By Raheem Akingbolu
Rather than leaving their fates in the hands of some youths with unclear vision about the Biafran project, frontline Igbo leaders, including traditional rulers, members of the business community and politicians have declared their loyalty for the sovereignty of Nigeria.
Like a scene from a movie, the Chairman of Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema is seen in a trending video preaching patriotism and calling on the Igbo people to dismiss the idea of Biafra nation and join others to build Nigeria. With the aid of the aircraft’s Intercom, Onyema appeals to his passengers and by extension, the entire nation to look beyond zones and ethnic groups and work together to build their country.
He said: “The size of Nigeria is the best thing that would ever happen to the country. We don’t need to balkanize this country for any reason because our diversity should be our strength. Today, we see various ethnic groups in America; we have Igbo Americans, Fulani Americans, Yoruba Americans, India Americans and so on and all these people come together to build a strong nation. But here in Nigeria, we are divided along ethnic lines and talk about being Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa or Fulani. It’s not government or any leader that would build the Nigeria of our dream but through a collective effort of all,”
Though the passengers and the crew gave him a resounding applause, the message sure goes beyond those in the Aircraft. It simply represented the voice of a patriotic Nigerian who was committed to the country’s unity.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Igbo traditional rulers from all the 19 northern states, had converged on Abuja and spoke with one voice that they didn’t support Nnamdi Kanu and his Biafra campaigns. They however called on their subjects, home and in the Diaspora to distance themselves from Kanu and dismiss the idea of any Biafran nation for now.
Also, a high ranking Minister in Buhari’s administration, Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, was reported to have humorously dismissed Biafra in response to a question asked about the Biafra struggle by a journalist recently.
“Biafra? What Do You Mean By Biafra?” Ngige was quoted to have said. With it, he finally opened up on the protests by the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) for a sovereign state.
The former governor of Anambra state, who spoke with journalists in Alor, venue of his late father’s funeral ceremony, insisted that there is nothing like Biafra. According to him, the protesters are only a group of discontented people, a situation which is not peculiar to the eastern part of the country where they are domiciled.
When asked what he thinks about the incessant protests by the pro-Biafrans, he noted with a lot of assurance, that the protesters are to the east, what Boko Haram is to the northern part of the country and the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the Southwestern part of the country. He said, therefore, that there is really no need for Nigerians to panic about their presence or activities as they would be handled the same way others were dealt with by the federal government.
“Biafra? What do you mean by Biafra?” he retorted rhetorically when asked about the struggle by the protesters.
“There is no struggle anywhere. There is even no agitation. It is just discontent.” “In Yoruba land, they say they are OPC, Oodua Peoples Congress; in the Niger Delta, they say they are militants; in the northern part of Nigeria, especially the northwest and northeast, they say they are Boko Haram. They are against western education. They say that it is from western education that they learn how to steal money. “So, it is discontent
Also, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Jnr, son of the late Biafra warlord, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Jnr. in a piece titled ‘Igbos Be Careful!’, he urged his brothers down South to avoid any step that could lead to war or disintegration of the country. He pointed out that the current structure under which the country is being governed was a collective agreement, adding that if the components parts are tired; it will also be through a collective agreement.
Speaking further, Ojukwu said rather than pressing for any demand that could lead to war, the Igbos should rather think of having a leader that can be a rallying point.
“Our major need now is an emergence of a leader figure with the courage of Ojukwu,wisdom of M.I Okpara and the sagacity of Chuba Okadigbo yet endowed with tamed emotions to steer our pride and productivity into a common force and also lead us into demanding redress for perceived injustice.....IGBOS BE CAREFUL!.
“I REPEAT, if Nigeria is tired, when Nigeria is tired of running an unprofitable structure, we shall be ready for the way forward; we shall be ready for renegotiation.
BUT NEVER AGAIN will your blood be used as a specimen to test how "united" Nigeria can be in fighting her "enemy."
Meanwhile, commenting on the recent development, a leader of Ndigbo in the All Progressive Congress, Joe Igbokwe, admitted that Igbo leaders are speaking up now even though a lot of damage has been done. He, all the same, congratulated all those who stood up to be counted,”
He said: “What Nnamdi Kanu needs to do is to persuade the critical mass of the Igbo people to buy into his ideas. He knows he cannot persuade them. Hence, he chose to fight them. He is fighting Ohaneze. He is fighting the Governors. He is fighting fellow Igbos, the very people he needs for Biafra to succeed”
But while many contributors look at things from general perspective, a public commentator, Emeka Ugwuonye in an article titled ‘I know Nnamdi Kanu More than Most of You Do’, pointed out that Nnamdi Kanu's method and approach based on confrontation and hostility is not only wrong, it will harm the igbo people.
“If he continues to cause our young people to fight the police and confront the army, it will only lead to their untimely deaths. If war were the only way, then wait until you're ready to fight war. But I know that war is not necessary but there are other ways. We have enough billionaires in Igboland with vast contacts overseas who could come together, pool their resources and we will have a Biafra. But that is if they see Biafra to be in the interest of the Igbo people.
The problem is that those Igbo people who have the capacity to give us Biafra do not consider Biafra as the best interests of the Igbo. I personally don't think that the Igbos will be better off if you give them Biafra,”
He also pointed out that those who mattered in Igboland are not with Kanu in the struggle.
“Nnamdi's problem is basically with the Igbo people. He doesn't have the support of the critical mass of the Igbo people. He has the support of the wrong mass of Igbos, who lack the power to deliver Biafra. What he needs to do is to persuade the critical mass of the Igbos to buy into his ideas. He knows he cannot persuade them. Hence, he chose to fight them. He is fighting Ohaneze. He is fighting the Governors. He is fighting fellow Igbo people, the very people he needs for Biafra to succeed.
"I know and you should know that without the Igbo political class, without the Igbo elites, without the Igbo traditional houses, without the Igbo entrepreneurial class and without the Igbo professionals, he is left only with the unemployed, the traders and artisans, and small business people and students. Those are not enough to give him Biafra. He lacks the power to deliver Biafra," he added.
In conclusion, the writer stated that Nnamdi's problem is not the Fulani or Federal Government but the fact that he doesn't have the support of the real Igbo people, adding that organizing for his supporters to beat Igbo leaders up in Germany as they did for Ike Ekweremadu made it worse for Kanu.