BIAFRA AGITATION AND THE DIVIDED HOUSE
The main problem of Nigeria since its inception is lack of unity, the inability of Nigerian people to speak with one voice, to see each other as members of one family with a common destiny. Many Nigerians see people from other ethnic groups as enemies, as different, as foreigners, not having anything to do with them. As a result, while they keep on quarrelling and fighting among themselves, the country continues to lag behind, without recording any meaningfully progress or development.
In the same way as Chief Obafemi Awolowo had described Nigeria as “a geographical expression”, and not a nation, so also had Chinweizu seen Nigeria as a “noyau”, a French word which he interpreted to mean “a society of inward antagonisms, one held together by mutual internal antagonism, one which could not survive if its members had no fellow members to hate”.
Chinweizu claimed that while Britain had created Nigeria as a country, she failed to establish Nigerian as a nation, rather a multiplicity of nations. That was why Nigeria is not united, why the people have been quarrelling and fighting among themselves.
In 1967, Biafra was founded as a practical necessity, which resulted from the injustices meted on the people of former Eastern Region in different parts of Nigeria. For thirty odd months, Biafra trudged on, notwithstanding the atrocious war imposed on her by Nigeria and their foreign collaborators. That Biafra was able to last for that long was due mainly to unity and solidarity of the people to the Biafran leadership.
Today, while some people among those who fought for Biafra in 1967 consider themselves not being fairly treated in the conglomerate called Nigeria, feel alienated from political governance and marginalized in the delivery of democracy dividends, and begin to agitate for the resuscitation of that moribund republic, they however do not speak with one voice, but in cacophony of voices. They attack and criticize each other, and disagree in their methods of attaining Biafra, or the Biafra of their dream.
For instance, Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOP do not agree or speak the same language with Ralph Uwazurike and his MASSOB, or with Benjamin Onwuka and his Biafra Zionist Movement, or with Asari Dokubo and his own Biafra movement, etc., and vice versa. While they each mouth “Biafra”, they nevertheless see the “Biafra” of the other groups as strange, not authentic, as fake or counterfeit. They also map out conflicting strategies for realizing their own Biafra.
Aside of these, there are many other people within the same geographical area of these separatist movements, who though share the same suffering of alienation and marginalization in Nigeria, but who do not associate with the Biafran agitation. For them, whatever were the problems they currently experience could be resolved within the confines of a united Nigeria by restructuring the system. These people are equally taken as enemies of the Biafran cause and are treated as pariahs.
All these go to show that there is lack of unity in the system, that there is a divided house, and these constitute obstacles to the realization of Biafra.
Before Ojukwu declared Biafra in 1967, he made sure that a large segment of the society was with him. He sensitized and consulted far and wide, both with the old politicians who were overthrown by the military in January 1966 as well as with his colleagues in the military who returned to the East following the massacre of Easterners in different parts of Nigeria. He also constituted the Eastern Consultative Assembly which later advised him to declare Biafra.
In other words, what we expect from those who are currently agitating for Biafra is to first put their house in order before every other thing else. They should sit down, iron out their differences, agree on a common leadership, and then map out a clear line of action for achieving Biafra.
They should equally try to bring everybody on board, carry those who currently sit on the fence along, try to reconcile with those with various established interests in Nigeria, those who seem not to be very supportive of their action. Branding everybody as enemies, verbally attacking them, and throwing stones on them, may not be the best.
It makes no meaning or serves any useful purpose going to address the European Union or the United Nations, complaining about the injustices being meted out on Biafrans in Nigeria, and lamenting of how bad the people were being treated in Nigeria, when Biafrans themselves are antagonising or fighting each other, or are up in arms against one another.
Supposing the United Nations okays a referendum as some these agitators claim to be pushing, for instance, is there no likelihood that the exercise may fail, sabotaged through internal wrangling or infighting? If we are fighting ourselves now that we are asking for Biafra, what will happen when Biafra is realized? Perhaps, we may be worse than Nigeria, a country of perpetual strife.
For us, we do not think that those who currently claim to be fighting for Biafra are serious. They are mere charlatans, only playing to the gallery.