Ever since the recently renewed struggle for the realization of the sovereign state of Biafra began, a lot of misleading and silly remarks and misinformation have flooded and continued to be peddled around the Nigerian political space about (Biafra) the upcoming newest country to join the league of sovereign states in the global map.
Expectedly, part of the reasons for the propagation of all these stupid and misleading comments about Biafra is, arguably, not unconnected with the obvious and desperate desire of the propagators of these canards to not only discourage the growing population of the teaming protagonists and supporters of the emerging sovereign state of Biafra, but also to create and instil fear in the minds of the agitators.
However, what these propagators of lies and antagonists of Biafra seem not to realize yet is that, gone are the days of employing fear, threat, naked use of force and even blandishments, where inevitable, with an intent to intimidate, confuse, coerce or cow Ndigbo, and their youths in particular, into a sort of slave submission. Perhaps this archaic mentality goes to explain why these political slave masters are apparently loath to ask themselves the fundamental question as relates to how (all of a sudden) the Igbo known hitherto for their seeming aversion to street protests and, rather, for putting premium on time and the pursuit of their businesses than anything else, are today willingly thronging the streets across their homeland and beyond in strong demands for the unconditional release of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu (who is unjustly languishing in Muhammadu Buhari’s dungeon) and for the creation of the sovereign state of Biafra out of the Nigerian state.
Funny enough, whereas these legitimate demands being peacefully and lawfully ventilated through protests (by the pro-Biafra activists) are viewed to be mere activities of miscreants by no less a miscreant than former President Olusegun Obasanjo, they (the agitations) are regarded more or less as nothing in the predictable opinion of General Yakubu Gowon, who amusingly believes that “with Biafra it is finished”. Incidentally, these are old men and so-called civil war veterans who, behind their tough-talking and seemingly unperturbed facade, are deeply troubled in their innermost hearts over the surprisingly generational transfer of the same Biafra struggle which they had hitherto, erroneously and naively thought to be no more attractive, if not dead. It is perhaps within this context that one could, of course, appreciate the seeming honesty behind the claim by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ ad Abubakar 111, of being increasingly worried over the raging pro-Biafra protests.
But however honest the Sultan is or may be on this matter, it is imperative for him to know that his assertion to the effect that the Igbo living in his part of the North “keep telling us (them) that they have nowhere else to live than where they are presently living” cannot but be best considered as his subjective or personal opinion. Of course it is not unexpected that the Sultan ought to know better what would naturally be the predictable responses of these foregoing Igbo folks so reportedly interacted with on this raging issue of Biafra agitations, bearing in mind the straitjacket of feelings of insecurity to their business interests, lives and properties that are bound to limit their frankness in the course of the said interaction. In other words, the Sultan should ordinarily have no illusions about the predictable responses of these Igbo business men and women living in his domain on the subject of their desirability of the sovereign state of Biafra or otherwise in the absence of an organised, official or, better still, a United Nations-backed referendum. It is, therefore, laughable that the Sultan of Sokoto or anyone else could be deluding him/herself thinking and asserting that the Igbo traders and residents in the North are ever disposed to continue to live in darkness, instead of light which the sovereign state of Biafra symbolizes in all facets, should there be referendum today.
Meanwhile, regarding the remark that the Igbo will simply lose their perceived tight grip or dominance in the control of the vast majority of markets and commercial activities spread across all nooks and crannies in Nigeria should they opt for the sovereign state of Biafra in due course, there is no gainsaying that this is somewhat misleading. In the very first instance, it is crystal clear that the Igbo inclination for active and competitive participation in business and/or their ubiquitous involvement in commercial activities is a well known global reality which transcends borders and to a large extent defies human comprehension. To this end, therefore, if it is the calculation of certain Nigerian people that Ndigbo will be at a great risk of losing their perceived tight control or dominance in the area of commerce in Nigeria in the event they ultimately embrace the sovereign state of Biafra, then these Lugardian elements need to be reminded or told in plain words that when one door closes another one opens; that the Igbo participation in commercial activities goes beyond trading in the Nigeria markets; and, more importantly, that the Igbo can afford to survive discretely or without dependence on the Nigerian markets. In essence, it is no Nigerian citizen’s business or task crying for the Igbo people over the so-called possible loss of their control of markets in Nigeria should they opt for the sovereign state of Biafra. Surely it is easy to project that the Igbo will be losing their perceived tight control of the Nigerian markets should they ultimately embrace the option of an independent state of Biafra, yet this is relatively too small a price to pay for the sake of achieving a consolidated and prosperous living as well as a meaningful future both for themselves and their posterity – prospects that can rarely be accomplished under the auspices of the Nigerian state.
What is more, the attempts by unscrupulous Igbo and non-Igbo elements to correlate the renewed struggle for the independent state of Biafra with the anticipated notion of Igbo Presidency by 2023 (or 2019, according to General Ibrahim Babangida’s obsession) is not just mischievous but also an instance of crass stupidity of highest order. As a matter of fact, the enduring merits of actualising and living in the land of the independent state of Biafra far outweigh the fleeting gains associated with the time-bound Igbo “occupation” of the Presidency of the Nigerian state. For this reason, it is neither here or there for the political slave masters and all those who think that the idea of a sovereign state of Biafra is something that can be traded off with the lure of Igbo Presidency in Nigeria.
Strangely, virtually all Nigerians are quick to come to an agreement that no nationality and people in Nigeria are more nationalistic, patriotic, cosmopolitan and diligent in terms of effecting national spread in the development of Nigeria than the Igbo have done, yet the same Igbo are despised, maltreated and viewed as being deficient of all these same virtues whenever it comes to matters pertaining to their legitimate aspirations and entitlement to occupy the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Yet, these “lying liars” believe that the Igbo must be perpetually subjugated to the captivity of one indivisible Nigeria (?).
Worse still, these hypocrites are wont to caution that the Igbo might unknowingly be hurting themselves and their group interest vis-a-vis their prospect for producing a President of Igbo stock for Nigeria owing to the ongoing agitation for Biafra. Unfortunate as this line of thought is, it seems to elude the short memories of the elements behind this mischief that even if the ongoing Biafra agitations were to be aptly perceived as Igbo people’s strategic precursor to securing the Presidency of Nigeria sooner than later, that such is not a novelty and as such has no basis for hurting the Igbo interest vis-a-vis other contending interests in the Nigerian project. Or, have we now forgotten that it was the extreme propensities of the Yoruba nation to “spoil show” for the unity of Nigeria (in the wake of the sudden demise of Chief M.K.O Abiola) that necessitated the emergence of President Olusegun Obasanjo? Or, in the same vein, that safe for the same proclivities of the Niger-Delta Militants to rend the country apart in 2011, the seeming national consensus to elect President Goodluck Jonathan would not have been reached? Or, could the narrative be different from the Boko Haram menace which provided the people of the Northern region the catalytic platform for the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari? And based on the foregoing, why then do the spokesman of the All Progressive Congress in the South-East and his counterpart in President Muhammadu Buhari’s media team want us to believe that the Igbo demand for a sovereign state of Biafra will hurt or stop the quest for Igbo Presidency in Nigeria?
But, on the other hand, assuming the ongoing agitations for Biafra belie a political undertone – which even though unlikely, cannot be ruled out –what then can anybody say is wrong with it given the fact that since the annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential election and the eventual demise of Chief M.K.O Abiola (the custodian of the mandate of that annulled election) in 1998, threat of secession or the outright unleashing of violence on the citizenry and the polity at large has thenceforth become a new pattern of negotiating for and securing Presidential power in Nigeria?
Anyway, what is paramount now in the face of the increasing issues arising from the ongoing agitations for Biafra is for the international community, and all sane minds, to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to unconditionally release Mr. Nnamdi Kanu (the Director of Radio Biafra) and to organise a referendum with a view to nipping in the bud the impending conflagration that could erupt in Nigeria as corollary of the prevailing and premeditated inaction. Needless to say, this will in turn go a long way clearing the air on the diverse misleading remarks and misinformation about the ongoing agitations for the sovereign state of Biafra.
– Onyiorah writes from Abuja via [email protected] (07012130204).