By Yami Bamgboye
If the only reason Nnamdi Kanu , the man who has unilaterally stirred an inimitable desire in the mind of an average Igbo, has for secession or self-determination, as he fondly calls it, is because nothing is working or‘functioning’in Nigeria and the Igbos are constantly sidelined in federal appointments, then Biafra may have a bigger problem!
Fifty years ago, May 27 precisely, BIAFRA didn’t come to be because Ojukwu as the governor of the Eastern Region woke up one morning with the idea of secession, no! According to history, it all started with the practical persecution of Igbo civilians in the North and even in Lagos. What laid the foundation for all of this was our fractured democracy which got worse with the gargantuan corruption, extreme loathing of the political class and the first military coup (in January 1966) that hoped to restore sanity to our government and save the unity that was tearing apart along the lines of ethnicity. Unfortunately, the coup failed in Lagos which was the capital at the time and was eventually tagged an Igbo coup because most of the officers were Igbos. In retaliation, Igbo civilians started getting attacked in the North by some street elements. In fact, soldiers of Northern stock joined in harassing and killing them too. This new trend of pogroms became conspicuously unbearable for the Igbos after the counter-coup by soldiers of Northern stock in July 1966, forcing them to abandon their jobs, houses and investments to resettle in the East, their homeland.
Ojukwu being passionately concerned about the plights of his people began to talk to the federal government but ‘the absence of a concerned plan to address the eruption of violence throughout Nigeria against Easterners, mainly Igbos, and the inaction around the refugee problem amplified the anger and tensions between the federal government, now led by Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon, and the Eastern Region’(There Was a Country, pg 85) . So, you see how BIAFRA came about?
First of all, we all know that Nigeria has been fantastically unique but the resuscitation of this BIAFRA agitation doesn’t really hold water. Today, it only revolves around egocentrism. It really lacks insight and doesn’t capture the intricate desires of most Igbos whose mentalities are high above the average. Nnamdi Kanu says in one of his statements:‘I’m not allowed to contest for the presidency of Nigeria because I’m Igbo…’. Well, I think this is quite a shallow thought of a lazy mind that struggles for relevance. If divorce is always the first option on my mind whenever my husband repeats a stupid act I hate so much, then I have a bigger problem. I guess that also explains the whys of many broken celeb marriages– a trend that is ravaging our entertainment industry at the moment.
I believe the Nigerian constitution doesn’t marginalize any group from contesting. Besides, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu a.k.a the Ikemba and Dikedioramma of the entire Igbo race contested for presidency in 2003 and 2007 but was blatantly rejected even in the east. That wasn’t his first, in 1983, he lost in the senatorial poll to a newbie on the block after securing the ticket with the help of Chief Chekwas Okorie. Of course, we could heap the blame on the system for all I care but, a larger chunk of it should be on them for not growing powerful like the Northern mafia.
Nnamdi Kanu says further:‘…I’m not allowed to aspire to become the inspector general of police because I’m Igbo. I’m not allowed to become chief of army staff because I’m Igbo.…Why would any idiot want me to be in that sort of country?’At this juncture, it is pertinent to remind this self acclaimed leader of new BIAFRA that officers from the East have occupied the seat of the Inspector General of Police for about five good times. The first indigenous Inspector General was Louis Orok Edet, from Cross River (1964-1966). Others were Etim Okon Inyang, from Akwa Ibom (1985-1986), Mike Mbama Okiro, from Anambra (2007-2009), Ogbonna Okechukwu Onovo, from Enugu (2009-2010), and Solomon Arase, from Delta (2015-2016). In the same vein, Johnson Aguyi-Ironsi, from Abia, David Ejoor from Delta, Alexader Ogomudia from Delta, Paul Dike (CDS) from Delta and Onyabor Azubuike Ihejirika from Abia have all occupied the seat of the Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Defense Staff.
And regardless of the ‘politricks’ that has always characterized lopsided appointments into key positions, the Igbos haven’t been left out in other sectors too. Before this present 11th governor of Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele from Delta State, Clement Isong from Akwa Ibom, Paul Agbai Ogwuma from Abia and Charles Soludo from Anambra had at different periods been appointed to stir the economic affairs of Nigeria. It might interest you to know that the days of Charles Soludo ensured‘the growth and financial credibility of Nigerian commercial banks by making sure that all the financial banks operating in the country had a capital base… Today, Nigeria has one of the most advanced financial sectors in Africa, with most of its commercial banks having branches in other countries’(Wikipedia). This feat couldn’t have been achieved if it wasn’t for the courage of an Igbo man.
It is really easy to incite violence in the psyches of people whose brain power is a little below average especially when they have refused to use the available percentage. Even though Ojukwu’s struggles didn’t start off on the premises of his own selfish ambitions, it later degenerated into one according to Adewale Ademoyega in Why we Struck: it was very evident when he executed Ifeajuna and Victor Banjo, no family member of his died except his white step-brother. In fact, he made sure his entire household was flown to safety in Ivory Coast where his family had a thriving transport business. Those he left behind counted their loses in tears– their investments and loved ones. And trust me; no witness of that war would wish for a repeat, never! Just some days ago, Sahara Reporters covered the aftermath of the face-off between IPOB and the military. Here is a reproduction of some of the opinions of a cross section of witnesses.
‘That day, I was running to save my life likewise those of my children. My children were shouting ‘’daddy, daddy, we can’t see ooo’’. I couldn’t breathe because of the tear gas that was fired. In the process, my sister was hit, she died immediately….the family is yet to get over her death. It was a day I will never pray for [a repeat] in life’’.
‘When I came back from the market, I saw the military with guns, armoured personnel carrier and there was sporadic shooting and people were running for safety…it took me over four years to erect a three-bedroom flat and look at the wall of my house, destroyed by bullets, the aluminum windows are gone….’Emenike Nwadilobi
That’s what happens in armed conflicts and it’s always bloodier in wars. While all this happened, Nnamdi was nowhere. His father was nowhere. No member of his household was reported dead but those who have been used as shield are still counting their loses.