FEATURE ARTICLE

Sunday, June 30, 2019
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UK
BIAFRA, AN IGBO TRAGEDY

t is heart wrenching to watch the disintegration of Igbo society in the name of agitation for Biafra. As I recount the hundreds of youth who have died in the name of this struggle, I ask myself does it worth it.

As I write this I am hunted by the several bodies of Igbo youth floating in Ezu river in 2013 and the several killed in the many encounters with northern dominated soldiers sent by Buhari to confront them. I wonder if they knew what they signed up to and if their death would not be in vain.

It is even sadder that the route to this anarchy was predictable. With the level of corruption and impunity in Igbo land, it was inevitable that with time the people would revolt. Unfortunately, the angry and misguided youth were sold self-determination instead of accountability.

Igbo leaders must be thanking their stars that the youth opted for self determination. Otherwise, the whole region would have been in flames at this time. Nevertheless, , it may yet turn ugly, if the crackdown by the government continues to drive a wedge between Igbo leaders and the people.

The inability of the agitators to figure out that the problem of Igbos in Nigeria are not just that Igbos are marginalised, discrimination against and held back by a constitution written to impose northern domination and Islam in Nigeria, but that the failure of Igbo political leaders to make the injustices Igbos suffer in Nigeria the focus of their politics and govern for all is even more determinant, is their grievous mistake.

I feel very sorry for the youth agitating for Biafra. Indeed, they have legitimate case. They have been denied access to good education and have not acquired skills necessary for survival in the 21st century because of corruption and bad government. The money budgeted for their education and development of state infrastructure was embezzled by the political leaders.

This has meant that they have got their strategy completely wrong and are misguided in the outcome they seek.

No thanks to their leaders, who see Biafra as a franchise to be exploited. If not, how can their leaders explain a tactics that gives the government excuse to use force against them, when they have neither capacity for retaliatory actions nor the protection which democratic legitimacy provides?

Yes, No people should accept the treatment Igbos have been subjected to in Nigeria since 1970 for ever. However, choosing to political suicide, by engaging deliberate self harm by agitation without representation is indefensible. It is not a tactical CSP.

Poor IPOB members, they have been sold false hope by people whose greed and magical thinking do not allow them to understand that the road to Biafra begins within the present imperfect Nigerian political system.

Why would a group which claims to be fighting for the people not see the necessity to provide the leadership they need, while the struggle goes on. It is either a unique tactics or share stupidity.

They fail to see that the foundation of the struggle for Biafra is first making actualisation of Biafra the main focus of Igbo politics in Nigeria and that without electing pro Biafra legislators, senators and governors in Igbo land, that their effort will be wasted and their dream would become a night mare.

As I watch my people, I think of the Tamils, the Kurds, the Scots, Catalans and the Syrians of Aleppo in Syria. These are people who dreamed the same dream many Igbo youth dream today and are yet to actualise their dreams.

They have structure and democratic legitimacy and have are still battling the state from which they wish to escape. Why have my people failed to learn from others.

I wonder how a group can be demanding for referendum, when they are not the legal representative of the people?

Without democratic legitimacy, they cannot speak for the people and they would be seen as interlopers and self appointed agitators, who wish to use intimidation and physical force to gain power and prevail.

I do not see how any government would stand by and allow them to succeed. Their action strikes at the heart of the sovereignty of the country and even a Nigerian President who is Igbo, would not cede to their demand.

Today, the Spanish government is prosecuting elected representatives of Catalan, who called illegal referendum.

How does IPOB plan to force Nigerian government, in which it has no member of its organisation representing Igbos, to agree to a referendum?

I can not ignore the bewildering, deceit, ignorance and naivety at the heart of the agitation for Biafra and good men must now find the courage to speak out before the government find excuse to waste more lives.

Our youth must be made to understand that Populism and ethnic nationalism have never brought peace and liberty so that they can choose a path that has a chance of delivering the result that may assuage what compels them.

Nevertheless, the government of Nigeria must now address the Igbo grievances by taking steps to return Nigeria to 1963 arrangement.

The current attempt to make Nigeria the estate of Fulanis must be stopped to give Nigeria a chance. The government must abandon the attempt to create Fulani colonies all over Nigeria and control and dominate Nigeria by force.

There is no need to allow a killing field to develop in Igbo land. If IPOB is led by honest people who are not just doing what MASSOB did, they should first convert their support into political capital to gain democratic legitimacy. Without this their agitation will end up as a flash in the pan.

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