THE BIAFRAN QUESTION
The current agitation for the actualization of the Indigenous People of Biafra Republic, an umbrella Movement which was spear headed by Nmamdi Kanu and some Group of like-minded Igbo Youths in the Eastern part of Nigeria can be said to be an ideology after several months of observation and critical analysis of their agitations and some of the interviews Nmamdi Kanu granted Press men and several media outlets across the Country.
In defense of my logical conclusions, let me give a brief definition of ideology according to the Oxford Advanced learners dictionary, it says;
Ideology is a doctrine, philosophy, body of beliefs or principles belonging to an individual or group. It can also be defined as those set of principles that binds and unites a Group and that serve as a guide for their every actions.
The Biafran question has been a cancer to Nigeria’s government for the past 50 years. This has caused disunity, discord and even war in Nigeria. This ideology was launched by Major General Odumegwu Chukwuemeka Ojukwu in 1967 as a result of His dissatisfaction with the way the first military coup in Nigeria was handled, he claimed that the coup was targeted at the Igbos. So He and other like-minded Individuals rallied the Igbos and called for a secession from Nigeria and this led to a bloody civil war that lasted for 3 years between 1967-1970.
That war was a dark period in Nigeria’s history all thanks to General Philip Effiong who willingly surrendered to the Nigerian Government after Ojukwu absconded and went on exile. That war was like the black plague that took place in medieval Europe, many Igbos died of malnutrition, hunger and starvation as well as diseases and infections. But the end of the war and General Philip Effiong’s surrender saved the whole Igbo Nation from extinction. The Igbos were defeated because their agitation was not well planned and structured with a plan to feed their people.
Fifty years after this gruesome war, there is a rebirth of the Biafran ideology, this is in a more greater degree than the Biafra of Ojukwu. The leader of this current so called Biafrans is needs no introduction, He is Nmamdi Kanu, this young man has amassed so much followers to Himself that He receives a Hero’s welcome whenever he travels to any State in the South Eastern part of Nigeria, crowd swarm around like bees swarm around a honey comb. He has acquired so much power that He instructed His followers that they should boycott the upcoming Governorship election in Anambra State scheduled to hold in November as part of their agitations for the actualization of Biafra.
He is already like the President of a redundant Biafra Nation. This is a direct insult to the Federal Government of Nigeria who have arrested, threatened and warned Nmamdi Knau on several occasions but this has not shut the high-spirited young man up. He even defiantly refused to listen to the advice of the Ndigbo Elders to drop his ambitions and focus on making Nigeria better.
But it should not be forgotten that Biafra is an ideology which cannot be easily discarded, even the civil war of 1967 in which the Nigeria Government defeated the Biafran forces could not discard or even kill the ideology, the arrest of Nmamdi Kanu and His bully by the Nigerian Government could not kill the ideology neither could it belittle or shut Nmamdi Kanu up. What then can be the solution to this cancerous ideology that is gradually dividing Nigeria? Could Nigeria be gearing up towards another civil war?
Before I go further, let me cite an example of few ideologies that have stood the test of time in history despite the fact that they were initially defeated.
The first instance is the dreaded Al Qaeda Group which is a terrorist Group that holds strong Anti-western values spear headed with a strong desire to destroy America. In 2011 Osama Bin Laden was killed.
Al Qaeda members dispersed round the world but today they are gradually regrouping and one of Osama Bin Laden’s son has sworn to avenge his father’s death, this gave birth to terrosrist Groups like ISIS with similar ideologies and that forms the basis of the Boko Haram ideology in Nigeria.
Even when Mohammed Yusuf the first leader of Boko Haram died in a prison in Borno State, this never killed their ideology as a new leader of Boko Haram emerged and they have reigned terror in Nigeria for the past 7-8 years killing thousands and displacing millions. It is to be noted that Boko Haram started as an all peaceful Group.
With these examples, I can say that the best way to kill an ideology is not by attacking, threatening or belittling their followers or proponents, but by pointing out its weaknesses and errors. The Biafrans have pointed out the ills in the Nigerian society; corruption, nepotism and tribalism. The Federal Government should do same by pointing out the weaknesses and ills of the Biafran agitation. There are many Igbos who are not in support of secession or the break-up of our union.
We should know that Nigeria was a forceful marriage of diverse elements in the amalgamation of 1914, but we should learn to use our unity in diversity as a strength and not as a means to divide the country, India and U.S.A are examples of countries with diverse tribes that is thriving Nigeria can’t be an exception.
My own assessment of the IPOB agitation is one driven by youthful lust and exuberance, it is driven by a crave for media attention both locally and internationally. It is driven by the ignorance of a youthful population that has been ill-informed and indoctrinated, this attests to the reason why Nmamdi Kanu is welcomed and accepted by youths who have little or no knowledge of the past. It is driven by selfish individual and political interests.
This is a major phase in Nigeria’s history, Nmamdi Kanu should be called to the negotiating table and an agreement should be reached on the way forward because Nigeria is an indivisible element and it will remain so. The labours of our founding fathers to unite us will not be in vain, they left behind a United and not a divided Nigeria and a united Nigeria is what we will hand over to the next generation. The Nigerian dream of peace, unity, progress and strength in our diversity should not be forgotten.
As a quick reminder to Nmamdi Kanu, since 2011 when South Sudan seceded from Sudan, South Sudan has plunged into annual impoverishment and economic crisis, majority of her population are refugees living in poverty and squalor. Not all that glitters is gold. It might sound and appear rosy being a national hero and leading a whole generation of youths into impoverishment. Sit down, do a quick rethink and contribute your quota to the development of Nigeria. It takes ideas to rule a Nation.
A word is enough for the wise.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
DAVID OLUSHOLA ADEJUMO
A Graduate of History and International Studies from Bowen University.
He is a Freelance Writer, Youth Advocate and Ambassador.
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