I love to belong to a big country like Nigeria with its 200 million population and counting. A Nigeria where there is true federalism; a Nigeria that operates under the 1963 constitution or something close to it.
I don’t support the disintegration of Nigeria. The intolerance of opposing views by the so-called separatists would make Adolph Hitler turn in his grave. It is either their way or the highway. Is that the mentality of those who want to run a democratic country if they succeed?
I support the President of Igbo extraction in 2023. I am among those who insist that all the political parties should nominate their presidential candidates from Southeast and Igbo speaking parts of South-south. There are enough people from the Southeast and Igbo-speaking South-south who could make an excellent president.
That said, let us examine the tantrums that northern leaders have been sending out there targeted at Southeast leaders and accusing them of not sufficiently condemning the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network. It is instructive to note that IPOB has repeatedly said through its spokesman, Emma Powerful that its members were not involved in the killing of security officials and burning of police stations and other federal institutions like INEC offices. Apparently, IPOB is the only ‘terrorist’ organization in the world that shies away from claiming its ‘trophies’. Terrorists are known to quickly claim responsibility whenever their operatives strike. Boko Haram always claims responsibility for its attacks and even shoots videos to authenticate its claims. Therefore there is the need to investigate and find out those doing the killings and all in the Southeast.
Already the governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, has said that from the arrests made so far, 70 per cent of those attacking Imo State are not Igbos. But the governor is apparently too lily-livered to tell the world who they are. Imo does not have a courageous governor like Benue State governor Samuel Ortom, who would go to any length to protect his people.
Therefore you cannot conclude that it is IPOB that is behind the violence in the Southeast, even though it is common knowledge that the group is campaigning for the secession of the Southeast from Nigeria, a campaign that has not been endorsed by Ohanaeze Ndigbo. In fact, Ohanaeze has tried to distance itself from IPOB.
In January, the new president-general of the apex socio-cultural Igbo organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof George Obiozor, had stated that nothing could separate the Igbo nation from Nigeria. That statement was a direct repudiation of what the separatist groups in the Southeast stand for. He stated that there is nothing in demand that will separate the existence of the Igbo nation from the rest of Nigeria. Obiozor disclosed this in Enugu during his inaugural press conference as the president-general of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization and reiterated the belief of the Igbo nation in a united, prosperous, and progressive Nigeria.
The president-general however, said that the Igbo nation was still in search of a nation where justice and fairness would prevail. He said that though the search for equity and fairness by the Igbo man had been torturous and agonizing, “all actions and utterances that put us in harm’s way must be avoided.”
He added, “The Igbo nation is not at war with the rest of the country and there is nothing that demands our separate existence from Nigeria.” That was the position of Ohanaeze and this position was the position of Ndigbo, Ohanaeze being the apex authority of the Igbo nation.
Ohanaeze by repudiating the position of separatist groups in the Southeast did what northern leaders failed to do in the last 10 years of Boko Haram insurgency and killer herdsmen. The northern leaders refused to condemn Boko Haram that wants to establish a Caliphate. We did not hear northern leaders say publicly that they are for a secular one Nigeria. They did not condemn Boko Haram that has killed over 10,000 people, abducted hundreds of children and women, and created over two million-plus internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Thank God for the Google search engine, modern-day researchers have mastered the technique of getting information from this wonderful engine. If you doubt that the northern leaders have never condemned Boko Haram in the past 10 years of its atrocities, go to the Google search engine and type (Northern leaders condemn Boko Haram or Northern Elders Condemn Boko Haram), you will get nothing on that because such condemnations never existed.
Nothing of that from the spokesman of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) who is now pontificating on Igbo leaders coming out clean on IPOB; he never condemned Boko Haram or killer herdsmen. Not even from Aliyu Wamakko, the former governor of Sokoto State who is saying that the Igbo leaders must come clean on the demands of IPOB. He has never condemned Boko Haram or the killer herdsmen.
To be honest, I don’t like putting IPOB and Boko Haram on the same page. Boko Haram is a terrorist organization. To the rest of the world IPOB is not a terrorist organization; it is only in Nigeria. If you also go to the U.S. Department of State list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, you would see the prominent position occupied by Boko Haram, but IPOB is not on the list.
If IPOB were a terrorist organization, its leaders would not be traveling all over the world without being arrested. The world does not like terrorists. The world is not fooled. They know that secessionist agitation is not unusual in a democracy and United Nations actually recognize the rights of indigenous people to seek self-determination if they feel oppressed in their country and all options for other remedial solutions fail.
Of course, the violence in the Southeast, whether state-sponsored or home-grown is condemnable. And the situation is not helped by the rhetoric of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu to his supporters through social media.
The Igbos have lost out in political power in the past 50 years since the Civil War, but have made some gains on the economic front through self-effort; therefore turning the Southeast into another war zone means wiping off the economic gains and losing out on all fronts.
And if there are those among IPOB who are perpetrating violence in Southeast, they should put down their arms and embrace peace. The Nigerian government has the superior firepower to confront them. And they should not instigate violence thinking that the international community would intervene on Biafra agitators’ side. What would the international community gain by intervening on the side of Biafra agitators? Secession is not a hundred-metre dash, it is a marathon. Go and ask the people of Scotland.