Yesterday Monday the 23rd of August 2021, was the third in the series of the observance of the Sit-at-Home Order that was imposed on the South East of Nigeria by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), on every Monday of the week.
Like the first two, there was total compliance with the directives of the famous Igbo Liberation Movement. In other words, the Igbo Enclave of the Nigerian amorphous Federation, has remained a Ghost Town for three straight Mondays running now.
As usual, and in their predictable cynical approach to the Biafran Issue and the IPOB’s activities, some Igbo people (many of them elites and intellectuals), have sought to know the benefits of such an exercise in the course of the furtherance of the Biafran Independence.
In fact, a few of them have been very vociferous in the condemnation of the order as anti-Igbo, and denigrated the IPOB as an agent for the destabilization of the Economic Interests of Ndigbo.
They have equally gone ahead to dismiss the compliance to the order, as a compliance that borne more out of fear rather than consent even as they have been loud in lampooning them for the various acts of violence on those who failed to comply with the directives especially at the beginning.
But as an Igbo man (a proud Biafran Dot), and an erudite Intellectual, I beg to disagree on all fronts from my people who have simply dismissed the Every Monday Sit-at-Home observance as a practice that will bring nothing but further pain and misery to our region. And I have my reasons.
While I am not a member of the IPOB and have had occasions to vehemently disagree with Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the IPOB leader, and fall out with friends and relatives, over his lack of tact and abrasive choice and use of words, I have a deep sympathy for the cause he and his group are fighting for.
I am an Igbo man. And every Igbo person in Nigeria today (even the ones who pretend about it), is an enslaved and an endangered specie of humanity. And no other group in the world has captured the indignities Igbo people suffer in the hands of the Buhari led Igbophobic government daily more and better than Kanu’s IPOB.
While every other Nigerian is suffering the ineptitude, cluelessness, lack of direction and the sheer wickedness of the Buhari milito-democratic regime, the Igbo man’s yoke is the heaviest. And for a good measure too.
Buhari’s dictatocracy is having its biggest toll on the Igbo man because his hatred of the Igbo is legendary. It is often said that if you want to ruin his day, just mention the word, Igbo, before him and his instant change of mien and laboured breathing will tell you that he is having a hard time.
Do you need to wonder why the agitation for the separation of the Igbo people from Nigeria is loudest under a President like Buhari? It is common sense!
I support the IPOB’s Sit-at-Home Order totally, and I have given it close to 120% compliance since it started. And I will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months.
To those who think that this is going to be counter-productive, I will tell you why you are wrong here by taking us back to the genesis of this Igbo battle with the Buhari government, and provide some historical insights to support my position that the IPOB is right on this one.
Psychologist, Miguel Cervantes said, “Take away the cause, and the effect ceases”.
In line with this time-honoured thinking, I want to note that the IPOB’s agitation did not begin with the Buhari government. It has existed long before Mohammadu Buhari became the Nigerian President.
And if you can recall, the IPOB’s activities was restricted to the holding of rallies and the making of speeches in the early days of the Buhari’s administration. But for whatever reason known to the government, it descended heavily on the group.
For example, on the day of President Donald Trump’s Inauguration in 2017, scores of unarmed protesting/jubilating IPOB members were mowed down in their hundreds by the Nigerian military at Onitsha, Aba, Obigbo and every other places in the SouthEast.
No soldier was queried for that misuse of firearms nor arrested and tried for the cold-blooded murder of hapless citizens whose only crime was the exercise of their right to peaceful assembly or protest as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution.
Perhaps emboldened by the official endorsement of their demeaning exploits earlier, the Nigerian military found it easy to invade the Umuahia residence of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, few days before he was due to resume his court trial, and when he was on the verge of agreeing with the SouthEast Governors and other Leaders on the best way to go about the Biafran Question, and Aba, the commercial nerve-centre of Abia State.
It was at Aba that the soldiers beat up the journalists who were covering the event and confiscated their phones and other working tools. And despite the global condemnation of those barbaric acts by a force which ought to be professional in the discharge of her duties to the citizens, there were no words from the Nigerian Government. Neither has any of those soldiers been brought to book till today.
And before anyone could say Jack, the Federal Government found it expedient to proscribe the group and termed them, Terrorists. A group that had never displayed any threat of violence until then? A group that had carried out its agitation without recourse to arms?
The Nigerian Security Agents have used the pretext of fighting terrorists, and unleashed the kind of mayhem on Igbo people that could make reasonable people elsewhere retch in revulsion.
They swooped on Igbo Young men at Enugu and wiped them out. The Obigbo Massacre that took place after the EndSars Protests in 2020 is still fresh on the minds of Igbo people everywhere.
Years ago precisely in 2011, over 50 dead Igbo bodies were found floating on the Ezu River in Anambra State. Till date, nobody had told Nigerians whose bodies floated on that River and for what reasons they were gruesomely murdered.
Up till now not one single member of the Nigerian Security apparatus from top to down, has been held accountable for all those despicable acts. Is it because that all the dead were all Igbo people?
Now rather than being held responsible for those acts of extreme and brazen wickedness, Gen. Tukur Buratai and his fellow Service Chiefs were handsomely rewarded with Diplomatic Appointments upon their retirement from office.
It was the late South African President, Nelson Mandela, who in his heydays said, “The strategy of the oppressed is determined by the strategy of the oppressors”. It is total foolhardiness to face an armed oppressor with stones.
So one can see how a hitherto peaceful organization was forced into an arms struggle with the most brutal and repressive government that Nigeria has ever been unfortunate to be graced with.
Around the end of 2020 when Nigeria was about recovering from the Economic/Social disruption that came with the Covid 19 pandemic, the SouthEast began to witness a series of attacks on Individuals and Public Property.
These daredevil people always appearing in black, took the whole world by the storm and gave rise to a new phenomenon known as the Unknown Gunmen (UGM).
Most fingers pointed at the IPOB which had by then formed her armed wing called the Eastern Security Network (ESN), as a counterforce to the nefarious activities of the murderous Fulani herdsmen in the bushes of the SouthEast, an allegations which the top echelon of the IPOB have had occasions to deny.
The activities of the Unknown Gunmen which culminated on the attacks at the Imo Correctional Facility, and Governor Hope Uzodimma’s personal house, took everybody in the South East by surprise, and predictably, saw the Federal Government amassing the kind of military personnel and hardware in the South East that has never been seen anywhere else in the country before.
The SouthEast and by implications, Nigeria, have never been the same since then.
After the first Monday of the Sit-at-Home was observed across the SouthEast, the IPOB came under intense attack from the Igbo people who felt that the group’s idea will in the long run destroy the Economy of the region without achieving the desired objectives. They tongue-lashed the IPOB more for deploying violence in forcing obedience to their order.
Much more than that was their insistence that the inability of the Secondary School students to write their Maths exam, was a sign that the IPOB did not mean well for Igboland.
In doing this, most of them cited Dr. Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid hero as the beacon of peaceful agitation for Freedom.
I do not know how much of the history of the revolutionary wars and fights for Freedom across the world that these people know, but I know that nearly all the historical antecedents on the Subject Matter, support my position.
Let’s check what history has to tell us concerning the practices of Freedom fighters the world over.
- South Africa: Because most of the attackers of the IPOB’s newest style of agitation were quick to point at Nelson Mandela and his fellow anti-apartheid agitators as an embodiment of peace and decorum in the quest for Freedom from oppression, I will like to begin with the South African experience as we explore historical parallels to the IPOB’s strategy.
a. Nelson Mandela: So far as the South African struggle was concerned, Mandela was a man of violence. He not only masterminded the formation of the Umkhonto we Sizwe (The Spear of the Nation), the militant arm of the African National Congress (ANC), through which he committed various acts of sabotage against the government, but also went ahead to be trained in sabotage, guerrilla warfare and weapons handling in different paths of the world.
His reasons for turning violent especially after the Sharpville’s Police massacre are well articulated in his trial defence note, “Why I am ready to die”.
b. Winnie Mandela: After the arrest of Nelson Mandela, and most of his allies like Walter Sisulu, and with the fleeing from the country by other ANC leaders like Oliver Tambo, Mandela’s wife, Winnie, took a centre stage in the struggle against apartheid. She was said to have formed the Mandela United Football Club, with which she whipped dissident black South Africans into line, and continued the attacks and bombings of public infrastructure that were started by her husband.
Her divorce with Mandela had a lot to do with her MUFC activities.
c. Robert Sobukwe: The founder of the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), Robert Sobukwe was so embittered towards the White-minority in South Africa, that he left the ANC to form an black party called the PAC.
It was Sobukwe who led the Sharpville’s Protest at which the Police shot at and killed dozens of black people and wounded hundreds more.
d. Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi: At first, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party, was opposed to the violent activities of the ANC, but when he was booed at and barred from attending the burial ceremony of Robert Sobukwe in 1978, he changed tactics.
While he was a prominent figure in the Mandela government, Chief Buthelezi was indicted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for various acts of violence around the Kwa Zulu Natal region.
It was not until 2008 that the American government found it easy to remove the ANC and its members from her Terror Watchlist which goes to show that while Mandela was President, and was winning several Man of the Year Awards from all over the world, he was a Terrorist in the eyes of the American government.
So much for being called a Terrorist! The most venerable Mandela was once a Terrorist too.
I must not forget to point out here that Mandela who had his major weapons training in Algeria in 1962, rejected the bail that he was granted in 1985 because he did not want to renounce his use of violence in the pursuit of goals.
- Algeria: The Algerian War of Independence from France was one of the fiercest on the Afri an Continent.
It is will be helpful for our journey here to state that both Messali Hadj and Ahmed Ben Bella, the leaders of the struggle took up arms against the French Government.
In fact, Ben Bella who later became his country’s first President and the founder of modern Algeria, once robbed the Nation’s Post Office to obtain funds for his party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), and its militant wing, the Organization Spéciale.
- Namibia: Sam Nujoma, the SWAPO President” took up arms against the South African government through his People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) and mounted a most vociferous attack against the government and the saboteurs from 1966 to 1990 when Namibia got her own Independence.
- Mexico: In the Mexican Revolutionary Wars against Porfirio Diaz, Victoriano Huerta, Venustiano Carranza and Alvaro Obregon, Gen. Pancho Villa had a Rodolfo Fierro, who made sure that everyone, friend or foe, lived the ideals of the revolution or be killed with no mercy.
This history’s account of agitations and revolutions equally remembered to inform us that from Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement in Cuba, the Renamo in Mozambique, the Mau Mau Movement in Kenya and even down to Isaac Adaka Boro’s 12 Days Rebellion, opposition to the group desire has always been quashed by the use of sheer brute force.
So judging from these historical antecedents, is there anything new and perplexing about the IPOB’s method?
They have proven their point. I now appeal to them to modify the Sit-at-Home days in order to minimize our losses.
The Gains over the Losses:
I do not know what exactly the leadership of the IPOB set to achieve with the every Monday Sit-at-Home Order or how that jells with the objective of leading Igbo people out of the Nigerian fraudulent Federation.
What I do know however, is that the Monday Sit-at-Home observance has exposed the lies of the Igbo Elites that the Igbo people just want to see a Restructured Nigeria and the agitations will disappear.
That is simply the opinion of the out-of-touch Igbo leaders, whom the Maverick Malcolm X would describe as the House Negroes, deferring and genuflecting before the Slave Masters, were he alive today. They do not speak for the Igbo people. Not anymore!
If you like, you can believe what Senators Rochas Okorocha and Ken Nnamani said recently that Igbo people do not want a country of their own but a well structured Nigeria.
Faaafaaafaa foooouuuuul. Ashi ocha.
The time for begging for a token restructuring in Nigeria is over. Now over 95% of Igbo people, home and in the diaspora, want Biafra.
Want to find out the truth for yourself? Conduct a Referendum across the Igbo Enclave.
Will the Sit-at-Homes ensure the quick release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu (NwaChineke), and usher in Biafra? Once again, I do not know. Nothing good comes easy, we have been told from childhood.
But just as the Sharpville Massacre triggered a lot of events that brought Apartheid down in South Africa, and just as the Boston Tea Party provided the spark that led to America’s Independence from Britain, I am convinced with no shred of doubt, that there is a huge bright light at the end of the tunnel.
As the over 240 miles Salt March, which was continued even after the arrest and detention of the Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi, opened the doors of Freedom to India, so also will the kidnap and detention of Mazi Kanu, and the pains we go through every Monday we sit at home in protest of our oppression, lead us bravely to that glorious Land of the Rising Sun – BIAFRA!
The Sun is about to rise again out of the East to set no more. My people our sacrifices will not be in vain. Our Dawn is near.
Conclusion – A Call on Igbo Intellectuals:
Even though the majority of the people who make up the IPOB came from the ordinary members of the Igbo family, but having sustained this agitation for this long without wavering, I think it is time enough for the Igbo Intellectuals to get involved and add their own quote.
This is not the time to sit on the fence or to use your talents in furthering the cause of the enemy.
I was disappointed to read the opinions of Mr. Charles Ogbu and Sir Collins Chibueze Ughalaa on the Sit-at-Home observance across Igboland. I think Fr. Chukwuemeka Nwosuh’s material tried in addressing the concerns they raised.
I have chosen therefore, to go deeper into the historical archives to prove to any cynic that however imperfect the IPOB is, it is still on course and deserves our wholehearted support.
If the Dot in a circle statement of the President, the Attorney General’s Spare Parts analogy, the heavy militarisation of the SouthEast region to Senator Bulkalchuwa’s anti-Igbo tirades do not convince you that Igbo people no longer have a place in Nigerian affairs, what else do you need to see to believe?
One wise man once said that if your brother is in trouble, then you are in trouble too unless you are mad.
And rapper DMX in his song, Fly, said “You can let me fly or give me death. Let my soul rest, take my breath. If I don’t fly, I ma die anyway”.
The Biafran Cause is not about Nnamdi Kanu.
The Nigerian game is played against the Igbo man across every sector, and if the sacrifices our parents made during the Civil War could not guarantee us a life that is filled with respect for the dignity of man, I see no reason why we should rest until we can secure a better future for children.
I have decided to join the fray. And I call on every Igbo Intellectual to heed the strident call for the service to our fatherland – In the spirit of Igbo wu Igbo, Onye aghala nwanne ya, Anya bewe, imi nne ya ebewe.
Afterall, an Igbo adage says, “Onye huru ebe akwa umu nna ya na-agba oku, chiri nke ya wunye”.
A wunye la m nkem. Olee nke gi?
UgoGold N. Ofonedu
Imo, Biafran Heartland