The gubernatorial election in Anambra State came to pass last weekend with little or no serious violent incident recorded anywhere. The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo predictably won the poll by a landslide. Winning 19 out of the 21 local governments that make up the state is a great electoral feat indeed. Fears of gun battles and criminal activities never materialized during the poll. The Independent National Electoral Commission and the security services did a good job by ensuring a free, fair and credible poll.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate in the election was about the best man for the job. Though Ozigbo was not bad Soludo has what it takes to take Anambra to the next level post-Obiano. We had hoped and prayed that the best should win and in the end the very best trounced the opposition.
The Hope Uzodinma scenario in Imo State (where a defeated candidate who came a distant fourth was eventually declared Governor by the Supreme ‘Cult’, sorry Court) cannot happen in our state. The PDP’s Valentine Ozigbo is a gentleman who would not want to use ‘justice’ to achieve what he lost at the polls. The APC’s Andy Uba might try his luck emulating Uzodinma but he would fail. Anambra State is not Imo state where politicians of fortune with questionable credentials and characters hold sway.
Prior to the election the news from the south-eastern region of the country was terrifying. Daily, news of violence, arson, killings and destruction of public and private properties circulated online. The Igbos were terrified and horrified by war-like crimes being perpetrated with impunity by both the invading federal forces and the ‘unknown gunmen’.
President Muhammadu Buhari and his handlers probably thought that deploying a disproportionate force into the volatile region would tame the explosive situation. But the reverse was the case; rather than abating the tension rose to feverish pitch.
Before our very eyes Biafraland was being destroyed by the protagonists, none of whom was ready for ceasefire or dialogue. For the President the boys must be taught a lesson in aggression in the language they understood better. And for the IPOB/ESN Mazi Nnamdi Kanu must be released from the DSS facility in Abuja for peace to reign. It was a deadlock!
And not too long ago a new dangerous dimension seemed to have been added into the protracted struggle for the soul of Biafra. Whenever or wherever a bloody clash erupted taking the life of a soldier or policeman the military summarily proceeded to ransack and sack entire neighbourhoods nay, villages looting, torching homes and killing innocent folks in reprisal attacks.
Though we recognise that it is wholly wrong and criminal for some undesirable elements wielding sophisticated weapons to murder police, military or paramilitary personnel on national assignments we frown at the unprofessional and irresponsible attitude of the state security forces visiting force and violence on innocent civilians.
The ‘unknown gunmen’, on the other hand, were busy wreaking havoc everywhere. They invaded police posts and prisons killing, maiming and committing arson, releasing prisoners and stealing weapons! Private properties were not spared of their rage. Traditional rulers, politicians and Biafrans (tagged wrongly or rightly as saboteurs) had been assaulted or killed gruesomely.
The sit-at-home edict (though officially suspended) continued to have serious adverse effect on the economy. Billions of Dollars had been lost following any lockdown in the region. Biafra could be said to be a great idea but must war be the last option towards its realisation?
Now, President Buhari and his Fulani gang appear hell-bent on meeting force with force. With Mazi Kanu still held hostage awaiting the conclusion of his celebrated trial (adjourned yet again till January next year) there is still room for dialogue and/or negotiation.
When the Biafra/Nigeria civil war ended in 1971 the then Yakubu Gowon-led federal government had declared an official policy of ‘no victor, no vanquished’ on paper. The Gowonic regime then had decreed a triple R state policy to wit: Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation. But with the advent of Kanu and his IPOB/ESN mob there seems to be a resurgence of Biafra and the quest for its actualization — this time through terrorism and unmitigated violence.
When the late great Dim Ojukwu heroically led Biafrans to war decades ago there were no Internet and Android phones with social media platforms. Then, mass communication was practically at the hands of the mighty federal government unlike now when modern folks have taken over the information technology.
Besides, arms and ammunitions were in short supply compared to now when almost everyone is armed. So things have changed for better or for worse depending on the side of the great divide one belongs.
Against this backdrop whoever is advicing Buhari that recourse to state terrorism would conquer the minds and hearts of Biafrans are not telling him the gospel truth. Rather than vanquishing their spirit the terror tactics of the state would embolden them more reinforcing their determination to achieve Biafra by hook or by crook.
Yet, we hold that the Nigerian state and her diffident leadership have failed their responsibility towards Biafra! And that singular failure is what has led to the current situation of neither war nor peace. How do we explain to our children and the next generation that close to half a century after the civil war (or call it organized pogrom if you like) reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction remain criminally a pipe dream?
How can one understand that Biafrans are still on their own developing themselves individually and their lands infrastructurally with little or no federal intervention?
With Buharism at the helm of our national affairs division, mistrust and social cleavages had escalated over time. A President doing everything willfully to undermine national cohesion and ethnic harmony in a fragile convoluted federation cannot be said to be a success story presidentially.
Since the war that claimed millions of lives of Igbos ended Nigeria has achieved none of the promised three R’s. Nowhere had been reconstructed except by individual initiatives. No one had been reconciled with another anywhere. And reintegration into the corrupt nepotic system had happened by the sheer force of the indomitable spirit of Biafrans. Therefore, the three advertised R’s has happened only in our collective amnesia or imagination.
What Nigeria owes Biafra and Biafrans are legion. She owes Biafrans recognition for their economic efforts toward the greatness of the nation. Nigeria owes Biafra justice and equity. And fairness to Biafrans. They (Biafrans) have been discriminated against, marginalized, extorted and intimidated!
Nigeria owes Biafra certain freedom to exist and pursue happiness in a restructured just federation. Nigeria must devolve more powers to the states for them to be able to cater for the needs of their peoples. Every state must have its police force and control her natural resources.
The pervading atmosphere of terror and horror does not favour anyone — including Buhari and Kanu themselves. That is why the tension must be de-escalated. It takes sound leadership to overcome intricate situations.
If a referendum were to be held in Igboland today Buhari and the Fulani cabal saying no to self-determination of Oduduwa or Biafra would be shell-shocked or jolted to discover the outcome. More than 75 percent of Biafrans, we dare say, would definitely vote for Biafra as a separate sovereign entity under God. Perhaps the minority nay-sayers would comprise the ‘efulefus’ — Joe Igbokwes, Dave Umahis, Hope Uzodinmas, Fredrick Nwabufos etc.
Let the ‘debt’ Nigeria owes Biafra and Biafrans (reparations) be paid one way or the other for genuine peace to prevail. Anything less could lead to a more sinister conflict the outcome of which not even President Buhari could be capable of predicting.
A stitch in time, they say, saves nine!