The Biafran Question: In Whose Interest?
Omoba Adetola Odusote anipr, rpa writes on the raging Biafra issue. After the political imbroglio that came in the wake of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 general elections, globally acclaimed to be the freest in the history of not just Nigeria but the West coast of Africa, and won by our most loved philanthropist turned politician Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, there has never been a test of the unity of the Nigerian nation until the recent Nnamdi Kanu’s Biafra call vis a vis Arewa’s Igbo 3 months ultimatum exit order.
Analysing the merits and demerits of the situation on face value, the protagonists and the antagonists of the Eastern Biafran and Northern banishment order have only demonstrated their naivety of the implication of their reckless action.
Definitely, they are ignorant of the lessons of history and of course, they are oblivious of where Nigeria as a nation of many republics, is coming from. Some of these recalcitrant youths were not born and have not even read about the history of neither the Nigerian civil war nor the post-independence political travesty that threw the nation into ethnic nationalism.
For the want of space and time, I would want to address the Biafra question which Nnamdi Kanu, a certain Igbo youth previously with dual citizenship; British and Nigerian, but now has 3rd citizenship; Biafran has been criminally agitating for.
Kanu was said to have been recruited by the Massob leader Ralph Uwazuruike who said he found him jobless, roaming the street of London. He was recruited to join the Massob movement because he had nothing doing and he was very passionate about the Ndigbo cause.
After his rehabilitation, he became loose, uncontrollable and became a tool in the hands of politicians from the East who have lost out in the power play and flourishing free money rain under the immediate past leadership.
Unfortunately, Kanu finds easy loop in the current political imbalance and a rallying cry in the Biafra apologists. He became a cheer leader in the Biafra singsong. Like a joke, he started fanning the ember of hatred against the constituted authority and against the imaginary enemies of the Igbos.
The word marginalization once again became a front burner agenda. This time a tool for Biafra promoters to premise their agitation. The political history of Nigeria since independent is not complete without the word marginalisation. The Yorubas have cried marginalisation; the Ijaws have cried marginalisation, the Kanuris, Hausa Fulanis, the Junkuns etc. Almost every major tribe in Nigeria has a claim to that controversial word ‘Marginalisation’. It has been over flogged and every tribe has learnt to live with it, reinvent themselves and move on. Political leaders in a place like Yoruba land are keenly watched and held accountable.
I however wonder why the Igbos would not hold their political leaders accountable for their woes. The Igbo leaders are actually the ones marginalising their own. Unlike South West, the Igbo leaders seek political power for personal aggrandisement. Not until the present Governors took over, states like Ebonyi and Abia have suffered woefully and the Biafra apologists have not deemed it fit to go after these fraudulent leaders who have stolen their common patrimony. I have traveled round the whole of the 5 states in the East, I have been to the South South, gone round the North Central, North East and North West, and of course, I have lived in every States in the West where I come from. The East stands out worse in terms of development; no region collects the kind of ecological funds that is apportioned to the East, but what do we have today, high degradation by erosion.
So, why would the Igbos be looking at the spate of development in other regions and come to the conclusion that you are being marginalised. When past and present governors like (picking randomly) Donald Duke, Fashola, Ambode, Markarfi, El-Rufai, Amosun, Fayose, Mimiko, Wike, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, et al, are pushing a developmental and progressive frontiers at their respective states, Eastern governors are going on jamboree; amassing state’s wealth for personal affluence; building and buying mansions in and outside the country, establishing private companies at the expense of the Igbo nation; this is with exception to the present governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano who has been adjudged to be doing well.
So why should you blame other regions for your retrogressive state? Comparatively when it comes to commerce, Igbos benefits more in the Nigerian State than any other tribes in Nigeria. There are no states, cities, communities, villages in Nigeria where you wouldn’t find Ibos. And they are not just there; they establish commercial activities and are well received. Name any business in any community where you wouldn’t find my Eastern brothers thriving while the indigenes of such communities will be struggling and eventually fail in such trade.
From Maiduguri to Jos, from Markurdi, to Ilorin, from Osogbo to Ibadan, from Akure to Ijebu Ode, from Abuja to Lagos, from Benin to Port Harcourt, to Yenogoa, the Ibos simply dominate without any hassle.
So why would a Nnamdi Kanu, a disgruntled element from Dublin, UK, who is under the pay roll of some political forces be allowed to mislead the Igbos and destabilise them from their favoured state to a pariah state?
The call for Biafra is to achieve what? Who will suffer if Igbo nation exit the Nigerian Nation? Is it Nnamdi Kanu, the sharp boy who carries UK Passport or their host communities across the nation?
A decisive but retributive remark from Arewa Youth, calling on all Igbos to exit the North has thrown the Biafra criers in a whirlwind; they are now shouting blue murder. Though condemnable, there is credence in the ultimatum given by the northern youth in the face of the treasonable call for Biafran republic. Economically the East is not endowed, ecologically, the East is not blessed, natural resources wise, the
East cannot boast of much; so why would somebody in his right sense push a senseless cause in a suicidal way?
Though, it could be argued that the Biafra call is a just cause because like every other regions in Nigeria, the Ibos has justifiable reasons to be aggrieved. But Dr Nnamdi Azikwe saw reasons in aligning with the principle of Unity in diversity that was why he supported the Eastern alignment with the North in the 1st & 2nd republics against the emergence of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group (AG) and Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) respectively.
My brothers from the East, let us learn lessons from history…It pays us all as Nigerians to stay together and fight for our common emancipation from the economic oppression of our political leaders.
Odusote, a journalist, PR practitioner and public affairs analyst wrote in from Lagos