Biafra, Ndigbo And The Rest Of Us, By Usama Dandare
It is over forty-five years after the end of the bloody Nigerian civil war in which government troops fought and defeated Biafran secessionists, the ghost of Biafra has not been laid to rest and the dream of an independent South-East has not completely died. Several Ndigbo whom were awash with political sentiment, religious intolerance, ethnicity and ignorance are still dreaming of a possible break-up from Nigeria.
Never in the history of this nation when the entire people of Eastern Nigeria unanimously reached a consensus to go for independence and part ways with Nigeria. All we’ve been witnessing was a movement of some few greedy political and military nuisance from the Eastern part of Nigeria who sought to take advantage of the shift in the base of nation’s new found wealth, from the export agriculture to the emerging oil economy. These same elite, once they realized that they could still partake in the sharing of the oil revenues equally with the political elite from the rest of the country, they sought accommodation within one Nigeria.
But the ideological manipulation anchored on the cries of marginalization still remains a potent tool for elite bargaining and sometimes blackmail within the context of regional distribution of resources and elite accumulation.
All the major regions of Nigeria have something they hold outside the desire to be in one Nigeria, as a bargaining chip once they perceive some unevenness in the distribution of prebends. Which is why every part of Nigeria has its own story of marginalization, etc, vis-a-vis the other parts. What these greedy elites normally do whenever government fails to satisfy their greed, was to capitalize on the gullibility of some few ignoramus and ethnic bigots to get cheap attention or endorsement and create an avenue of wealth accumulation, just like the way Niger Delta Militants and OPC have had theirs. This is exactly what Nnamdi Kanu of Radio-Biafra is upto, far away from London.
Radio Biafra – an online seditious pirate radio station broadcasting illegally from London – have been heating up the polity with inflammatory and unsavoury hate messages in recent time, since PDP’s monumental defeat in the March 28 presidential polls to be precise. The illegal radio station under the leadership of one Nnamdi Kanu preaches nothing but ethnic jingoism and hatred designed to create disunity among Nigerians and mislead Igbo youths in a deliberate act of subversion, to undermine the sovereignty of the federal republic. But to my ultimate trepidation, the same political elite from the South-Eastern part of Nigeria that were very venomous in attacking the North and its leaders for not loudly condemning the activities of Boko Haram insurgents and mobilizing to stop them on their tracks, are surprisingly dead silent in relation to the activities of Radio Biafra and sundry Biafran “activists” at home and abroad.
This is quite strange, chiefly because the kind of hate speech and “weaponisation” of the airwaves associated with this latter day Biafra agitation is potentially even more lethal than Boko Haram insurgency, if the experience of countries like Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia is anything to go by. (Apologies to Dr. Yakub Aliyu).
Obviously, the international statutes has guaranteed the right to self-determination but there is a process- a peaceful one of course. Analogously, the Nigerian Constitution duly protects the right of citizens to self expression by all and sundry. Yet, such rights are never open-ended on issues of peaceful co-existence or when the touch on national security. The same international statutes and the Nigerian constitution also kick-against anything that could trigger conflicts with potential for violent disruption of civic life.
It is time for the political, religious and economic elite from the South-Eastern part of Nigeria to come forward with a stand on this very obvious menace called Radio Biafra. Is either they publicly condemn Radio Biafra or they will be considered co-conspirators. It is necessary because that would assure Nigeria, Africa and the world that what is going on is just the ranting of some scrupulous elements. They should up the game, learn the necessary lessons, and do better than their Northern counterpart that they have so maligned on account of Boko Haram, realizing also that it was our inability to nip Boko Haram extremists on time that led us to this mess we are in. They should bear in mind that Boko Haram is a relatively isolated case when compared with this brazen affront on the entire Nigerian nation. Their intervention will save us a lot from the distractions and the stress of direct confrontation with the state which as the Boko Haram is inevitable with all the accompanying bitter consequences for the rest of us, peace loving Nigerians.
The people of the South-East fought a war of self-determination between 1967-1970 and lost, thus leading to the death of about one million innocent citizens and perhaps properties worth billions of Dollars, which was indeed a huge price for the unity of this country. Having paid this monumental supreme price, I think the so-called Biafrans should agitate for the unity of this country on the basis of social justice, equity and fair play, to avoid a repeat of another bloody war for their own good.
The reality is that those from the Eastern part are all over Nigeria; in fact it is rare to find a community across the length and breadth of this country that does not shelter people from the South-East; Nigeria provides a conducive atmosphere for people from the Eastern part (Igbo precisely) to scope their branches, explore, excel and blossom. The South-East is too small for this highly mobile and dynamic people to pursue their commercial activities. It’s on record that the Ndigbo control about 60% to 70% of all the imports in Nigeria while other tribes in the country provide the huge market for the mobile Igbos and big time traders. If their dream of an independent Biafra come alive, who will constitute the chunk of consumers to patronize their commodities?
The bitter truth is that Radio Biafra decided to ratchet up its war propagandas and source huge sums of funds to do just that only after the so-called pro-Igbo Goodluck Jonathan was flushed out of power. This throws up a lot of questions, such as; why such agitation completely quenched during Jonathan regime and suddenly came to live after Jonathan? Does Radio Biafra’s current villainy and demonic activities have anything to do with PDP’s almighty failure? Is it another political tactic that seeks to gain relevance from threatening the peace and security of the nation?
On the other hand, the federal government should as a matter of urgency discuss and promptly address some pressing issues affecting the livelihood of the people of South-East like; infrastructure, farming, industrialization, education, employment and more importantly provide a conducive atmosphere for business opportunities and growth. But ignoring the South-Eastern region similar to what we witnessed during Goodluck Jonathan’s reign of impunity will absolutely birth another serious security challenges in a more violent nature. The federal government should systematically device a holistic approach to get hold of Nnamdi Kanu and force him to pay severely for his stupidity, arrogance and immorality. “Radio Biafra is the opportunistic lizard that takes advantage of the crack in the wall to enter one’s house. Killing the lizard will not stop other Lizards from getting into the house; mending the cracked wall will.”
If anyone come shouting Biafra, let that person avail us with the consensus reached by the entire people of Eastern Nigeria that they should break away from Nigeria. And how they intended to go about it. If there was no empirical evidence to that effect then forget about freedom of expression or Human rights, that person is simply a trouble maker, wanting to reap where he did not sow.
Almost all the Igbo youths of today were not born to witness the Nigerian civil war, perhaps this was why most of them are beating war drums but I am sure they must all have an idea of what is going on in the Boko Haram troubled region of North-East, they should remember not to forget that “when the rain falls, it does not fall on one roof alone.” The truth is that the South-East deserves developmental projects (likewise all the regions in Nigeria) but not the enrichment of a few scrupulous elements and bloodsuckers whom are uncomfortable with the nation’s peaceful coexistence.
It is on record that almost all previous administrations especially that of Goodluck Jonathan neglected Ndigbo and South-Eastern region with no visible development unless on papers, the thieving ruling class and the so-called political elites are also guilty of sucking the entire region dry including traditional rulers.
If these so-called Igbo freedom fighters succeeded in birthing another civil war, it is only the poor people of the South-East that will suffer just like the case in North-East where only the poor masses have been the very victims of Boko Haram insurgency for several years. Nnamdi Kanu and cohorts lives in far away United Kingdom, so it is only the poor Ndigbo residing in Nigeria will fall victims of the civil war and pay the price of what Nnamdi Kanu bargained for.
So Ndigbo are free to put up a fight against Nigeria at their own peril and bring the nation down if they can, it won’t affect anybody or any region but Ndigbo and the South-East region in general. Whatever the outcome will be as a result of this politically motivated agitation, Ndigbo should have nobody to blame but themselves for the cane that was used to beat the first wife is on the roof top for the second wife.