Igbo, the worst enemy to Igbo

Agitation for the state of Biafra
Luke Onyekakeyah

By Dr. Luke Onyekakeyah

It is worrisome that at a time when the elite in the South-East are expected to rise up and take a definite stand on the issue of Biafra, some people, instead, are playing to the gallery and by so doing not helping matters. Fuelling the matter with intent to escalate it is not in the national interest.

WHEN the Jewish prophet, Micah (740-670 BC) declared that, “A man’s enemies are the men of his own household,” Micah 7:6, he foresaw what would be the greatest undoing of any man, which are the people around him. If you are not ruined by those around you whom you trust much, you will live long. Those far away from you, who don’t know your secrets, can hardly harm you. The enemy is there with you, they are those closest to you.

It is in the same vein that the greatest man that ever lived, Jesus Christ, also declared that, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” This again boils down to those around you, those you think you’re working with, or working for. Those you think should identify with you and join in your cause.

It is worrisome that at a time when the elite in the South-East are expected to rise up and take a definite stand on the issue of Biafra, some people, instead, are playing to the gallery and by so doing not helping matters. Fuelling the matter with intent to escalate it is not in the national interest.

Nigeria’s present narrative is warped. The undeniable truth is that there is mass discontent across the federation due to structural imbalance. Whether one is in the East, West, North or South, the feeling is the same. There is a problem that needs to be resolved. Unfortunately, because the country is living in denial the problem is not addressed. Consequently, different sections of the country take it upon themselves to deal with the problem in their own way.

The militancy in the Niger Delta, the Boko Haram insurgency, the Fulani herdsmen brouhaha and the Biafra agitation are all attempts by different sections of the country to deal with the problem. While some take up arms and ammunition against the Federal Government to drive home their point, others, adopt more peaceful and non-violent approach.

Attempts have been made in the past by way of national conference to address the nagging issues to no avail. Rather than tackle the problem from the prism of the people, successive governments have toed the same path of ignoring the resolutions reached at those conferences. The problems persist.

Nigerians are among the most resilient of all peoples and are ready to live together in peace if the right atmosphere could be provided. The desire to have an economically viable and strong nation where life is meaningful without mass poverty applies is there. The Igbo are just one.

It is on that strength that I was pieced off, the other day, when a group that calls itself South East Peoples Assembly (SEPA), reportedly asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to revoke the bail it granted to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.


The group had reportedly written a letter urging the Judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to, as a matter of urgency, revoke Kanu’s bail on the ground that he has conducted himself in a manner that is at variance with the terms and conditions of his bail, which included that he must not hold rallies, grant interviews or be in a crowd of more than 10 people. This is coming on the heels of the success of the sit-at-home campaign that crippled the South-East on May 30.

I am not Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer and so can’t claim to be defending him; the purpose of this comment is to underscore the extent to which Igbo hates Igbo, which is the root of whatever unfair treatments that have been meted to the Igbo.

The question that came to my mind after reading the news was to what extent would revoking of Kanu’s bail go to resolve the Biafra question? What did his first incarceration achieve? Did his incarceration help to douse the tension in the South-East or did it help to escalate it? If Kanu has flouted his bail conditions, is it the South-East Assembly that should inform the Federal Government?

Is the government not alive and kicking? What would the Igbo say if the Northern Elders Forum or the Afenifere had made the demand? Would the Igbo not alleged deep hatred by the Hausa/Fulani/ Yoruba as the case may be? SEPA should answer these fundamental questions before pushing the Federal Government to do what is not in its agenda now. Government wants peace not trouble.

Recall that Kanu, who was arrested in October 2015, was released last April after more than one and half years in detention. The detention of Kanu, rather than quiten his followers in the South-East instead escalated the agitation. Many innocent lives have been lost in clashes between the agitators and different arms of law enforcement. From obscurity, the detention brought Kanu to global limelight and made him a hero thereby emboldening his followers.

While this was going on, the elite in the South-East were cowed into a corner. The five governors in the South-East, intellectuals, leaders of thought, traditional rulers and other key stakeholders hid their heads and refused to take a bold position on the matter.

This is unlike the Yoruba elite, who acted fast and wrestled power from the Odua People’s Congress (OPC), when it appeared to be derailing. Also, the South-South was able, the other day, to come up with a team that went to Abuja to meet President Buhari over the demands of the oil-rich region. Where are the Igbo elite?

The Igbo have a saying that an old man does not stay at home while a goat delivers tethered. The question may be asked at as to whether the Igbo can forge a common front that could address the Biafra agitation? Where is it? Why has it not acted? Why has it been difficult for the Igbo to hold a summit to address the Biafra question? When Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu led Biafra, the elite worked with him. Why has the elite been pushed to the background while traders, artisans and ordinary people hijacked the Biafra cause?

The reason for all this is that the Igbo hate Igbo. In Igboland, everybody is superior; nobody is inferior. If the Igbo love Igbo, their desire to rule this country would have materialised. The Igbo must love themselves first before other sections of the country will love them. You can’t hate yourself and expect outsiders to love you.

This article by Dr. Luke Onyekakeyah, a member of the editorial board of The Guardian newspaper, was previously published in the newspaper


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