By Eke Eke
Without prejudice and sentiments. There are facts, opinions and outright falsehood or lies. The one, one applies, often depends on one’s objective.
Facts, opinion and lies are often webbed to defend positions or advance objectives. Almost always, opinion and lies are given as facts in public discourse, especially in politics. In this my final contribution to the Igbo debate, I will stick to facts and state my opinion.
Not many Igbos have as aspiration, the exploitation of the tragedy of Biafra as Umezurike and those who fail out with him have done.
For majority of those who survived the war and many others who understand that war is a wrong solution to the right problem, Biafra, is too painful and sacred a tragedy to trivialise in such manner. Their honest goal is to address the issues that necessities Biafra in the first instance. Ethnic prejudice, discrimination, corruption and intolerance.
Since the end of the civil war, Igbos have been hoodwinked by messiahs, whose God is their belly. Therefore, there is every good reason to examine every Moses, to see, if he can turn a stick into a snake, before following him to the land of Canaan.
The comparison of Nnamdi Kanu with Mandela is hyperbolic and laughable. It is a disproportionate comparison, which is uncalled-for. It distorts the realities of the current agitation by IPOB and juxtaposes the Igbo struggle in a context it does not honest apply.
It distracts from the fact that Igbo’s have lacked effective leadership for a long time and masks the unpreparedness of IPOB for the response of the government and those who must oppose them.
It is also a fact that lack of effective Igbo leadership and the discriminatory policies of federal government of Nigeria against Igbos gave rise to the situations, which the likes of Umezurike and Nnamdi Kanu have exploited.
It therefor follows that any attempt by the government to address the grievances within the Nigerian polity would be a desirable development and will weaken support for Biafra. However, the northern dominated federal government of Nigeria has no such plan.
Sadly, Igbos have not had the leadership which is able to confront and compel the federal government to play by the rules and respect civil values.
It is the duty of those who suffer injustice in a democracy to find the most effective way to compel the government to do what is right, fair and lawful. This is what we are not doing.
In this wise, we need to distinguish between facts and opinion and try to make the best use of the facts.
- Nnamdi Kanu has used Biafra as a rallying point for Igbos against the injustices of Nigerian government.
- He has a following who believe in Biafra.
- Some Igbo youth are agitating for Biafra.
- Igbos want to secede from Nigeria.
- Igbos want Biafra. Our opponents will use the opinion against us in national politics. It is our duty to stick to facts.
- Igbos want a better Nigeria where they are not discriminated.
The questions are:
- Is Biafra achievable in the way IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu have approached it?
- What are the limitations of their method?
- Can the limitations be remedied?
- If they can be remedied, what is the best way?
- If not, what is the right way to approach the problem.
- What should be the role of elected representative and traditional rulers?
Without answering this question, every other thing is conjecture.
If Biafra can be achieved by the method of IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu, then he is the Messiah and Igbos should follow him to the promise land.
If it is not, he is a rabble-rouser and we have to convert the political support he has generated into a political capital with which we to invest in struggle for freedom.
His group has drawn attention to the plight of Igbos in Nigeria and this is no small achievement. The challenge is to build on what they have started.
There are other groups, which have done more ground works on the path to referendum.
However, the actions of IPOB have also further alienated Igbos from Nigeria and distracted from the fight against injustices to Igbos.
Kanu is both un-elected and self-appointed, the two most dangerous factored that give rise to the worst outcome.
Democratic societies cannot progress under self-appointed leaders. Nnamdi Kanu will have make some decisions very soon.
He may have to consider joining main stream politics and or running for office to gain democratic mandate and legitimacy. This is the only way in a democracy. This will give him opportunity to Pursue self-determination within mainstream politics.
Jerry Adams and Martin McGuiness ran for parliament and were elected to British Parliament, when IRA was engaged in arm struggle. In this wise, Nnamdi Kanu will have to decide, which path to pursue. His democratic options are limited.
There is no doubt, the Biafra’ agitation in the way IPOB have gone about it in Nigeria have been dealt a serious blow by the bailing of Nnamdi Kanu on stringent conditions.
Igbos cannot belong to two countries at the same time. The solution to the Igbo problem in Nigeria is not Biafra. Biafra is an ethnic response to a national problem.
It would be tragic and bad politics to convert Igbo land to a region of agitation, when other legitimate avenues exist to pursue the same objective.
Such regions do not develop and will not attract investments. The government will simply occupy it with its arm forces, which will brutalise the people. There is a better way.
It would be naive not to expect the government to try to delegitimise IPOB, considering the stringent condition under, which Nnamdi Kanu’s bail was secured.
By fulfilling the bail condition, the government has activated plan B. Which is to criminalise the activities of IPOB.
This has already happened. The government has decided to classify activities of IPOB as a security risk, which is a prelude to proscribing and crush it by force.
It gives the government additional opportunity to accuse Nnamdi Kanu of belong to a proscribed organisation. The struggle just began.
The next step is to pick up Nnandi Kanu for violating his bail condition or just leave him to rot, by adjourning the case indefinitely. In both cases, the government will achieve its objective. Nnamdi Kanu is currently indebted to three man who stand to lose up to 300 million Naira, should he fail to appear as and at when the court demands.
With this plan in place, it is inconceivable that the government would allow a referendum to take place in the east, especially, when none of the existing political parties are spearheading it.
If the agitation is well founded, and the government reverts to violence, it will mark the point of departure from peaceful protest. I fear that the blood of many more Igbo youth will be shed, unless there is a change of tactics.
The only logical choice, for Igbos, while we decide our long-term future and relationship with Nigeria is to pursue restructure of Nigeria, while at the same time, pursuing a more aggressive fight against marginalisation and injustices against us.
This will give us time and room to build structures and institution that can sustain the struggle for independence, should intransigence of the north destroys any chance of meaningful federation with the south.
I say these because struggle for independence is a rubicon, which once crossed, is difficulty to return. In the end, even if we fight a war, we will talk peace, if we survive. I believe in talking peace to avoid war.
Nnamdi Kanu should take solace in the fact that he has achieved fame and helped Igbos to regain their voice, in a most unorthodox way. The latter is no small achievement.
However, those who ride the tiger, must remember that the tiger gets hungry. His motive and method will come under greater scrutiny in the days ahead. I hope they stand the test.
This is no time for sentiments, the north is single minded in pursuit of its objectives. Look at the charade of fighting Boko Haram and pretending they have found what they hid. We can complain and do nothing, or respond to neutralise their effects of their actions. Restructure of Nigeria is a strategic position in a very long walk to freedom.
The refusal to address the Fulani herdsmen terrorism, the way Boko Haram terrorists are treated by the government and the north centred and Islamic focused policies of the government are clear signs of the intention of the north, which we ignore at our peril.
Nevertheless, it is our duty to resist, by civil disobedience and protest and using all available democratic, politics, legal and economic avenues at our disposal. Any method or tactics that will give the government justification to use force, when we have no capacity for retaliatory response would be counterproductive. A man with a machete should not accept a duel with another with a gun.
The lest we can do is hold the government accountable for the injustices against us, including for the criminal activities of Fulani herdsmen, continue civil protests, escalate the and demand for the end of all discriminations against Igbos and Igbo region to be ended and insist on new constitution which guarantees our liberty and human rights.
This is where a good opposition party is important. It gives a platform to confront the government. Another reason why every Igbo above 18 must register.
The goal should be to force restructure of Nigeria. Agitation for Biafra, while fighting for restructure will give mixed message. We must therefore frame restructure as the solution to Nigeria’s problem and ensure that it addresses the reason for agitation for Biafra.
In this way, the north will be in no doubt, that frustrating restructure by intransigence and arrogance will make Biafra inevitable. In my view, this is smart politics.
I must say that Ohanaeze and Igbo elected political leaders and not IPOB, important as it is, should lead. This is an existential struggle.
The fact is that the north will eventually out breed us. They are allowed 4 wives and therefore bound to produce more children, which will allow them to maintain the current tyranny of the majority, in the name of democracy.
Another reason to work for devolution by way of restructuring, which will put us on a high way to independence, should that become inevitable later.
Igbos will do well to listen to Ohanaeze at this time. This is another reason why Igbos must elect good, honest and visionary leaders, who will fight for what the people want and plan for the future.
Our future in Nigeria, under the current dispensation is not bright. Agitation alone without support of elected political leaders cannot deliver the outcome we seek.
We all have to work together towards the same goal. There are no messiahs.
The choices are restructure or independence. The starts quo is untenable.
I rest my case. I will be taking a long holiday and will return. Thank you all and long live Ndi Igbo and may God help Nigeria.
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