Biafra: The ghost that ruffles feathers

In 1970, in my fi nal year as a public administration undergraduate at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, I read in an edition of time magazine, a report about the end of the Nigerian civil war.

In the report, there was an eye catching picture of a placard carrying student of Lagos University which bore the inscription thus “Obituary: Biafra is dead, age two and half years”.

Th is, I consider, to be a very apt description of the end of the terrible civil war which ultimately saw the surrender of Biafra by Lt.  Col.  Philip Effi ong on behalf of Col.  Ojukwu.

Th e Biafra war lord had earlier fl ed the country when he saw imminent defeat facing his dream country then populated by millions of starving adults and children who have witnessed the ravages of war.   Th e surrender instrument was received by the then Col.

Obasanjo on behalf of the Federal Government led by then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon.

With the slogan of “no victor no vanquished” hoisted by a magnanimous Gowon, Nigerians breathed a sigh of relief and heralded the arrival of a new era of “reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction,” popularly referred to as the three “Rs”.

It was meant to cement the end of the terrible civil war.

In the true spirit of reconciliation Nigerians are famous for, Ibo of the former Biafra were received with open hands, especially in northern Nigeria, where most of them were handed over the properties they abandoned when they fl ed the north during the 1966 crisis and, in some cases, they were even paid the rent which accrued during their absence.

Th ose of us who saw it all and who endured a war situation prayed that Nigeria will never be plunged into that catastrophe again.

But all this and many other acts of post war reconciliation and bridge building which successive Nigerian governments promoted within the last 47 years since the end of the civil war mainly to placate the Ibo, did not deter the resurrection of what appears to be the ghost of Biafra led by one obscure young man called Nnamdi Kanu.

Kanu is ignorant of history and from all indications is being teleguided and sponsored by foreign and domestic adversaries of Nigerian government, its unity and its peace loving people.

His blurred vision is to establish a Biafra state to encompass territories in the South or Southeast of Nigeria which currently is populated by diverse people majority of whom Kanu is not sure they share his dreams.

Some say he is pursuing the actualization of Ibo presidency.

But sensible Nigerians fi nd it diffi cult to swallow this assertion because we all know how to go about seeking the offi ce of the president.

Th e minimum requirement for that is to command numerical strength among Nigerians and to harness that strength through political engineering of selling your ideas to majority of the electorate.

But Kanu is doing the opposite.

By his abusive rhetorics, he is alienating a very politically relevant population of Nigeria.

Clearly, his approach betrays his intensions and that of his sponsors.

Th ose who are seeking to establish a moribund concept should bear in mind that Nigeria is not a banana republic to be toyed with or to be balkanized through an immature tactics of intimidation or showering provocative abuse against individuals or groups of Nigerians.

If, under any guise, anybody wants to propagate his secession agenda whether by seeking the creation of Biafra or by so called re-structuring, whatever that may mean, there are civilized ways and constitutional means of going about it.

Indeed, in a democratic setting such as the one practiced in Nigeria today, there are constitutional means of achieving one’s goals.

Th ere are political parties which one can form, formulate his ideology and try to sell his ideas to the electorate.

Any method other than that is going against the constitution of Nigeria.

What is most alarming to the peace loving people of Nigeria is the backlash he is generating which, unless properly handled, the extremists on both sides of the divide will drag this nation into unmitigated disaster which is quite evident his foreign and local sponsors are aiming at.

His demand for Biafra defi es logic and his tactics in achieving same defi es legality and constitutionality.

Th us, government should not enter into any dialogue with Kanu and his wayward.

In the true Ibo tradition, the group must show respect and decorum for elders who are the custodian of wisdom which Kanu and his ilks are totally lacking.

But the most glaringly dangerous repercussion of Kanu’s hostile and abusive rhetorics is one targeted mainly against people of Northern Nigeria.

It creates the impression among northerners that since Kanu is an Ibo man, he must be propagating an Ibo agenda.

His abusive and hate loaded rhetorics targeted mainly against the north and its people is widely assumed, though wrongly, to be endorsed by the Ibos and, therefore, the Ibos have to bear the brunt of retaliation.

Hence, the call by some northern youths, including some elders for the Ibo to vacate the north by October 1, 2017, which has been withdrawn.

Th e northerners should exercise patience with these crazy lads.

Th ey should ignore Kanu or, at best, treat him as the mad dog of his sponsors who unleashed him to spread the rabies of hate in Nigeria.

He should be shown that neither his rabies nor the ghost of Biafra can destroy or even de-stabilize Nigeria.

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