A Case Against Actualizing Biafra
The agitation for the actualization of Biafra is an impulsive reaction from activists that are mostly of Igbo extraction, to the glaring social injustice in Nigeria and marginalization of the people of the South Eastern and South Southern parts of Nigeria. The struggle has however shifted from action to sentiment and propaganda. Groups like the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), led by Ralph Uwazurike that are agitating for self determination for the people of the South Eastern part of Nigeria have failed to adopt either or both of the two conventional lines of action that can lead to the realization of that objective. The two lines of action are secession through war, or a formal request for independence by diplomacy through the United Nations General Assembly backed by protests.
Rightly has it been said that what has been taken by force can only be recovered by force. But then, would the Igbos be ready to fight another war if diplomacy fails? Have they recovered from the shock of losing the Nigeria – Biafra civil War. If war is considered an option, activists should take a queue from the world’s greatest revolutionary, Che Guvera who went underground for years, acquired arsenal and manpower, and devised military strategies before emerging to liberate South American countries like Cuba and Chile from the iron claws of ruthless dictators. Liberation, movements like the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) which was led by Yassar Arafat; African National Congress (ANC) led by notable figures like Oliver Tambo and the immortal Nelson Mandela; as well as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) led by John Garang adopted and carried out either or both of the above mentioned lines of action. Other groups like the Saharawi People’s Republic from Southern Morocco are towing the same line. The PLO succeeded in having the United Nations pass a resolution granting the Palestinian people self rule; but Israel which is backed by her ally the United States of America has refused to comply with that resolution. This non compliance with that United Nations resolution by Israel has led to underground armed struggle by “militant” groups like HAMAS and wide spread civil disobedience through mass protests by Palestinian youths and children. The Jews who were the victims of the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity in Europe were forcibly settled on Palestinian land in 1948 by the British after forcing out many Palestinians from their homes and land. Groups like MASSOB who evidently do not mobilise or carry most Igbos along, not to speak of other ethnic groups in the South – South should wake up and face reality – freedom is not free. One must pay the price for freedom to be free.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by the fearless Nnamdi Kanu who has described Nigeria as a zoo where monkeys are working and babooms are eating, are carrying out a relentless, revealing but sometimes unguarded verbal attacks against opponents of the actualization of Biafra. Nnamdi Kanu who has been remanded in prison custody by the Nigerian government personifies the anger, frustrations and will to power of activists agitating for the actualization of the Biafran cause. IPOB has however remained silent on issues like the contradiction arising from claiming to agitate for the freedom of people who willingly participate in elections organized and conducted by a government denying them self rule; to elect their representatives at all tiers of government. IPOB has also remained silent on issues like the composition of leaders that will govern a sovereign Biafran State, the actual geographical boundaries of Biafra and social incoherence of the Igbos resulting in disunity of purpose due to conflicting selfish interests that are inimical to the collective interest: Would Biafra be a mere geographical entity i.e. a geographical space existing without the group character of the people occupying it? As the old saying goes, “if you are putting the devil on trial, you don’t go to heaven to get your witnesses”. As far as the Igbos are concerned, Biafra has become a cause worth living for but not worth fighting for or dying for. Movements like the Niger Delta Avengers, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MASSOP) led by the irrepressible Ken Saro – Wiwa, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta MEND) and the obnoxious Boko Haram are forces to be reckoned with in Nigerian politics because they are ready to fight for and die for their cause. The Igbos have been marginalized out of the main stream of Nigerian politics but that singular fact has not been sufficient to make them cast aside their differences and unite around a common cause and an ideological frame work that would galvanize them towards a common political front. There are clear cut divisions among the self serving governors of the South Eastern States as they scramble respectively for their states’ share of the national cake. Igbos who reside in predominantly Igbo States that are not their states of origin are discriminated against in terms of employment and other government appointments.