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Nnamdi Kanu, Biafra, and Matters Arising

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A few days ago, I read with interest a piece written by one Peter Okoro titled “Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is deceiving the Igbos”.  Apart from the incoherent manner of the write-up, I find it difficult to understand the import of the piece. If his argument is that Nnamdi Kanu is deceiving Ndigbo, I beg to disagree. If he says that he has issues with Nnamdi Kanu’s method of agitation, I may be tempted to agree with him. I want to say emphatically that Nnamdi Kanu is not deceiving the Igbos. I stand to be corrected. Rather, he has awakened Igbo consciousness to their plight in Nigeria. His incandescent and aggressive agitation has the potential for fast-tracking the restructuring of Nigeria. What he is doing is great for Ndigbo but I think he is taking too many things for granted and this is where I have qualms with his methodology. 

We should not discard his agitation. It is very important. But he must have a leash on his neck and listen to elders. His carriage, especially after his release, has been disturbing and it does appear that he is turning his battle against his own people. Don’t misunderstand me. Perhaps, in the course of this piece, you will appreciate my assertion. However, if you sit down and critically analyze the issues in question, you are bound to ask yourself some searching questions. For instance, which is the best option for Ndigbo? An independent State of Biafra or a semi-autonomous Igbo nation within a restructured Nigeria? 

If your answer is an independent State of Biafra, you are correct from your own perspective. But I want us to look at the road to an independent State of Biafra critically. We have two routes to Biafra. The first route is to run the gauntlet and fight our way out of Nigeria. I am minded to suggest that this road is rough, bumpy and strewn with thistles, thorns and landmines. We have trodden this road before. We cannot afford a second experience. For those who did not witness the war, it is easier to vote for war. If war it is, what arsenal do we have? How can we protect ourselves? Presently, incontrovertible reports indicate that the Federal Government of Nigeria has established two arms dump sites in Igboland. The arms in these dumps are not for but against Ndigbo. I witnessed the war as a three-year old boy. When the federal forces invaded Onitsha, my father took my siblings and me and we had to trek from present “33” in Onitsha to Awka-Etiti before we got a ride to our village. War is not good for Ndigbo- not now or ever. 

The second option to the sovereign state of Biafra is through referendum. The Nigerian constitution has no provision for referendum. The constitution was authored by the northern dominated military in such a way that it is skewed against our people. For the option of referendum to be triggered we need the approval of the National Assembly. More than fifty percent of the members of the National Assembly are predominantly of core northern extraction and any vote for referendum will be dead on arrival. So for us to hope on referendum, the structures must first be recalibrated to ensure level playing field. Even in the likelihood of a referendum, we stand the risk of being out-voted. Why? I recall that in the not-too-distant past, IPoB gave a directive that our people should not register for national identity cards and voter registration. If push comes to shove and we are asked to vote in a referendum, many of our people would not be eligible to vote because millions of our young men and women obeyed the IPoB directive. 

We cannot possibly go through this alone. We need the understanding of the south-west, the south-south and even the Middle Belt. This is where diplomacy comes in. We need to further awaken the consciousness of one southern Nigeria. I am not oblivious of what happened in the past but for us to move forward, we have to think forward and not backwards. Every part of southern Nigeria has come to terms with the unworkability of the contraption called Nigeria. They are now the pall bearers of the demise of Nigeria. We need handshakes across the West, South and Middle Belt. 

Nnamdi Kanu appears not to have diplomacy in his dictionary. His courtesy calls to prominent Igbos on his release seem to have had no effect on his approach to this struggle. I am aware that most of the Igbo leaders he met after his release urged him to temper his utterances and refrain from invectives. He was urged to use his radio station for profitable broadcasts and not for name-calling. He has blatantly ignored these well-intended appeals. The result has been the quit notice by the Arewa Youths, which will come into effect on or before October 1st 2017.

I am minded to suggest that people like Nnamdi Kanu are attack dogs. When an attack dog turns against its owner, it may be considered dispensable. The attack dog of the north is the Arewa Youths. The Communiqué containing the quit notice issued by the Arewa Youths was not authored by them. It was authored by the northern intelligentsia. A thorough reading of the communiqué will convince you that it was authored by the best brains the north could parade. It was a decision by the northern establishment and this accounts for the inability of the security agencies to rein in any of the Arewa Youths. The attack dog of the West is OPC; and the attack dog for the south-south is MEND. One common denominator in these attack dogs is that they listen to their masters. Nnamdi Kanu does not listen to anybody. 

His directive that there should be no election in Anambra State is preposterous. For a crusader like him, he should be able to learn from history and avoid making mistakes. As at today, Anambra State is the most solvent and liquid state in the entire south-east with the highest per capita income, highest industrial growth, and lowest poverty rate. Its closest rival in the region is Enugu State. Consider the scenario in Anambra state if there is no election. Since we are still in Nigeria, if there is no election in the State, there will be breakdown of law and order in the state. in the event of this happening, the Federal Government will happily declare a state of emergency in Anambra. They will not bring an Igbo man as sole administrator. They will bring somebody from the north that will come and plunder the resources of Anambra state in months. Is this what we want for Anambra State? Certainly not! We once had this scenario at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. The Council and Senate could not agree on a Vice Chancellor and the Federal Military Government at that time, I think it was Ibrahim Babangida’s government, brought in someone from the outside Igboland as sole administrator. UNN is still suffering from that action today. We were the ultimate losers. If IPoB is not happy with the governor of Anambra State, it can prop up another candidate from another party and campaign for that candidate; but to say there will be no election in Anambra state is like playing Things Fall Apart without Okonkwo- A futile attempt.

In conclusion, Nnamdi Kanu should stop playing God. He is not the inventor of Biafra. Biafra is a monumental phenomenon that transcends the narrow confines of self adulation. It is a consciousness of freedom rooted in history. Given this consciousness, all shades of opinion must be carried along in the agitation; several options must be outlined and evaluated and wide ranging consultations made. We cannot afford a second war in Igboland. Let us be properly guided.

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