Biafra agitation and antics of divide-rule

Biafran-1“I freed a thousand slaves; I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”— Harriet Tubman

FOR weeks now, the issue of Biafra agitation has been at the front burner in the polity. The movement is being propelled by Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) via peaceful protests ravaging the old Eastern region. The promoters of IPOB are led by the detained Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.

Agents of divide-and-rule have gone back to their age-long work of dividing the indigenous people of Biafra. Their major target is to Igbonized this present struggle of Biafra restoration using the instrumentality of the media to tag Biafra agitation Igbo “affair”. Majority of those divide-and-rule advocates are non-Biafrans, who ordinarily should not have any say in determining the future of old Eastern region.

Why is it that Hausa and Fulani which comprise major ethnic groups especially in Northern part of Nigeria are always referred to as Hausa/Fulani – as one indivisible people, instead of Hausa and Fulani? Why do we have South-South as a geo-political zone carved out of old Eastern region, but there is nothing like North-North in the Northern Nigeria? How did the creators of this South-South mantra invent this word that is not in line with known cardinal points as enshrined in the principles of geography? How come there is Niger-Delta in the South but nothing like North-Sahara in the North? Why is there one Northern Governors Forum in the North, but coming down Southern Nigeria; we have South-East, South-West and South-South Governors Forums; all in one Southern Nigeria? Why do we always hear about Northern Elders Forum and nineteen Northern states as one socio-political block and one North, but we hardly talk of Southern Elders Forum, seventeen Southern states or one South? Someone should put on his thinking cap by now.

Yoruba as one of the major tribes in Nigeria has roots in North-Central states of Kwara and Kogi – which are outside Yoruba-dominated region of South-West yet Yorubas in Kogi and Kwara are all seen and respected as full-fledged Yoruba-speaking people with their rights and privileges protected in line with Yoruba customs and traditions. There is nothing like Kogi and Kwara Yoruba being inferior to Yorubas in Lagos or Ogun or other South-Western states.

In line of this thought process, why would propagandists keep on referring to Igbos in Delta and Rivers states as not being “real” Igbos by branding them Delta or Rivers Igbo with sole purpose of creating division between them and their brothers and sisters in the South-East? These conjectures have ended up sinking deep into the psyche of majority of Igbo people from these states born after the civil war, who now ignorantly view their brother as strangers or even enemies!

If Yorubas in Kogi and Kwara states are “true” Yorubas like their brothers and sisters in Osun and Ekiti, why on earth would Igbos in Rivers and Delta states—who are of Igbo origin, bear Igbo names and speak its languages be made to believe that they are “half-cast” Igbos in other not only to divide old Eastern region but to limit the so-called “real” Igbos to Five states of South-East – thereby consolidating and deepening the seeds of division and discord in the region.

The unfortunate angle in this scenario is that so many of our brothers and sisters born during and after the civil war bought into this gimmick unknowingly until now. The emergence of Radio Biafra has help to deconstruct this mountain of falsehood and deflate the balloon of fallacies bandied by divide-and-rule campaigners who now termed undiluted and unalloyed truth emanating from Radio Biafra as “hate speeches”, what an irony!

I have asked these questions several times without getting reasonable answers: why do we have BBC Hausa Service broadcasting in the Northern Nigeria and there is no BBC Yoruba Service and Igbo Service or Ijaw Service broadcasting in the West or East? Who is afraid of Radio Biafra? Could the difference between BBC Hausa Service and Radio Biafra be that one is propagating divide-and-rule antics cum born-to-rule ideology, while later is championing restoration of rights of Indigenous people of Biafra via self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations Chatter? Where were those anti-Radio Biafra elements when Radio Chanji setup by the APC apologists in the North before the presidential election for the only aim of inciting Northerners against President Jonathan by heartlessly misinforming them that President Jonathan and General Ihejirika were the ones funding the dreaded Boko Haram – the same insurgents they were fighting?

Former President Jonathan lost the last presidential election as a hero but the campaign that preceded the election unified the entire old Eastern region for once since after the Nigeria-Biafran civil war to the detriment of divide-and-rule antics that are at it again to divide us. The 2015 presidential election result map showed clearly that Jonathan got eight per cent of his votes from old Eastern region, the remaining twenty per cent votes were given to him by Biafrans residing outside old Eastern region.

It is on record that Igbos sacrificed a lot to ensure re-election for Jonathan during the campaign not because of government patronage they were enjoying—of course an average Igbo man doesn’t need government to survive but as a result of the umbilical cord intertwining Ijaws, Ibibio, Igbos, Ogonis, Uhrobo, Efik and other ethnic nationalities that make up old Eastern region together. The Igbos voted en mass for Jonathan to entrench justice, equality and fairness in the overall interest of old Eastern region in particular and Nigeria at large.

For my brothers and sisters in Ogoni, Ijaw, Enang, Efik and other ethnic nationalities that make up the so-called South-South zone, who are still under the spell of divide-and-rule propaganda by believing the concoction sold to them by those who want to continue to enslave us that Igbos are their problem. Can I ask the following questions: was he an Igbo man that killed Ken Saro Wiwa? Who murdered Isaac Idaka Boro? Who ordered the invasion and massacre of thousands of innocent people in Odi town of Bayelsa? Why is Northern Nigeria does normally referred to as one North irrespective of hundreds of tribes in that region, yet we allowed ourselves to be divided into states and villages?

What is the ethnic affiliation of those in control of eight-three per cent of oil blocs in Niger-Delta, how many of them are Igbos? Weren’t the same people who are trying hard to divide us now conspired to remove your son, President Jonathan from Aso Rock? Why would we remain in perpetual slavery by allowing outsiders to divide us by rewriting our history for us? The time has come for all lovers of freedom and prosperity in old Eastern should to stand up and be counted. There is a time when silence is no longer golden.
• Nwobodo Chidiebere wrote in from Abuja.

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  • Okwy

    Chidiebere, this issue you have raised appears not to be too important. Divide-and-rule is the stock in trade of the core north. They use it between the Igbos and Yorubas, between the south and the middle belt. The problem is that the Igbos appears not to be wise. I am an Igbo but still the truth has to be told. Our people are not politically matured and tactical. We appear to know what we want but do not know how to get it. Don’t blame them, both those who deceive and those who are being deceived. Everybody wants to identify with success. Let Igbos get themselves together and fight their own common course without wanting to drag others along. When the others see that they are succeeding, they will opt to join them. In the heart of every section of this country is the desire for self-determination but the problem is with who will bear the cat. Alwolowo told the north that if Igbos will secede, Yorubas will declare Oduduwa. May be they failed to declare Oduduwa because Igbo’s secession bid did not succeed. The same goes for all other sections of this country.

    So Igbos should therefore avoid this present method of trying to impose their struggle on the others. Igbo is hated for who they are and no other group wants to be part of that. The moment Igbo start being a succeed in their bid now they will attract many followers. If Igbo is talking of Biafra, let us believe that we can make it without the south south, otherwise let us forget about that struggle. Nigeria may even want to let Igbos go alone but might never allow you to go with south south. Your brothers and sister in south south will only identify with you if they see you succeeding. Some of them are already answering Rotimi, Bamidele and may be Yusuf. Let us leave them out of Igbo plans and get focused or move with only those who we know are always there for us. This is the mistake Nnamdi Kalu is making in his Biafran project. The bible ask us to first remove the log in our eyes before you can see clearly to remove the peck in our brothers eyes. Therefore let us work first towards south east unity before expecting others to join us.

    • chiokorieuk

      Okwy, I disagree with you over the issue of not including the people of South-South in the proposed state of Biafra. I believe that Mr Nwobodo Chidiebere is very right in including them. They can only be excluded if during a referendum the people decided to opt out. That takes me to what caused the Nigeria – Biafra war in the first place! After the first coup d`etat led by Major Chukwuma “Kaduna” Nzeogwu, who hailed from Niger-Delta Ibo speaking area, failed after the premier of the North, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the prime minister Alhaji Tafawa Balewa and some other politicians were killed, there was initial jubilation all over the entire country, including amongst the northerners whose own soldiers were mostly used in attacking the house of the premier because of corruption and anarchy in the country, especially in the western region.

      However, later, when it was discovered that the coup plotters sent to assassinate Dr M I Okpara in the East failed and also those who went after General Aguiyi Ironsi missed him, coupled by the fact that Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was away in the Caribbeans on leave at the time, the northerners started erroneously seeing the coup d`etat as directed against their own northern people, considering that all major Ibo leaders (by then) survived! Many Yoruba politicians including Chief Awolowo survived as well. ( He survived partly because he was in prison in Calabar, Eastern Nigeria and most importantly, because it was strongly rumoured that the coup plotters wanted to make him the prime minister at the end). This false belief soon metamorphosed in the killing of all southerners, particularly Ibos who were in the majority. As southerners could easily be identified by their dressing and type of work they did ( just as even now, the most educated people in the country are the southerners in Nigeria ), the northerners started killing everybody who wasn`t from the north viz: Ibos, Effiks, Ijaws, Annags, Ogonis, Itsekiris, Uhrobos,Yorubas, Edo people(Binis), Sapele and Warri people, Ikwerres ( present day Rivers Ibos ), Anioma people ( present day Niger – Delta people from where the principal coupist Major Nzeogwu came from etc. The northerners not only killed the southerners( Easterners, Westerners (yorubas ) and Mid -Westerners) in the army who could not escape, but also killed the civilians from those areas who were living in the north by then.

      Put another way, by including the other ethnic minorities who were equally affected by what led to the war, the apologists for the state of Biafra are protecting their interest as well because they all suffered along with the Ibos. If anyone doubts this account, he should find out from anyone who was a military personnel from such minority areas at that time and who escaped from the north or who was a civilian and was residing in the north as I was myself! The people from these ethnic minorities like the Effiks, Ogonis, Ikwerres etc all fought alongside the Ibos during the war both as army officers and other ranks. They knew what they were doing obviously because they suffered unjustly with the Ibos. Kindly recall that the second in command to General Emeka Ojukwu was General Philip Effiong, a non-Ibo from present day Akwa – Ibom state. It was he who handed over the instrument of surrender to the Nigerian army at the end of the war. The Ibos, being in the majority of those on whom the genocide was unleashed, were spearheading the agitation for Biafra then on behalf of themselves and all the ethnic minorities that were equally affected by the war. Kindly recall that the state of Biafra was promulgated after a meeting by various representatives from both the Ibo land and these ethnic minorities. (The documents are readily available and some of the principal people involved are still alive today! ). By way of analogy, if there are 3 or 4 brothers and sisters who attend the same primary school, the senior ones always look out for the younger/smaller ones to ensure that they are complete in number and safe with their school bags and other personal stuff before setting for home together to enhance everyone`s safety etc. Having said this to correct the wrong impression that has been peddled for political reasons and to distort history, the ethnic minorities if they decide not to join, must be allowed to do whatever they willingly choose to do. Kindly however remember that some of our own “flesh and blood” – the Niger-Delta Ibos and the Ikwerres of present day Rivers state Ibos flatly denied having any connection with the Ibos of Eastern Nigeria after the war. Kindly note that I said “SOME”. However, we understood where they were coming from because they felt that for political expediency and probably to save their lives then, they needed to deny the core Ibo heartland. We understood the reasons why and out of brotherly love we forgave them. Kindly also recall that though Major Nzeogwu who masterminded the first coup and was associated with the death of the premier of Northern Nigeria came from Niger-Delta Ibo area, the Ibos from the core heartland of Eastern Nigeria did not start to deny association with the Niger-Delta Ibos with the hope of deflecting blame and “punishment” of the wanton killing that was directed mainly to the easterners, where their fellow Ibos were in the majority. As a matter of fact, to underscore the fact that all the Ibos in Nigeria are the same, one of the recent past president generals of the Pan-Ibo pressure group “Ohaneze Ndigbo” came from Niger-delta Ibo, in the person of late Chief Ralph Uwaechue.

    • Darlington

      Okwy, you are one of the agents of divide and rule Chidiebere wrote in this mind-illuminating article. I doubt your Igbo origin as you claimed. Only REFERENDUM can decide who is in support or against Biafra restoration. I am Ijaw, we are more Biafrans than Igbos. No one can divide us again. On Biafra we stand!

      • akpo

        Darlington ! You are an impostor by claiming to be an Ijaw man. An Ijaw cannot be more “Biafran than the Igbos.This is a blatant lie.Do not mistake the visit of some Ijaw militants to the East as a desire to cohere
        with the Igbos to form a Biafra state.They paid visit as appreciation for Eastern support for their brother’s political ambition.

        Okwy is very correct in many aspects of his submission especially the desire of many Igbos wanting to pull along the minority tribes of the S/S.That was Ojukwu’s mistake which caused his failure to succeed in his ambition.It was true that the north vented their anger on any body from the south but the Eastern Nigerian government meeting which declared secession did not have representatives from the Urhobos,Benins,Ishans,Afemains,Itsekiris and even Ijaws save for Igbos from S/S and Efiong.To buttress this,David Ejoor who was the Governor of Midwest state at that time ran away when the Eastern soldiers occupied his state.That denote clearly that majority of the minorities of the S/S were not consulted.It was an imposition by Ojukwu and his gang of friends.

        Times have changed,the Efionge from cross river or calaber who fought along the Ibgos in the 1960s will not be willing to do so today.Those were the era of military regime. Now is the reign of Democracy. Democracy encourages the minority to express their views but the majority always carry’s the day.Thus far,it will be suicidal for the minority tribes of the S/S to cohere with the five states of the east to pursue an
        Igbo agenda of a Biafra state.

        Somebody said some time ago that the name Biafra was first used by Isaac Boro.Yes, there is some where in Geography in the Atlantic Ocean close to Nigeria called the “Bight of Biafra”. Ojukwu latch onto
        that name to cajole the Ijaw tribe as well as other minority tribes of the S/S to form their Biafra state. You
        cannot deceive us,such union is to the sole advantage of the Igbos.Their hegemonic power will make them to determine which tribe should be president.We do not want one tribe to dominate and thus decide the political fate of any other tribe.Rejecting Nigeria to unit with Igbos is tantamount to jumping from frying pan to fire. It will be fool hardy for any minority tribes of the S/S to join the East in their quest for sucession.
        Their main attraction to the S/S is to obtain access to the sea.Nothing more ! This they will never get. We do not need your Biafra referendum in the S/S since we are not part of Biafra. The only thing we can do for Igbos is to commence boundary adjustment to carve out the Igbo speaking areas of the S/S to Biafra republic once they actualize their Biafra dream.

        It is very annoying that the East that is trying to break away from Nigeria for fear of domination of the Hausa/Fulani is cajoling the S/S to form a Biafra state. Who do you want to dominate? Purge your selves
        of this your selfish ambition.Go and form your land-lock country.

        Politics in Nigeria is tribe based.That the east voted for Jonathan was not because they loved him as an Ijaw man but it was due to the fact that his grand mother who labelled him Azikiwe hailed from the East coupled with Igbo wife.Those were the credentials that endeared Jonathan to the Igbos not love for minority tribes.

        That the northern minorities were subsumed by the Hausa /Fulanis does not mean the minority tribes of S/S should subjugate themselves to the Igbos. We are enlightened people so you cannot bring us to that servant population level. We reject it in Jesus name.

  • Okwy

    Igbos don’t have intelligent politicians but touts and selfish individuals otherwise an Igbo should by now have ruled this country as an executive president. Ike Ekwerenmadu recently called a meeting of Igbo elders to discuss the Biafran protest. When you go through their communique, you will understand that they do not understand the main reason why those youths are protesting. If you look deep into the purpose of that meeting, it will be clear to you that his intention is basically how to retain his office in the senate. However, there is nothing wrong about that since it is also good enough for us to have him their to cover Igbo interest. At the same time it is clear that none of them have the interest of the Igbos at heart like Ojukwu had, otherwise I don’t know why he spent over eight years in the senate yet Enugu-Onitsha road still remains a nightmare despite all his campaign promises. Nobody wants to make sacrifice for the Igbo race like Ojukwu and that is why none of them has any fellowship. Igbos cannot follow anybody who cannot make sacrifice for them. Igbos need people like Indira Ghandi of India, the Martin Luther King (Jr) etc. People who they can see and believe have no monetary interest at heart. They are now following Nnamdi Kalu. As soon as he starts making money out of them, they will disown him. That is the problem that Raph Uwazuruike is having today.

    • Emeks

      My brother you have said it all,Nnamdi Kalu should focus on the igbos and believe we can get there without the south South Simple…

      • I sigh

        Focus wherever you want to focus. Don’t you have 2 balls like Nnamdi kanu? The writer and ChiokorieUK are very right and you and Okwy should focus wherever you want to focus or remain quiet. Why are you using SS and Niger Delta knowing that the Igbo is in both regions and there is no NN, WW, EE?

  • Babalakin

    what a pity. you just never accept the truth. when a region says he is not part of you, you are insisting that there is divide an rule strategy. i think the igbos should look at themselves truthfully then decide. only the truth can set you free

    • Darlington

      Which region are you talking about? I am Ijaw from Bayelsa, we are more Biafrans than Igbos. The last election helped us to know are brothers and enemies. If an Ijaw man is not competent enough to go for second term as president of this contraption called Nigeria in the eyes of Hausa and Yorubas, why would they want to decide for us whether to go with Igbos or not? We have Igbos in Rivers and Delta states. REFERENDUM is the answer. The outcome of a credible REFERENDUM will shout some of divide and rule elements who love our oil but hate us with passion. Mr Chidiebere Nwobodo is right and you’re very wrong and hypocritical. On Biafra we stand!

  • Little Benjamin

    Chidiebere, this is an excellent thought by all ramifications. And regardless of who may not agree with you, I think you are correct. Yes, there is a group in Nigeria who had a sinister plan of born to rule even before the amalgamation of Nigeria. This is owing to their culture of invasion and subjugation. The Igbo people don’t have a culture of invasion and subjugation, hence they never had any sinister strategy aimed at subjugating those who appear to be in variance with them.
    It is only someone with a myopic outlook that will consider as intelligent the retrogressive political machinations that is propelled by the archaic concept of born to rule.
    Have you ever asked yourself why the North is the most backward in terms of some human development indices despite how “wise or intelligent” their politicians seem to be in the Nigerian political equation? It is simply because this political “wisdom” that is founded in the conceit of born to rule is retrogressive to the whole.

  • Kayode Ojuolkun

    The ‘one North’ is an idea that belongs to the past. Yet the reference is only being used for the sake of old united front. Old North is still in the imagination of the good old time when the damn British were busy rewarding their loyal servants. The untied front itself is for economic survivability and access to the much-valued ocean than for the real love-fest amongst them these days. The non-Hausa or Fulani ethnics are gradually flexing their political muscle little by little. That is power of education. Self-identity is what every oppressed will crave for sooner or later.

    As for the Yoruba, certain structures of the old Oyo empire are still intact regardless of colonial wrecking ball. The powerful silencing-force of Yoruba identity in Kwara state is not as strong as it used to be in the caliphate-driven mentality of a few proud bastards, which depends on economy of Islamic-spiritualism to support the various Illori-Marabou communities. The rest of the state is Yoruba all over as in the struggle of the untied Igbomina clans to get rid of the last vestige of northern identity being hoisted on them by the likes of Saraki under the disguised of Islamic identity.
    Unity is the key in the existing relationship of the old eastern Nigeria. It has been said in so many ways that eastern minorities play Igbo against Hausa or Fulani to protect their political interests and to checkmate overwhelm Igbo lordship. However, the result of last election contradicted the age-long held belief. Business acumen and political acumen are not the same thing. Yoruba balance both in ‘Nigeria project’.

  • Nicolas Jake

    Latest revelation from Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of power shows that Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian maximum ruler is planning a new strategy to jail Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Director of Radio Biafra. The new strategy is centered around using malleable judges from one of two fronts – either from the South-east or from the South-south geo-political zone front – to judge the new case his government is bringing against Kanu.

    The reasons for limiting his search to the two geo-political zones, where Kanu is seen to have maximum influence, are many. The first reason is that he does not want to be accused of carrying out a sectional agenda against Kanu, whom he has sworn to give a long sentence that will make it impossible for him to leave the prison alive. The second reason is that he was told the judges he used in the previous trials, which turned against him, were judges from the Northern and Western geo-political zones of the country.
    The third and final reason is the belief among his kitchen cabinet that it is only from the South-east and South-south geo-political that he would find people that were so unstable in character, who would be able to easily sell-out for a fee.

    Already two characters from the two geo-political zones have already been commissioned, and mobilized with 50 Million Naira each search for a judge that would agree to do the job. The two characters are Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State; and Chibuike Amaechi, former governor of Rivers State.

    It is instructive to note that Buhari did not start hand-picking or arm-twisting judges to do his bidding today. He did so in the past during his first coming as a military junta. Then he arm-twisted judges to jail Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the popular musician of the 70s and the 80s. About 30 years after Buhari’s dictatorial rule, Fela told Nigerians that the judge came to confess to him that Buhari and his men forced him to pass the judgment. It was also under Buhari’s junta that the country saw certain citizens dumped into jail for outrageously long prison sentences. Some individuals were sentenced for as long as 150 and 250 years.