Before Alaigbo Becomes A Wasteland


Yesterday, July 12, my secondary school classmate who lives in Germany sent me yet another sit-at-home notice from Simon Ekpa, the self-nominated Prime Minister of the Biafra Republic Government-in-Exile (BRGIE).

Dated July 11, 2023, the notice read in part: “Following the demand by the Biafra people for more sit at home civil disobedience, the Biafra Republic Government-in-Exile (BRGIE) and Biafra De facto Government-in-Homeland wish to notify Biafrans that there will be sit-at-home civil disobedience starting from 31st July 2023 to 14th August 2023.”

Claiming that Ndigbo want to continue sitting at home is a lie from the pit of hell because if it were true, there would be no need to deploy extreme violence in ensuring compliance. Unless the so-called Biafrans are from outer space, there is no Igbo that I know of who is not sick and tired of the sit-at-home madness.

My classmate, equally distraught, wrote: “This has gotten out of hand. Our people might travel to the cities to avoid this unnecessary drama at home. May God help us!”

This two-week sit-at-home threat is coming on the heels of the debilitating one-week sit-at-home that just ended. At this rate, we may wake up one morning to find out that Ekpa has locked down Alaigbo for one year. Yet, the man who is orchestrating this mayhem at home is having a ball in his adopted country – Finland.

Simon Ekpa and an unnamed girlfriend having a time of their lives in Finland while persuading brainwashed minions back home to kill, maim and lay waste to Alaigbo in the name of self-determination

By now, some misguided Ndigbo who insisted that no price was too steep to pay for the realization of their dream Biafra must have realized their folly.

But I saw this tragedy coming and warned two years ago that Ndigbo should not fall into this ditch. Then, it was Nnamdi Kanu. Today, it is Simon Ekpa.

In my June 3, 2021 article, “Is another war for ‘Biafra’ inevitable?” I wrote:

“As I noted recently, there is no Igbo leader today that has as much hold on Igbo youths as Nnamdi Kanu. Such enormous power should come with great responsibility. That seems not to be the case. Biafra or no Biafra, Ndigbo need to be alive. Brainwashing Igbo youths to confront soldiers that have no respect for any rules of engagement is suicidal.

“Today, some Igbo are as afraid of Kanu as they are of Buhari. This my way or the highway philosophy of IPOB detracts from the struggle. Threats against those who do not necessarily disagree with the struggle but have a different idea of how things can be done without bloodshed smacks of a budding autocracy.

“Mass self-immolation, which is what I am seeing in this “it is either Biafra or war” battle cry of IPOB is not a sign of bravery. It is a red flag of a society on the path of self-destruction.

“You don’t wage a war against a bull in a China shop, because even if you win, you risk losing all. You deploy tact and wisdom in guiding the bull out of the shop. That is not cowardice. Ndigbo who are calling for restraint are neither fraidy-cats nor quislings.

“Calling Nnamdi Kanu out if he errs is not an act of betrayal and, therefore, does not deserve a fatwa. With the way things are panning out, particularly the stratification of Alaigbo along the lines of those who are for and against Kanu, we risk Igbo on Igbo violence. It is a slippery slope.

“Ndigbo don’t need to fight another war even for the sake of a territorial Biafra. Buhari is a rampaging bull who has no qualms replicating the tragedy of the late 1960s. Playing into his hands is foolhardy. This war is not inevitable.”

Expectedly, IPOB sympathisers descended on me, calling me an otelectual, a derogatory slang coined by Kanu, meaning an intellectual that reasons from the anus.

This was before he was kidnapped, literally, in Kenya by agents of the Federal Government and brought back to Nigeria in an extraordinary rendition that runs afoul of international laws. The problem has since then become hydra-headed.

The Igbo on Igbo violence I forewarned two years ago is very much afoot. If you are branded a saboteur, that is a death sentence. Personal scores are settled by people hiding under the protective umbrella of IPOB.

Things got to a head when IPOB announced that starting from August 9, 2021, every Monday will be a ghost day until Kanu was released.

The sit-at-home order would affect schools and marketplaces, they decreed. In Alaigbo, education is an industry. Entrepreneurship is a virtue, not a vice. As businessmen, Ndigbo have made spectacular success of private enterprise.

Enlightened self-interest should have informed IPOB that anything that will affect those two pillars of Igbo reality negatively is a definite no-no.

Unfortunately it didn’t. Instead, the situation got worse. On September 15, 2021, I wrote another article, “IPOB: This madness must stop” where I decried the fact that “insults and ultimatums became the language of the struggle.”

I concluded the article by stating unequivocally that “No one needed to be a Nostradamus – the French astrologer, physician and reputed seer, who predicted future events – to know that sooner than later, IPOB would become the problem, rather than the solution.”

I hate to say that I said so, but that is the sad reality. Since then, Alaigbo has been on a free fall. Mondays became “ghost days.” With the capacity of the state to enforce law and order grossly diminished, people stayed away from the streets to save their lives. Emboldened, IPOB expanded the coast, first by declaring every September 14, as another sit-at-home day, to commemorate victims of the 2017 genocidal invasion of Kanu’s Afaraukwu home in Umuahia, Abia State and then everyday he made appearance in court.

When the mainstream IPOB, due to pressure from well-meaning Ndigbo, disclaimed the sit-at-home, the Simon Ekpa-led faction, picked the gauntlet.

Some people have justified the lunacy in the Southeast on the ground that revolution is not a tea party and cannot be without collateral damage.

Maybe! But there must be a goal and the strategy must be right. What is the goal? Was it to force Buhari’s hands to free Kanu? Anyone who knows Buhari well and the mindset that underpins his actions would have known that won’t happen. Buhari didn’t care. Instead, he was happy that Igbo youths helped him complete the job of reducing the Southeast to a wasteland.

And now that he is gone for good, why continue with a harebrained gambit that has only exacerbated the misery of Ndigbo? Those killed and maimed, including security officers, are predominantly Igbo. It wouldn’t have been better, though, if the victims were non-Igbo but the fact remains that Ndigbo bear the brunt of this senseless war of attrition.

They own the businesses that are recklessly destroyed. The students that are prevented from sitting external examinations are Igbo. The sit-at-home order is badly hurting the Southeast economy with the attendant capital flight. A region that used to rank first in all indices of human development – health, knowledge and standard of living – is now struggling. Life in the region now approximates the Hobbesian state of nature – solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” 

To pretend, as some people are doing, that those wreaking havoc in Southeast are agents of the Nigerian State is to play the ostrich. The purveyors of this senseless violence are misguided Igbo youths.

This is unacceptable. As a matter of urgency, Ndigbo should send a high-powered delegation comprising of the five state governors, Ohanaeze leadership and other leaders of thought to President Bola Tinubu to seek the release of Nnamdi Kanu.

And unless Tinubu has a dog in this fight as his predecessor obviously had, he should let Kanu go. It will be a sign of strength rather than weakness to do so. Moreover, it is the right thing to do. If Nigeria is to take its rightful place in the comity of democratic nations governed by law rather than the wile of strong men, Kanu should be freed from the DSS dungeon because the courts have so ruled.

His freedom will take the wind off the sail of those who are latching on his incarceration in perpetuity to levy war on the Southeast. The Federal Government should also pull all the diplomatic strings to rein in Simon Ekpa.

It is understandable that Buhari failed to act decisively on that score. But Tinubu’s failure will only confirm the suspicion that Ekpa may, indeed, be sponsored by the powers-that-be to destabilize Alaigbo. That will be the day!

For some Nigerians who are busy backslapping themselves that what Ekpa and his co-travellers on this ignominious boulevard of deprecatory self-hate are doing serves Ndigbo, their bête noire, right, the immortal words of Thomas Paine is apposite: “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”  

But whatever the rest of Nigeria and the Federal Government decide to do, it behoves every well-meaning Igbo to say enough is enough to Simon Ekpa’s lunacy. Making Southeast ungovernable in the name of self-determination is self-defeatist and counterproductive. Ndigbo are better than that. This madness must stop before Alaigbo becomes a wasteland, if it is not one already.

Ikechukwu Amaechi is a member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors.

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