Biafra: Kanu and a Country Deferred

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ENI-B, Email: eniola.bello@thisdaylive.com Twitter: @eniolaseni sms: 08055001956
ENI-B
By Eniola Bello; eniola.bello@thisdaylive.com; 08055001956
Runaway leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu, with his loudly threatening separatist agitation over the last two years of the Buhari administration, has been fishing for trouble. And he’s now got loads of it. The way the separatist agenda was being pushed, either Kanu and his IPOB, or Ndigbo, or Nigeria, or all three were in danger of being consumed. What was not in doubt is that something was bound to give to avert a catastrophe, and that has to be IPOB. The recent clampdown on the organisation’s activities should have come much earlier.
Critics have blamed the Buhari administration, and justifiably so, for its mishandling of the IPOB campaign in Kanu’s arrest and prolonged detention, its undisguised shut out of the Igbo people from political and public service appointments, and its refusal to play the politics of the growing agitation for the country’s politico-economic restructuring. There has been the tendency to weigh the Buhari administration’s heavy-handed approach to the secessionist campaign against its immediate predecessor’s indifference that appeared to have neutralized the IPOB and rendered Kanu ineffectual. Those who make such comparison, however, have failed to realize that the conditions prevalent in the Jonathan administration are sharply different from the Buhari’s. The Jonathan era was one of high oil prices with its attendant positive impact on the economy, as well as access to, and redistribution of, free funds. The Igbo political elite were major players in the Jonathan administration as those who held critical political appointments ensured their people populated government agencies. Kanu’s ranting on Radio Biafra therefore sounded distant, and it was easy to ignore, if not dismiss, him. The situation changed following widespread hunger arising from the recession, and Buhari’s refusal to give the Igbo a fair treatment in his government partly because of an almost total rejection by the southeast in the 2015 presidential election, and possibly because of the hangover from his civil war experience. 
There are three possibilities that could have allowed Kanu, who nobody took serious under Jonathan, to suddenly become an issue under Buhari. The first was Buhari’s victory in the 2015 election. There is every likelihood that some elements of the Igbo political elite, particularly those in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that lost the 2015 election, may have given Kanu more than tacit support to energise his secessionist campaign. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that Kanu returned home from his base in the United Kingdom and IPOB activities dramatically intensified on Buhari’s victory and inauguration as president. Under Jonathan, there was a whispering campaign that the escalation of the Boko Haram movement into an Islamic militancy, and the Chibok girls’ kidnap, were politically engineered to discredit that government with a view to ensuring that power returned to the north. In the same vein, there are elements in the Buhari administration that believe that some factions of the Igbo political elite in the PDP may have opted to surreptitiously use the IPOB to make the APC (All Progressive Congress) administration uncomfortable from Day One and ultimately as a blackmail weapon to bring about an Igbo presidency in 2019. Indeed Information Minister Lai Mohammed did accuse, without elaborating, those who looted the economy of sponsoring IPOB activities to derail the APC government. 
Should there be any truth to this theory, Kanu must have been advised to return home to bait the Buhari administration. The fact is, Radio Biafra was not only illegal the contents of its broadcast were treasonable. By the laws of our land since the 1963 through the 1979 to the 1999 Constitution, secessionist campaign is treasonable. To worsen matters, Kanu had also appeared on video soliciting for funds to procure arms with a view to achieving his Biafran agenda, as he put it, “by any means possible”. And lately, there has been talk of Biafran National Guard, Biafran Secret Service, etc. So however you make look at it, Kanu had been walking the land mines of treason with his eyes wide open, and by returning to Nigeria, he was daring the security agencies to arrest him. The government not surprisingly went for the bait. In today’s complex global power play, where small arms could easily be procured, and where the nation’s internal and external enemies, in pursuit of their mercantile interests, would have no qualms funding arms procurement in promotion of any cause, it wouldn’t have been in the interest of national security for the government to do nothing about Kanu. However, if he was to be arrested, as he should have been, the government ought to have done its homework for a quick prosecution and conviction. Kanu’s prosecution was, as most criminal prosecutions by this administration have been, bungled, as he was indeterminably detained, court orders for his release on bail serially disobeyed, and his trial consequently politicized.
The second possibility is that Kanu had planned to use the secession campaign as a means to aquire wealth, influence and power. Gani Adams did this following the annulment of the June 12 1993 presidential election. He led a faction of the O’odua Peoples Congress (OPC), a militant group in the southwest that torched and maimed and killed, and made major Yoruba cities ungovernable in protest against that annulment. Today, Adams is a man of means, a honoured guest in government houses, a respected Yoruba leader nominated to Jonathan’s 2014 constitutional conference, rubbing shoulders with politicians as well as the rich and powerful.  Asari Dokubo, Government Ekpemupolo and some other Niger Delta militants also did it. Having led different cells of militants to kidnap for ransom, bomb oil installations while maiming and killing in the process, they are today not only very wealthy, they are men of influence and power. Someone like Tompolo even became a political godfather, nominating and endorsing politicians into elective offices. If Kanu’s plan was to walk the path of the Adams and the Tompolos and the Dokubos, he succeeded almost to perfection. Before IPOB’s proscription, Kanu had attracted to himself an army of jobless youths attending to his every whim, following him wherever he wanted, and lapping up his every word and directive. On his release from detention following negotiated bail conditions, some Igbo leaders including Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu scrambled to take a group photograph with him.  
In a recent group photograph after another meeting in Enugu, the southeast governors clasped their hands behind their backs as Kanu stood like an emperor in their midst, waving his trademark fan, a grin on his face. 
The third possibility is that Kanu genuinely took the separatist agitation as an end in itself. His successful mobilization of jobless Igbo youths into the membership of IPOB, his contemptuous attacks of other ethic nationalities north and south of the country, his attempts to source funds to procure arms, his threat to disrupt the November governorship election in Anambra State and every subsequent elections in the southeast, his resort to intimidation and blackmail of other Igbo elite who have problem with his methods, and his – It must be Biafra or nothing – made that possibility real. Were that his goal, then, he failed to learn the lessons of history. Not only that Kanu’s IPOB neither had the arms nor the resources to procure them, the Igbo business, political, traditional and intellectual elite who could otherwise have assisted with funds, knowhow, contact and mobilisation do not think IPOB’s Biafra is what Ndigbo should be pushing for, not with the devastation and excruciating scars of the 1967-1970 civil war still so evident. Indeed the IPOB did not appear to have a quality leadership cadre to envision, strategise and execute their agenda.  Any wonder why Kanu would call himself Supreme Commander?
It could be safely inferred that Kanu’s renewed energy started from the first possibility, evolved into the second, and assumed the third. The Igbo elite, traditional and political and intellectual and religious, in their failure to engage and denounce Kanu, wittingly or unwittingly strengthened his hands. The political elite in particular, following the mindless theft of funds allocated to the southeast states since 1999 and the resultant poor governance, created the objective conditions for Kanu to easily exploit. The mob of jobless and hopeless unemployed youths who had been brainwashed to worship at Kanu’s feet, and had through their IPOB membership fees, purchase of flags, t-shirts and other emblems provided unearned funds for Kanu’s comfort, made him lose his head. With the fanatical followership he commanded, Kanu may have begun to see himself as bigger than the southeast governors and National Assembly members and Ohanaeze leadership combined; he may even have begun to see himself as the biggest thing to have happened to Ndigbo since Ojukwu. Any wonder Kanu only appeared to listen to himself! It is a human thing. It is difficult for any mortal to be the subject of deification the way Kanu had been from thousands, if not millions, of followers, and not be cut off from reality.
The unfortunate thing is that in more ways than one, the IPOB campaign may only have succeeded in weakening the Igbo position in the country’s power relations. The fact is since the end of the civil war, the political, military and traditional establishments in the north, despite their political alliances with the southeast, have not mustered the requisite confidence and trust to support an Igbo for the presidency. The IPOB campaign, its antagonism to, and alienation of, other nationalities from the south, and what is seen as the conspiracy of silence of the Igbo establishment, would only have succeeded in making the realization of Igbo presidency much more difficult to achieve any time soon. The Igbo elite, at the best of times politically naive and selfish, would need to work extra hard to repair the damage.  For them Nigeria still remains a better deal, however.  For had Kanu succeeded in getting his Biafra, he would probably like his hero, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, placed their heads under the guillotine.
  • Paulocaesar

    Eniola Bello c’mon!!!, what’s the deal?… and how’d your editor let you publish this stuff?your write-up reads like another hatchet job from a hack quack journalist more suited for sniping and griping on the comments pages.

    Where are you constraints? How can anyone take you seriously when you quote Lai Mohammed for credibility?

  • Zico

    Good work Sir.

  • Intrepid

    Nnamdi Kanu has given the lazy, before unknown yariba writers, too much to chew. Have a field day, you Vultures. YOLIKOM will never be news worthy.

  • mr fash

    Kanu and IPOB has been riding the tiger. He who rides the tiger ends up inside it. Nation state has all means of violence in their hands. IPOB and Kanu are just ordinary citizens of Nigerian State and should not not take the state for granted.

  • obinnna77

    Liar.

  • Toby

    This essay is foolish, stupid and envious. Not worthy to make it here. Shame

  • ychukwuka

    You did a poor work and you know it. What makes IPOB a terrorist organisation? You are yet to tell us. For you IPOB members are traders, jobless, hopeless and unemployed youths yet they still buy flags, pay dues? from where? These guys are in more than one hundred countries in the world, were able to present evidence of genocide to the world with pictures and datas, clear evidence than you and the FG of Nigeria. who then is hopeless? remain on the path of truth. it pays

  • KWOY

    And of course you know the spirit of whatever would have been a nigeria is already long dead & will never again resurrect, not with the Igbo blood which is already intoxicating you!

  • Political Affey

    There was no interest in Oduduwa Republic. So Gani Adams has probably got what he wanted. Even if IPOB was designed for promoting a few persons, they would have shed off the toga of self promotion by now, knowing that there is no more time for pitch-rolling.
    It has taken a shape the agitators did not see before now, and government now needs all the intellectual prowess they can muster to either promote Biafra or Nigeria’s unity.
    Government needs restructuring to reflect service to the people. Too much attention is concentrated on men of power. Men who use power for self-service, who profess love of nation with lip service. There is no room anymore for sucessive administrations to perch on the wings of their predecessors’ performance as reason for stagnancy.
    Somebody somewhere will look for excuse as well, to ask for fundamental changes. By then, government will feel that their authority has been challenged. Government must avoid shooting itself in the foot by not ignoring the people they swore to serve.

  • Mystic mallam

    Eni B has not been writing much lately, at least, I haven’t seen lots of op-eds from him. Now that he has posted this I have to place him in the category of Dele Momodu, Simon Kolawole, and to lesser degree, Segun Adeniyi. These writers know the facts, but they either use them to build a neutral fence to accommodate neutered fence-sitters like Segun often does, or they take those facts and distort them beyond logical meaning and recognition in order to construct a house of lies that the rulers of the day could find comfortable to dwell in. Frankly, other than the use of violent, rude, often idiotic language, and messianic grandstanding, I am yet to be persuaded in terms of our laws and constitution, of what Mr Kanu’s crimes are. Trying to justify the high-handed brutality and arrogance the military has deployed to neutralise him and his movement is an exercise in futility. The views posted by ENi are neither supported by mere logical thinking, nor validated by the provisions of the 1999 constitution as amended. Did Eni forget that there is a subsisting ”Terrorism Prevention Act” of 2011 which was amended and adopted in 2013. That should have informed Eni that the AGF could not plead ignorance of what advice to give the President and the Military brass on what to do and how to handle Mr. Kanu and IPOB. We are supposed to be running a democratic government not a military one, Mr Eni B!!!

  • Jon West

    A real Afonja genre journalistic masterpiece. Mr Eniola Bello, we cant all be slaves. Some people are historical slaves of the Fulani and are therefore prone to genuflecting for them. The Fualni did Not conquer some of us even though they used an alliance of the petty and the envious to defeat Biafra, but they did not conquer the Igbo. We dont have Fulani Emirs in Igboland and we are 100% Christian and animist, thank God.

    As for the political implications of the IPOB agenda, you really got it all wrong. The last thing the Igbo man wants today, is the Presidency of the Zoological Republic of Nigeria, and that is why there is a wild and wide cry for seperation from these our neighbours and African brothers in the Zoo. Pray, what has the Presiency of Nigeria done for the perpetual owners of the office, the Fulani? They are the most wretched people on this Gods earth, and this is coming from the lips and mouth of their most urbane traditional ruler, the Emir of Kano, my little boy at the Hyde Johnsons House of the previously revered Kings College Lagos.
    The Igbo want a free space to showcase their proven talents in education, industry an the application of evolving concepts, like their peers in Europe, Asia and the Americas. They are stifled by this forced relationship with children of a lesser God, who regard the Presidency of a country and the opportunity to loot the resources of the Commonwealth for the hedonism of a few, as an ambition that should be fulfilled.

    The Igbo may have wante the Nigerian Presidency at some time in the past , for reasons of sentiment and acceptance, which are no longer necessary nor even valid. To fulfil their manifest destiny, which was enunciated by their illustrious and most visionary son, the late Great Rt Honourable Nnamdi Azikiwe, Zik of Africa, the Igbo aim to lead the Black man out of the bondage of the ages, a bondage engendered by the absence of a scientific and technological bent in the Black race.
    Therefore , while for some, the ability to loot the meagre resources of the Lugardian Zoo may be a great goal, the Igbo have a more generalized an global ambition to lead the Black race to compete withnthe rest of humanity, instead of this constant begging bowl mentality of the African and Black peoples , presented in its most nauseating form ,by the people who have always led the Lugardian Zoo Called Nigeria.

    Mr Bello and his Afonja genre journalistic ilk ,will have to take the foregoing into consideration, in order to understand the Igbo, Kanu, IPOB and the reality of the demand for a seperation from the others, in spite of its likely unpalatable and unintended consequences.

    • KWOY

      You are a scourge to the LIARS!

    • Grelia O

      Excellentissime!

    • Chima Okereke

      It is time for us to put on our thinking cap, especially in the management of our relationship with our neighbors, tenuous as it is.
      Fact is, the Igbo nation/land is bound to the south by the South South region, to the west by South West Nigeria and any sensible man knows that your neighbors are critical to your progress and prosperity. Consequently you need their goodwill.
      For a long time, we as Igbos have being deluding ourselves in our imagined supremacy in knowledge, over and above others, but facts on ground does not always support that. For one, nations don’t go to war without critical alliance. But we went to war believing solely in our ability to overcome all and win. How did it turn our my brother? To be sure, Igbos are hardworking people, no question about that. Are we superior is knowledge and ability over and above all else? I doubt that.
      As great as United States of America is, they hardly go to war without the support of allied forces. It is established that no big project or achievement is executed by an individual without the support of others. What we must cultivate, and seriously too, is good neighborliness with other nationalities bordering Igbo-land, in order to achieve our aims in Nigeria ( whether separatism or otherwise). We did that pretty well with the South South under President Jonathan and the dividends are still being reaped by us till today.
      I will not waste time with Kanu/IPOD, which though, had a message that resonated and still resonates with the people (principally because of President Buhari’s exclusion of Igbo policy), went about it, in the most stupid of ways. How on earth did Kanu believe that he will achieve his aim of “Biafra” by insulting everyone? Insult Yorubas, insult Igbo leaders, insult the President of a sovereign nation? threaten anyone with opposing view?. Above all stupidity, gather a bunch of jobless fools, give them uniform and call them Biafran Secrete Service, Biafran Marine and what have you. What naivety. The result of that misadventure stars him in the face.
      My brother whether we like it or not, Igbo-land will remain where God situated it till eternity. And as long as that reality stands, we must learn to cultivate the friendship and goodwill of our neighbors. Whether we want Nigerian presidency or not, is not the issue. The critical thing is that in all our dealings Wisdom remains the principal thing. Kanu/IPOD and their modus operandi represents the most foolish and stupid of ways.
      Don’t get me wrong, Are there issues about the present state of Nigeria that requires urgent attention and discussion? My answer is Yes. Have we as Igbos been dealt the short end of the stick in Nigeria? Yes, we have. But have do we go about redressing our situation? Is it by rioting and causing avoidable chaos in our land? I certainly don’t think so. Nigeria MUST surely be restructured, no question. How do we approach it? That is the question. What is the intellectual and ideological content of Kanu/IPOD message? Nothing, if you ask me. How can a brat refers to himself as the Supreme Leader of the Igbo nation, and knowledgeable men tolerates such arrant nonsense. It is not done. With such pride and arrogance, can you imagine what will happen if Biafra is won or achieved under IPOD? Such brainless stupidity has got to stop.

      • Jon West

        Thank you very much for your very wise and well appreciated contribution to this discourse. There is an Igbo saying that there is no brother abroad. This implies that your neighbour is your brother and you cannot jump over him for a relationship with a group farther afield.

        Having said that, the Igbo situation requires some broader understanding. Truth be said, the Igbo must realise that they can never be loved by their neighbours and other Nigerians. It is really a cultural problem and the Jews of Europe and America are clear and present examples for purveyors of Igbo lack of diplomacy and tact in dealing with their neighbours. When someone does not like you consistently and for reasons of culture, please do not waste your time trying to sway him. Instead apply your resources to protecting yourself from him. If the German Jews had fought their initial brutalizations in Germany as they later did in the Warsaw Ghetto and Sobibor Concetration Camp uprisings, perhaps they would have lost One Million people instead of the 6 million(more than 85% of their population) that perished like sheep led to slaughter in the Concemtraton Camps.

        Bottom line, my dear brother, nobody loves you or even likes you fpr obvious reasons. However, as intelligent human beings, everyone needs good neighborliness and therefore alliances to ensure this crucial survival necessity . Alliances are forged out of fear not love. The current Niger elta/Southeast Alliance is forged out of mutual fear for the others intent on crushing the two regions; however, eternal vigilance is still necessary.

        The obvious salivation of certain sections of the Nigerian people as shown in press analyses, at the prospect of an Igbo bloodbath in both the Southeast and the North , is a warning that latent hatreds are still there, ready to be ignited at the slightest provocation. The latest provocation by IPOB has still to blow over. The Igbo need to constantly rethink their relationships with other Nigerians. To do otherwise is both naive and an invitation to genocide. Use your tongue to count your teeth

        • Zico

          What is your problem Mr.?

      • taiwo

        Thanks. You have made some crucial points here. I hope the Igbo intelligentsia will learn a thing or two from you. Indeed, wisdom is different from book intelligence.

        By the way, what is this thing about “Red Moon” being touted by Kanu in one or two of his videos? I hope he is not another David Koresh, Jim Jones or Abubakar Shekau.

      • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

        Chima
        You are the best of Igbo that I talk about.
        I beg have a nice day and carry go

        • Zico

          Correct!

      • Zico

        Hmmm. You have said it all and you are absolutely right in your analysis, even though I disagree with your claim that the Igbos had been dealt the short end of the stick. Well done Sir.

      • “Korede

        My brother, we need more realistic people like you to educate your brothers and sisters. When some of us write here, we are Afonja brothers. We have been conqured by the Fulanis. Kanu strecthed his luck too far.

    • Samuel chuku

      I should have used my data for something better. Floreat sir.

      • Jon West

        Floreat.

    • Truth Konveyor

      “To fulfil their manifest destiny, which was enunciated by their illustrious and most visionary son, the late Great Rt Honourable Nnamdi Azikiwe, Zik of Africa, the Igbo aim to lead the Black man out of the bondage of the ages, a bondage engendered by the absence of a scientific and technological bent in the Black race.
      Therefore , while for some, the ability to loot the meagre resources of the Lugardian Zoo may be a great goal, the Igbo have a more generalized and global ambition to lead the Black race to compete with the rest of humanity, instead of this constant begging bowl mentality of the African and Black peoples , presented in its most nauseating form ,by the people who have always led the Lugardian Zoo Called Nigeria.” – You

      You seem to be in academic and intellectual hallucination. Where in the entire LGAs and states in the southeast has such progressive and people-driven energy shown in governance and leadership. I am from Anambra state and I have never experienced governance that is different from the rest of the country. Obiano, Orji Uzo Kalu, Chijioke Mbadinuju, T Orji, Nnamani, Egwu, etc, were all Governors and Igbos but only looted their people dry and left them worse than they met them.
      Anambra is not governed any different from Jigawa state. An Hausa man is not more corrupt than his Igbo brother in all strata of our public offices. I would have expected Igbos to show leadership example in the way they manage their own affairs in town unions, market unions, LGAs, states, etc, to serve as a reference point in their agitation for self rule. There is no evidence to show that Igbos are using their monthly allocations from Abuja to enger productivity and development in their region. It is a rent economy that largely depend on sharing rather than production.

      • Mexy

        I can’t agree any less with you. The reasons why Nigeria has refused to make progress as a nation are bad leadership and Corruption as the common man is forever marginalized.The common man here is that man in Damaturu that has been turned to Alamajiri by his Supposed Governor,by ignoring as basic as Primary School Education is,That woman in Enugu that can’t access Health Care because there are no drugs.That defenseless boy in Oturkpo who is shot by the never friendly Police just because he has no ID Card on him,therefore he is branded as a Criminal. It is within anybody’s right to seek divorce in any marriage in the right possible way.The same bad leadership we the Igbos are complaining about in Nigeria is also the most popular brand of Government in the SE. As the Agitation will or might continue in our Region,my question is who are these Leaders that will Biafra to Eldoraldo.

        • Zico

          Good talk

      • Zico

        I agree. May God bless you.

  • Don Franco

    Dear Kenny,

    Eni B, like Simon Kolawole, is also looking for a job with A so Rock, but he’s gonna have to queue up behind Dele Momodu and Simon; afterall it took Kayode Komolafe over 14 years to get his comeuppance.
    There’s a battle for the political soul of Nigeria and the SW is programmed by default to connive with the North against the SE and SS; that’s how they have maintained their own relevance as second fiddlers since after the Civil War. What Eni B wrote in this shameless oped is indeed in sync with his character, as the campaign season of 2018 draws near. This article is a citadel of political self preservation, if I ever read one!.

  • KWOY

    In spite of your lies you still admitted Biafra is only defered….! The rest will be history!

  • Kenny

    So, what is your point, Eniola Bello? Either you are mixing up the points or you do not know how to come out in the open to justify the madness and indefensible highhandedness of the Nigerian military and Buhari’s very clear discrimination against the Igbos. One would have expected a balanced essayist to call a spade by its rightful name.

    The fact that candidate Muhammadu Buhari did not win majority of Igbo votes does not make the Igbos subordinate to other Nigerians. I thought once a President is elected, the entire country becomes his constituency. Again, I thought there was something called Federal Character that guides the distribution of public office. How has this government treated the Igbos? Unfortunately, folks like you are indirectly giving tacit support to the corruption that has eaten deep into this government because, according to you, the Igbos did not vote for Buhari. Let me ask you and your ilk a question: in a true democracy, is it a crime for a voter or group of voters to vote for the party of their choice? Must everyone vote for the winner? When supposedly bright minds like you fail to speak truth to authority, it shows that our journey to the promised land is still very far. With your pen and position, it is important that you tell truth to power. Nigeria has never been this divided since the end of the civil war. All the blame can only be on President Buhari and his crop of advisers or cabal. Kanu’s and his IPOB may have made mistakes, but President Buhari has created almost a permanent dent on the unity of this country, almost in equal proportion to that created by the civil war. If you do not want the Igbos to be part of the entity called Nigeria, you should at least organize a referendum and indirectly encourage them to leave Nigeria. Who wants to be treated like a third class citizen in his or her country?

    I will advise you to read the more balanced piece by Abati.

    • Wahab Faluse

      What make Abati article more balanced than Eni B write up, if i may ask? Please educate me

      • Mo

        Read the article, stupid. READ IT.

        • Wahab Faluse

          Your comment actually says a lot about what this social media thing is all about

  • peace

    This country is really doomed. How can somebody get this sought of gibberish on the back page of a national newspaper . Lord have mercy.