By Jagunmade O. Rilycks
It is pertinent to state that this write-up is just my personal opinion on the recent Biafra jingoism which you might agree or disagree with. However, I will strive to be as objective as possible.
The clamour for the republic of Biafra dates back as far as May 30, 1967. The movement was then led by Late colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu. And after leading to a civil war that led to the death of an estimated 2million people, the Biafran forces surrendered and Biafra was re-integrated into the Nigerian state.
Although, no act of war or attempt at disintegrating an entity like Nigeria is laudable, I must say that the then Biafra struggle was highly selfless, rational and justifiable. Considering the events that preceded the declaration. It was more an act of patriotism to one’s people, self-defence, self-determination and self-expression.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the renewed Biafran agitation which recently gained momentum under the leadership of Nnamdi Kanu about 40yrs after the end of the civil war. It all began with inciting broadcasts from the controversial Radio Biafra, owned and controlled by Kanu. I see it as a misplaced priority and a display of bitterness. With some of the clueless protesters going to the grave length of burning down a mosque, which makes them no different from the deadly Boko Haram terrorists. What message is IPOB and MASSOB trying to pass across?
The following are my conclusions on the renewed Biafra struggle:
– It possibly emerged as a reaction to/against the emergence of President Muhammodu Buhari at the expense of their favoured candidate. Or how else would one explain the coincidence. There was no talk of being marginalised throughout the tenure of the former president. Now that Buhari is president, Kanu and his cohorts have suddenly realised that the “Igbos” are being marginalised. I was privileged to be in the eastern part of the country during the last general election, and I could easily perceive the great level of contempt most Igbo people nurture towards Buhari. So, the Biafran struggle might as well be a way to score a cheap political point against his presidency.
– It is a selfish and Parochial agenda. Any ethnic group or geo-political zone can easily stake claim to being marginalised. We all know equality is a myth. Mobilising hundreds of Youths who ought to be engaged in productive and positive ventures to go on a protest that eventually led to the death of some of them all in the name of being marginalised is mean and selfish. I think a few influential people who aim to use the avenue to boost their chances of emerging as president in 2019 might actually be behind this very deceptive struggle.
– It is a case of misplaced priority. At this crucial junction of our existence as a state, a junction characterised by a stunted and receding economy, political unrest, unemployment, corruption and the gravest of all, Terrorism. The least we need is this jejune movement in the guise of self determination. This is a time where we should come together in spite of our differences and take the ailing country to a height we all aspire. Secession shouldn’t be our priority, even after secession, what is the assurance that a certain group of elites among the Igbos would not dominate the socio-political arena in the proposed Biafran republic. Consequently, leaving certain groups marginalised. Personally, I don’t think the fact the North has produced more presidents in the history of Nigeria has actually translated into any socio-economic growth or development in their region. Since it doesn’t improve the standard of living of the common man on the street, what is the fuss about? What is the assurance that having an Igbo president will have a positive influence in the lives of the Igbos. Obasanjo was there for 8years and even a minor road leading to his hometown was left unattended to. I can boldly say that his presidency didn’t improve the Yorubas socio-economically. The fact that most Ndi Igbo groups and royal fathers have distanced themselves from the renewed agitation for Biafra shows that Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB and MASSOB are just pursuing their personal interests and not the interest of the entire Igbo Nation.
Instead of wasting precious energy and time protesting over a futile and utopian cause that led to the death of millions between 1967 to 1970, we should endeavour to unite as one to clamour for more responsive and accountable governance in Nigeria. The youths especially need to be on their toes and assiduously demand for better employment opportunities, economic growth and development, better funding of education, constant power supply etc. Also, the FG should endeavour to address this agitation diplomatically. A state or government should not resort to the use of force against its people unless it has exhausted all other possible means.
On a final note, I pray God grant those who have lost their lives during this struggle eternal and help those who are still alive to realise their folly before it’s too late.