By Jide Ajani
From the cool, comfort of Ireland – at least that was where he was broad casting from – Nnamdi Kanu propagates the gospel of hate.He spewed many, so many things that would make the most intelligent of Igbos shudder and ask this simple question: Do Igbos of Nigeria deserve the seemingly duplicitous misdirection of angst in a country of clashing socio-political and economic interests?
We will return to the question shortly.
In making reference to the deservedness of a situation or otherwise, the late first Prime Minister of independent Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, after the “Supreme Court gave judgment against his government in the case, Doherty v. Sir A. Tafawa Balewa and Others”, in his characteristic candour, told the then Chief Justice of the Federation, Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, GCON, CFR, KBE: “I am glad you have put us in our place; this is what we deserve. If I do anything wrong, do not hesitate to deal with me”. That was the sitting Prime Minister of Nigeria talking.
Now, therefore, another set of questions should be asked: Have the Igbos been put in their place and are they getting what they deserve?
Is the Federal Government of Nigeria handling, appropriately, the reawakened demand for the actualisation of the sovereign state of Biafra?
We would address the second set of questions first.
The Igbos may have subconsciously boxed themselves into a corner (read place) where they couldn’t have gotten what they rightly deserved.
The presidency has serially eluded them not because they lacked capacity of quality but the type of politics they place allows for group exploitation by those who believe they have conquered a people.
On the handling of the present protests, there is, still, in Nigeria, the anachronistic legislation that seeks to compel the citizens to first seek approval from the Police Commissioner of a state before any form of gathering (read public protest) can be allowed. But a number of court judgments has poured cold water on that.
However, if there is a protest that portends to disrupt public peace, then the authorities need to act.
So, have the recent activities of those trooping to the streets, mostly in the five states of south-east Nigeria and Rivers State, breached known laws in Nigeria? If the answer is yes, then the authorities should act. But in acting, it should not in any way further exacerbate an already tensed situation by using excessive force – which some times results in fatalities. In any case, virtually all geo-political zones of the country have one form of discontent or the other against the Nigerian state and, therefore, legitimate means of seeking redress is allowed.
Yes, there is misery in the land but one form of misery far outstrips some others.
And talking about misery, what confers the right on an individual to, in seeking redress for his situation, propagate hate in the guise of bringing to the fore real and perceived injustices against his people? Recently, some of the hate speeches of Kanu, the self-styled mobiliser-in-chief for the re-actualisation of the sovereign state of Biafra, went viral on social media. And that ties to the first question about the intelligent among the Igbos.
To paper over the injustices the Igbos have been caused to cope with in Nigeria would not serve the end of good conscience.
But to what ends would the hate campaign of Kanu help restore the dignity the Igbos insist they have been deprived of in Nigeria?
The attempt at actualising the Biafra of old was quashed some four and a half decades ago. Even Ohaneze, the prime pro-Igbo group, acknowledges that. But the end of an insurgency should not be a magna charter for other groups of seeming co-ordinate ranking in the nation, to deprive the Igbos their ‘rightful’ place.
The present attempt has been reduced to no more than a racket, a convoluted campaign of hate which appears to be provoking more angst because the twisted articulation of the issues causing these discounts make a mockery of the quest for redress. Yes, whereas Kanu may have succeeded in reawakening the quest for Biafra, an access to a transmitting device does not make a good struggle.
And some Igbo leaders, who have been engaging in double speak, are not helping matters with their serial indifference and diffidence.
What the Biafra cause needs is pure re-engagement with a short term view of making the points clearly and a long term objective of achieving redress.
In today’s Nigeria, the grain of opinion may not be in sync with a separatist paradigm. However, if truth be told, there appears to have been an unwritten deprivation mode against the Igbos in Nigeria – and, incongruously, with the active or sub-conscious collaboration of Igbos.
The Jonathan administration presented the Igbos with a good number of high profile appointments yet the cries of marginalisation persisted and still persist.
If Igbo leaders allow the circus going on to continue in the name of mass mobilisation, those intent on hijacking a good cause for personal psychological masturbation would win. On the other hand, if the Buhari administration mishandles its response to the protests, the outcome may be a further garnering of sympathy for the cause. And anything could happen.