September 21, 2017 – How Nnamdi Kanu Set Up His Multi-million Naira IPOB Business
By Lawal Ogienagbon
IPOB Leader, Nnamdi Kanu burst on to the scene from nowhere. Like Daniel Kanu of the Abacha for president fame, he saw an opening and grabbed it with both hands to change the course of his life. All we were told is that Nnamdi Kanu was one of the lieutenants of Raph Uwazuruike, founder of the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB). But he was said to have fallen out with Uwazuruike following irreconcilable differences.
Kanu started his own movement. He had learnt the ropes from master. So setting up in business was not difficult. He did what all people with such mission do. Kanu first established a radio station in London. He jammed the radio wave of other stations back home in order to reach his people. His people were the Igbo at home and in the Diaspora. But he needed those at home more because he knew he could only realise his Biafra dream with their support.
For you to believe in his cause, you must be part of the struggle at home, which he knew was not going to be easy. But he played on his people sentimental attachment to Biafra to rally them round himself. The average Igbo man, whether old or young, man or woman, is forever tied to Biafra. Even the youths among them who do not know the story of Biafra, the creation of the late Chukwuemeka Odumegu-Ojukwu, go gaga once the name, Biafra, is mentioned. What makes Biafra turn the head of the Igbo?
The Igbo are not the only marginalised ethnic group in the country. If we look around us, we can even argue that their lot is better than that of many other ethnic nationalities. What will the almost forgotten minorities in the country say if the Igbo claim that they are being unfairly treated? The fact is the Igbo boxed themselves into the corner they are today. They are the architects of their own problem. Before Ojukwu came up with the Biafra idea in 1967, the Igbo were at the commanding heights in every area of human endeavour.
They were in commerce, politics and the military. Anywhere you turned to, you found the imprint of the Igbo. But we live in an interdependent world. The Igbo thrived in what they did because they enjoyed the support and understanding of others around them. The Igbo did not depend solely on their fellow Igbo to survive. They lived, worked and played with people from other parts of the country, who extended their hands of fellowship to them. They broke that bond with Biafra. We may say that Biafra in 1967 was a child of circumstance; an accident of history, but can we say that of the Biafra Nnamdi Kanu and his ilk now want to create?
What Kanu does not seem to realise is that Biafra as a nation is dead and buried. He and his co-travellers can only ruminate on what would have been if Ojukwu had succeeded. Kanu is free to dream about having Biafra. And the truth is Biafra as a nation will forever remain a dream. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) should stop deluding itself about recreating a republic of Biafra 47 years after the hurriedly put together nation surrendered to Nigeria. Biafra was defeated in a war it instigated, but today, it is not being treated as a conquered nation because of the magnanimity of former head of state Gen Yakubu Gowon.
After the war, Gowon declared that there was no victor, no vanquished and initiated what he called the three Rs (reintegration, reconstruction and rehabilitation). The process is to ensure the reintegration of the Igbo into the society and that process has been on in the past 47 years. War is not a good thing. It took us three years to fight the civil war, but for nearly 50 years, we have been trying to make peace without success. This is why it is unwise of Kanu to have exhumed the ghost of Biafra. He did not think about the consequences of his action and the painful thing is that those who should have dissuaded him either kept quiet or tacitly supported him.
Kanu took the wrong path and the elders of his region rather than call him to order to save their zone lined up behind him as their new found messiah. The young man has broken the laws of the land with his misguided mission. What does the Igbo want? Can they not bring their demands to the table? There can be no better time than now when the conversation is all about restructuring for the Igbo to make their grievances known. But, as we have argued in this space before, secession, which Kanu is advocating, is not the same thing as restructuring.
Secession is a treasonable offence and there is no government anywhere in the world that will allow that because once the secessionists succeed they will take over power. Fela did not do a quarter of what Kanu is doing today before his music empire – Kalakuta republic – was razed by soldiers in 1978. His offence : creating a republic within a Republic. There cannot be two captains in a ship. That is not possible. How can there be a Biafra republic with its own head of state in a sovereignty like Nigeria? This is the implication of what Kanu wants to do.
If the Igbo do not want to be part of Nigeria any more, there are better ways of making their position known. And I do not think that Kanu or his creation, IPOB, can speak for the Igbo on such a grave issue. In any case, many Igbo seem to be happy with their union with Nigeria. But unfortunately, they are afraid of speaking out against Kanu for fear being attacked. Is that the leader they want? A leader that will cow the young and old into submission?
The Igbo do not seem to know what they want. If they do, they won’t have waited for Operation Python Dance before letting Kanu know that he was playing with fire with his romance with Biafra. Now, he has gone underground after creating a problem for his people. That is what they all do when their activities catch up with them. I appeal that we use this to pull his ears and allow him to return home or wherever he likes to pick up the pieces of his life.