THE Indigenous People of Biafra, popularly known as IPOB, is moving away from its fringe habitation to assume a nihilist centre stage of our national politics. This new movement of nascent self determination which regrouped after the aftermath of the old, Biafran valorous mythology, represents the conjunction of the unfinished turbulent events of our civil war and the continued reaffirmation of Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu’s dream of a Biafran Republic. Where Ojukwu lost his Biafran paradise, IPOB is in a desperate and dangerous race to recapture it by any means necessary.
The ongoing IPOB agitation for a sovereign Biafran motherland represents a failure to all the emotional paean to reconciliation and integration of the Igbos immediately after the civil war.
Therefore, caught in a time capsule, IPOB, through its warlord, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is defiantly announcing a collective Igbo frustration and the need to exorcise the past while planning for a new Igbo homeland. There are troubling kernels of questions that need to be answered. Is IPOB pre-emptive mobilisations of clannish support for a Biafran homeland politically motivated? Is there any collective disaffection with President Mohammadu Buhari in his treatment of the Igbo in his administration? Has there been massive and polarising exclusion of the Igbo in his appointments?
On the other hand, there is a bewildering political hyperbole that seems to come so naturally to the Igbos which is fast becoming a neurosis for the tribe. The Igbos oftentimes believe in their invincibility in war. Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu of blessed memory created that illusion and the embers are yet to die in the imagination of the Igbo. Yes, the Igbo are courageous and valiant tribe but must that myth continue to agitate the mind of the younger generation so much that they are ready to support Kanu and his rag tag revolutionary army?
This Igbo hubris and the noisy clamour for a Biafran homeland exemplify the fragile nature of our unity as a nation and exposes the complex and uneasy bonding of different tribes who eye one another with fatal jealousy. It is this mutual tribal hatred that allows IPOB to proclaim, with eloquent voice, the virtues of Republic of Biafra. The questions then arise…whose Biafra? Who are the partners? How many states will constitutes the new Biafra? What are the Biafran sympathisers agitating for? In whose interests?
The profundity of the ignorance of the Biafran agitators is so huge when we delineate its impossibility and deformity. Of a truth, nobody knows the depth, length and breadth of what they are fighting for. Would the new republic encompasses all South East states? The Igbo may have won on the clannish solidarity, but on the viability of a homogenous republic, especially given the landlocked nature of that part of the world renders it impracticable.
The South East is blighted and deformed by erosion. The Igbo states are not close to any water or seashore. There are no ports in sight to encourage the resilient spirit of average Ndigbo.
Or is IPOB and its mercenaries anchoring hope on hijacking Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers as conspirators in its dream of a viable, independent and homogenous nation? Well these state may not want a dominant Igbo nation dictating and lording it over them. They are enjoying the benefits of unity and would not want to surrender that to servility under unequal partnership with the Igbo.
Above all, we call on President Mohammadu Buhari to handle tribal agitations with patience, tact and high diplomacy before it snowballs into bloodbath on all sides. Therefore, members of IPOB and MASSOB killed and those wounded recently was unfortunate. Agitation is part of democracy. Legitimate protests oil democracy and nod it toward justice, fairness and equity. Nation breaks up when there is unequal partnership. Kosovo seceded from Serbia. Yugoslavia broke up. Recently, there was Scottish referendum in the United Kingdom to exit from the union. The fault line of every human is to yearn for freedom and IPOB in its agitation is manifesting this trait, however badly executed.
Side by side, there is unequal distribution of forces. Both the militants and IPOB foot soldiers are not as battle ready and prepared as the federal forces. Engaging in battle with both IPOB and the militants is no contest as the federal government has a huge advantage. This administration must not be seen as a killing machine. Solution to the current agitation is not wholesale murder by thugs in uniform but through civilised dialogue. Our democracy, in spite of its failings and foibles, must not be seen through the prism of gun and oppression but one toughens by collective engagement, consensus and negotiations for the progress and unity of Nigeria and Nigerians.