IPOB: Parable Of The Stubborn Fly -By Louis Odion

Filed under: National Issues |

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)


True to prophecy, the mere shadow of armored tanks approaching River Niger bridge last week was enough to dismantle the rather imposing castle of conceit Nnamdi Kanu had erected across the South-east in recent times, like straws under a Category 5 hurricane. The little braggart who had romanticized rebellion so vigorously, who had threatened fire and brimstone so darkly, suddenly went into hiding when war arrived his doorstep.

Today, how pathetic that lieutenants of the absconding coward who yesterday spoke the language of thunder, evoking the imagery of bloodshed and Armageddon, are suddenly defending that “IPOB is non-violent”.

For clarity, keen followers of this column will attest yours sincerely has consistently been a vigorous advocate of a Nigeria that guarantees accommodation for all, irrespective of size, tongue or creed. One, therefore, has no inhibitions whatsoever in conceding that Igbo are entitled to their grievances over feelings of alienation under the Buhari administration. The renewed cry of Biafra would sound quite legitimate against that backcloth.

But uncouth Kanu, half British citizen, adulterated the idea. He seemed unprepared for the fame he was thrust into by President Buhari’s goof in jailing him in the first place. With insecure Igbo governors and shameless political leaders swooning over him for photo ops outside Kuje Prisons, he began to see himself as larger-than-life. Sensible ones were afraid to speak out lest they were branded sellout. Then, he graduated into a con-man.

While observing the galaxy of world leaders gathered at the Vatican for the funeral of Pope John Paul II during the Cold War, a bemused Joseph Stalin, communist Russia’s lawgiver, had famously asked an adviser, “How many divisions does the Pope have?” It was obvious the blood-thirsty tyrant never realized the good Pope possesses something mightier – moral authority.

Notwithstanding his latter-day pretensions to some Jewish genealogy, no such moral authority could by any stretch of imagination be attributed to Kanu, nor has his conduct reflected any common sense, especially lately. In seeking to actualize Biafra, his toxic rhetoric against non-Igbo would only be tolerated by those without any ounce of self-respect. The man bemoaning injustice ironically appeared to find pleasure in speaking lowly of others who themselves are mostly victims of the same perverted order.

To achieve liberty, this political illiterate did not realize he first needed the solidarity of fellow captives to push against a common enemy. Disaffection with the Nigerian state is not enough justification to call your ethnic neighbors unprintable names. Myopic Kanu apparently only thought of returns from merchandising Biafra and did not seem to realize the big danger posed to fellow Igbo living elsewhere by his incendiary rantings.

He claimed the same DNA as Ojukwu. But the Ikemba Nnewi was certainly not foolish like him. As emperor of the Eastern region half a century ago, Ojukwu controlled battle-ready battalions before he dared Gowon. But Kanu’s lack of common intelligence became obvious when he started circulating video recordings of himself reviewing “guard of honor” mounted by nothing but a phantom guerrilla army. He was living a lie. He gave them different funny names – Biafran Secret Service, Biafran National Guard, the Lion Squad etc.

With that, he only succeeded in playing into the hands of the enemy. So, his fake army became easy meat for the Nigerian Army too eager to utilize them for target practice. Anyone who watched last week the videos of troops brutalizing the young “Biafran fighters” armed with nothing more than Biafran memorabilia cannot but see an obscene picture of the disproportionate balance of power. As a parent, I wept seeing young boys being dehumanized needlessly. But you don’t begrudge the swooping hawk for the violence to the chick; you blame mother hen careless enough to expose her sucklings to danger.

In a way, the shallowness of the thinking in Abuja was also inadvertently exposed last week while Abia burned. While defending PMB against the charge of “marginalizing” the Igbo, a presidential spokesman had the temerity to, among others, insinuate that the headship of the nation’s two main “cash cows” – CBN and NNPC – have been left in the hands of South-East indigenes. Seriously? But verifiable public records only indicate that both Ibe Kachikwu, the junior oil minister, and Godwin Emefiele, the CBN czar, hail from Delta State located unmistakably in the South-South. (That is assuming Kachikwu still today has “real powers” after the NNPC was “excised” from his portfolio and a northerner made the head.)

But it all seems expedient this hour for the emergency cartographers in Abuja to casually gerrymander Delta into Igboland in the new geography of political perfidy.

Assuming such fallacy was not actually bred by mischief, there can only be a much more abominable possibility: poor understanding of the ethnic identities of the citizens who populate the South-east and the South-South by those who arrogate to themselves the right to rule over us and the veto to determine our fate.

Maybe, that misrecognition of Kachikwu is why no other Igbo was considered in the recent appointment bazaar in the NNPC. Out of 15 slots, the north cornered 10, even when that region does not contribute a single barrel to the nation’s crude exports. But South-east which is oil-producing on account of Imo State got absolutely nothing. Could it also be a coincidence that two out of the ten slots got by the north came from UBA where PMB’s Chief of Staff once worked? Where is the equity?

As always canvassed in this column, ultimately, the historic responsibility lies with PMB to foster national unity, give every section of the country a sense of belonging, irrespective of the voting pattern in the last general election. That is the surest way to lobotomize the virus that feeds ethnic entrepreneurs like Kanu. Sure, the easy part is the rendition of Python Dance. But history teaches us that the peace that endures is one rooted in justice.

It is never late for Buhari to begin to act differently.

Apparently buoyed by the “success” of Python Dance in South-East, the Army has already served notice of also enacting Crocodile Smile II in South-South and South-West. Will the killer herdsmen – the acknowledged midnight children of impunity behind the pogrom against defenseless peasants in those territories – be targeted this time?