When it comes to Nnamdi Kanu and the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), opinions are split. For the record, IPOB is pro-Biafra group whose aim is to actualise the secession of Biafra within the shortest time possible. The position of the government to IPOB has been antagonistic. Theoretically speaking, it is understandable why the federal government is against IPOB or any call for secession. According to the system of governance we practice, call for secession it is essentially a treasonable offence.
That said, I have written here several times in the past that the Nigerian state has treated the people of the southeast with bigotry especially in politics. We all know about the 1967-1970 civil war in Nigeria between Nigeria and Biafra. The fact of the matter is that since that war, Nigeria has not had a president of Igbo extraction. In other words, we have not had an Igbo presidency since after the civil war.
This is despite the fact that the Igbo tribe is one of the largest in Nigeria, yet, they have not been able to produce a president. Worse still, they have been largely marginalised by successive governments in Nigeria. It is almost as if somehow, Nigeria has not forgiven them for the Biafran war. Ironically, if there is anyone who should be asking for forgiveness, it is Nigeria and not the Igbos.
Amidst this climate came the emergence of Nnamdi Kanu with IPOB. He has been very vocal with his opinion about Nigeria being a zoo. He has been enmeshed with series of controversies since he came out with his pro-Biafra rhetoric. His message resonates well with the youth and the old. He commands quite a high following and listenership among his Igbo kinsmen.
In a series of tweets he posted yesterday, he berated the Buhari government for refusing to conduct a referendum on whether Igbos want to secede from Nigeria. In his tweet, he said secession is not given but taken and even if Buhari refuses, they will consider other options. By saying they will consider other options, that sounds very vague.
“Sovereignty is not given, it is taken” – Atatürk of Turkey. Now, I say unto @NGRPresident, that if you don’t concede to a Referendum for the peaceful dissolution of Nigeria, there will come a time when the indigenous peoples of #Nigeria will consider other options. #WeMove,” He tweeted.
“Separation comes with quantum benefits. Soviet Union, Ethiopia, Czechoslovakia, etc suffered when they were held in UNITY BY FORCE. But now that they’re separated, the new nations prospered more than the old. #Nigeria needs to learn that separation can be beneficial to ALL.”
To me, Nnamdi Kanu should not be surprised about Buhari’s refusal for a referendum. He would be a fool to expect otherwise. However, for Buhari, I will like to say that he is going about the Biafran agitation the wrong way. What Buhari is doing is that he is using military might to dismiss a legitimate agitation. It never ends well. History is replete with loads of examples of what happens when the government fails to engage the people when they agitate for something.
Buhari has not invited Biafra to the round table. This has been his greatest error as a leader. If truly he is a president to nobody and everybody like he said, why hasn’t he engaged Igbos to understand their agitations and work towards addressing them?