This Biafra Matter

An Education that Makes the Dumb Speak
Prince Charles Dickson

A coconut shell full of water is an ocean to an ant.

It was in November 2015 that I wrote “I fear going to Biafra”, that fear is probably real and palpable now, but hey wait, before I am asked if I want short or long sleeves, let us reason together on this matter.

Then the Indigenous People of Biafra had retained lawyer Prof. Dr. Göran Sluiter to file a complaint against Nigerian President Buhari before the International Criminal Court. He was then instructed to file a criminal complaint against Nigerian President Buhari before the International Criminal Court (ICC), on account of crimes against humanity. That was exactly how ‎, an online news forum put it then, and today not much has changed. It remains a case of lies, propaganda, half truths, misinformation, disinformation and truths.

In the mainstream media then, everyday provided fresh news items, either on Biafra as a subject or affiliates, such as the Indigenous People of Biafra, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra. Really if it was not Nnamdi Kanu, in the news, it was Chief Ralph Uwazurike. A case of those for, and those against, interestingly also divided amongst the Igbos themselves. However it’s six years gone and there’s ESN, ebubeagu and the dreaded unknown gunmen.

In most states of the southeast, agitations continue, whether forced or willingly, grudgingly one must agree there seems to be a huge increase in followership for the “cause”. Since the jungle Radio Biafra debuted it is obvious that the Nigerian state has remained at loss on how exactly to deal with the Biafran debacle, rather than engage, it has confronted and the loser is the nation.

I said six years ago that a quick glide into history would show that what many think started out as the occasional security clashes between a group of idle minds may soon if not handled with tact and diplomacy become another BH, and for many a student of political history it is so easy to see the trend in comparison to the Niger Delta militants, but this may turn out worse. And indeed the nation and the SE faces an existential threat.

I had warned that the Biafra ‘struggle’ needed to handled, and trust me, I added it could not be suppressed in the manner it was being handled, it cannot be waived off by the hands, current strong arm tactics will not work, denying that there is no followership, only reminds one of the first handful members of Yusuf Mohammed. And thinking that the entire drama is symptomatic of an episodic ailment may be wrong, and I was right.

Let me share a piece from the reflective lecture of Maduabuchi Dukor, speaking on Ndigbo: Challenges of youth empowerment.

Philosophically speaking, we recognize that the southeast or Ndigbo is an emerging society, developing society in search of identity in a multi-racial Nigeria state and in the world. This “identity” question is not only omnibus but also a logical challenge because you are an Igbo or you are not an Igbo. In this way it is difficult for an Igbo to deny that he or she is an Igbo because doing so would amount to a contradiction. Identity does not break any contradiction in the logical sense of the concept.

Again the fact that it is existential and encompasses a whole personality presupposes that it is defined by the history, culture, economics, politics and education of the people which again logically entails that the challenges of youth empowerment among Ndigbo are the challenges of history, culture, economics, politics, leadership and education.

In the above regard, has the Biafra question been answered…who are the Biafrans, where is Biafra…it is a challenge of history, culture, economics, politics, leadership and education.

Maduabuchi Dukor speaking further “The youth question since after the defunct Biafran and Nigerian war is an unfortunate historically necessitated experience that has left Ndigbo like a rudderless both in Nigeria, Africa and the world. The traumas, alienation, economic, subjugation, discrimination, political marginalization and the consequent psychological dislocation of Ndigbo by successive Nigerian governments until the dawn of the second republic is worse than colour dissemination in United States now and before.”

However I equally ask philosophically muse who is to blame but the Igbo man. The man whose leader has called streetlights an achievement, domino stores and chicken republic as achievements, getting a cinema to town in six years as deserving accolades; one wonders.

So, while Maduabuchi’s thesis has its strong merit, this Biafra matter remains partly one of land of erosions, land of the likes of Rochas the don of double speak, and land that elects a governor while he is in Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, one where everyone is a leader, yet no leadership and direction, envied by many, yet not sure of itself. Biafra itself, her or himself a small shadow of the bigger Nigerian palaver.

Very strange that police posts and electoral offices are burnt and no one has taken responsibility and no verifiable intelligence, soon there will be splinter IPOB groups, the governors continue to stutter in all directions but the right one.

A land where its greatest enemy is itself, a land where its sons and daughters on one hand are marginalized yet, are in every nook, cranny and corner, of Nigeria doing very well…a people whose sons are doing well in Lagos, and but wont go and develop ‘alaigbo’…but will whine “marginalization”, I fear going there.

The Biafra matter is one where men of goodwill have kept quiet, where the voices of reasons like Cardinal Arinze, Emeka Anyaokwu, or myself have been or continue to be subdued by the noise of anarchy. The Igbo man has refused to write and teach their children their true history, teach their wards the dialect, culture and values, and same it is with the entire Nigerian space.

The Biafra matter will remain as long as Nigeria refuses to allow true federalism to thrive, and for it to work, we need to talk, we need to negotiate, the federating units equally need leadership to get it right, and are sons and daughters of Ndi-Igbo ready to take up the challenge beyond all the current upheavals or do we have to fight another war—Only time will tell.

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