Chris Odinaka Nwedo
It is dissatisfying that many in the ranks of IPOB leadership do not appear to have ‘laboured’ enough to make the tools of the ideological struggle compatible with the methodologies natural to it. It is also possible to argue that they have carried on with the wrong tools defiantly. For instance, some among the ranks appeared to have created the impression that the campaign of scorn, spread of fear, exploitation of invectives and the use of worthless expressions are crucial in advancing the ‘liberation’ project.
It is divisive, sterile and a display of incoherence that members disagreeing on some points of order are instantaneously labeled “saboteurs and political neophytes cum Hausa-Fulani slaves…”, “The latest and greatest saboteurs of the restoration of the nation of Biafra”, “the sexually confused politicians who are prostitutes to Hausa-Fulani men in return for political favour”. The disagreeing folks are, thus, stigmatized and ostracized because according to IPOB, “it is clear they are the present danger to the Biafra restoration process and parts of the hall of infamy of Biafran saboteurs.” For me the expressions demonstrated stupid arrogance, these are injurious utterances of one out of control.
For the many, an attitude of this nature is not only objectionable but proved that unconstructive energies of some radicals in the IPOB are out of restraint. The disposition like this created and is sustaining some assumptions that some among the leaders are deficient in the areas of moderation, cantankerous and ridiculous. If the tools for the advancement of the project rise and fall on accusations, mock and tear down, exclusion or banishment of those considered ‘out of sequences’, then, Ndi Igbo have massive challenge containing and moderating the fire brands on free-wheel. Wild outburst and invectives, definitely, have no function in uniting Ndi Igbo in solidarity and true fraternity for the ‘common course’. Imprudent comments remove dignity from the course and cannot attract solidarity of potential sympathizers across the board. According to Nnia Nwodo, “our approach to reforms of our laws even if it leads to self-determination or restructuring must be lawful. We must convince other Nigerians of our point of view, we must strive to make others share our convictions. “Our language must be civil, respectful and lead to consensus building…”
The propaganda radio made no attempt to build consensus, it was not unifying and does not seem to understand where the real interests of Ndi Igbo were. The leadership of IPOB is disappointingly out of touch, elitist and disinclined to comprehensive consultation so as to interconnect diverse purposes. From the outlook, the potential difficulty will arise from the failure to respect and tolerate suggestions, differences and oppositions to the procedures. It is irrefutable that the implications of the demands of IPOB and the concrete reality specific to Ndi Igbo in Nigeria suggest that true struggle for secession can only be feasible through articulate and comprehensive dialogue, inclusive consultations, public sphere debate, synthesis of opinions and giving superior arguments the priority. If indeed due process is given the chance and infused in the very ideology of the struggle not doubt, the struggle has the brightest prospect. Sadly, going according to the whims and caprices of some of the frontline protagonists, given the self-evident predispositions to over radicalization, the Project Biafra and what it epitomizes will end-up replicating disaster.
The potentials of the radio Biafra are classed ethno-emotional and provocative. On the basis of the impression so far, it is insincere to claim that the movement will eventually produce the likes of Barack Obama because IPOB movement as it is today by method contradicts Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. These successfully worked for unity and solidarity and with the forceful tools, they efficiently stimulated sympathy for their projects. They were not raucous, divisive, and callous and, they never preached hatred and secession but equality and fraternity. For me, use of rational conversation and the galvanization of Ndi Igbo in solidarity have the potential to evoke genuine popular interest and as well play significant role in consolidating the momentum. The uniqueness of the solidarity is that it will be the burner. While on the other hand, the ethno-emotional divisive declarations cannot replace objectively true plan of action for achieving the goals of IPOB. If so far the leadership has not come up with verifiably true plan of action, it will be tempting to say that the distortion of the project has done enough to distract and to further destabilize Ndi Igbo.
The resolution to the problem of Ndi Igbo is not tearing out of Nigeria. The solution is in an active participation in national politics and increment in capacity for genuine enterprise and productivity in the South East. The influence of economy on politicians and politics is tremendous. Politics is not a dirty game Ndi Igbo must play unenthusiastically or absent mindedly. When you vote, you automatically vote in your right and all the ramifications of that right. When you voluntarily failed to vote, you have willfully repudiated your right to pressure the policies and programmes of the government in your favour. The value of this political truth is infinite, particularly, in a deceitful and insensitive society of ours where winners take all. It is idiotic to accept distorted facts in the statements of some self-serving individuals and be led by political sophistry of discredited politicians that votes do not count. It is an empirical fact that elections massively participated are endlessly problematical to rig successfully. If you are too busy or too holy to get your voters’ card and participate fully in electoral processes, then, you must have lethal weapons with which to force your choices on those who voted and won. In the meantime, nothing is as erroneous as an alleged declaration by IPOB that the November 18, 2017 governorship election in Anambra State should be prevented. The declaration is superfluous, provocative, destabilizing and serves no rational purpose. It is a definite invitation to lawlessness. The alleged declaration buttresses my hypothesis on the wrong methodology that must be corrected.
The hyperactive propaganda of panic and exaggeration of facts to draw Ndi Igbo by the throat out of Nigeria, suggested that some ‘needy’ politicians are working hard to cause instability for treacherous motives. I am convinced that, so far, people who unintentionally placed themselves on harm’s ways by the dictates of the ongoing eccentric secession project may have been hoodwinked. Self-determination is a sublime goal but the greatest challenge is always the people behind it.
It is not arguable that top structures in IPOB are passionate about getting Easterners out of Nigeria speedily but they have not yet displayed clear and definite instruments for accessing the ultimate goals of the secession. I think they need to be persuaded for patience and understanding, while I recommend that the susceptible supporters should endeavour to learn more about the movement in order to be more useful. It is naïve to vainly hope for favourable intervention by international communities as some IPOB members are quick to point out. However, if on the local level the IPOB’s plan to separate Ndi Igbo from Nigeria is seen as absurd, unsolicited and implausible, it is illogical to think that there are substantial supports outside the shores beyond the clatter and unenthusiastic skirmishes that inadvertently make fools of those behind the incoherent propaganda for division. It is naive and an intellectual weakness to simplistically believe that the world communities are contemplating support for IPOB’s secession plan. The error in this thinking is suicidal, many world leaders of substance have complex political and governance issues to contend with and are less likely to be concerned with self-inflicted pain in furlong ‘Dark Continent’.
It may be shocking to many that United Nations organization, UNO, fights no war and really helps no one. It is a union of powerful hypocrites specializing in supervision of crisis. Many of the departments in the institution need constant supplies of crisis to remain relevant. The top officers of the Organization make lot wealth through Diplomatic Shuttles during crisis. This is why so far the world’s most powerful institution has done nothing to prevent the wrong and the strong from destroying the weak and poor. It tactically allows the massacre and destruction to finish before it intervenes with ‘relief materials’. The diplomacy in the complex institution precludes truth and quality solution to any problem.
From the records of the recent history, United Nation never prevented America and her allies from invading Afghanistan, all its diplomatic powers failed to persuade Sadaam Hussein from invading and occupying Kuwait in the late 1990s. UNO was impotent in the face of Western powers and the associates when they decided to remove the Iraqi dictator and Libya strongman. If not the resistance from Russia, America and her allies could have dethroned and degraded Al Assad, the Syrian monster. Under the benefaction and supervision by Russia, the Syrian monster and his mercenaries have killed close to a million Syrians directly or indirectly. The totalitarian is practically unstoppable until he has slaughtered both his challengers and the sympathizers. It was the removal of Sadaam from power that radicalized and opened the windows for the irrepressible violent waves of Islamic terrorism. Iraq is pitiably ruined, a ‘quiet’ Libya is today invaded by violence and anarchy, there seemed no immediate hope for return of normalcy, Syria is going fast, Georgia and Ukraine were ravaged by Russia. One many ask where is the UNO?
After the removal of Mobutu in a political upheaval, Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, was plunged into intractable wars of attrition while UNO waited until the strong had its will to send relief materials and soldiers as Peace-Keepers. These Peace Keepers turned predators ravaging, raping and impoverishing the war victims they were paid to protect and comfort. It was said that Palestinians lived in suppression for decades and intermittent wars of total destruction have been going on for decades which the UNO has done thing to stop or de-escalate. In the recent times, a UNO school in the Palestinian territory was bombed by Israel on a pretext that various Hamas affiliated groups use the compound as weapons’ dump. Till today, UNO has done nothing to punish neither Israel nor the militants that abused its facilities.
Pope has no military power to protect people working hard to break away from their countries. The Pope’s pattern of counsel is, “be responsible, respect the authority, work hard and pray for peace and justice to prevail over greed and man’s inhumanity to man”. He does not support rebellious disorder that creates and complicates hardship for the victims of injustices.
America has nothing to gain for supporting balkanization of Nigeria. America is today overwhelmed by her internal crises as she is preponderantly challenged by never-ending predicaments arising from her many unsupportable foreign interventions and the progressively diminishing prospects of economic growth. The American former president Barak Obama argued forcefully against Brexit but he was absolutely impotent in stopping the exit of Britain from the European Union. The proposed exit of Biafra is not the same thing with the British exit from the EU. EU is a club many Britons objected to in the ‘Brexit’ referendum.
Many countries in Europe have groups agitating for independence. These groups operate under stringent pressures and enormous sanctions in spite of the civilization and libertarian cultures in Europe. To be specific there is a group like IPOB in Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, France, etc. European countries individually and collectively have far more overwhelming economic, social and security challenges than the distractions of inarticulate secession campaign. However, believing that America and Europe cannot be attracted by the rant, I am not sure of the less influential countries. May be the organisers of IPOB have plans beyond America and Europe. They are challenged to make their plans in this sphere clear and understandable to help in galvanizing meaningful support for the movement even in diasporas.
I am resolute in my proposition that the principal reason why Ndi Igbo main stream have no support for the separatists’ movement is that the true objectives of the movement are untenable or flimsy. The proponents have not proficiently demonstrated the concrete goals for the secession to evoke popular embrace. Today the movement is mostly hanged on sentiments that Southeast is marginalized. This is not true. The truth is that Nigerians irrespective of zone, ethnicity or religion are marginalized and impoverished by the rulers. The marginalization by the Nigerian elites are universal and therefore not specific to any group of nationality. Even the word ‘marginalization’ is now heavily abused in the context of Nigerian socio-political order.
Recall during the regime of GEJ that the resentment of the north on the presumption of marginalization gave massive face lift to Boko Haram. The South- west was comparatively not present in the government. The highest ranking officer in the government from the zone was Senate leader. Speaker of the House was zoned to Southwest but was disloyally aborted by Aminu Tambowal. This means that the zone was least represented. The Southeast at this time never complained of marginalization and\or partiality which signified that the zone was fully in the affairs. However, from the state of the infrastructure in the zone it does seem that the full representation translated to nothing collectively beneficial. Surely, the full representation served not the collective interest of the zone but the subjective interests of those who were elevated to power, wealth and influence.
My candid submission is that political marginalization is a usual lamentation each time power rotates. Therefore, presenting the marginalization as a sufficient cause for destabilizing the South east is infinitely stupid. And a movement that is hanged on this brand of sentiment is bound to dry up. The rampages of the criminals or Fulani herds’ men in the South East did not predate the IPOB but as recent as the horrendous phenomena they needed to be incorporated as a very important content in the struggle. My hypothesis is that if we destabilize southeast imprudently, the zone will become vulnerable to the Fulani herdsmen. The herdsmen will no longer invade in the night to slaughter folks and disappear. But they will come with their flocks and with pencils in hands to map out areas to occupy. The reason is that in the state chaos Ndi Igbo lacks formidability and focus to challenge them.
It is easier for the South east to put their houses in order than any other vain struggle. If the zone is incapable of organizing against the Fulani herdsmen and women how then can the IPOB resist ferocious attacks of trained soldiers with tanks and modern weapons of warfare when the soldiers come to fight the secessionists? The only thing capable of taking South-east way from Nigeria is war. Has the zone all it takes to organize its security? The South-east must not be careless. The marginalization, the attacks by the Fulani are cancerous but the remedy is readily available therefore not sufficient reasons to voluntarily abandon Nigeria and go empty-handed. In terms of investment, the South easterners made Nigeria enriched and greater. Probably, they have greater investment in the country than any other group. For me, Biafra is a consciousness, a style of thinking. It should not be subjected to time. It is a timeless project. Breaking away is not better than thinking Biafra first.