By Azuka Onwuka
On a weekly basis, people are killed in dozens in Borno, Zamfara, Kaduna, Benue, Katsina, Plateau, etc, but Nigeria is not bothered much. But let a tenth of that number be killed in Lagos or Abuja, and all hell will be let loose. The local media will raise hell. The foreign media will accentuate it. Influential people and organisations in the world will react swiftly. The Presidency will take immediate action.
Any sit-at-home in the states of the Southeast, Southsouth, Southwest, Northeast, Northcentral, or Northwest has no effect on a president like Buhari. If lives don’t matter to Nigerian leaders, sit-at-home will look like a joke to them. Even Buhari’s home state Katsina is unsafe but that does not rattle him.
The areas that get the attention of Nigeria (and especially an aloof leader like Buhari) are Lagos, Abuja, and the oil facilties, especially in the Niger Delta. As long as these key areas are not affected, he is not bothered. Whatever you do in your community will only hurt your people.
If you lock down the Southeast for one year nonstop, Buhari will not care and will not be moved. The foreign countries you hope to notice will not be bothered as long as their embassies or companies in Nigeria are not affected or threatened. And their embassies and companies are all located in Lagos and Abuja.
The only group that has ever been offered an amnesty despite using bombs and guns on Nigeria is the Niger Delta militants. The reason was that they were bent on destroying the primary source of Nigeria’s livelihood: crude oil. Unfortunately for Nigeria, the Niger Delta terrain is difficult to navigate for the security operatives; so the Niger Delta militants had the upper hand. On the contrary, the Southeast terrain is easy to navigate. It is open. There is no place to hide in it. There are houses and businesses that can easily be destroyed in any altercation with the security operatives who actually pray that an opportunity be offered them to destroy the Southeast again.
If you live in a glass house, you must refuse to engage in a fight that involves stones.
Let me repeat:
- Buhari will never release Nnamdi Kanu until his tenure is over in 2023, no matter what the courts rule.
- The way to avoid this was for Kanu not to have given them the opportunity to abduct him in the first place.
- The second option was that if he had some people with him him in Kenya when he was abducted, they would have raised an alarm like was done in the case of Sunday Igboho, which would have made Nigeria and Kenya to follow the legal means of repatriation, which takes years to achieve and may not be achieved in the end.
- Now that Kanu has been abducted and brought into Nigeria, the only option is to follow the legal process (which is sadly slow), while continuing with the campaign for the separation of Biafra from Nigeria.
- But IPOB should have a diversified structure that will make it run seamlessly whether Kanu is there or not. IPOB needs a Deputy Leader (No 2) and an Assistant Leader (no 3 in rank) who can take over in the absence of Kanu. After all, if the abductors of Kanu had quietly eliminated him in those 8 days they had him in Kenya and his whereabouts were unknown, would IPOB not continue to run? Kanu has said repeatedly that arresting him or killing him cannot affect the quest for Biafra. That is the way it should be.
- IPOB also needs a Supreme Council which is above any individual and takes the final decisions concerning IPOB, so that any action it presents is thoroughly debated, thoroughly analysed and jointly agreed upon for the good of the people.
- If IPOB cancels a sit-at-home but some individuals attack those who come out, IPOB should fish out the culprits and punish them as a deterrent to others, to avoid the creation of lawlessness. That is how serious and people-oriented organizations operate. It is not enough to say that those who burnt people’s goods are not IPOB members. That is a lame response.
- Let nobody deceive you. Struggle for separation is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes decades of planning and consistency. Most times those who started it don’t even live to see its actualization.
- Regular sit-at-home in the Southeast is not a sacrifice for the actualization of Biafra. It is a direct way of killing the businesses in the Southeast. Soon big and small businesses will consider the Southeast unsafe and migrate to other zones. A sacrifice is something you suffer to achieve something bigger. Sit-at-home will not make Biafra nearer. It won’t affect Nigeria and won’t attract the outside world. If the hundreds of Igbos killed at Nkpor, Emene, Aba, Owerri, etc, did not draw the attention of the outside world, sit-at-home that affects only the Southeast will not attract the attention of the outside world. A hunger strike can achieve some result in some countries but not in Nigeria. The action you use against your opponent should affect him and not you alone. If it does not affect him, you are merely working against yourself and your people.
- Those who live outside Nigeria or outside the Southeast and don’t sacrifice even an hour of their work hours in solidarity should stop the hypocrisy and selfishness of encouraging the stifling of people’s means of livelihood and destruction of the economy of the Southeast.
- The sit-at-home that is currently taking place in the Southeast is not done out of volition. It is done out of fear of being attacked or killed. This is different from the Biafran Day that is complied with willingly. A sit-at-home that happens once in a long while is endorsed by the people rather than having one or two sit-at-home events within a week of 5 or 6 working days.
I decided to make this clarification based on the comments some people made on my earlier post on this issue. Any time you make a comment about an action taken by IPOB, those who don’t really care about suggestions or solutions will ask you for suggestions or solutions. Meanwhile, if you proffer a solution, they will quickly tell you that they don’t need your suggestion, that you should form your own group.
This is a passionate appeal to all those who love Igboland. Many of us have given so much for Igboland and don’t want to see it destroyed by self-inflicted pain.
Chukwu gọzie ala Igbo!
Azuka Onwuka, a writer and columnist writes from Lagos