“Our approach to reforms of our laws even if it leads to self-determination or restructuring must be lawful-John Nwodo”
The above remark credited to Chief John NniaNwodo, the incumbent President General of OHAMAEZE NDI IGBO uttered during his address toAnambra State House of Assembly, on Thursday, 29th June, 2017, succinctly speaks volumes about what has always been the orthodox approach adopted by the Indigenous People of Biafra (BOB)led by MaziNnamdiKanu in its advocacy for the restoration of sovereign State of Biafra.
But first and foremost, for the purpose of clarity,it must be cautioned here that every Igbo person’s right to freedom of expression is adequately guarantee and protected by the laws and in as muchas the Igbo question in Nigeriarages, must not be made to appearor projected to be in conflict with the laws of the Nigerian State whenever this right is duly exercised.Of course, there is no gainsaying that this is one aspect of perennial misrepresentation of Igbo people and t heir interest by some so-called Igbo leaders which often adds up to what we now know as the marginalization of the Igbo by the Igbo themselves.
Having said that, one may of course wonder what exactly is the fact in issue here. The point is that I was andam still appalled and, in fact, terribly disturbed that chief NniaNwodo could reportedly single out NnamdiKanu in the course of his foregoing speech to members of Anambra State House of Assembly for an unnecessary, subtle and polite verbal assault over his (Kanu’s) widely reported pronouncement that henceforth the Igbo would no longer participate in any election organized by the Nigerian government until a date is given in principle for Igbo people generally to decide through a referendum whether or notthey still want to continue to be part of the Nigerian State. And for immediate enforcement of this new agenda, according to news reports, this declaration is slated to become effective from Anambra State during its forthcoming gubernatorial election.
But, however, clearly granted to him as a matter of fact, being a duly and popularly elected President General of OhanezeNdi Igbo, Chief John NniaNwodo has certainly got the powers, the authority and the legitimacy to not only speak for Ndi Igbo in a time of great need as we have it today, but also to “countermand” (in his exact word) NnamdiKanu’s declaration on behalf of the Indigenous People of Biafra. But the big issue here is: what alternative suggestion or pragmatic approach has chiefNniaNwodo got to offer as a viable strategy for Ndi Igbo to adopt in pressing home their legitimate demand for a Biafran referendum from the Nigerian State? And, in the absence of any such viable strategy from Nwodo, then yet another question is: of what benefit will it befor NdiAnambra and Ndi Igbo in general to continue to slavishly pander to the yearnings of their oppressors by participating in farcical electionsoften organized by the Nigerian State as a means of consolidating and legitimizing the unabated Igbo marginalization in Nigeria? Or, is it not better for Ndi Igbo to hence forth boycott all elections to be held in Nigeria and stand and watch how the Hausa-Fulani oligarchs and hegemonists intend to lord it over them in the name of governance without their support, approval and cooperation?Perhaps Chief Nwodo has forgotten that it is basically due to the sort of indecisive attitude of the mind of Igbo leaders like him that often creates the room for Igbo haters to almost always have their way. In fact as we speak now, the Hausa-Fulani led Independent National Electoral Commission is yet organize a senatorial bye-election in Anambra central senatorial district for more a year now, thereby deliberately denying the electorate of this constituency representation in the senate. Yet, we are quick to condemn a reasonable advice for a boycott of future elections in Biafra enclave.
Besides, Chief Nwodo did speak about the need for our language to be “Civil, respectful” and, in fact, be uttered in such a way that will lead to “consensus building.”That accepted, but the question that here is: how has NnamdiKanu’s position on no referendum, no election in the Biafra enclave violated this ideal or cherished mannerism? Left to good conscience, the fact is that Mr. Kanu’s position does not and cannot be properly adjudged to amount to disrespect to anybody or group, and neither is it inflammatory nor capable of undermining the peace and unity of the vast majority of ordinary Igbo Folks and the youths in particular who are apparently on the same page with him on the urgent need for the conduct of referendum on the Biafran issue. As it were, it does appear that the ruling and benefiting elite, apparently threatened by Kanu’s declaration, are the ones inclined to feel disrespected over this seeminglyobvious attempt by Kanu to destroy their thriving business of election manipulations in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, though, what these members of Igbo elite tend to forget about the current agitation for Biafra is that neither NnamdiKanu nor the IPOB is yet advocating for war as a penance for resolving the perennial Igbo question in Nigeria. At the very best rather, their plain advocacy remains that the United Nations, the African Union and other global bodies prevail on Nigerian government to adopt the universally accepted method of resolving conflict through plebiscite in addressing the intractable issues of Biafra agitation. In essence, this constant misinterpretation of either Kanu’s or IPOB’s well-articulated course of action by the Igbo ruling and benefiting elite most have to stop forthwith.
As a matter of public knowledge, the recourse to civil disobedience by anybody or group is as much guaranteed and protected by both municipal and international laws, treaties and practices. Hence decisions such as order for a sit-at-home,election boycott, etc, should be viewed within the prism or context of civil disobedience. Therefore, to begin to juxtapose the IPOB’s non-violent, peaceful and democracy-driven activities with the hate speeches, stupid threats and unguardedutterances of the so-called coalition of Arewa Youths and their sponsors is, to say the least, intellectually demeaning and moronic, especially on the part of those who are wont to regard themselves as Igbo leaders.
In the Final analysis, suffice it to submit that the true test of any person or group of persons as Igbo leaders does not merely lie in being prominent or even countermanding another without providing and articulating viable alternative solutionsto the myriads of problems bedeviling the Igbo nation in Nigeria. However, granted that Mr. NnamdiKanu or the IPOB may have crossed the red line by advocating for election boycott in Igbo land, what then can Chief John NniaNwodo and his co-travellers offer as a pragmatic way of achieving a referendum on the question of ceaseless agitation for the restoration of foreign state of Biafra?
Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemijeis an Abuja based journalist