BY VINCENT UJUMADU
IF most of those following the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, were somewhat educated, the activities of the pro Biafra group and its approach to issues would have been different.
But like many prominent Igbo observed, the way and manner the group carries its activities had a direct link with the level of education of Kanu’s followers as their straight jacket thinking cannot decipher right from wrong.
The one –way traffic reasoning of many IPOB members in believing whatever came out of the mouth of their leader was indicative of lack of proper articulation of the objectives of the group and how to go about achieving them.
For instance, many had raised the question as to what the group intended to achieve by asking people not to vote in the Anambra State governorship election. Simple reasoning ought to have told members of the group that failure to vote could lead to introduction of a state of emergency in Anambra State, a situation that could lead to the militarization of the state. The surprising thing is that while the group is singing the no election song, most of its members are working for some candidates for today’s election one way or the other.
It was perhaps for this reason that many Anambra people believe that most of those championing no election propaganda are from outside the state, who are merely envious of the leading position of Anambra among the Igbo –speaking states.
Checks had shown that anytime security operatives made arrests of suspected IPOB members, they were either commercial motorcycle operators or people without visible means of livelihood and they are usually not indigenes of Anambra State. A case in point was the recent arrest of two persons printing IPOB leaflets in Onitsha. During their interrogation, they were observed to be people from outside the state.
Chief Promise Nwafor, an Igbo who relocated to the East from Kano in the wake of the call by IPOB for Igbo residing in the North to return home said he had become a victim of the IPOB misleading propaganda.
According to Nwafor, who had lived in the North for nearly 40 years said: “I sold all my property at giveaway prices and returned home, but I am yet to find my feet.IPOB people asked our people to come back home when there was no plan for them in the East.” Nwafor is not alone in this predicament as there are many Igbo who were comfortable in their places of resident only to be reduced to beggars because IPOB deceived Igbo people that their lives were in danger in their places of residence.
One of the groups that is unhappy with Kanu and his group is the Coalition for the Defence of Nigeria Sovereignty, DNS, which described the IPOB leader as a purveyor of hate speech.
President of the Coalition, Otunba Bolaji Alabi recalled how Kanu preached segregation among Christians in the country and observed that IPOB activities were having negative effect on the economy and commended the proscription of the group.
Alabi said: “The hate speech by IPOB members qualifies the group as a terrorist organization. The disdain with which this terrorist organization holds people is deplorable. The culture of hate speech being promoted by IPOB, which it is teaching these youths is alien to us as we are taught to be respectful and considerate of other humans.
“We wonder what would be the fate of anyone that repeatedly incites others to violence through the promotion of hate speech and goes the extra mile to actualize the threats as we witnessed in Rivers State when IPOB terrorists were stopping commercial buses and attacking the occupants.”
Another group, the Biafra Nations Youth League, BNYL, once advised the agitators not to ignore the advice of war veterans; otherwise they would be repeating the mistakes that led to failure of initial secession attempt.
BNYL leader, Mr. Princewill Obuka explained that some errors on the part of Ojukwu-led government resulted to the defeat of Biafra in 1970.
Obuka said: “I don’t think Biafra agitators of today calculate and seek meaningful advice before making moves. A lot of ‘I don’t care attitude’ and drastic decisions have really made us noise makers, than people with agenda. We must tell ourselves the truth. History has it that it was the failure of Ojukwu- led government to calculate and as well heed to advice, that led to our eventual surrender to Nigeria by Philip Effiong”.
“Those who are currently handling the media for pro-Biafra groups are repeating the mistakes of Okokon Ndem during the civil war. They are boasting and bragging, but at the end we suffer more casualty than the country we are struggling to separate from. I see today’s struggle as a repetition of history.
According to Obuka, the United Nations, UN, which the pro Biafra agitators were always calling for assistance, does not grant independence to people who are disorganized, advising members of the group to drop their ego and seek the way forward.
To Chikwendu Kalu, the speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, the activities of the proscribed IPOB under the leadership of Nnamdi Kanu, put the lives of 11.6 million Igbo people living outside the South East at risk, noting that Kanu’s agitation was not done within the ambit of the law.
“The IPOB leader should have explored Legal Avenue to redress grievances against the South East. Yes, I was worried about what was happening in Abia State during the military faceoff with IPOB, but I thank God for what He was able to use the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu to achieve during that period. What saved the situation was the curfew he imposed when the military came and that calmed the situation.
“I must, however, point out that the agitation on the part of Nnamdi Kanu was not done within the ambit of the law. If you have any grievance, it is incumbent on you to explore all legal avenues to redress it. It is not something you begin to militarize the environment to achieve. That is exactly what happened. Immediately after the curfew was imposed, what the Abia State House of Assembly did was to condemn Kanu and they adopted the position of the South-East governors by proscribing IPOB.
“Let me also quickly point out, the young man possibly didn’t know that, as at the time he was doing those things, 11.6million Igbo live outside Igbo land. They live in all states of the North and if anything had happened to the few northerners that were in Abia, those 11.6million Igbo might have come to harm.”
In a similar vein, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo came out strongly to dismiss claims by the proscribed IPOB that those hoping to vote in today’s governorship election in Anambra State will die, describing those making such a call as enemies of the people.
Stressing that the election must hold, the chairman of Ohanaeze in Anambra State, Chief Damian Okeke Ogene warned that failure of Anambra residents to vote would be creating a fertile ground for enemies to thrive.
According to Ogene, “Anambra people have agreed that there will be election in the state. If there is any group saying there won’t be election, we want to put it to that group that the election must hold.
“Anybody insisting that there won’t be election in Anambra State is an enemy of the people. If such a group succeeds in creating confusion here, it will only be preparing a fertile ground for our enemies to penetrate our territory. And if such a thing happens, the next likely thing to happen is a state of emergency, which will not be in the interest of our people.”
Chief Ralph Uwazurike, pioneer leader of Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), also condemned the activities of IPOB, noting that they negates the rule of engagement of the Biafra struggle.
He observed that the activities of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, could only lead to an unplanned war which was against the Biafra struggle, adding that the interest of the Biafra movement was to secure the interest, lives and property of Igbo people and not to start another war.
Uwazurike blamed the Federal Government of popularizing Nnamdi Kanu, adding that “if the government had ignored him, the situation would not have escalated to the extent it did.”
Uwazurike said: “Kanu’s popularity was due to the relevance given to him by the Federal Government and that is why Igbo leaders must continue to condemn the activities of IPOB. Nnamdi Kanu has no agenda and he is only thriving on the relevance given to him by the government. I recruited him and I know his capacities and he is not a leader. I have 25 steps towards actualizing Biafra and Kanu does not have even one agenda”.
Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the evil machination of the group and its plan to incite Nigerians against one another had failed and urged the people to remain resolute and vigilant. In fact, the Minister hailed Southeast governors’ decision to proscribe IPOB, stressing that the organization, which has been labeled a terrorist group by the military, should cease to exist.
He said: “IPOB activities had reached a crescendo, threatening national unity. IPOB is nothing but a contraption by those who believe they have lost political power, as well as the right to loot our treasury. It is a tool in the hands of the corrupt and disgruntled elements to sabotage the Buhari administration. It fights for no one, but the corrupt and the disgruntled. It seeks to set us apart as a people, exploiting our fault lines. Its modus operandi is to trigger conflagration nationwide through attacks and reprisals.”
According to him, IPOB had violated Nigeria’s sovereignty by setting up parallel military and para-military organizations, mounting road blocks, confronting the military, openly soliciting for weapons and inciting hatred and violence.
Various groups monitoring today’s governorship election in Anambra State are unanimous that the only way to shame IPOB was for the people to come out and cast their votes, adding that doing so would finally nail the coffin of the group and throw it into obscurity.