Why this government or any other group in this country or outside would think that solution to the present impasse in Nigeria could be resolved through the barrel of the gun beats my imagination. I have always maintained that Nnamdi Kanu and his Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPoB) is not a threat to Nigeria.
By Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo,
THE recent onslaught by the Nigerian military on Nnamdi Kanu’s country home in Abia State under the curious code name “Operation Python Dance” has once again demonstrated the naivety, ineptitude and insensitivity of the current Buhari administration on dealing with the incandescent ethnic nationalism that has ripped Nigeria apart in the past couple of years. Why this government or any other group in this country or outside would think that solution to the present impasse in Nigeria could be resolved through the barrel of the gun beats my imagination. I have always maintained that Nnamdi Kanu and his Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPoB) is not a threat to Nigeria. Rather IPoB and its leaders represent the manifestation of a beleaguered people desperate for freedom. What Nnamdi Kanu has succeeded in doing is to gnaw at the conscience of the world to call attention to the plight of his people and the need to give the Igbo a better deal in Nigeria. And here I must say that Kanu is not alone in this feeling and factual knowledge of the truth that Ndigbo have become an endangered species in Nigeria.
The precarious situation of the Igbo in Nigeria has been worsened in an age of clash of civilizations when the forces of radical Islam are on collision course with western civilization. Like I have always pointed out, Boko Haram is a philosophy anchored on the rejection by Islam of anything western especially its religion and education. Apart from this warped religious inspired hatred of western civilization, Islam is anti-democratic and does not support the republicanism and gregariousness for which unencumbered societies like the Igbo are known for. Unlike western liberal democracy, Islam does not admit of question on its foundational principles; it regards Christians and Jews as “people of the Book” that must be destroyed at all level. The religion advocates the plundering of the riches of the “infidels”, slashing their throats and binding them as slaves and also compelling them to pay the “zakat”.
This, in summary, has been what the Igbo have had to contend with in Nigeria. We have been subjected to genocidal pogrom in Nigeria where we lost over 3 million Igbo lives and property worth over 10 trillion naira. We have seen our people slaughtered like cows; we have seen a premeditated attempt to Islamize our political space- what with the menace of Fulani herdsmen and the sustained pressure to enact the bill on Grazing Reserves in Nigeria; we have seen the systemic and systematic despoliation of our natural resources; ravaging of our lands and impoverishing of our people. We have seen a determined attempt by the northern establishment to whittle down the demographic strength of the Igbo with criminal manipulations of census figures. We have seen the internal colonization of Nigeria by a ravenous cabal of the northern military who superintended this country for about thirty years and in the process liquidated the country. We are witnesses to the imposition of a northern-military authored constitution with all its imperfections and consequences and impact on our political and economic processes. We have seen all these and more.
It was on account of the foregoing that for over 20 years I have urged the Nigerian leadership to subject itself to censorship; to initiate an unfettered restructuring of the country and return to the 1963 Republican constitution, which provided for an acceptable pattern of engagement between the various groups. Though attempts have been made in the past to proceed with this process of restructuring, the most prominent being the 2005 National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) in Abuja, the present government has consigned the reports of that Conference to the trash can of history.
As elders, people like me believed and prayed that in our life time, we would see the Nigeria of our dream. We believed and prayed that the stiff-necked demagogues at Abuja will one day hearken to our cry and do the needful. We had hoped that one day our children will not wake up one morning to ask us why we allowed such level of injustices to befall our people. Unfortunately, as we prayed and pleaded for justice to be done, our oppressors saw in our attitude the trappings of a defeated people; who must be pressured to their knees and into submission forever. Even as we groaned in pain, the morning we all dreaded has come like a thief upon us.
Are the agitations of IPoB and Ndigbo not based on hard facts? Can any person in this country or elsewhere stand up to say that the Igbo are not justified in their quest for a better deal in Nigeria? You may have your differences with the methodology and approach of IPoB and Kanu, but you certainly cannot dispute the truth that IPoB has become the conscience of the Igbo nation
Our children have come of age and they are now asking questions. They have now grown to experience the same tragedies and nuances that they heard as history. In their very presence, they have seen the massacre of their kits and kin in the north on the slightest instigation. In their presence they have seen the marginalization and alienation of their people from power points in Nigeria. In their presence, they have seen their tribe treated as second class citizens in a country their forebears fought and died for its freedom from colonial rule. In their presence, they have seen the tragedy of existence in a country defined by ethnic pariahs and half-baked men and women masquerading as leaders.
And our children are saying “enough is enough”. That is the simple explanation of the emergence and existence of IPoB. That is the contradiction that threw Nnamdi Kanu up. And nobody should discountenance the centripetal and centrifugal intensity of these contradictions. Kanu and IPoB, therefore, have decided to adopt a totally new approach to presenting the fate of Ndigbo to the world. This new approach, which is a novelty in the Nigerian context, has thrown the forces of reaction into panic. Even when this approach abhors violence, yet the Nigerian authorities are uncomfortable and their only response is to eliminate Kanu.
And here I want to ask us to remove our caps of “political correctness” and put on our analytical caps. Are the agitations of IPoB and Ndigbo not based on hard facts? Can any person in this country or elsewhere stand up to say that the Igbo are not justified in their quest for a better deal in Nigeria? You may have your differences with the methodology and approach of IPoB and Kanu, but you certainly cannot dispute the truth that IPoB has become the conscience of the Igbo nation. This is an organization that has permeated every fabric of Igbo society and beyond with its message of freedom. This is an organization that boasts of over 3million persons each time it has any form of rally. IPoB has such reach and is unarmed. This is an organization that instructed Ndigbo to sit at home last May 30 and this directive was obeyed to the letter, not just in Igbo land but also outside Igbo land. And the Buhari government thinks it can shut out such organization by ordering the military invasion of Nnamdi Kanu’s home. This is the height of leadership ineptitude. The world is watching and may I remind the Nigerian authorities that 2017 is not 1966. The circumstances are different and so will be the outcome of the present events.
Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo is the Chancellor Eastern Mandate Union (EMU)