By Nnoruka Udechukwu SAN
“I, like many other Igbos have stood on the side lines for far too long, wishing this Biafran breeze fizzles away, but it’s now dangerously turning into a major storm that constitutes an existential threat to Igbo civilization as we know it. Those of you IPOBians, sympathizers, rumour mongers, facebook warriors, facebook megastars, opinion leaders and propagandists escalating the already tense situation must understand that in the end, you’ll all be losers, victims and at the same time in more bondage than you ever were. Not my wish anyway, but the perceptible reality. No war ever got won by emotions. Preparation and strategy does, ask any battle-tested soldier. Even the best of them got eaten. Little by little you guys are doing everything possible to attract avoidable conflict to our region hoping that the international community will intervene. You’ll be in for a shocker when this meal you’ve cooked for so long is served up.
Understand this, I have monitored many revolutionary conflicts around the world and know this for a fact, the international community foot-drags at less than a snail pace, if at all, before attempting any interventions in internal conflicts in a sovereign nation and that includes America and Israel you’re hoping on. War is a huge liability and no country wants to meddle. The best they give these days are relief not military aids and that is after many must have died including those who started the fire. I watched it happen to Libyans, Yemenis, Syrians and till now they still don’t have peace. Besides, you’d be stupid to believe that those countries, if ever there is any, promising to support Nnamdi Kanu are really in for it. Some of them want to use him to initiate conflict and sell their weapons to both sides and make blood dollars. War is an all-comers affair and all kinds of demonically vicious players come to the slimy field to play the hellish game of blood and death. In this case, Boko Haram that has largely been caged by the army will break free to roam with ambitions to finally establish their Caliphate across Nigeria, all because the Army now fighting on two fronts can no longer concentrate on them having become too stretched. Guess what, they’ll come with ISIS on their back. Nigerian Army will be fighting to keep Nigeria together on one front, Boko Haram (ISIS Nigerian Branch) with Caliphatist ambition on the other and Biafra with secessionist ambition on yet another front.
That was how Syria got so complex till date and any war in Nigeria today will have a similar picture. Whoever gets overwhelmed will face the other. It will be a long and difficult journey and unlike the first civil war without Boko Haram in the equation, no one can predict the tortuous end. Other Jihadists from across Africa and Middle-East will join in as they always do wherever there’s instability to advance their different brands of Islam. In the end you’ll leave Nigeria and discover you’re fighting other strangers you don’t even know how they came into the picture.
The big boys (international players) like Iran will be there to get there pound of flesh from Nigeria in revenge for the Shiites, Saudi will be there to defend Nigeria, and all will play. Weapons merchants will the start smiling to the banks. Guess where the theatre of war would be, Igboland. We must not allow this! Libyans thought they were fighting Ghaddafi but after Ghaddafi, they discovered other strangers fighting them to establish their different brands of Islam. Same thing in Syria. The words of Saif Al Islam Ghaddafi (Ghaddafi’s first son) keeps ringing in my ears as he forewarned Libyans of these grim possibilities, but okuko nti ike nánu ife n’ite ofe. I never took him seriously at the time but in retrospect, I now see he knew better because it panned out just as he predicted and Libya still isn’t out of the woods.
That’s the way it is these days of jihad consciousness across the world. If you ever experience war, you’ll never take peace for granted. War is not a movie as some of you think. You could be the first victim. Can you stomach watching your loved ones maimed, killed, raped, tortured, starve to death under slow and painful circumstances? Those are the grim realities of war and in Africa, it is executed with luciferous savagery and psychopathic sadism. The worst of peace is still better than the best of wars.
Funny enough, most of our chest-beating IPOBians will likely die off within the first month or two of the conflict leaving those who knew nothing or are on the sidelines to defend themselves. There will be nowhere to run to as no country in West Africa will agree to accept the ocean-sized volume of refugees. When the Rwandan genocide was looming, everyone was running his mouth until the death hurricane they courted so hard swept across their country, they wailed and shouted for international community to intervene but none came. That’s the way it is. Paul Kagame, their current President it was who ended it. And they vowed to “never again”. They learnt from history and have completely removed tribalism from every facet of national life and are admirably making astounding progress as one of Africa’s best.
My advice, agreed, Buhari hasn’t treated us as well as we wanted, but wait till 2023 and make amends. I have listened to Nnamdi Kanu on several videos and my conclusion is that he is plain naive on how things roll in a conflict situation. On one occasion he bragged that it would take him only two weeks to reach Sokoto in the event of war. I don’t know what weapons and extra-terrestrial strategies he has to execute that. War is an unpredictable undertaking that you’ll be ignorant to estimate which direction it goes. As it is, he has no weapons just yet and is bragging. Many of you believe him and even ascribe infallibility to his words. I have lived a couple of years abroad and what some of you don’t know is that many of our people there egging you on don’t have immigration papers and are praying for an outbreak of hostilities in Nigeria so they can claim asylum on the back of it.
We must advise ourselves on this current path of self-annihilation. Some of you think Biafra will be the end of all your problems, so South Sudan thought, as did Eritrea, but sorry it will be the beginning of new ones. Now take this to the Bank, it will even be far more difficult for any country to touch any conflict here with a long spoon than it was in the sixties. Reason? Then there was the prospect of oil but today oil is out of fashion and even as it is, Nigeria is begging for buyers and nobody’s buying. Osinbajo said that much a few days back. Now, tell me, if they spend their money intervening in your conflict to save your asses, what will they get in return? The best they can do for you is to condemn what is going on, then more out-pouring of condemnations and then more unleashing of floodgates of condemnations, but NO ACTION while you die in numbers.
You often argue that a call for referendum is not a call for war. I agree completely! Very true! Referendum is a right not a privilege. Even Buhari asserted that much in favour of Palestine when he addressed the UN. However, it is plain naivety to assume that all that is enshrined in international law is enforceable. UN has no mechanism of enforcement. Countries and Dictators constantly flout it and nothing happens. Even if something were to happen you’ll all have decomposed in your graves by then. A show of bravado will not lead you anywhere Umunnem. Call me a coward if you like, but Chinua Achebe told us that we often stand in the house of a coward to point at where a brave man ONCE lived. In any case, isn’t it foolishness to challenge an army that has been stockpiling arms since 1960 when you on the other hand haven’t bought a bullet just yet?
Papa Achebe puts it this way, “Only a foolish man can go after a leopard with his bare hands”. As impulsive and as tempting as it may get, tone down your rhetorics, invectives, acerbics, and cursing on social media. Cherish the peace you now have at least Igbos are not worse-off than other regions despite never being in power. While there is grinding poverty in other regions, the highest income per capita in the country is posted by Anambra and other Igbo states ain’t doing badly. Our people live well, build better houses compared to other regions and it’s all a miracle given the scratch we started from after the war. Why do we want to throw all that away because of ego and start all over again? Is it a curse? The Hausas though having been in power do not even live a better quality of life than Igbos. Let’s be wise and not give opportunity to destroy all we’ve achieved as a people.
I condemn in the strongest of terms the killing of unarmed people by Nigerian soldiers, killer herdsmen, and do not by any means say Nigeria is what we want it to be but understand Biafra wasn’t Ojukwu’s first choice. At Aburi his choice was a return to true federalism which he knew was a better deal for us than secession. Nigeria failed to honour that agreement and continued the killings forcing him to declare a Biafran Republic to save his people from slaughter and it’s understandable. Nigeria owes us tons of apologies, I agree. But brothers, let’s think again! A Biafra today will even be far less economically viable than it would have been then. Reason is because then we would have used oil money to jump-start the new country but today oil is so unsellable to the extent that Venezuela with arguably the largest reserves is grappling with severe economic problems. Kick-starting a new country from the basics would be painfully slow and may outlive our generation to even get the basic things in place. Arewa youths know that, the reason they have asked Nigerian Government to let Igbos go, only for Nnamdi Kanu to start asking for Benue and Rivers because he knows that Igboland alone isn’t viable.
Asking for Benue is laughable because they were never part of Biafra and have made it clear to all, as did different Rivers groups that they don’t want Biafra. A handful of his collaborators from those regions pledging allegiance to him does not equate to an entire people. Majority of their people hate this Biafran idea and have made that much clear. Some funny IPOBians are also hoping on Asari Dokubo and FFK. What a funny bunch being used to fight other people’s fight. Why won’t they take up the gauntlet or is it only us that is suffering injustice? Don’t even think corruption will suddenly disappear in a new Biafra as some naive IPOBians hope. If they give you Biafra today, your eyes will open up to new unpleasant realities many of you haven’t even factored-in in your agitation but then it would have been late.
I know voices like mine are often loathed and cursed by IPOBians but some of us who know the truth can no longer keep quiet while you drag us all into avoidable chaos. I owe our people the truth as I see it. Curse me all you want, it’s OK. Umunnem, ka ako’n’uche na udo chianu biko! Patience solves all things, with time. Let our people think again and know what is looming. Stop your facebook and social media vituperations, cursing, grand standing and join me to educate others. De-escalate this situation and speak words of kindness to others. Even mighty America de-escalates after tensions with Russia. It’s called wisdom. North Korea provokes South Korea most times but the South always de-escalates tensions knowing that the North hasn’t got anything to lose in the event of war but beautiful South Korea will lose quite a lot. In our case, all the beautiful houses and streets in Igboland will be razed to the ground. Why should we be starting afresh all the time? It will even be more painful if we lose again as was the case in 1970. As it is, it’s not looking good! One more thing. We can join other ethnic groups to demand restructuring. Let us not face our common enemy alone. Britain is our enemy using minority Fulani to enslave Nigerians. We can together liberate Nigeria from Fulani if only we can unite. Let’s stop all these provocative language and join forces with the West and the Middle belt. See all over where Igbos are killed on daily bases. The worst is our behaviour in other people’s land.