on Biafra and especially Nnamdi Kanu, British parliamentarians and their American counterparts have wielded into the matter too. Some international figures comment positively, while the others comment negatively, however anyone comments, the most important thing is that Biafra has once again become so much a serious issue that if it is not well handled by the Nigerian government, it may degenerate to something more disastrous than the 1967-1970 civil war.
Some commentators have carelessly alleged that the Buhari administration is anxious for a repeat of the civil war, so that the Nigerian government can decisively deal with the Igbo people. Those who toe this line of argument believe that some interests within the North are not comfortable with the resilience of the Igbos, such that notwithstanding the losses they suffered in the civil war just forty-six years ago, they have bounced back economically, academically, politically and socially that they can rival any ethnic group in the country in whatever attainments any of them can boast of.
Those advancing this argument link their beliefs with the incisive and highly divisive commentaries by influential Northerners like Junaid Ibrahim and others like him, who do not mince words in portraying the Igbos as their problems in Nigeria. There is no arguing the fact that it will be easier for the Nigerian government to quell any rebellion from the Southeast now than it was for them in 1967. In 1967, Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu was the Governor-general of the entire Eastern Region which he declared as the sovereign State of Biafra, hence, he had some vital State resources, including ammunitions with which he prosecuted the war in its early stages. Today, the old Eastern Region has split into three geo-political zones of Southeast, South South and North Central with about twelve different Governors, none of whom supports any secession bid for Biafra. In the event of any war today, there will also be fewer Igbo men and women who would volunteer to go to battle against a well armed Nigerian Army with clubs and cutlasses. I do not agree that the present Nigerian government will relish an opportunity to massacre the Igbos, but I will appeal that our people do not engage in actions that will make such possibility real. The best way to defend ourselves against our real and perceived enemies is by not giving them any opportunity to defeat us.
Long before former President Olusegun Obasanjo organized an event in which he discussed the Biafran issue, where he accurately posited that the present Biafran struggle is not really geared towards secession, but a cry for attention, justice and equity I had authored an article that was serialized in Newtelegraph Newspaper and syndicated by many online platforms and local dailies in which I argued in that line. Like I stated in that article; Biafran struggle did not start with the Biafran secession in 1967, it started long before Nigeria gained independence from the British and stretches to as far as the Nigerian State has existed with calculated attempts at subjugating the Igbo race.
Secession is cowardice. I cannot abandon a house I contributed in building to go set up a smaller house just because those with whom I partnered in erecting that house have decided to frustrate me out of that house. There is no ethnic group in Nigeria that contributed more than the Igbos in actualizing independence for Nigeria, neither has any group of people contributed more than the Igbos to the economic, social, intellectual, political and of course all round development of Nigeria. Like I ask some of my secessionist friends; To whom shall we leave Nigeria?
If there is any group of people who must think of leaving Nigeria, then it must not be the Igbos. Those who are not comfortable with the successes and even noises of the Igbos should secede and leave Nigeria for the Igbos.
Someone, I think that should be Alhaji Ciroma once granted an interview in which he averred that Igboland will be too small for the Igbos, and I completely agree with him. Some people keep singing about the Igbos returning home with all their businesses, so that when Biafra is realized, people from outside Biafra will be trooping into Igboland to buy whatever goods and services the Igbos can provide. Return home if you must, but not on the basis of this argument. If your businesses thrive better where you are, please remain there and I add, please expand further, that is a test of your success. Business is not fun-seeking that you have to go to where your friends are or where they want you to be, you go to or remain where your business thrives better.
Who tells you that the Yorubas cannot fill up the spaces we will be leaving when we leave? Who tells you that those whose lands we will be leaving to relocate our businesses home do not have traders who can fill up this space, or even people from other countries who will be happy to occupy such spaces? The Southeast has the smallest land area among all the geo-political zones in the country, and it is completely impossible for the land space we have to contain a quarter of the businesses owned by Igbos across Nigeria.
I for one do my own businesses in the East, but most times I have to travel to Lagos or Abuja to sell some of my wares, and the irony is that a good number of the buyers are also Igbos. When we advocate for the relocation of all businesses owned by a particular group of people to their own areas, we are simply advocating for subsistence trading, which is strange to the entrepreneurial spirit of the Igbos.
Some of those who have joined some of these Biafran secession groups joined them out of their anger that no Igbo person has become the President of Nigeria. I once asked a MASSOB official if he will vote for Ralph Uwazurike if the latter decides to vie for Nigerian presidency, his reply was; why not?
The Igbo presidency is a project worth our efforts, and whatever we can do to achieve it should be done. I insist that Nnamdi Kanu does not like the Igbos as much as he wants us to believe that he does, because if he does, he would not have turned more than ten million Igbos away from the polling booths in 2015, when he ordered Igbos to boycott voting. Even if he does not like Jonathan, why didn’t he ask Igbos to vote any of the about three Igbos who were presidential candidates in that election? This order from Kanu did not only affect only the Igbos in Igboland, but millions of Igbos who reside in Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa and across all the States in Nigeria would have changed the outcome of that election if they had voted. Little can be achieved without political power, and one of the major things any lover of the Igbo race should be talking about and be investing in, is on how to get political power or how to ensure that we get the best political deal possible. There is nobody who can love us more than ourselves. As 2019 general elections beckon, stakeholders and true lovers of the Igbo race must begin to discuss, close ranks and plan towards getting the best deal for Ndi Igbo in one united and equitable Nigeria.