By Muhammed Abdullahi
“If I don’t learn to shut my mouth, I’ll soon go to hell…”
The above words of Christopher Okigbo, which incidentally were made during the charged political atmosphere that preceded the civil war of 1967-’70, clearly show how words, just words, could lead to death and ruins. Although Okigbo himself was later to die fighting on the side of Biafra in the very war he initially prophesied, it was not his mouth that killed him, rather it was what mouth could cause if not controlled that finally sent Okigbo to “hell”.
Reading Nnamdi Kanu’s statements and those of other pro-Biafra advocates, I could not help but remember Okigbo. With Kanu calling President Mohammadu Buhari “animal” and Nigeria a “Zoo”; I could see him trying to set our feet on another path of thunder. God forbid.
It is incredible how some people brainwashed others to sacrifice their own lives for them just by talking to them, mouthing slogans and quoting outlandish perspectives. Kanu, the self-acclaimed Biafra leader, took care of his own family, hid them away in the warm and soothing embrace of UK; he then return to Nigeria asking Igbo youths to fight, exposing them and their families to danger and death.
Nnamdi KANU said he plans to finish off the great work Ojukwu, the Ikemba of Nnewi, started. But I read history and I know that even Ojukwu never intended to accomplish Biafra. He was enraged that Gen. Yakubu Gowon, his junior in the army, became Head of State ahead of him. He therefore wanted to upstage Gowon and become the President of one indivisible Nigeria. If Ojukwu had wanted Biafra, what were the ‘Biafran Soldiers’ doing in Ore during the civil war? Ore was never a part of Eastern Nigeria.
The plan was for the Biafran army to enter Lagos through Ore, capture Gowon and declare Ojukwu president. Ojukwu was therefore not fighting for Igbo but for himself and his political ambition. The same Ojukwu later contested to be President of Nigeria after over 3 million lives have been lost to a needless war. It was about ambition and not an IDEA for emancipation.
Almost have a century later, Nnamdi KANU said he wants to accomplish an idea that never was. Like Ojukwu before him, whose family life was never disrupted by the civil war (Ojukwu family, wife and kids, lived away from the war theatre), Kanu also cleverly came here with his funny pan-Igbo ideology and emancipation campaign after making sure he had alternative in case the struggle goes bad. If this is not about politics, let Kanu denounce his British citizenship, relocate his family back to the heart of Igbo land, then let him lead the war.
I know quite a sizeable number of Igbos whose thoughts about agitation for Biafra were modeled by what they read on the internet. But do not be deceived. All those pro-Biafra epistles you read on Facebook were mostly written and posted by people like Nnamdi Kanu himself, diaspora Igbos who push and campaign for a war they do not plan to join. These smart and sweet talking Igbos would seek to influence and direct your thoughts by quoting Malcolm X and other revolutionary individuals. They will tell you that the Nigerian State has made peaceful change impossible and therefore make violent change inevitable. You ask them, would they participate in the VIOLENCE they are promoting? The answer is NO, because they are miles and kilometers away in the protective bowel of a foreign country. They are only adept at using their mouths to send everyone to “hell”. Again, God forbid.
The greater number of those who perished during the civil war were kids and women, mostly from poor background and parentage. But young ones like them who belonged to rich and better-off families during the war survived. Our present Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, was just a 4 year old boy in 1968 during the civil war, the same age with many of the million poor kids who died in that war. But somehow, the rich always survived and so Sen. Udoma lived and was to become a Senator and presently a Minister after the whole madness. When Kanu and his co-travelers sparked another thunder of war, God forbid, it is the poor that will bear the heaviest of the burden, as they always do. This is why we must not allow them to send us to “hell” with their mouths.
An Igbo adage says, “He whose head is used to break the coconut may not partake in the eating”. If Igbos want Biafra, the wise thing to do is to dialogue and lobby members of National Assembly who are of Igbo extraction to push for the inclusion of referendum in the constitution. When that is done, the Igbos can then push for a referendum and let majority of Igbos decide whether they want to be part of Nigeria or not. This is a logical and matured way than throwing around threats and explosive insults. I think Nnamdi Kanu and his gang of Biafra agitators should silently strategize to realize their ambition and desist from making inflammatory comments that are capable of sending all of us to “hell”.
Muhammed Abdullahi is the mid-week “The Advocate” columnist of The Discourse. He can be reached on Email: email@example.com, twitter:@mfabdullahi