By Charles Ibekwe
The activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra have generated some controversies in recent times, and this has led to scores of deaths that if care is not taken might escalate into an unimaginable proportion. IPOB, as it is fondly called, is not new to such controversies.
As a fact, IPOB has thrived on disputes that often times not leads to the escalation of violence in South-East Nigeria and other parts of the country. And the recent happenings in South-East Nigeria occasioned by the systematic escalation of killings led by IPOB indeed calls for concern.
I have long stated in numerous forums that the activities of IPOB might sooner or later escalate into a monster that would ultimately consume South-East Nigeria if the relevant authorities do not take urgent and proactive steps towards address this challenge. I did specify at the national level for the simple fact that some governors of states in South East seem to be concerned about their political relevance that they have elected to turn a blind eye to the nefarious activities of IPOB.
The reason is simple. They do not want to be seen as anti-Igbo, which by and large, would affect their political fortunes. For them, it makes more sense, politically and economically, than protecting the interest of the commoners who would ultimately bear the brunt if things get out of control.
That IPOB is waiting to assume a more dangerous dimension is an understatement. That IPOB would also be the albatross of the Igbos in the buildup to the 2023 general elections is also an understatement. The indices are clear, and the pointers are also indicative that South-East Nigeria would experience a situation that would be worse than the Boko Haram crisis in North-East Nigeria.
I am sad that if not for anything that the activities of IPOB is gathering momentum and the political leaders in South East have not seen the need to make strategic interventions that would protect and preserve the relative peace and tranquillity in the region.
Instead, they are playing to the gallery. For example, I find it worrisome that IPOB would issue a sit-at-home order in all parts of South East. Whether it was successful or not, remains another topic for discussion. But the fact that there was a display of such effrontery leaves more to be imagined.
I stand to be corrected. I am not aware if there was a counter-order to that order issued by IPOB whether from the political elites or the traditional institutions in Igbo land. What does this tell us? Your guess is as good as mine.
Those that still think that IPOB does not have ulterior motives in South-East Nigeria ought to have a rethink and come to terms with the starkness of the reality that the activities IPOB has posed to not just the entrenchment of democracy in the region, and also the socio-economic wellbeing of the Igbo people as a whole.
Ironically this is what is playing out in South East, and we have not deemed it necessary to speak in one voice in total condemnation of its nefarious activities. As they say, all politics is local, as well as happiness is also local. The implication of the above is that should the Igbos elect to turn a blind eye to the gradual disintegration of the South East by the activities of IPOB, then we would have ourselves to blame.
This is also instructive when we view critically how the Boko Haram insurgent group evolved and destabilized the North East region in Nigeria in the past ten years. Boko Haram was not imported into the North East, it was a creation of the North East, and it eventually succeeded in causing the destruction of lives and properties in unimaginable quantum. With due respect, the political authorities didn’t act when they were supposed to and today what is being experienced in the region is as a result of that inaction.
I am not convinced that the South East region can cope should IPOB translate into a monster like the Boko Haram group. Some would say that there is no basis for comparison, but that in my opinion is a gross and inept thought line which would ultimately consume us as a people. I am not convinced we need a soothsayer to tell us that should IPOB allowed to thrive unabated; the South East region would be doomed.
Today, IPOB is posturing as an organization for the interest of the Igbos. Tomorrow it would turn its fangs to the very people it claims to be protecting their interest when push comes to shove, and the chicken would come home to roost.
The activities of IPOB must be addressed adequately in the interest of peace in the South East region, which is arguably the most peaceful part of the country. It consequently behoves on all well-meaning Igbo sons and daughters to do all within their means to ensure that IPOB does not cause a crisis of unimaginable proportion in South East.
We must also realize that indeed we would bear the brunt and we would all have ourselves to blame. It thus remains my firm conviction that indeed IPOB has something sinister up its sleeves, and it is not in the best interest of the South East region.
Indeed the time to speak is now. For if we don’t and allow Nnamdi Kanu to get away with this great disservice to the Igbos, posterity won’t be kind to us. It is hoped that this piece would elicit the much-needed reawakening of the true Igbo spirit in all of us in the preservation of peace in South-East Nigeria. This is my two cents.
Ibekwe is a public affairs analyst and wrote from Enugu.