MasterwebNews 10/11/16 - A Critical Look At The Quest For Biafra

[ Masterweb Reports: Chidera Michaels reports ] - For an overwhelming number of Southeasterners and Southsoutherners who were initially not sympathetic to the agitation for Biafra, the idea might nevertheless have been heartwarming as an expression of self-worth. However, they don’t have the stomach to pursue the course to fruition at all cost. For them the problem is logistics. They can’t see how the quest is attainable. Therefore, they don’t want to invest emotion and effort in a pipedream. But there are a lot of reasons (none of which I intend to go into in this article) why the quest became necessary in the minds of the agitators. For this set of people, the saying that you couldn’t smack a child and at the same time stop the child from crying would be most succinct. The stupendous arrogance of President Buhari’s style of governance made the quest imperative, the agitators say.


But I think that there is a need to give a critical look at the things that are bound to accompany a project of this magnitude – conditions that are certain to be encountered during the struggle, and challenges that may arise in the aftermath of the attainment of the project.


I had never paid real attention to MASSOB, or to its desire for the re-emergence of the Republic of Biafra. Even when the groups agitating for Biafra began to mushroom, I still didn’t pay attention to them. I had thought that what was driving the agitation was Nigeria’s poor economy, which may have been augmented by President Buhari’s nepotistic and dictatorial inclinations. But when members of the Nigerian Army began to kill peaceful demonstrators asking for Biafra, I realized that the rudderless Buhari administration just handed the agitators legitimacy. Then cattle herdsmen, who unlawfully and brazenly wield automatic weapons, began to massacre and kidnap (for ransom) Nigerians from the North Central all the way throughout the entire South. And for an inexplicable long while, President Buhari said and did nothing about these pillaging marauders. When those happened, I knew that the long emasculated Southeasterners and the longsuffering Southsoutherners, who hitherto had regarded the agitators as little more than mere mischief makers, would begin to identify with the agitation – albeit perhaps covertly now.


For the sake of disclosure, I was born in Awka, Anambra State. And because, as the aphorism goes, it is the one wearing a brand new, yet unbroken-into, pair of shoes that knows where it pinches, I will also disclose that I have not lived in Nigeria continuously for some decades now. Another reason for self-disclosure here is that I was in first grade in elementary school when Nigerian federal troops sacked Awka. Fourteen months later, I missed being shipped off to Republic of Gabon for Kwashiorkor treatment by a hair’s breadth. You see, the missionary doctor who was separating the kids with Kwashiorkor from those without was not sure if I was especially well fed that afternoon or whether my protruding stomach was Kwashiorkor-induced. Perhaps, to err on the side of caution, the doctor waved me through since my aunt with whom I lived at that time was already howling in grief at the thought of losing me.


Having dispensed with self-disclosure, it was the spate of killings by both the Army and the cattle herdsmen that forced the likes of me to begin to pay attention to the agitation for Biafra. Then, on October 28, 2016, while a friend of mine and I waited on the line to cast our early presidential votes in a suburban Baltimore, Maryland neighborhood, he (Kunle, a fellow Nigerian from a Southwestern state) said to me: “If the Biafran agitators think it necessary to do this thing, they should be ready to go to war. The North will most probably want to go to war if the South secedes. But if the North thinks that this is still the 1960’s, they are welcomed to have their war. Realistically though, the North may have no other option than to go to war. What would you do if you were the North? The South shouldn’t expect them to accept their fate with equanimity and then shrivel up and die. That’s exactly what will happen to the North if the South secedes. The North has neither the manpower nor the resources to survive.”


The reader may notice that Kunle was in favor of the South (as against merely the Southeast) seceding. He had argued that it would make more sense for the entire South to secede. I am not in favor of secession of any kind; at least not at the moment. But if secession should become necessary, I agree with Kunle that the entire South should pull out together. Imagine for a moment a new nation called the Republic of Southern Nigeria; or whatever name they would come up with. Such a nation is destined for greatness from its inception. Think about the manpower, the resources, and the wealth domiciled in that section of present Nigeria.


Cohesion of the southern nation will not be a big problem. Because of the increasing ubiquity of IT gadgetry in Nigeria today, the South is fast becoming homogenous. Sure, about half of the population of the South is still tribal in their thinking. So what! Time and mass education will take care of most of that. What needs to happen is reduction of tribal animosity down to a minimum. No nation is totally free of tribal or racial animosity. Even the United States, as advanced as she is, still has its racial problems. What will be needed is quality public education. An educated mind is less likely to indulge in gratuitous hatred of others for tribal reasons.


Back to the agitation for Biafra: Sure, there are enough reasons why the Southeast along with the willing part of the Southsouth would want to secede from the present contraption. The North, it would appear, wants the Southeast to remain in Nigeria for the glory of asserting its “conqueror” dominance over it. Beyond that, I doubt that the North cares much about where the Southeast goes. The North also wants the Southsouth merely for the wealth underneath its soil. Having said that, I would caution Biafra agitators that only fools rush into battle without preparation.


Sure, federal infrastructures in the Southeast are horribly dilapidated. And federal presence is almost completely nonexistence in most parts of the Southeast and Southsouth. Every administration since the end of the civil war had found it convenient to neglect this part of the country. Even the “friendly” administration of President Jonathan appeared to have done no better for the Southeast. But if the Southeast is being deprived of federal presence, what about Southeasterners themselves? Should they also be depriving their own region of their resources as well? Why do the Southeasterners prefer to expend their resources in other parts of the country at the expense of their own zone? Since this appears to be the case, why would the Southeast risk going to war because other people are doing to them what they are also doing to themselves?


But you will say that Nigerian leaders are supposed to spread the resources of government evenly across the nation. Yeah, but the naked fact is that the nation’s leadership appeared to have made concerted efforts not to do that. My take is that the Southeast should deal with it; with the knowledge that no situation is ever permanent. The Southeast should be able to do without federal largesse for now until things turn around. Anambra State is a good example. It is common knowledge now that Anambra State is wisely midwifing its meager resources, notwithstanding the poor economy and federal neglect.


It is on record that the economic muscle of Lagos State is made possible largely by Southeasterners living in it. This fact must have been crystal clear to the erstwhile governor of Lagos State, Mr. Fashola. But that didn’t stop him from rounding up some indigent Southeasterners in their midst and shipping them off to Onitsha in the dead of night. Such a misdeed would spell

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