The Indigenous People of Biafra should channel their grievances through the appropriate quarters
It is not clear if President Muhammadu Buhari will honour his invitation to visit Enugu today. But a statement credited to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) warning him not to come to the state is not only reckless but an open invitation to anarchy. “We warn any governor or Igbo politician that receives Buhari in Enugu will have himself or herself to blame. We make it public that should there be a breakdown of law and order in Enugu on December 22, greedy Igbo politicians will have themselves to blame”, said the statement signed by Emma Nmezu and Clifford Chukwuemeka Iroanya, who described themselves as spokespersons of IPOB.
Against the background that an unfortunate civil war was fought and it ended with the collective resolve to keep Nigeria as one indivisible sovereign entity, we condemn in very strong terms those bent on disturbing the peace of our country, especially at this time. As we have argued in the past, whatever may be their grievances, we do not believe those touting “Biafra” are handling issues the right way even as we call on the authorities to be even handed in whatever crises that may arise as a result of the continued sporadic agitations.
We also call on the authorities to obey the court orders that have at different times asked for the release of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who has been incarcerated for several months now. Denying him his rights under the law only goes to justify his claims that Nigeria is a “zoo” and that can only help his cause, however misguided it may seem.
We note particularly that for over a decade now, the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has been trying to rekindle the Biafra fire without success. Gradually and steadily, the agitation led by Ralph Uwazurike began to lose steam and relevance until Kanu entered the fray with IPOB. For the alleged crime of running an illegal radio station, he was arrested at the nation’s point of entry and is now being tried for sedition. Since then, the demand for his release has been interlaced with the demand for the state of Biafra and there had been bloody clashes.
It is significant that the elite corps of the Igbos have neither supported nor endorsed the activities of the IPOB movement. Indeed, the traumatic memories of the Nigerian civil war as evidenced by the starvation, particularly of children, and with over a million dead, should help to reinforce the tomb of the ghost of Biafra. That is why the continuous agitation does not resonate well with the rest of Nigeria, a nation whose strength lies in its diversity.
Every part of the country has representatives at the National Assembly which is responsible for the making of laws for the good governance of the country. Whatever the agitation of any section of the country may be, such can be channelled through their federal lawmakers. The idea of hiding under the quest for secession to draw attention to the development deficits in any part of the country is therefore wrong and counter-productive.
Yes, Nigeria needs development across board. No part of the country has enjoyed such a significant infrastructural attention than the other. What is required is for all hands to be on deck to fashion out what has to be done to move Nigeria forward. It is within that context that we wholly condemn the continued agitation for the state of Biafra, just as we believe that Kanu should be given a fair and speedy trial in a way that justice would have be seen to have been manifestly done. And such trial, as he has repeatedly argued, cannot be held in secret.