2019: Pro-Biafra agitators, campaign disruption as option in Southeast
After months of inactivity, apparently caused by the military operation, Python Dance 11 that held last year and the subsequent ban placed on the activities of the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by the governors and leaders of the Southeast, pro-Biafra activities are gradually being rekindled in the zone.
After the groups numbering about 16 met in Nnewi, Anambra State last week, they resolved to work together for the realization and restoration of Biafra in Igbo land, through unity of purpose. They vowed to speak with one voice henceforth and pull support for their various arms, especially, in raising consciousness among the members.
Leader of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Uchenna Madu told The Guardian that they have realized that by working separately, the quest for Biafra would continue to elude the people. He said that working collectively, they would take the struggle further and better.
Madu stated: “We want complete independence from Nigeria enslavement through the British imposition. All the pro-Biafra groups have agreed that this is necessary. We have not been close to each other before now and those opposed to our aspiration have been happy about this. Now that we have agreed to work together, they are in agony and thinking of what next to do against pro-Biafra agitators.
“MASSOB has resolved to work in unity of purpose, by projecting the struggle for Biafra actualization and restoration. We are still in the process of finalizing the necessary ingredients needed for the referendum that will determine the future of Biafra and Nigeria.”
Although it could not be ascertained how the new collaboration would help the proponents realise their dreams going by several fruitless efforts in the past, one thing was discovered to have frustrated past efforts. It was the attitude of Igbo politicians, whom they believed had always betrayed their cause to satisfy their political aspirations and economic interests.
A source at the meeting disclosed that the groups are holding Igbo leaders and politicians responsible for the ordeal of Nnamdi Kanu and several agitators languishing in various prisons. The condition of Igbo people, they discovered, have been made worse by the inordinate ambition of “people without vision.”
To deal with the development, the meeting was said to have resolved to “work against the interests of politicians, who have been used in the past to scuttle Biafra agitation.” Unless they were dealt with, the agitators noted, the realization of Biafra would remain a mirage.
“The pro-Biafra groups believe that the struggle would have been made easier if they had received the support of Igbo politicians. So towards the 2019 elections, the group will work as one to ensure that the zone gets people who have their interest at heart,” the source added.
Another source declared that “the cowardice and silence of Igbo political, Religious, Traditional and Opinion leaders led to the travails of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and other leaders of Biafra agitating groups.
“Many of our leaders are so naive with inferiority complex that they are always afraid and uncomfortable to liaise and interface with the leadership of pro Biafra groups. They are always afraid of Aso villa and Abuja kingmakers. Because of their selfish political ambitions, which are not even useful to Ndigbo, they are always willing to play errand boys and servants to Abuja. It is so worrisome that some Igbo representatives, who were elected or selected to represent the general interest of our people in the National Assembly are walking corpses, they suddenly became cripple, deaf and dumb for four years in Abuja.
“Later this year, they will return to Biafra land to campaign and canvass for votes and support for them to continue their shameless looting and political prostitution. Pro-Biafra groups will never allow these inconsequential fellows to enjoy our peoples mandate again. We will do all we can to frustrate their campaigns and ensure they don’t get their tickets back.”
However, Madu said: “The new reformed MASSOB under my leadership is more focused on unifying all existing pro-Biafra groups, channeling them towards proactive measures and diplomatic engagements for a robust international recognition, acknowledgement and sympathy for Biafra actualization and restoration. Disruption of 2019 general elections in Igbo land is not our priorities now, until all pro-Biafra groups decide in unison for the singular purpose of Biafra
“Concerning some awkward and lukewarm politicians, who made themselves an inconsequential elements and occupy seats reserved for the people of Biafra in Nigeria National Assembly complex and other places, their days of occupation are numbered and are for expiration next year.”
One of the leaders of Biafra Zionist Federation (BZF), Chief Ogbonna Uzo contended that “all those who have conspired in the past to get agitators arrested or killed, all those who partook in the Enugu meeting last year, where IPOB activities were proscribed, all those behind the incarceration of our people and pro-Biafra members are enemies of Ndigbo and they do not deserve the support of Igbo people.”
Uzo, who was part of the gathering in Enugu last week, which was disrupted by their members further, explained that, “we will henceforth show the stuff we are made of; it is now between us, leaders and politicians, who have sold us for a pot of porridge. We shall see who owns Biafra and who will speak for them when the time comes.”
Similarly, Igbo youths under the aegis of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council (OYC) reinforced the position of the pro-Biafra groups when they warned few days ago, “revolution is near in the southeast ahead of 2019 elections.”
In a statement by their President, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the youths who were reacting to the disruption of Igbo leaders meeting in Enugu recently by pro-Biafra groups said: “It is clear that the youths of Igbo land have lost confidence in Igbo elders, who have failed to speak the truth to Igbo youths. How else could one describe such an attack on men with grey hairs?
“Most of these leaders have failed and that is why the Ohanaeze youth is working assiduously to provide a new sense of direction for our people. We will continue to dialogue with Biafran agitators on the way and on how to deal these elders, as now any gathering in Igboland without proper inclusion of Igbo youths will bring catastrophic end to such events. We warn that revolution is near in Southeast ahead of 2019, as nobody will speak for our people without Ohanaeze Youth council and the leadership of Biafra agitators.”
How far can these groups go in their threat? Do they really have the capacity to stop campaigns of certain candidates in the southeast? Do they have the capacity to influence the people to abandon certain politicians, whom they feel have betrayed the Biafra experience among others? Is it true that the yardstick that has been employed by the agitators against the politicians is supporting Biafra?
Many believe that the pro-Biafra agitators have lost potency since the sudden disappearance of Nnamdi Kanu last year, when Soldiers allegedly invaded his country home at Afaraukwu Ibeku in Umuahia, Abia State. They believe that the way he left the scene clearly shows that there is nothing about Biafra struggle than the economic emancipation of those who have led the struggle. They also referred to the unceremonious exit of Ralph Uwazuruike from MASSOB and his formation of a splinter group, Biafra Independence Movement (BIM) that refused to fly, stressing, “those threats are part of their strategy to attract attention.”
The failed campaigns by the secessionist groups, led by IPOB against the November 2017 governorship election in Anambra State was cited as an instance. The source stated that even with the threats, the people went out and elected their governor. He explained: “I think the pro-Biafra groups are known to attempt to create tension and confusion anytime an election is drawing nearer. I believe it is their new strategy since they don’t have the weapons to confront security personnel or the capacity to withstand government onslaught.”
A political analyst, Justin Obioha, believes that the pro-Biafra groups have the capacity to disrupt political campaigns in Igbo land, as well as, make it uncomfortable for any politician whose popularity is in doubt to lose election in the southeast zone.
He stated that the activities of the pro-Biafra groups have raised the consciousness in the country, especially in Igboland that several government policies are not tailored to the betterment of the people of the zone, adding that the “manifestation of these things have made their messages acceptable to the people.”
“We are talking about an IPOB and MASSOB that brought government of the southeast and in different parts of the country down in one day. They did not need to carry weapons to achieve that, they only appealed to the people using what was on the ground and in all sincerity, the people listened to them and the sit at home was successful. I do not think they have lost that potency, I do not think they have lost their credibility; rather, they have been in the cooler because of certain restrictions placed on their activities.
“I believe that it was a right decision for them to have accepted to work together. Working together means new approach and new way of doing things. They can now be more forceful and can speak convincingly to the people and because the people are tired of the kind of system that is operational here, they will surely listen to them,” he said.
Reminded that such propaganda from the group against Anambra election was viral last year and yet achieved nothing, he said: “Anambra State governorship election was like an experiment, which both the supporters and opponents have learnt their individual lessons. The Pro-Biafra groups learnt from the exercise and have known where they made the mistake. Remember, as at then, they were one or two championing the boycott, now we have more than that number working together. It will not be the same again. Go and mark it.”
He said that having lost faith with the situation of the country, it was no longer necessary to begin to weigh the effect of disrupting campaigns in the zone, stressing, “success in any venture does not look at cost, but the end result”
With the success of the coalition achieved during the Nnewi meeting that gave birth to the disruption of Enugu meeting organised by the Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) last week, as well as, the revolution threat by Ohanaeze youths, the 2019 general elections could have so much to contend with.
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