The Biafran war might have been over in 1970 but we are still haunted by it.
On May 30, 2017, it would be 50 years Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu declared the state of Biafra. In the South-Eastern region, Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is beating the old drums of secession and they are pretty loud.
Yesterday, Sunday, May 28, 2017, Kanu flouted one of the conditions of his release by addressing a pro-Biafra crowd in his father's home in Abia state.
"On the 30th of May, we will shut this very place down and prepare for Biafra. The choice is theirs if they will give us a date for the referendum. And if they fail to do that there will be no election in the south-east forever and ever" he told the crowd on Shabbat, a Jewish religious programme. Nnamdi Kanu is an Igbo-Jew.
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There have been quite a few jokers and pretenders in the Biafra cause. It, however, seems Nnamdi Kanu has a strong following. His persecution by the Federal Government has only made him more of a hero in the eyes and hearts of his followers.
Nnamdi Kanu, however, is no messiah. There is no promised land at the end of this all. This pro-Biafra leader was born after the Biafran war. He never saw the war and the damage it caused the people of the South-East. He was however born in the 70s and surely when he was growing up he must have seen the after-effects of Ojukwu's decision to pull his people from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I have never lived through a war myself but people who have fought in wars say no man should experience war twice. The South-East still has a lot of scars from the Biafran war that have never healed. Setting up a region, that badly needs development, in a collision with the Federal Government isn't an act of boldness but of stupidity. It's plain suicide.
Have Igbos been unfairly treated in Nigeria? Yes, they have. Have they been marginalised? Yes, they have. But guess what- people from the South-South have had it bad also. People from the North (the poorest region in the country) have not had it any better. Nigerians from the South-West have also gotten the short end of the stick. To put it simply- the Nigerian deal has not favoured any tribe.
And here in lies my grouse with Nnamdi Kanu and any other ethnic leader from any part of the country. Fighting for justice and equality based on tribe is not a fight. It's deception. It's tribalism. We, the Nigerian people, have been treated unfairly and poorly by the political class. It is not an issue of tribe. It is an issue of we against them, an issue of the greedy and corrupt few over millions of hardworking Nigerians. Any war waged on tribalism or religion will not stand.
What of Igbo politicians who have embezzled money and contributed to the poor economic growth in the South-East? Why hasn't Kanu moved against them? If he is truly a leader, why can't his movement raise leaders that will defeat these corrupt vultures from the South East at the next election? Let him put his people in positions of power and advance the cause from there.
I do no stand with his movement as I do not stand with Boko Haram. Instigating secession and war will lead nowhere. Violence only begets violence.
Now don't get me wrong. I haven't seen a good reason why Nigeria should remain one country. Sometimes I believe it's best we all go our separate ways. If we do it according to the Ojukwu blueprint, it will surely fail as history shows. The Nnamdi Kanu way won't be successful either because it doesn't uphold justice and equality of all tribes. It spews hate and ethnic bias.
When push comes to shove, let's not forget that Nnamdi Kanu is a British citizen. You can read this article and say a Yoruba man is writing rubbish or you can open your minds and realize that a war based on tribal sentiments will end up in smoke.