Make no mistake about it, I am pleased with the release of Nnamdi Kanu, assumed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), from the gulag of Nigeria’s Federal Government. This clarification becomes necessary before anyone accuses me of sadism.
However, if I were he, I would not have accepted the conditional bail, especially because out of the four detainees, only he was released while the other three, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, who went to detention with (for) him are still languishing in prison.
Kanu has not shown a good leadership trait and I believe that for whatever reason he accepted the bail, he should have been in hospital attending to his ‘failing health’, the reason given for granting him bail instead of hobnobbing with the bourgeoisie Igbo elite, most of whom were apathetic to ‘the cause’, thus alienating himself from the hoi poloi, who gave their all, including their lives and property, heeding his war cry.
Since Kanu usurped the captaincy of the IPOB ship, having dislodged the foresighted old men that founded it, it is not expected that he would abandon ship, leaving his passengers marooned at high sea at the mercy of looming destruction. The captain of a ship would rather go down with the ship than abandon the passengers in his care. Any commander that abandons his troop in the warfront deserves a court martial. Legendary Nelson Mandela proved that much when, after already spending 22 years in jail, still rejected the offer of freedom by the apartheid South African regime because it excluded his compatriots. But it mattered little to Kanu, who, after merely a year in detention, has not only jumped ship and left his comrades in jail but has also dumped IPOB, leaving it adrift; that is exactly the import of his acceptance of the strange bail conditions.
The underlying political message in Kanu being picked up from jail by a governorship candidate in Anambra State, as claimed, betrays opportunism at play. And as much as I savour the vaunted Igbo affinity with the Jews, I doubt how Kanu’s new found faith, Judaism, would advance the cause of predominantly Christian Biafra, where the religion is nonexistent. Obviously, Kanu is confused or just dishing out ill conceived stunts. Unfortunately, the Buhari government fell for it and inadvertently helped to foist him on shaky stakes of popularity.
The Kanu gambit may not altogether have taken those who knew him before now by surprise. To a great extent, Kanu owes his relevance to Chief Ralph Uwazurike, leader of MASSOB-BIM, who said he had picked interest in the young man and appointed him director of Radio Biafra in London, far ahead of his protesting superiors. Today, Kanu believes he has arrived and repudiates everything Uwazurike, a major slur in the Igbo personae. Kanu was also not privy to the formation of IPOB; former president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, claims that he and company formed the group but against Igbo culture that respects age, Kanu snatched the group from the men, who are old enough to be his grandfather.
These imperatives became necessary not because I have anything against Kanu (God forbid). It is not about Kanu but about whoever takes the Igbo for a ride and that Biafra agitators should beware that a rat that goes swimming with a lizard risks getting wet; so that they would not be led to the guillotine for the massaging of ignoble interests of Biafra apologists. The IPOB trio that followed Kanu should be wiser now. Kanu’s bail is freedom in captivity and it is morally wrong for him to accept the conditional bail and still claim to be in the cause while his comrades are left behind bars, as he prances about, doing photo-shoots in royal regalia as prince of Biafra.
Now, they want us to shut down Biafraland on May 30. On that date, the Igbo economy would receive sledgehammer battering while Nigeria’s thrives. On that date, more seeds of hunger would be sown. On that date, many more Biafran youths would die. On that date, many more Biafrans would be maimed. On that date, much more Biafran property would be destroyed. On that date, many more Biafrans would be clamped in jail by the rapacious Nigerian security apparatchik. But on that date, I doubt whether Nnamdi Kanu would be in the front line, leading the agitators since he had accepted a conditional bail that forbids him from assembly of more than 10 persons. So, if he is not there, who would lead? Parents should, therefore, put their children on a leash to avoid them being wasted in induced crisis by sabre-rattling activists far removed from the battlefield.
Of course, I risk being cast in negative mould. The truth though remains that I, too, am a Biafran, dreaming big for Biafra. However, I don’t believe in the Biafra where smart alecs would abuse the gravestones of our fallen heroes. I don’t believe in Biafra where Nigeria would be balkanised only for us to reach Biafra land and begin to beg Nigeria or Africa to come and mediate in our war of attrition of who leads and who a true Biafran is. I don’t believe in a Biafra where everybody must be leader and no followers.
The Igbo are great in whatever they do, building from ground zero up. When, after the Civil War, then Nigerian leader, Yakubu Gowon, and his acolytes officially gave the Igbo mere £20 for all the millions they had in the banks, seized Igbo property, which they described as abandoned, and gave other tribes Igbo money in banks to buy up nationalised companies, to the exclusion of the Igbo, they never envisaged the resurgent, can-do spirit of the Igbo. Today, the Igbo have built from the scratch and occupy commanding heights everywhere despite prevailing official policies to put them down. Why then must we now help the Igbo enemies to complete the rout they had since failed?
The Biafra of my dream, therefore, is a golden land where the Igbo are mentally free; an egalitarian haven where the Igbo are shorn of their incurable itinerant investments to think homewards. I believe in Biafra where the Igbo can do for themselves what Nigerian governments deliberately refuse to do for them by disinvesting or not investing and developing the rest of Nigeria while neglecting their homestead. I believe in Biafra where life is sacred and violence eschewed, as canvassed by Uwazurike. Of course, the MASSOB-BIM leader, Ijele, who reignited the fire, like all humans, is not perfect but without him there would not have been these latter-day opportunists, masquerading as freedom fighters that now want to run him out of town. The Biafra of our dream is not one where illusive speculators climb on wantonly wasted blood of misguided youth to limelight.
Let whoever thinks otherwise lead in the battle. The Igbo must refuse to be led by the nose by those who are neither grateful to benefactors nor respectful of elders to take us back to the destruction Nigeria would eagerly afflict on the Igbo. I can honestly advise the forgotten trio of IPOB agitators to smarten up and find their way out of jail on benign terms before they die for a cause betrayed by no other but its leader.