By Uche Nnadozie
While the rest of the world marched in opposition of the 45th President of the United States following his inauguration on January 20, 2017, a group of persons representing the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), in Port Harcourt, Rivers state of Nigeria, however, registered their solidarity with Donald Trump. That is the way of this life. While some cry, others laugh; while some applaud, others condemn. Around the world and in the United States, the main focus of the marchers who bashed the business man turned politician was on women’s rights. Basically people jumped on to the streets to advertise their discomfort with the campaign rhetoric of Mr. Trump. They complained about his misogynist tendencies, his brash and somewhat selfish inclination, among others.
In Port Harcourt, the rally was about solidarity with the new president. Surely every action or inaction taken by humans has an underpinning interest. For IPOB they say Trump will help quicken their fantasy for their “Biafra”! To them, Trump’s support for Brexit last year means he supports secession. To them, the American president being friendly with his Russian counterpart could have some sympathies for their secession agenda. In the first Biafra, there were traces of USSR support for the state of Biafra at the time. So for this new agitation, a Trump with populism fervor and as the leader of the strongest nation on earth teaming up with Vladmir Putin will bring quick answers to the secessionists. Because of the furore generated by the Port Harcourt march on social media, I began to think that indeed a section of the Igbo crowd needs some reminders in 2017.
With the election of Chief John Nwodo as president of Ohaneze Ndigbo, there is no brighter time to frontally attack the disease of misinformation which holds the Igbo youth in vice grip. First, the often quoted “rights” to peaceful assembly or expression of opinion has driven some people into committing suicide. Secondly, there is also a new Igbo “elite” based on social media who urge these guys to the streets to go and confront security agents claiming that it is their right. Then when (and it happens often) there is any casualty, they come to social media to exhibit their new found advocacy prowess. However, the new social media Igbo “elite” never actively participate in these Biafran protests. They encourage other people’s children persons usually less educated or exposed to go and confront security agents but they themselves retire to social media to vent. And the cycle continues.
In reality, how do you go out marching on the streets without as little as informing the police or state authorities? The assumption is that the right to protest is without any form of limitation. Then of course the politics of it: how do you expect to go on marching, rallying and protesting for Biafra, that is secession and expect an irrationally grungy Nigeria security officials to treat you nicely? This feeds to my initial response in 2015 to the whole Biafran brouhaha. I maintain that the new agitation is direct fallout of PDP’s loss of power; especially Goodluck Jonathan’s defeat to Muhammadu Buhari. I equally maintain that the initial expectation was that the new administration will call in the leaders of the new Biafra for “negotiation”. Although to the canon fodders on the streets, the expectation is a certain “Biafra”. If only they knew what it takes to birth a country!
So I have been struggling to understand the whole import or use of the Port Harcourt march. Granted it is within every Nigerian’s right to peaceful assemblage, but I do not know what right a “Biafran” has within that right. Again, there is no way a Trump will notice the futility in the march; except if the protest or rally was planned to infuriate the Nigerian authorities so that there will be something to talk about this week. Then, the correlation between Trump’s populism and encouraging secession in far flung countries like Nigeria is what I am yet to understand. Simply put, the Biafran agitation has no ethical or philosophical foundation. It is a movement founded by career political touts who saw an opening in a weak government headed by Goodluck Jonathan and decided to nimble on crumbs. It is also a movement that is watered by the streets and as such can only produce one outcome: anarchy!
There is no path to a state of Biafra. I repeat there cannot be such a thing as Biafra except in the minds of those that propagate it. Furthermore; it is distasteful to me that while other Nigerians are looking at how to get the best out of this country, Igbo people waste their time on a venture that is doomed from the beginning. Every Nigerian is marginalised. Even so, there are better ways of engaging with the system to get your share. It is certainly not to pull the system down. With childish agitations such as IPOB’s, expected progress by those of us who believe in Nigeria becomes difficult. Head we lose, tail we lose. You can’t have your people take their constitutionally sanctioned places in the governance of Nigeria; you can’t continue to receive constitutionally guaranteed resources from the centre to your states and yet complain and throw tantrums like the new Biafran agitators.
Simply put, Igbo people again and again continue to show their immaturity in political cum social engagement in Nigeria. There is no way we can make progress through the laughable march in Port Harcourt. Nwodo and his new Ohaneze leadership should get to work immediately. They must call their children to order by showing them clear reasons why their agitation is tantamount to suicide even when there is absolutely no need for it.