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Saturday, 6 March 2021

Why Nnamdi Kanu’s Mission Will Remain Misguided

By Victoria Ngozi Ikeano

SIR: Mazi Nnamdi Kanu needs no introduction. He is leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which is more of a movement than a geographical expression in practice. His objective is to have a ‘Biafra state’ carved out of the present Nigerian nation and he defines its geographical composition as consisting of all five states in the southeast as well as Rivers, Delta, Kogi and Benue states, despite objections from some of the states.

IPOB has eclipsed its predecessor, the Movement for the Sovereign state of Biafra (MASSOB) led by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike. Reason for this may be IPOB’s rather extremist tactics and media visibility with its own radio to boot.

Majority of people in the southeast do not agree with Kanu or MASSOB on the issue of secession. They believe that their personal and collective interests are best served in a (bigger) Nigerian state with proper governance structures to address their cry of marginalization. For one, the zone is situated on a relatively small land mass such that were every easterner to pitch his/her tent there, it would not accommodate them all literally. Secondly, south-easterners are generally widely travelled people that invest and build wealth wherever they are, outside of the zone. So, they are more or less stakeholders wherever they find themselves. An unofficial statistic showed that Igbos are the second most populous group in most Nigerian towns after the native, indigenous group. In this circumstance the best policy for the Igbos is one of ‘live and let live’.

Kanu disdains this time-honoured understanding and instead embraces antagonism, vilification of other tribes as well as pouring vituperations on the presidency as an institution and the person of the president.

It bears repeating that Kanu does not speak for the Igbos; he does not represent their cause or Igbo nationalism. Evidence of this is that no notable Igbo personality sides with him. The political class, clerics, apex cultural organization, opinion leaders, etc., do not approve of his agenda or ways which sometimes verges on inciting violence.

Truly, no government in the world would fold its arms while a group unilaterally declares its intent to secede, having its own currency, flag , army, etc., attacking the police at will and setting up road blocks in its supposed sphere of influence while verbally assaulting constituted authority and others via its radio station transmitting within the Nigerian state.

Kanu’s followers are largely disenchanted youths that are angry with the Nigerian state for various reasons. He no doubt has a strong hold on them. This iron grip and cult following has been helped by his spewing of conspiracy theories in his media outlet as well as the conservative and social media that continue to provide him a platform to voice his agenda. He and his band of followers believe that they are fighting a just cause for the Igbos and see themselves as Igbo nationalists.

They err for, even if a ‘Biafra state’ were to be realized (as a hypothesis) there would still be grumblings, echoes of dissatisfactions within because of its latent diversity; it is not a strictly homogenous entity as such. Even within family units, there are dissensions, how much more within larger entities?

Each component unit that makes up Nigeria has its strengths and weaknesses and the union should grow stronger through mutual exchange. No single unit is an island nor can it develop fully as an island unto itself. Many Igbos believe that they are not getting a fair share out of the Nigerian state. However, the way to redress the situation is not by spewing hatred among Nigerians or drumming songs of war and secession which is highly improbable. Rather it is through dialogue – representatives of the nation’s diverse groups sitting down to fashion out a satisfactory (not a perfect model) to live and pursue everyone’s aspirations in harmony for the common good. This requires that each component unit tables its fears and hopes and all reaching a compromise in the spirit of give and take, on a political, social, economic template that is agreeable to all while preserving our common heritage. You may call this template whatever name you wish.

Victoria Ngozi Ikeano, Lafia, Nasarawa State.

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