Biafra – the Ghost That Ruffles Feathers

Biafra – the Ghost That Ruffles Feathers

By Junaidu Mamuda
In 1970, in my final year as a public administration undergraduate at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, I read in an edition of time magazine, a report about the end of the Nigerian civil war.

In the report, there was an eye catching picture of a placard carrying student of Lagos University which bore the inscription thus “OBITUARY: BIAFRA IS DEAD, AGE TWO AND A HALF YEARS”. This, I consider, to be a very apt description of the end of the terrible civil war which ultimately saw the surrender of Biafra by Lt. Col. Philip Effiong on behalf of Col. Ojukwu the Biafran war lord who had earlier fled the country when he saw imminent defeat facing his dream country which, by then, was populated by millions of starving adults and children who have witnessed the ravages of war. The surrender instrument was received by the then Col. Obasanjo on behalf of the Federal Government led by the Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon.

With the slogan of “no victor no vanquished” hoisted by a magnanimous General Gowon. Nigerians breathed a sigh of relief and heralded the arrival of a new era of “reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction” or the three “Rs”, as the slogan came to be popularly referred to. It was meant to cement the end of the terrible civil war. In the true spirit of reconciliation the Nigerians are famous for, the Ibos of the former Biafra were received with open hands especially in northern Nigeria where most of them were handed over the properties they abandoned when they fled the north during the 1966 crisis and, in some cases, they were even paid the rent which accrued during their absence. Those of us who saw it all and who endured a war situation prayed that Nigeria will never be plunged into that catastrophe again.

But all this and many other acts of post war reconciliation and bridge building which successive Nigerian governments promoted within the last forty seven years since the end of the civil war mainly to placate the Ibos, did not deter the resurrection of what appears to be the ghost of Biafra led by one obscure young man called Nnamdi Kanu. Kanu is a young man who is ignorant of history and who from all indications is being teleguided and sponsored by foreign and domestic adversaries of Nigerian Government, its unity and its peace loving people. His blurred vision is to establish a Biafran state to encompass territories in the south or south east of Nigeria which currently is populated by diverse people majority of whom Kanu is not sure they share his dreams.

His methods of achieving his dreams of IPOB state is to embark on a vigorous but vicious agitation which is marked by street demonstrations, abusive rhetorics, hate speeches especially targeted against individuals no matter how highly placed and groups of Nigerians whom he perceives to be not in support of his agenda.

Some people say he is pursuing the actualization of Ibo presidency. But sensible Nigerians find it difficult to swallow this assertion in view of the fact that we all know how to go about seeking the office of the president. The minimum requirement for that is to command numerical strength among Nigerians and to harness that strength through political engineering of selling your ideas to majority of the electorate.

But Nnamdi Kanu seems to be doing the opposite. Indeed by his abusive rhetorics, he is alienating a very politically relevant population of Nigeria. Clearly, his approach betrays his intensions and that of his sponsors.

Those who are seeking to establish a moribund concept should bear in mind that Nigeria is not a banana republic to be toyed with or to be balkanized through an immature tactics of intimidation or showering provocative abuse against individuals or groups of Nigerians. If, under any guise, anybody wants to propagate his secession agenda whether by seeking the creation of Biafra or by so called re-structuring, whatever that may mean, there are civilized ways and constitutionalmeans of going about it. Indeed, in a democratic setting such as the one practiced in Nigeria today, there are constitutional means of achieving one’s goals. There are political parties which one can form, formulate his ideology and try to sell his ideas to the electorate. Any methods other than that is going against the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria especially when it is laced with violence, intimidation, blackmail and abuse of leaders of the country past and present. Moreover, this rather uncivilized and uncouth tactics is capable of heating up the polity and in some way alienating his group from decent Nigerians who might have some iota of sympathy for Kanu’s cause.

What is most alarming to the peace loving people of Nigeria is the backlash he is generating which, unless is handle with care, the extremists on both sides of the divide will drag this nation into unmitigated disaster which is quite evident his foreign and local sponsors are aiming at.

His demand for Biafra defies logic and his tactics in achieving same defies legality and constitutionality. Because of that and other perceived issues at stake, Government should not enter into any dialogue with Nnamdi Kanu and his wayward groups until they discard their posture of intimidation, black mail, disrespect for past and present leaders of the country. In the true Ibo tradition, the group must show respect and decorum for elders who are the custodian of wisdom which Nnamdi Kanu and his ilks are totally lacking.

But the most glaringly dangerous repercussion of Kanu’s hostile and abusive rhetorics is one targeted mainly against people of northern Nigeria. It creates the impression among northerners that since Kanu is an Ibo man, he must be propagating an Ibo agenda. His abusive and hate loaded rhetorics targeted mainly against the north and its people is widely assumed, though wrongly, to be endorsed by the Ibos and, therefore, the Ibos have to bear the brunt of retaliation. Hence, the call by some northern youths, including some elders for the Ibos to vacate the north by 1st October 2017.

This call is not only too extreme and unconstitutional, but also untenable especially as it is based on the assumption of the intention of the Ibos. Indeed, there is no need to issue the calls to the Ibos to leave the north or any part of Nigeria because it has not been established through statistical analysis such as a referendum that the Ibos are in support of this wayward and misguided puppet.

The northerners should exercise patience with these crazy lads. They should ignore Nnamdi Kanu or, at best, treat him as the mad dog of his sponsors who unleashed him to spread the rabies of hate in Nigeria. He should be shown that neither his rabies nor the ghost of Biafra can destroy or even de-stabilize Nigeria. Nigeria has come of age.

Mamuda wrote this piece from Malali, Kaduna.

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Nigerians in South Africa 4280 posts

We are about democracy, human rights, public opinion, political behavior, civil rights and policy aimed at improving the human condition, with a focus on African countries.

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