The Upper Crust

The unmasking of IPOB (1)


With Uche Nnadozie

As at the time of going to press, Nnamdi Kanu’s whereabouts was not known. For clarity, depending on which crowd he was facing, the individual, who later took the titles of “Supreme leader, Spiritual leader, Commander-in-chief, leader “ etc of Biafra land was I actually the “director “ of Radio Biafra. Radio Biafra was established by another separatist group which was founded in 2001-2 called Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB. The pirate radio was an internet version operated from somewhere in the United Kingdom. Kanu was the coordinator of the radio, which initially did not broadcast incendiary materials thus did not attract much attention.

However, the director of the pirate radio apparently veered off the original idea of the radio and completely cut off relations with the then Raph Uwazurike led MASSOB. He had other ideas and it did not take time for those ideas to manifest. He raised new line of courtiers, expanded the radio transmission capability, recruited better hands and began to frequent Nigeria. He changed the modus operandi of MASSOB and elevated himself to the leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. IPOB to be fair, had some eminent persons as founders. But Kanu appropriated everything, using his brash and aggressive style to render the founders impotent.

But because the idea or fancy of Biafra has permeated many minds in Igboland, it is difficult to come in the open to begin to argue over groups. The more genial founders and leaders did not only take the back seat, they took off and never associated with the brand that Kanu was building. Nobody dared question Kanu. He became lord and master. He got new sponsors, especially Igbos who live abroad. Folks who did stuff to make ends meet, professionals, business entrepreneurs and of course criminals who deal in drugs and internet fraudsters. Nnamdi and IPOB began to rake in money. With the popularity growing, Nigerian politicians began to take notice. You know our politicians like to associate with folks who control crowds. Who wouldn’t. They are in the business of numbers.

During the administration of president Goodluck Jonathan it was an easy ride for the new lords in town. They had unfettered access to whatever it was they needed. Even if the intelligence community captured anything, there was no way it was going to be followed up. Jonathan was naive like that. Whatever will stand him in good stead in the eyes of the Igbo was nice and good. IPOB was seen as a fledgling counter force to all other ethnic militias. If others had theirs why not the Igbo. Except of course where the interest of Jonathan’s politicians of Igbo origin was threatened. We can recall the dead bodies that turned up in a certain Ezu river. Word on the street says those dead men could be members of a violent Biafran movement. Another breakaway gang from MASSOB. This group tried to overthrow the governor of Enugu state. And they were planning something sinister for the Peter Obi, then governor of Anambra and friend to Jonathan.

Then of course, the general elections were approaching, every politician needed everyone on their side. Since Jonathan had not disturbed IPOB in anyway, naturally with the anti-Buhari sentiment rife in the south east, it appeared everyone was on the same page. IPOB folks told anyone who cared to listen that they were all for Jonathan. They said, for any reason that prevents Jonathan from the presidency, then that they will declare a new independent state of Biafra. That was exactly what they intended to do. September 2015, four months after Buhari was sworn in. But there is a new Sheriff in town. As Kanu returned to Nigeria to continue his clandestine activities, he was promptly picked up. He got in here without Nigerian passport. Neither did he get in with the British since he is their citizen, That reality became a sore thumb. It became clear from then onward that the character was determined to cause security problems in the country.

With his trial for sundry offenses on-going, his brand rose. His supporters began to see him in another light. Some kind of messiah. Very strange. To them Nnamdi Kanu has done what no other Igbo had done before him. You begin to wonder what it is he has done? Just for getting arrested? Uwazuruike spent more time in jail. He was arrested at different times, but he was not hailed as a messiah. Maybe because Uwazuruike’s endless promises of Biafra had made the people weary, may be not. But this new kid on the block sure sounds like the real deal. He sounds like he knows more than the older man. He appeared to be selfless and bold (read arrogant) by targeting and abusing every leader in Igboland. He did not mince words in targeting and abusing every other Nigerian.

The idea was to alienate Igbos. Make everyone look bad except Nnamdi. This made him look larger than life. He always made the point about armed conflict. Such fantasy attracted interest in young people. The printing of flags other memorabilia together with the setting up of different security outfits proved a new “progress “ was made in the pursuit of Biafra. Make no mistakes, I repeat, the idea of Biafra is hugely popular in Igboland. It is borne out of years and years of indoctrination by parents and other people who tell the story of a Nigeria that is committed to exterminating the Igbo. The mindset in Igbo people is of a group that is marginalized. A group that the Hausa-Fulani and the Yoruba always conspire against as a result of the determination of these groups to ensure Igbos don’t achieve their natural talents. The charges are many…

To be continued.

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