We are now in October, 2015, and the silence is deafening! For most of this year the Indigenous People Of Biafra made so much noise you would think the war with Nigeria was already raging. Nnamdi Kanu said he had nuclear weapons, a secret service and would finish Nigeria in no time and Biafra would have come to stay. One of the main points giving him so much confidence was that the United Nations was going to conduct an independence referendum in South East Nigeria on 12th September. Added to that, he had the full support of President Donald Trump of the United States of America.
Well, September 12 has come and gone. The United Nations never showed up. Nothing has been heard from President Trump. Nigeria sent Operation Python Dance which tortured unfortunate Igbos and killed others whose number we will never know. They invaded Nnamdi Kanu’s father’s house from where he had been dishing out propaganda for his followers. But he was clever enough to have left early into hiding. And that is the end of all the noise, at least for now. And the army and police say they found bombs and other dangerous weapons in his father’s house. What do you expect? I do not believe they found any weapons. Nnamdi Kanu is intelligent enough not to have left anything there if he ever had any. If he had any why did he not use them? But history is usually written from the point of view of the victors, not the losers. The Army can claim anything now. Who has evidence to controvert what the army says? That is a scenario that Nnamdi Kanu should have envisaged.
Getting independence is a difficult and long process and the party wanting it must be prepared to persevere. When the dust has finally settled and if in the meantime Nigeria does not incarcerate Nnamdi Kanu for the rest of his life, he and IPOB must learn from their mistakes and the experience of others desperate for independence. He must go back to the drawing board and begin by really trying to get support from Ndigbo by acting in a manner that will suggest to Ndigbo that these young people are really working in their interest, not by abusing all the governors and the leader of Ohaneze, the Igbo cultural organisation, or anybody who does not agree with them. As at now even if somebody were to conduct a referendum for Igbos IPOB may not get up to thirty percent in favour of an independent Biafra. There are many reasons. Even if majority of Ndigbo agree with IPOB that Ndigbo are being badly maltreated in Nigeria they will not vote for independence because Igbos are not united. They are not ready to rule themselves yet because the disunity is so extreme that they will see Biafra repeating what is happening in South Sudan. Secondly, there are probably more Igbos outside the South East Zone than inside virtually controlling many spheres of enterprise in Nigeria including hotels, estates, transportation, importation, trading and some other areas. If Hausa/Fulani youth can have the boldness to ask Igbos to quit Northern Nigeria in a united Nigeria imagine what can happen in a situation in which Ndigbo have Biafra. Not just the Hausa/Fulani but many other tribes will fall over themselves to have a share of Igbo properties and businesses. Remember the Abandoned Properties saga during and after the Civil War nearly half a century ago. Igbos will be massacred.
IPOB should stop being pushed by Igbos in the Diaspora into leading ignorant and naïve youth into committing suicide. The leaders of MASSOB and IPOB live in luxury from contributions by Diaspora Igbos who are far removed from the theatre of action and the poor, gullible, followers pay the supreme price. They should sit back and think. They should reorganise their agitation and make it non violent and cut out the abusive language. IPOB and MASSOB should integrate into one body if the greed of the leaders can be curbed. They should now look at other separatist movements all over the world and see what their fortunes have been. They will realise that this thing is not child’s play. Conducting a referendum does not equate independence.
They will look at Scotland, the first to have a referendum within the last few years. The United Kingdom is an old democracy. Everything was done in a civilised manner. Campaigners from England against Scottish independence went to campaign in Scotland. Nobody killed or maimed or even harassed anybody. In the end those for independence lost narrowly. With the Scots feeling that Brexit would not be in their interest they are again thinking of another referendum as they believe that most of Scotland would be for remaining in the European Union. If they vote for it the whole of Europe will recognise Scottish independence.
Then they would look at the debacle in the Kurdish region of Iraq. They conducted a referendum and the Kurds voted massively for independence. Then Iraq went on the war path and has seized Kirkuk, the oil rich region on which Kurds were hoping for economic survival if they achieve independence. Turkey, Iran, Syria are all on the war path because if they allow the Kurds of Iraq to have independence the Kurds in their countries bordering Iraq’s Kurds would want to unite with their fellow Kurds in Iraq into an independent country. The United States of American and the allies who joined to fight and defeat ISIS in which fight the Pershmerga, the military wing of Iraqi Kurds, distinguished itself, do not want Irag to disintegrate. As at today independence is very far away for the Kurds of Irag.
Then there is the equally sad story of the Catalonians in Spain. I heard IPOB’s Biafra has an embassy there! They have voted overwhelmingly for independence but they do not have the courage to declare independence but are dithering on the border line. The Spanish government is ready to deal with their leaders. Worse than that, the European Union is strongly against their independence from a member country. They are currently in a jam. An independent Catalonia which nobody recognises is like a death warrant. But that sad story is ongoing.
So, IPOB has no choice but to join others for the difficult fight to restructure Nigeria hoping that with the energy and zeal of the Igbos the South East zone will be the envy of Nigeria in the not so distant future in a sensibly restructured Nigeria. Better organised and united groups have been struggling for years to achieve independence and are still labouring. They can continue the agitation in a more civilised way in case Nigeria later unravels.
Biafra is a dream to most Igbos. But many realise it may only remain a dream.  Biafra was hell to most of those who actually fought the war with kwashiorkor killing the children, most of the people starving and even eating lizards, many dying fighting in the militia with cutlasses and dane-guns against a Nigerian army using British and Russian modern weapons. Nobody knows how many died but they say they were in millions. For some of us who were outside Nigeria we remember Biafra with nostalgia, what might have been! Yes, we contributed money to send home to support the war effort but even then it was alleged that a lot of it was diverted for personal use. Corruption is not a new thing. Of course we suffered mental agony thinking of what was happening to those we left back home. In my case the government of Tanzania recruited me direct from England to work in one of their ministries. In Tanzania we Biafrans were idolised, treated like special human beings, for daring to fight the mighty Nigeria that was supported by world powers. In fact I had only been in Dar-es-Salaam for a week when in the Etienne night club I was introduced to a Permanent Secretary in one of the ministries and he exclaimed, `I thought you people were white! You made all those weapons including ogbunigwe!’ And he paid for my food and drinks that night. Yes, I was a proud Biafran. I remember those years with nostalgia. But that dream is long gone.      


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