By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU- The recent visit by the United Nations to Igboland has drawn the ire of pro-Biafra groups who accused the body of failing to see the real victims of the Biafra crises, in an aftermath of the Nigeria Army invasion of the South-East, when the army wreaked havoc on members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
The pro-Biafra group who since the disappearance of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, has remained inactive, are annoyed that the United Nations, whom they ab initio saw as the comforter, ignored them on their visit to the “slaughter land” but chose to visit the “elitist” apex Igbo organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Independent observers, however, view pro-Biafra group’s angry reactions as misplaced, recalling that even Ohanaeze Ndigbo at a point was accused by the Federal Government of supporting the young Biafra agitators. The United Nations, last week, visited Ohanaeze Ndigbo in a follow up to a petition Ohanaeze wrote to the world body, expressing the Igbos’ ugly situation in Nigeria.
President-General of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo said the group on July 12, 2017, wrote to the Secretary-General of the United Nations about the security infrastructure in Nigeria, particularly as it affects Ndigbo, to which the UN on October 10, responded, indicating that it will send its representatives for West Africa and the Sahel. The UN delegation was led by the special representative of the Secretary-General of UN, Ambassador Mohamed Ibn Chambas. The delegation met in a closed door meeting with Ohanaeze after which it expressed its concern about the Igbo question in Nigeria.
Leader of the delegation, Ambassador Chambas said that the UN was recently worried about the developments in Nigeria, particularly in the South-East, noting, however, that the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, stands for a united Nigeria where human rights are respected but not trampled upon. Chambas said: “We indeed came to commend them for the leadership they have demonstrated; few months ago we were all getting a bit worried with events and developments in South-East of Nigeria but thanks to their leadership and their initiatives, they were able to bring together the chiefs and the political leaders and governors and respected persons of South- East and through this intervention, we now see that calm is restored and all are working to advance the one Nigeria agenda.
“The secretary-general believes in this one Nigeria project because he had always said that a united and peaceful Nigeria is not only for the people of Nigeria, but indeed for the people of West Africa and for all of Africa. We know the strength the people of South-East bring to Nigeria and to the sub-region. There is hardly a single country in West Africa where you will not find enterprising persons from the South-East who are in their own rights economic ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“So our simple message is to encourage the leaders and elders of the South-East to continue to endeavour to seek ways in which they can work with all other parts of the federation and to strengthen the unity of this country and through a constructive approach to seek dialogue to redress whatever shortcoming there may be.”
Chambas further said that most African countries were still at their young stages of democracies, with some structural imbalances here and there, noting that the best ways to address them were through deepening the democracy and determination to accommodate one another. “So we came in this spirit, we are leaving; this will be a continuing dialogue and from time to time when we are in Nigeria, we will always look forward to coming back to exchange and to pay respect to the leadership, council of elders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.”
However, despite what may have been the good intentions of both Ohanaeze and the UN on the Biafran question in Nigeria, the pro-Biafra groups did not read good meanings into the visit. The most affected Biafra agitation group, IPOB, said the visit was a fraud and accused Ohanaeze of being part of their problems. It said that Ohanaeze collaborated with the Army to clampdown on the group in the Army’s Operation Python Dance II.
IPOB spokesman, Emma Powerful said the group had instructed its attorneys in New York to write to the office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to query Amb. Chambas on his visit to Enugu. IPOB said that the provocative statements attributed to Chambas were the same one Nigeria mantra it had become accustomed to. “So, getting the same genocidal message from a Hausa Fulani from Ghana living in Abuja did not come to us as a surprise.
“By travelling to Enugu to defend the interest of his fellow Muslim Hausa Fulani, Mohamed Ibn Chambas demonstrated that defence of his ethnic and religious group is paramount to him, unlike Nwodo that specialises in selling the interest of his people to the North.”
IPOB alleged the Federal Government shored up the dwindling relevance of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the South-East by blatantly misleading the public into thinking the United Nations was behind the visit to Enugu. “So the purported UN delegation to Enugu is a fraud, a political 419. Guterres, the present UN chief did not appoint, neither did he send Mohamed Ibn Chambas on any errand to Enugu,” said IPOB spokesman.
In its reaction, the Movement for Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, accused the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo as being mischievous and unrealistic on issues concerning Biafra. MASSOB said that though it has respect for Igbo elders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo was not agitating or canvassing for Biafra actualization and restoration. MASSOB leader, Comrade Uchenna Madu said: “Since the so-called United Nations representatives meeting with Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership bordered on Biafra freedom and Nigeria disintegration, they would have involved the leading pro-Biafra groups which will bring huge respect and honour for their leadership in Igboland.
“It was not Ohanaeze Ndigbo activities that attracted the so-called United Nations representatives to Enugu neither was it Ohanaeze Ndigbo activities that attracted the much clamour for restructuring and regionalism. Also, it was not Ohanaeze Ndigbo activities that attracted the condemnation of anti-Igbo song of genocides from Hausa Fulani by the real United Nations.”
However, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Nnia Nwodo congratulated the UN delegation on what it described as very fruitful and frank discussions with the visitors. Nwodo said the delegation assured Ndigbo that the United Nations represents prevention of conflicts, represents promotion of development in a manner that improves quality of life and prevents resort to conflicts and protects human rights.