Abuja is Oxygen for Biafra


Hometruths By Adeola Akinremi; adeola.akinremi@thisdaylive.com

As always every president in Nigeria in our recent history comes in to face a different battle with little time for serious governance. If you think I am wrong, wait for it. For Olusegun Obasanjo, it was militia groups combined—Oodua Peoples Congress, Egbesu Boys, Movement for the Actualisation of Biafra, Niger Delta Volunteer Force, Arewa Youths. Of course, the enforcement of Sharia in Kano and Zamfara almost drowned Obasanjo’s presidency.

With Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in power, the monstrous Niger Delta militants confronted the destiny of his presidency and of course, Boko Haram gave Goodluck Jonathan a hell.

Though Boko Haram, Niger Delta militancy and other pockets of agitation and violence exist, the Muhammadu Buhari government has been battling Biafra as a major challenge in its hands. The sad side of the story is that the country is now in an uneasy state after groups in the North ask Igbo to leave by October 1.

I’ll make no apology for this: the Biafra bandwagon that is now rolling may have been caused by the champions of Sovereign National Conference (SNC) who went silent because of party politics.

Of course, you’ll find the “former” champions of Sovereign National Conference in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

It makes no common sense to have fought hard for the convocation of Sovereign National Conference with intent to restructure the polity and decentralise power, and then makes a u-turn, when we have the best of time in our hands to do it.

Sadly, our political system ludicrously over-emphasises unity, when there’s no commitment to equality and support for the weak.

The system asks people to vote, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is owned by the presidency.
The system asks citizens not to fear, when the police owe its allegiance to the rich and the powerful.
The system tells us to believe in religious freedom, when there will always be suspicion over the teaching of Islamic religious Knowledge and the Christian Religious Knowledge at our high schools.
Wealth of speeches from Aso Rock, proclamation by kings in their kingdoms, bile of bishops from the pulpits, immalleable words of Imams and Ulamas have increased hatred in the land.

We are now a country pushed further into disintegration and at this time stand at the precipice.
Moderate thinking should prevail that with many of those who fought hard for SNC in power now is the time to make real their rhetoric.

Honestly, among its mountain of errors, the decision to ignore that aspect of our life to facilitate a forum to discuss our existence by the APC-populated champions of SNC is a low point for the party.

A disappointed Dr. Tunji Braithwaite died conscientising the country on the speedy need for SNC. In fact, he literally declared that the 2015 election must not hold without SNC, the Jonathan conference notwithstanding.
In our recent history, the anguish that followed Braithwaite to the grave is evident. For instance, we have been subsidising stupidity for co-existence, where murderers and marauders are kings.

Where is the nationhood when death and destruction become free for all over unnecessary questions of indigeneship?
Plateau, Benue, Kaduna, Kano, Ife, Nasarawa and many other places bear the scar of conflicts. Even in Lagos State, seen as cosmopolitan, a former governor, Babatunde Fashola once packed Nigerians like sardine against their will into a Black Maria for a dump in Awka, where he believed they came from and should be because they were not contributing to the economy of Lagos.

Of course, over the years, the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, has consistently threatened the Igbo in Lagos not to exercise much freedom contained in the constitution.
And there’s the rub, if certain leaders of Lagos adjudged to be a melting pot of the nation can be so inhuman, what shall we say of other states.

Now, that everyone is running in circle over a simple ultimatum by some northern groups and their leaders for the Igbo to leave the North by October 1, shouldn’t the country see beyond the Biafra agitation?

The timing of the Biafra agitation is significant. It is a recycle idea that finds its nest in the rumblings across Nigeria on governance structure, Sharia law, Boko Haram insurgency, terror of herdsmen, poor quality education, religious conflict, resource control, revenue allocation, independent candidacy, corruption, nepotism and others.
Interestingly, the acting President Yemi Osinbajo, is not new to the process.

He has been part of the agitation himself over the years, but he’s now in a delicate position to speak out his mind. That must be frustrating for a professor of law who has been part of civil rights movement over the years.
But we cannot ignore the agitations around the country for too long, because they continue to find oxygen in our political system.

Naively, the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has analysed the trend from a myopic view throwing blanket statement on it as nothing but corruption fighting back.

“The cost of corruption to this nation is much. It is poisonous. It is something that breeds Boko Haram, militancy, these boys calling for Biafra and those people calling for some parts to leave Nigeria.

“The looters actually funded these agitations. There are people behind these boys funding them to sabotage this country in order to have room to enjoy their ill-gotten wealth.

“The root of these agitations is corruption. Join us and other Nigerians in fighting corruption for the survival of this country,” he explained.

Certainly, to listen to Magu is to ignore the fact. As we approach another independence anniversary we can hold our nation together by finding ways to remove suspicion. The political system we run is where that suspicion is found.
Indeed, the question of SNC wouldn’t come up again, if we have made effort to decentralize the government. That I believe is a needful task for the Buhari Government. Once that is done, you’ll find Biafra dies out of our life.