Not long ago, a very big man in matters of the law was caught on the very bad side of the law. His laughable defence was that he thought a mob of ‘Biafran Boys’ was after him.
This is not about the propriety or otherwise of the big man’s disgraceful public fight with a mere security guard. Though many called him out, accusing him of bigotry, the truth of the matter is that the man only reflected, albeit unconsciously, the very thoughts of most northern elite about the Igbo of whom they are mortally afraid and determined to cage.
Unfortunately for the Igbo-haters, no amount of red herring could make a true scion of the Igbo to deny himself. We are all proudly Biafrans, whether you belong to Chief Ralph Uwazurike’s Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) or Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) or not, as long as the palpable injustice and humiliation of the Igbo persist. The only part of divergence borders on the route to Biafraland and which vehicle would convey Ndigbo there.
For quite a while now, the Nigerian security apparatchik seems to have woken up and suddenly become active. They have overcome clueless fight with Boko Haram insurgents. The missing arms supposedly procured to combat the terrorists ‘have been found’, thanks to the ‘Biafra Boys’ that must be crushed with great exactitude.
The irony of this brutality is that Nigeria has left known and self-confessed gunmen in the North and among killer herdsmen to make scapegoats of unarmed Igbo in their homes simply because a few young men had arisen to say enough of the marginalisation, injustice and inequity against their people. Now the South-East is besieged by venomous army of occupation and innocent people are getting killed even as large swats of Nigerian territory are abandoned to bandits and all manner of hoodlums in the volatile North.
Though there are pockets of agitations across the collapsing country, Nigeria chose to make the Igbo case a special one, thus, confirming the basis of the Biafra agitation in the first place. However, the problem with these agitators is their lack of circumspection failure to read the writing on the wall, as the goings on in Ala Igbo are sinister. The earlier reason prevailed, the better the chances of saving Ndigbo from programmed extinction.
Not long ago, Owerri practically went up in smoke when the state police headquarters and the Nigeria Correctional Service facility were attacked, leaving behind massive destruction and forcefully opening the prison gates for hundreds of inmates. Despite the proximity of these facilities to the military cantonment at Obinze and the headquarters of the state mobile police force, MOPOL, the attackers reportedly operated for hours without let. Then suddenly, a few hours after the deed was done, the immediate past Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, fingered IPOB as culprit. Since it was impossible to arrive at such conclusions too soon after the attack, which IPOB denied responsibility, one wonders how Adamu knew it was the pro-Biafra group or was he reading out a premeditated script?
Indeed, these are troubling times, as there have been several of such attacks across the South-East and South-South. However, Nigerians should not be easily deceived to draw untenable conclusions. Who are these unrestrained attackers? What do they want? Are they truly IPOB /ESN (Eastern Security Network) operatives? What sense does it make to burn down the Biafraland being fought for? Of what use is a Biafra without people? Some argue it is only police facilities that are being destroyed. Really? After destroying them and driving away police personnel, how prepared are Ndigbo to deal with impending anarchy and rising wave of criminality?
Of a truth, Nigerian police have been brutal and uncivil in dealings with the people. It was this that led to the #EndSARS protests that crippled the country last year. I believe the message was powerfully delivered and the police authorities are gradually coming to terms that you cannot mess with the rights and lives of Nigerians anyhow anymore. Nevertheless, the worst police force is still better than a society without one. There are committed and professional policemen that put their lives on the line to secure the society. It would be unfair to attack such patriotic citizens because of the few bad eggs the force is trying hard to flush out of the system; police lives matter too.
For whatever it is worth, IPOB must change tactics. The Yoruba Amotekun outfit is doing exploits, securing their forests and arresting nefarious characters. What is ESN doing in the cities if their aim is truly to drive away herdsmen from our forests? Where are the elders in Igboland? Would they watch the goat give birth tethered? Whatever happened to the governors’ nebular Ebubeagu security outfit?
Government at national, state and local levels should deploy intelligence to ascertain if Boko Haram elements have exported their heinous trade to the South-East and South-South and not setting up the area for confrontation with eager Nigerian security operatives for consequent annihilation. Elders of the land and community leaders should take proper note of strangers in their midst and lead to avert looming calamity.
The Federal Government in particular should respond to the allegation of planning to donate Nigeria as Fulani homeland. The proposition looks absurd and impossible but assuring the people that there is nothing of such rumours could assuage frayed nerves; keeping silent is not golden at all. It is evil to scapegoat Ndigbo just to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it.
Part of the set-up is the very laughable claim that the police in Lagos had unveiled a plot that IPOB was planning to attack Lagos. For crying out loud, what would be the basis for such an attack? The ‘discovery’ is obviously meant to cause disaffection between the Yoruba and Igbo but, thankfully, the gambit fell flat, as the Yoruba spotted its underbelly and derided it for what is, scum.
This is why the recent decision of the 17 southern governors forbidding open grazing in the entire South is laudable and a definite pointer that any plan to take over indigenous people’s lands for a a purported Fulani homeland is a pipe dream. The collective decisive stand is long overdue because obvious induced porousness of southern unity has fed the audacious inequities in the land for a long time. The governors must sustain the tempo alongside all leading voices of the South so that the Nigerian government would know that the music has changed; a stitch in time saves nine.
One does not know how hitherto peaceful Imo State became the epicentre of the madness in the South-East. Governor Hope Uzodinma had accused politicians of fuelling the crises, an understandable accusation because the state had been congruent until his controversial emergence. Making the state ungovernable because of the governor is wicked and evil. The governor too should respond with sterling performance and shun the temptation to invite calamity on the people he governs.
Whether you like it or not, Uzodinma is the current Governor of Imo State irrespective of what names you call him. You can only stragegise to vote him out next time instead of setting the state on fire just to rubbish his administration, whoever does that is the enemy of the people.
We cannot run away from the fact that the hiccups in the country, not just in the South-east, are as a result of obvious inequities in the land. The surest way to nail this permanently is the enthronement of justice, equity and fairness. The nepotistic approach to governance whereby one particular section pockets everything and terming ‘regional security meetings’ as national is an open invitation to chaos. Worse still is the rabid hatred of the Igbo man and seeming official endorsement for his decimation or incinerate his hope, as a people. It can NEVER happen!
However, the Igbo man should also be on guard not to destroy himself or foolishly play into the hands of those that would spit on his grave with raucous triumphalism.