Last week, the Igbo pressure group, Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, was labeled a terrorist organisation and proscribed. Apart from their uncouth and intemperate language, IPOB was only agitating for self-determination of Biafra land made up of Igbo people of the South East in the main. The root of the agitation stems from years of systematic mistreatment of the Igbo, beginning from the pogrom of 1960s, which resulted in a civil war that claimed over three million souls.
Despite Nigeria’s hasty and ill-advised abrogation of the teaching of history in schools, this palpable aspect of our national life has remained indelible in the minds of a care-less world but most importantly, in the minds of the Igbo. Even toddlers then and those yet unborn had been apprised of the atrocious decimation of the Igbo by their parents through oral history, and further authenticated by the continued relegation of the Igbo to second hand citizens through wicked policies and neglect by an unrepentant Nigeria.
Even the timing of this Nigerian python chose to commence its dangerous dance in the East is ominous. It was as if somebody somewhere wanted to use the weird dance to scuttle the peace efforts South East governors and Prof Ben Nwabueze were making with recalcitrant Nnamdi Kanu, and they did. With the double speak before official proscription of IPOB, it shows that even enemies of Biafra have divided house. But be that as it may, the python can dance as long as it wants but let us not forget that a lethal snake once coiled around Apostle Paul’s hand while he was warming himself by the fire. His enemies expected him to swell up and die but he shook the reptile off into the fire and it died. The Igbo will surely shake off this python into the fire of defeat where it rightly belongs.
Admittedly, the Igbo had, had some glorious moments in the governance of this country but those entrusted with those opportunities, especially during the Obasanjo and Jonathan governments, misused them. Rather, they used the chance to amass personal estates and cult followership to distract governors in their home states. The governors too have continued to misapply the little resources available, building dynasties and castles in the air; same goes for the lawmakers, who, instead of initiating legislative moves to elevate their people, remain content with jumbo allowances, deceiving the people with derisory constituency projects. That is why, sometimes, I honestly feel the fight against Nigeria should actually begin at home. The Igbo should find a way of getting these misfits to account for how they used up opportunities meant for the Igbo. Therefore, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), IPOB and others, even non-member Igbo should begin to interrogate these past and current leaders with a view to recovering what they have stolen from us. Only then will we have moral standing to confront Nigeria.
That notwithstanding, declaring IPOB a terrorist organisation rankles, as it goes against the grain of common sense and evidence on the ground, especially as killer Fulani herdsmen that have left trails of blood and agony across the country are mere ‘criminal gangs’. A common trait of terrorists is violence. How come rabid blood sucking demons, rated as the world’s fourth deadliest group by the Global Terrorism Index as far back as 2015 are not terrorists but stone-wielding agitators on the streets are despite United States not seeing them as such? How come crazed herdsmen who would not hesitate to savage our women, wipe out entire communities are not terrorists but angry youths, who have never put gun to anybody’s head, as they protest ingrained hatred against their people are?
In any case, that is usually the case whenever it comes to things that have to do with the Igbo and more than justifies the persistent shrill protests. I think there is really sense in what former presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, said about demons cohabiting with Aso Rock residents. How else could one explain some of the statements that come out from the seat of power from hitherto men of honour? How could Garba Shehu, a former president of an august body like the Nigeria Guild of Editors, NGE, expect the world to view him after his stint at the villa, defending the indefensible, as if he is unaware that his stay at the Presidency is transient?
The way things are going in this Change-turned-Chains government of the All Progressives Congress, APC, the country needs a stronger analgesic than the now unpopular APC tablets to rid her of self-inflicted pain. Nigeria is gradually inching towards despotism. We are now afraid to air our views lest we be charged with peddling hate speech. Even the judiciary may not offer the common man hope after all because midnight raids have intimidated them.
That IPOB was proscribed by the courts within hours of receiving the application by the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, is rather suspicious. It is strange that while several suits have been pending in the courts for months and years, the Federal High Court, Abuja, felt it was more expeditious to hastily proscribe a non-violent group because the Igbo are involved. Once we lose the integrity of the judiciary to manipulation and dictation by the executive; to ethnic hatred and vindictiveness, there will be no more hope for this country.
It is good that IPOB has challenged this ruling in court; one expects that the legal action should equally receive the same speedy attention and reversal of the chicanery to convince the world that our judiciary is not pliable.
The Sukkuk controversy
Nigeria never gets tired of controversy. It is now mired in government’s plan to foist the controversial Sukkuk bonds, a purely Islamic financial instrument on secular Nigeria without consideration of the sensibilities of non-Muslims. The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has already kicked against this imposition but its voice is being drowned by the loud obstinacy of an impervious government regardless of the constitution. That was how Nigeria was sneaked into the Organisation of Islamic Countries, OIC, by the IBB military government in 1986. However, that this is about to be repeated in the present age makes one wonder if we are under a Gestapo or democratic rule.
Of all the cogent objections raised by CAN, more troubling is that the Sukkuk deal is asset-based unlike asset-backed conventional banking system. This means that Sukkuk would now become part owner of Nigerian territory. This cannot be acceptable in a secular state like Nigeria and must be resisted with all constitutional means.