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Biafra backlash and Ndigbo assets



Biafra backlash and Ndigbo assets

“It is our considered view that rather than Igbo continuing to hold the whole country to ransom, they should be allowed to go their own way” –Arewa Youth quotes


The May 30th sit-at-home directive by Biafra agitators surely has changed the conversation. Nigerians who took the Biafra issue lightly have since adjusted themselves after the success recorded at the sit-at-home order by the two main Biafra agitators, IPOB and MASSOB in memory of over a million of their kit and kins who died in the 30-month brutal civil war between 1967 to 1970. Nigerians are suddenly realising that the noise could yield a melody and are preparing for the dance.

In fact panicky northern youths have opened the dance floor. The feeling of Nigerians could be gauged in their reactions on the Facebook and other social media platforms that the issue has been trending.

“This Biafra thing is serious, the thing don pass joke” was the summation of a Nigerian resident in Abuja. “See how they have changed the narration, nobody remembers the sick President or the acting President, everything now is on Biafra.”

One man in his Facebook contribution to the Biafra talk even went spiritual counselling Nigerian leaders not to overlook the spiritual dimension to the Biafra issue. “If I were Nigeria leaders,” he said, “I would pick a lesson from the Gamaliel advice in the bible about Jesus and his followers, to monitor them cautiously and not help in promoting them by going to attack them. If they are backed by God nobody would be able to stop them, but if not they would fizzle off like so many other agitators in the past.”

If God is with them he said you may even find yourself fighting God without knowing. He drew the public attention to the curious happening of security agencies fighting and killing themselves the same day they were mobilising to stop Biafra agitation (Navy and Police clash on Tuesday in Calabar, Cross River State).

The young analyst who probably is spiritdriven surely drew his inference from the Acts of the Apostles Chapter 5 in the Holy Book authored by St Luke: “And when they had brought the apostles, they set them before the council.

And the high priest asked them, saying; we commanded you, that you should not teach in this name: and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and you have a mind to bring the blood of this man upon us. But Peter answering, said: We ought to obey God rather than men.

The God of our fathers hath raised up Jesus, whom you put to death, hanging him upon a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand, to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.

“And we are witnesses of these things, and the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to all that obey him. When they had heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they thought to put them to death.

But one in the council rising up, a Pharisee, by name Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, respected by all the people, commanded the men to be put forth a little while. “And he said to them; Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves, what you are about to do with these men.

For before these days rose up Theodas, affirming himself to be some body, whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined; who was slain: and all who believed him, were dispersed, and brought to nothing.

“After this man rose up Judas, of Galilee, in the days of the enrolling, and drew away the people after him: he also perished: and all who adhered to him, were dispersed. “And now, therefore, I say to you, refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel, or this work be of men, it will come to nothing: But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God. And they agreed with him.”

If only Nigeria leaders and their security apparatchik would pick something from Gamaliel counsel as it relates to these Biafra agitators. But perhaps the most intriguing of all the reactions to the success recorded by the sit at home order is the fight over what happens to Ndigbo assets scattered all over Nigeria if they decide to go. Some said they know a lot of their property and they would immediately take it over, others reasoned that Ndigbo would not leave those properties to go anywhere that they are already stuck.

Some striking messages came out of this. One, that Nigerians acknowledge that Ndigbo more than any ethnic group in the country have helped to build this nation by giving infrastructural facelift to all the cities in the country.

Two, that Ndigbo have foolishly or unwisely developed other cities more than they have done in Igboland. One outstanding question begging for an answer from Ndigbo is asked by one Facebook lady: Where in any Igbo city can there be found any structure owned by Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani or Tiv or Igala etc.?

The very conspicuous thing from all these is that for the first time since the end of the civil war 47 years ago, Nigerians are beginning to think of Biafra as a reality even as they left some remarkable food for thought for Ndigbo as it relates to their observance of the ‘aku rue uno principle’ (wealth should reach home).

The aku rue uno concept is known in Igboland but has actually not been strongly followed hence the pointing of owned property outside Biafra land as a possible inhibition to the realisation of Biafra.

It also exposes how imprudent Ndigbo have been in the eyes of the rest of the country. But that notwithstanding, the May 30th directive has other striking messages that should not be ignored by any objective analytical mind.

The bulk of these Igbo assets are owned by the businessmen who decided on May 30 not to make money that day in memory of their kith and kins who died fighting for their freedom. That they rejected monies that would have been made in Aba, Onitsha, Nnewi, Owerri, Enugu etc. to remember those they probably didn’t know should send some signals to the World that even the so-called property is nothing for their freedom.

After all in the past, soon after the civil war, all Igbo millions were reduced to £20 each but within a decade they were able to catch up with the rest of the country. Like the Facebook contributor, Nigeria should stop being mechanical in their view on this Biafra matter and look at it from spiritual point. As Gamaliel advised the leaders of Israel, if this Biafra thing is refusing to die, it could have some divine dimension that if continuously ignored might be at the peril of the country.

I have told this story before on this space and am repeating it. In 2005 as the Group Political Editor of Thisday Newspaper I had the privilege of interviewing late Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the undisputed Biafra hero at his home in Enugu.

After the interview, I was already at his exit gate when he called me back and dropped this message: “My friend, your newspaper is very powerful, they listen to you people, use it to tell Nigerian authorities to make haste to address Igbo problems, the war weary generations are giving way for the younger ones who did not witness the war and would not understand why they should take it.”

That Ojukwu prophecy was 12 years ago; Nnamdi Kanu and the bulk of his IPOB group were born after the war. On May 30th they gave directive for every Igbo including the war generation people to stay indoors and it was obeyed.

They did not use force, but the populace bought into their message even when political and security authorities stood against it. But even with all these signs nobody is yet seriously thinking of addressing the issue. The Attorney General says Nigeria cannot be restructured that the status quo is okay.

Yes the status is okay for him from North-West with 92 members in the House of Representatives as against South-East 43. Why not when two states Kano and Jigawa members in the House of Representatives are more than members from all the five South Eastern states.

It is an agreed truth that in a democracy majority can swim their way through, but it is also true as captured by Martin Luther King Jr that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” God bless Help us.

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