Nigeria has been mired in unexhausted agitations for secession for years now. It does not matter that the 30 moth-long civil war ended leaving the country intact as a single entity, the echoes of instability still rock the nation leaving Nigeria very vulnerable to escalated levels of these kinds of agitation at any time.
The face of these agitations is easily the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by the incarcerated Nnamdi Kanu’s who has been described as being “obsessed with Biafra to the point of insanity”. IPOB has continued the agitation for the independence of areas in the South Eastern Nigeria with the justification that these areas are “simply under occupation, servitude and modern day slavery under the Hausa-Fulani controlled Nigerian establishment.”
To be clear, Nigeria considers much of the actions of the group treasonable and that explains the reason why Nnamdi Kanu, the group’s leader has remained behind bars since October 2015. The reason he has not been released by the government even after court orders to that effect remains unknown.
IPOB hasn’t allowed the detention of Kanu slow it down though. Holding rallies and releasing prss statements cementing their demands as often as possible. On the 20th of January 2017, when Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America, the group help pro-Trump rallies in South Eastern Nigeria, especially in Port Harcourt. The rally, according to them was to show support to the new President of the United States, ostensibly under the impression that this new administration has pro-Biafran inclinations.
That has not been the case, however. While President Buhari was on his recently ended medical vacation in the United Kingdom, he received a call from the White House during which the two leaders spoke about strengthing the ties between their countries. And although, President Trump only directly pledged to help fight Boko Haram, there was more than one mention of co-operating to “fight against terrorism in Nigeria and worldwide” and shared “security priorities”.
IPOB has not publicly boasted of it’s Trump support since then.
Just three days ago, the group renewed its finger pointing at Great Britain, accusing the former colonial master of using the Nigerian government to suppress the actualisation of Biafra. This one is not a novel accusation and maybe is not even an accusation since it is common knowledge what the British stance has always been in the long drawn battle for Biafran secession, Britain was Nigeria’s number 1 ally during the Civil war.
With America and the United Kingdom sorted (most likely) in favour of Nigeria and China too, considering the huge support and co-operation China has extended to Nigeria in the past few years, one would have assumed that pro-Biafrans may at least be able to count on the support of France, a long time albeit quiet ally since the time of Charles DeGaulle.
France was probably the only world power during the war that provided support to the Biafran fighters. While France never publicly admitted doing so, it’s planes and relief materials were identified on Biafran strips during the civil war. And if there was any doubt, the open support of French colonies, Gabon and Ivory Coast (where Ojukwu later retired in exile after the war ended) clear them.
Now France has decided to land a huge blow on the Biafran mission as it’s first open commitment to a stance is to say that the country does not think there is any kind of future for Biafra. French Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Gauer in a chat with Guardian earlier today.
The Ambassador’s words, until revoked by his country can only be taken to be the official French position. And if that’s the case, who then can the IPOB look to, outside of the commitment of its own members?
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