Oh Impressionable Biafrans! (2) | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Oh Impressionable Biafrans! (2)

James Onanefe Ibori
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By  Tiko Okoye

Truth be told, the pre-1967 Eastern Region no longer exists nor can its 10 State constituent parts, like Humpty Dumpty, be seamlessly put together again, no matter the expertise and good intentions of the sponsors of such a project. The coastal minority tribes have always been very suspicious and wary of the majority Igbo to their north.

Years of mutual suspicion won’t just disappear overnight because of stage-managed symbolic gestures such as the rampaging Niger Delta Avengers demanding the release of Nnamdi Kanu amid chants of ‘restructuring the federation’ – as is being demanded by Igbo leaders of Thought – or photo-ops of a certain Muhajadeen Asari-Dokubo, leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his former MASSOB counterpart, Ralph Uwazuruike, during street marches demanding the actualization of Biafra.

But only the impressionable and gullible can be easily hoodwinked! The coastal minorities of the old Eastern Region never allowed themselves to support any political party perceived to be dominated by Ndigbo. In the first republic and during the run-up to flag independence, they preferred the Action Group (AG) to the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC). In the second republic – desirous of playing mainstream politics – they switched allegiance to the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) rather than the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP).

Make no mistake about it, the only reason why the South-East and the coastal states of the South-South seem to be hobnobbing in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is because the latter sees it as a Northern-dominated party! If the coastal minority States really mean to forge a political alliance with Ndigbo, they should at least start by offering an unreserved apology for making Ndigbo ‘abandon’ their properties in their own country.

Let’s even say for the sake of argument that Biafra can still be a reality, then what? Have Ndigbo sincerely imbibed the spirit of being their brothers’ keepers? Whenever there’s a crisis in the South-East with ethno-religious colouration, many trailers line up to ferry northerners to safety at no cost to the evacuees. But when a similar occurrence takes place in the North, luxury bus operators, like the infamous merchants of Venice, charge cutthroat fares for evacuating their kinsmen! Right now, the South-East has the highest population density and land is more valuable than gold. Where do we expect masses of returning Biafrans to establish their homes, businesses and productive farmlands?

Lest we forget, we fought a three-and-half year civil war for survival in which nearly two million lives were lost. Wounded and incapacitated Biafran soldiers still line up the road at Oji River begging for alms. Not one State Government in the South-East or the apex pan-Igbo organisation, Ohaneze, has deemed it fit to immortalise a single fallen hero more than 46 years after the war ended. Now, if those who sacrificed their lives to defend the rest of us in that war have been treated so shabbily what gives the young folks of today and their misguided sponsors reason to believe they would receive a better treatment with their current ‘police action’ to prize an independent State of Biafra out of Nigeria?

The point being made is that even if the Biafran project was still a feasible one – and I hardly think so – the way we are going about it is clearly wrong-headed. We have too much at stake in the Nigerian Project to just go AWOL. We certainly don’t want the Port Harcourt ‘abandoned property’ saga to replicate itself on a grander scale.

Besides, regardless of noises being made in some sections of the Niger Delta, when come comes to become (apologies to KO Mbadiwe), the coastal states would refuse to be part of our Utopian dream – unless they can leverage on us to gain independence too for themselves. Can a landlocked Biafra – perpetually at the mercy of two potentially belligerent neighbours, Cameroon and Nigeria – be said to be truly ‘independent’?

There are some among us who, for all kinds of reasons, truly believe in the Biafran dream, but I can declare without fear or favour that they are just mere pawns on the political chessboard. My take is that the entire protests could be a massive conspiracy and a proxy war for the politically disgruntled, especially those yet to come to terms with the electoral defeat of Goodluck Jonathan and who live in dread that Buhari’s anti-corruption war is getting too close for comfort! Else why are these protests and acts of insurgency escalating in PDP-controlled states and for acts of neglect their preferred presidential candidate abysmally failed to redress in the five years he was in power!