Biafra and Finding the Nigerian Black Box
By Prince Charles Dickson
12th June 2017
The land of the rising sun...Biafrans, Igbos, the South, Federating units, restructuring...revenue formula and now are some of the words that are trending. There are hate speeches from all sides, the Jewish Rabbi Nnamdi Kanu has also been in the mix. And if I say that all this is the usual noise I may only be naïve. And if I say that it is a serious matter, I would still need to be proved right or else I would be seen as naive. But the divide, the hatred, angst, the “we versus them, they and us” are signs that are in the air. Arguments and debates surrounding the Yoruba are ready, or we will not allow them go, and some say let them go radiate the horizon. However, let me thread this path to reinforce an earlier thought pattern, and my belief that really very little has changed
A year or thereabout ago, the Indigenous People of Biafra retained lawyer, Prof. Dr. Göran Sluiter to file a complaint against Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari before the International Criminal Court. He was instructed to file a criminal complaint against Nigerian President before the International Criminal Court (ICC), on account of crimes against humanity. In that period very little has changed, it is still same difference; in the mainstream media, interestingly everyday keeps providing fresh news item, either on Biafra as a subject or affiliates, a case of those for, and those against, interestingly and naturally a divide amongst the Igbos themselves, and a few who are asking that we all thread with caution. The recent sit-at-home in most states of the southeast, was successful, the agitations continue, whether forced or willingly, grudgingly one must agree there seems to be a huge increase in followership for the “cause”.
Just a quick glide into history would show that what many think started out as the occasional security clashes between a group of idle minds may soon if not handled with tact and diplomacy become another BH, and for many a student of political history it is so easy to see the trend in comparison to the Niger Delta militants. But this may turn out worse in that weapons may not be really used. The Biafra ‘struggle’ needs to be handled, and trust me, it cannot be suppressed in the manner it is being handled. It cannot be waved off by the hands, current strong arm tactics will not work. Denying that there is no followership, only reminds one of the first handful members of Yusuf Mohammed. And thinking that the entire drama is symptom of an episodic ailment called marginalisation may be wrong.
In the past, I have looked at the Biafran renaissance as partly the story of the Youth today and the challenges as mirrored by Maduabuchi Dukor, philosophically speaking, “we recognize that the southeast or Ndigbo is an emerging society, developing society in search of identity in a multi-racial Nigeria state and in the world. This “identity” question is not only omnibus but also a logical challenge because you an Igbo or you are not an Igbo. In this wise, it is difficult for an Igbo to deny that he or she is an Igbo because doing so would amount to a contradiction. Identity does not brook any contradiction in the logical sense of the concept”. What is the identity of today’s Biafra I dare ask?
“Again the fact that it is existential and encompasses a whole personality presupposes that it is defined by the history, culture, economics, politics and education of the people which again logically entails that the challenges of youth empowerment among Ndigbo are the challenges of history, culture, economics, politics, leadership and education.” In the above regard, has the Biafra question been answered? Who are the Biafrans? Where is Biafra? It is a challenge of history, culture, economics, politics, leadership and education. Maduabuchi Dukor speaking further: “The youth question since after the defunct Biafran and Nigerian war is an unfortunate historically necessitated experience that has left Ndigbo like a rudderless ship in Nigeria, Africa and the world. The traumas, alienation, economic subjugation, discrimination, political marginalisation and the consequent psychological dislocation of Ndigbo by successive Nigerian governments until the dawn of the second republic is worse than colour dissemination in United States now and before.”
In what Professor Mercy Anagbogu of the Department of Guidance and Counseling, Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka, Nigeria, captured in the metaphor of zero empowerment, the Igbo youth is in “a black box”, a state of mental, psychological tabula-rasa and moral, religious, educational economic degeneration and alienation. The historical phenomenon of “black box”, state of doldrums and darkness is still with Ndigbo youth in this regime and dispensation. The youth at zero empowerment has no place in the political, economic and educational calculation and space in Nigeria.
This scenario has brought a kind of flux where nothing holds and somewhat state of nature where wickedness, jealousies, confusion, disrespect and loss of Igbo and family values become the other of the day. The consequences or indicative factors again are negative disposition, ritual moneymaking, individualism and lack of corporate business, which are not conducive to the corporate, cultural and political existence of Ndigbo. Unfortunately, inability of Ndigbo leaders to confront and address the historical, existential, cultural, educational, political and economic challenges led to the dispersal of Igbo youth, in search of means of livelihood in the Diaspora. And one of the many reasons why defining Biafra is really difficult. Today’s Biafra certainly cannot be land of erosions, land of the like of Rochas the don of double speak, and land that elects a governor while he is in Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, the land where everyone is a leader, yet no leadership and direction, envied by many, yet not sure of itself.
A land where its greatest enemy is itself, a land where its sons and daughters on one hand are marginalised yet, are in every nook and cranny of Nigeria doing very well...a people whose sons continue to do well in Lagos, but won’t go and develop ‘alaigbo’...but will whine “marginalisation”. So the land needs men of goodwill, leadership that needs to get its path right and stop playing third and fourth fiddle, leadership that is ready to write and teach their children their true history, teach their wards the dialect, culture and values, and not continue to engage in revisionist tendencies. While it remains true that Nigeria needs true federalism to thrive, the federating units equally need leadership to get it right, and are sons and daughters of Ndi-Igbo ready to take up the challenge—only time will tell.