Opinion: The truth of Biafra and the Nigerian state

by Akintunde Hareef AKERELE

Following the bail granted to Nnamdi Kanu the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, a lot continues to run through my mind in respect of the agitation by this group for secession from the Nigerian state. The agitation by this group might be valid considering the deprivation that has been meted out to them not only in resource control but also politically at the central government. Having an Igbo Presidency now seems more elusive than a president from minority ethnic group. This is not a coincidence; rather it is a well-orchestrated scheme by the political elite that still perceives the Igbos as a time bomb waiting to explode, following the civil war that once threatened the unity of the Nigerian State. Nemesis, the elite would likely term it; but it is a deprivation to the collective national right on the side of the Igbos- this mutual suspicion has credibility on whatever side of the divide you stand. Undermining the popularity of this agitation will be to the peril of the country considering the demigod status Nnamdi Kanu has attained amongst Igbos through sympathy, dogma and media hysteria.

Acknowledging the grievances of the Igbo people as to their supposed marginalisation is in part a pointer to a likely solution. Unfortunately, they are not a united front at the heart of this demand. This is not just a new narrative; it has continued to be the stumbling block to the projection of the Igbo agenda. Even if the issue of secession becomes actualised, will they manage to unify the various conflicting interest within the Igbo group? Will we not be experiencing another South Sudan? History is not just a narrative to be heard, it is to be observed and serve as a warning against needless pitfalls. Maybe South Sudan should have heeded to the resolution suggesting reconciling the factions on disputed border in Blue Nile, Abyei and South Kordofan. South Sudan people could have possibly been better off being a part of Sudan if an inclusive and mutual benefitting agreement was allowed to thrive.

Lessons of this group should not be wished away by the Igbo and the Nigerian State. The Igbo people, no doubt, are one of the most enterprising group in Nigeria with abundant resources; letting them leave the Nigerian State would mean having to readjust our economic, social and political structures. The resources they contribute to the National revenue will then be traded to a nation that should be a rightful owner. As the nation is not exploring the option of secession for any group, so groups should quell the insinuation. We have been down the road before, the aftermath belongs to a part of history that we wished could be erased. If the civil war had not happened we could still have more million Nigerians living. This is a casualty we are not ready for today. If the proponents of Biafra are really genuine, what about other groups that are just waiting in the wings for her actualisation before they begin to stoke embers of intra-tribal discord?

The continued agitation for Biafra fuels the vindication of the political elite as to the suspicious motive of an Igbo president. This can be damaging to the psyche of the present day Nigerian from that region as to why the son will be levied for the sins of the father. The truth is that the Igbo people will have to prove to the populace that a repeat of the civil war is not imminent and ceasing agitations for Biafra has to lead the pack. This has to be overtly resonated, and then legitimate demand for their rightful stake in the political scheme of things how to occupy that space can then be discussed.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Akintunde Hareef AKERELE writes from Stuttgart, Germany

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