By Clarius Ugwuoha
IT was shocking that the immediate past deputy Senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, representing Enugu West in the Nigerian upper chamber, and who stood stoutly behind the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra in the hey days leading to their proscription, was attacked in far-away Germany by a mob comprising IPOB members.
Several reasons have been adduced for this insalubrious and truly appalling treatment that seemed to fly in the face of reason. A closer scrutiny of the scenario raised many pertinent clues. First, Chief Ike Ekweremadu wore a brocade embroidered with the Nigerian coat of arms.
This was a crime of immense dimension that signposted betrayal of and insensitivity to the cause of the intolerant IPOB. The fire-spitting group did not like the apparent lip-service support of Igbo leaders in power. The top senator’s outfit suggested complete apathy to the raging zeal of the separatist group. It was not a surprise that it was the first target of the angry mob.
Secondly, there have been increasing cases of Fulani herdsmen menace in the Eastern part of Nigeria, with Enugu as hotbed. Senator Ekweremadu was perceived as taciturn and not truly condemning the invasion or raising appropriate legislative concerns to curb the menace.
More irksome to IPOB was the proscription of an unarmed group seeking self-determination peacefully, while armed herdsmen that roamed the countryside killing, raping and maiming, were termed hoodlums. There was no legislative effort or collective outcry by Igbo leaders to press for their interdiction or to fight for the cause of IPOB beyond the release from detention of Nnamdi Kanu.
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It is understood too that while IPOB was strictly for separatism, the political leaders of the East, including Ohanaeze Ndigbo, were perceived to be only concerned with a Nigerian Presidency of Igbo extraction. IPOB believed that the only way out for an emancipated Igbo nation was a Biafra, citing the perennial marginalisation of the zone which had worsened in the present dispensation.
While some regions had seven and six states respectively, only the East has just five states. That lopsidedness affected all levels of representation which were skewed against the East, including number of local governments, House of Representatives and Senate seats. They were of the view that an Igbo president in the circumstances would be unable to impact the zone owing to various political straitjackets.
Ohaneze and other Igbo leaders differed. That ideological divergence was the root cause of the face-off and tirades between IPOB and the political leaders of the East. The Ekweremadu attack was, therefore, on the face of it, not personal but directed at all leaders of Eastern extraction who had only paid superficial consideration to the increasing challenges of their people in a deeply divisive and stratified Nigerian nation. They yearn for support for the cause of Biafra by political leaders of the East.
The Diaspora IPOB mob may sound self-righteous. But they should know that it is far easier to point a finger than to effect correction. What are they doing in the safe confines of Germany? Would their dream Biafra be created there?
The Arab Spring revolution did not depend on leaders of the country. It was a mass action that originated from commoners with verve, nerve and conviction. Attacking Ekweremadu is cheap escapism. The Germany crowd ought to come back to their country, risk their lives for the emancipation of their people and find appropriate pressure groups within the confines of Nigerian laws for an enabling environment for a realisation of the Biafra of their dreams.
Why did IPOB retreat to safe confines upon proscription without holistically challenging the high-handedness through the country’s jurisprudence? Nnamdi Kanu was spirited out of the country to live to fight another day. That appeared a wise decision. But it should be understood that revolutionaries most of the time just lay down their life for a worthy cause and never live to reap from the struggle. Like Martin Luther King jnr, Malcolm X, Roser Parks and other Black Rights Activists in the United States who paved the way for a Barack Obama to take centre stage as first US Black President.
For Senator Ike Ekweremadu and other political leaders, it is time for sober reflection. The attack had negative and positive connotations. The citizens are becoming more and more intolerant of ambiguous representation. They want leaders who can feel the pulse of their people at all times not merely during electoral periods. It is time for effective grassroots representation and not for beefing up security and hiking of security votes.
Ugwuoha, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Egbema, Imo State