By Asikason Jonathan
ARE you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?” Those memorable lines from Maximus Decimus Meridius in “Gladiator” come to mind as a clip of Dr. Chike Akunyili’s brush with death hit the cyberspace.
While it’s still under the realm of conjecture who the actual killers are, one critical message the horrendous assassination passed is this: In Nigeria, if you don’t protect yourself, nobody will! How the Southeast has joined the Northeast and Northwest as the worst places to live in Nigeria is not just the contribution of the dreaded unknown gunmen but also those who showered encomiums on them during the morning of their activities.
Just as the Igbo elders of yore would reference in the anecdotes of the monkey, the problem does not lie in giving it water but in getting your cup back. Presumably, events of the past few months in the Southeast and perhaps, what is happening throughout the country suggests that the Nigerian state has lost its grip on what Max Weber dubbed the monopoly of the legitimate use of violence.
The collapse of the security architecture and death of morale among the operatives is not what can be restored in a blink of an eye. It will take years and within those years, it is the rank and file that will bear the brunt while the rich will mostly flee. Is it not puzzling how a zone that just succeeded in reducing kidnapping to the barest minimum suddenly receded into another security challenge worse than the one that formerly haunted it?
Popular and majority opinions have always tilted the pendulum towards the Biafran question. Majority of the Ndigbo consider their tribesmen who oppose Biafra as saboteurs and sellouts who ought to be eliminated so that the struggle for its resuscitation won’t stop midway.
But is this the best way to go? In his account of the Nigerian civil war, published in 1980 by the Fourth Dimension, Gen. Alexander Madiebo, who commanded the Biafran army, described Ojukwu’s inability to accommodate divergent opinions in the policy making process as one of the reasons behind the unfortunate collapse of the Biafran state.
“What Biafra needed most but never had was collective leadership. Over concentration of powers into one hand is bad enough in peace time and should never be allowed in the time of war when mental strains affect good judgment. As Ojukwu once told Philip Effiong, Biafra’s effective policy making body consisted of Chukwuemeka, Oduemegwu and Ojukwu – in short, himself alone,” Madiebo wrote.
This brings us to the extant strategies being employed by IPOB to force the Federal Government acquiesce to its demand for a referendum. It can be said that the guiding principle of IPOP’s policy is: Whatever that comes out of the supreme leader needs not to be questioned; the supreme leader is infallible!
The insistenceon Monday “sitat-home” order despite Barr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor’s clarification that the supreme leader has approved its suspension lends credence to the above assertion. IPOB members want to hear from the supreme leader himself. Not even the announcement from the Radio Biafra could placate them.
So they threatened fire and brimstone on anyone that will flout the order. Using Anambra as a case, former CBN governor and APGA’s flagbearer, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, revealed that the state loses families then you will come to understand who the order affects most. Outside the sitat-home order, IPOB which hitherto declared that they will support the November 6 slated gubernatorial election in Anambra if results are declared in the polling booths, in a volte-face declared “No Election” pending the release of Nnamdi Kanu.
What the organisation intends to achieve by this decision if the demand is not met is a question still begging for answers. Remember in 2006, MASSOB, IPOB’s precursor, ordered Ndigbo to boycott National Population Census organised that year.
According to Uchenna Madu, the aim of the organisation was to use its position on the exercise to draw the attention of the international community to the plight of Biafrans. Regrettably in 2017 he said: “The low turnout of the South-East during the last census exercise was used by our enemies and Nigerian government to undermine and shortchange Ndigbo in Nigeria, it was a part of sacrifice for Biafra.”
Less than a month to its gubernatorial election, climate of fear and confusion have taken over the political horizon of Anambra State. Campaigns and rallies are sometimes rescheduled and often cancelled, people are killed on daily basis and every day, people are making resolve not to participate in the electioneering process.
But are Ndi Anambra ready to pay the price of possible interim military administration if the boycott is significantly achieved? Generally speaking, what is happening in the Southeast today is the failure of politics and government. Shifting the blames on the Federal Government, southeastern states have for long been in a state of decay.
From Abia to Imo, Anambra and Enugu through Ebonyi, ordinary people are complaining. They are yet to see considerably what Lincoln dubbed the essence of government, which is to do for the people what they cannot do for themselves. Questions have been raised about what the governors are doing with the funds they are getting from Abuja.
Make no mistake about it, our problem is politics. The politics we don’t get right in Nigeria; we can’t get right in Biafra. It is the same people that man the governmental machineries in Nigeria that would do it in Biafra if self-rule is achieved.
There hasn’t been any ethical regeneration; there hasn’t been any value reorientation. We still have in us what has been keeping the country on its knees. With what it is happening in South Sudan today, I believe if a new referendum is conducted in the country many will agree to join the greater Republic of Sudan.
This does not in any way suggest that Ndigbo are better off in Nigeria than they will be in Biafra. It goes far from that to x-ray the Nigerian factor that is still in our blood will still come back to haunt us if we don’t kill it before secession.
Thus, we need to demonstrate to the International community that we can do without Nigeria by establishing a state within a state. We should start by electing governors who are passionate about developing the Southeast. We need governors who, according to Rudolf Okonkwo, “can look at any character in Abuja and stand their ground.
Be it in resource control, restructuring, protecting Igbo people anywhere in Nigeria and beyond, or in the worst case, in a possible breakup of Nigeria.” It all boils down to leadership. We can’t achieve much by burning down police stations and releasing criminals from jails.
Neither can we achieve much by threatening to stop elections and killing people indiscriminately. Violence beget violence! We need to change the narrative, we need to change the strategy, the struggle for Biafra is too precious to be ceded to touts. That will be the highest insult we can give to the fallen.