The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB was registered as a business entity in the United States of America, USA state of California several years ago. It appears it was also registered in the United Kingdom, again as a business venture. From information I have gathered, IPOB, though formed out of a desire to expand the agitation for a Biafran state, was a direct response to a leadership squabble within the ranks of MASSOB. The invitation extended to some “eminent ” Nigerians of Igbo extraction was a decoy to blur the original intention. That intention being to wage an armed struggle if the need arises, against Nigeria. However, along the line, the leadership of IPOB, especially the one who took the title of “supreme leader” began to see other opportunities.
By reaching out to all manner of Igbo people at home and around the world, that thing they say about power revealing the real man began to manifest. He asked for money, he was given. Funds trickle in from countries and individuals of queer character. My fear is what will become of a country founded with drug and other illicit funds? Because of the crude and cavalier method he employed to wow his audience, he thought of himself in very high places. In fact, at a point, he began to see himself as the alternative commander-in-chief of Nigeria. Young men and women were ready to die in his stead. Using time-tested propaganda tools, Nnamdi Kanu began to walk on women wrappers as a sign of reverence. He saw himself as Jesus Christ or at least Peter his disciple. The people looked at him and saw Nelson Mandela. How blind can people be!
But this is the way of tyrants. Adolf Hitler walked on this earth too. So if you have tiny Hitlers all over the place,it won’t be a bad idea. But there was one thing Kanu and his supporters never reckoned with. Hitler and such role models were definitive heads of states. They were not outsiders plotting to break up a country. At least Mandela is a recent example. IPOB and its enablers ab initio employed the most vile and divisive rhetoric. They dismissed Nigeria as a “zoo”. They cursed and threatened other ethnicities, particularly the Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba. This strategy was to make the ordinary folks who are Igbos to hate these Nigerians. It worked. For people like us who dared to speak up against IPOB, threats to life were made openly and directly. Curses and abuses were directed and are still being directed at us.
The idea is to get the average Igbo to be sufficiently angry as to begin to lynch any other Nigerians they see. The offense as preached by IPOB is that other Nigerians were cheating Igbos. The message by IPOB is that Nigeria has prevented the Igbo from making progress. Also, the message is that other Nigerians benefit from Igbo “ingenuity”. To IPOB, the Igbo is an endangered species that must save itself from the stranglehold of other Nigerians. They fabricate lies upon lies and call them news. They circulate these lies using Radio Biafra and the social media. 95 per cent of the content they push as news or facts are regurgitated on every platform just to infuriate the average Igbo. And because people have been brought up from infancy to accept this line of thought, it is easy for people to lap it up.
Politicians of Igbo extraction when pressed to perform, cite the worn out theory of marginalisation occasioned by the Hausa/Fulani and their Yoruba collaborators who eat every Nigerian goody but shut the door when they (Igbo) show up. People are told “they hate us”! They cite the five states in the South East as example. They equally cite the absence of any South Easterner among President Muhammadu Buhari’s military chiefs as example. When you mention things like this, it whips up uncontrollable sentiments and emotions. The people forget that the politicians who speak to them do so- so that they do not answer to why roads or schools are in deplorable state. Then when you add IPOB to the mix, what you get is combustible energy. When you remind politicians about federal allocations, they dodge it and instead say if only they controlled the oil found in Imo and Abia states.
Anything to not give account to the people in the east by politicians is what IPOB uses as weapon to radicalise everyday people. To be fair, the government was slow in responding. In Nigeria, we have perfected the scheme of treating law enforcement as politics. People easily hug their tribes to spite government, any government that tries to restore order. It is like ‘my hooligan is better than yours’ scenario. ‘If you want to arrest my hooligan,bring yours’. These are not the real tenets of statehood. In Africa, we treat matters of statecraft with levity. We cite examples of Europe and America as bastions of the modern state structure but we the citizens fail to obey ordinary traffic laws. Instead, when apprehended for a minor traffic offense, we call one government official to come to our aide to avoid punishment. That is who we are and it is that reality that IPOB and groups like it exploit. They do evil and expect not to be called to question. When a government wakes from slumber, it is then couched as anti the ethnic group from which the felon comes from.
I hope that government agencies responsible for re-orientation can find its voice. The damage done by Kanu and IPOB will take decades to unmake. It is better to start now. Part of that unmaking shall be to also make certain concessions in the implementation of projects. Projects will buy you what no propagandist or public relations expert cannot. Completing ongoing projects or expanding same will go a long way in rebutting closed minds. The hatred and vitriol on the streets of the east are mind boggling. The Army’s Python Dance will only do so much. Projects is the key.