That Biafra, bury it: A personal treatise to Ndigbo

by on April 22, 2016

By Menkiti Onyebuchi Bernie

When the news about the emergence of Radio Biafra got to town, not a few were left dazed at what it was primarily about. Across the length and breadth of Nigeria, including those whom it was meant to appease, the story was sketchy. As curious as I was, I did not bother to confront the rationale behind the emergence of the radio station said to be heaping insults on people and promoting hate across ethnic divide. It was not clear at first what the issues were until I got to know through a web-news posted on one of Nigeria’s finest and inspiring social media platform, nahere.com that the said radio was on a frequency not allocated by a federal agency whose duty it was. Hours later I was handful of information (from agitating minds on nahere.com platform) The covert media house was called Radio Biafra, and has Nnamdi Kanu as one of its main anchor man. As days wore on, I grew curious and wanted to know more since the social media was buzzing with the news.

As I multi-tasked, shuffling between nahere.com, facebook, twitter, nairaland.com and google I was hell bent on knowing who this man was, his past as it regards to his contribution to growth of Ndigbo as a people, his age, place of birth, academic background, his perceived conviction and belief, as well as his level of exposure. I knew these set of bio’s will brighten my decision and conclusion on him. In truth I found nothing on him except for columnists who contributed to the discussion about him and his excesses. Frustrated, I rang my father at home to seek his opinion on Nnamdi Kanu and the Biafran issue. Having himself fought in the Biafran War I wanted to know his perception. Lo and behold, he rebuked me on the phone as if I was the said Nnamdi Kanu. Upon realising it was his son he cautioned his outrageous reaction and became calm and opinionate. “Who is he?”, he asked. “I don’t know him and have never seen him”, I replied swiftly. “How old is he, because if he was not up to 20 when the civil war was fought then…?”, he chipped impatiently. “I don’t know, but I doubt if he was 20 at the time” I responded. “Then I rest my case. It is not worth a matter, it is not worth my time”, he concluded.

Dejected, I dropped the call as I fell back on the sofa seat. His conclusion was wrapped in parable but it sank in. No man who saw the war as a grown up will wish yet another on a people he claims to love. Nnamdi did not pass my test let alone my father’s. From all indication he was not an adult by the time the war was fought and so will not grasps the intrigues of the war. If he had read history books and decides not to usurp its lessons then he may find explanation in delusion. Alternatively, is it that Nnamdi Kanu is by chance a jester or that he is out to destroy what remains of Ndigbo and their weaning garment. Some may argue that he is a missing piece in the puzzle for the peaceful struggle in the actualisation of Biafra. This group of people may believe that for Biafra to succeed peace and violence must coexist which of course agrees to my theory of opposing freedom. My theory of opposing freedom identifies that peace alone does not guarantee freedom but a combination of peace and violence. Historical pages are littered with good examples.

Perhaps, I wonder if Biafra is what Ndigbo truly needs to live out that manifest destiny long talked about. To me the answer is “No”. The civil war took the Igbos backward, and another will do greater harm. Even if achieved a tested example is in South Sudan’s present state of affairs. The foundation upon which its status was found was shaky. Ndigbo lack foundation let alone a shaky one. Who would be the leader of the new nation, if born? How can a land full of individualistic spirits summed up in negative egalitarian struggle maintain a broom strength? How can brothers who for economic competitiveness do not love each other hold out a conscripted script? A secession simply cannot be the solution to that manifest destiny Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe talked about through the 1930’s and 1940’s, of which began to yield result by 1960 before the civil war cut short the loin. The path to the fulfillment of this destiny hinges on love, unity, appreciation, purpose and leadership among Ndigbo. This is the foundation to Ndigbo revival. Identifying a common purpose must be the fountain of their growth.

Frankly, the said Biafran Radio is bringing embarrassment, promoting hate and disunity among Nigerians and Ndigbo. This Biafran kaleidoscope must stop. Ndigbo can engineer a common unity by establishing a modern rail running through major cities in all eastern states. A six-lane road crisscrossing these important cities and towns to aid easy movement of man, goods and services can follow it up. This will engender socio-economic and infrastructural development. In furtherance of these points, Ndigbo can collectively advance unity by sticking to locating parts of their thriving industries to the east, organising South-Eastern Games, South Eastern awards for academic, economic and social achievements, South-Eastern debate among schools, a common iri ji ohu festival, cultural events, seminars, south eastern radio and television, promotion of its language through strategic planning etc. Aside these aforementioned activities that can promote love and unity, towns and villages through their various unions can fast track individual growth. In this regard Adazi Nnukwu and Onitsha both in Anambra state are typical examples. Aba, Nnewi, Onitsha, Otuocha, Anambra west etc. are potential multi-billion dollar towns. They are either left to filth or have not been utilised to its prime capacity.

On the other side, what is wrong if well meaning rich Ndigbo institute a genuine endowment fund for grade A students to advance studies in all areas, (not one restricted to a particular field) for the advancement of the region? For those who do not know, the speedy development of eastern Nigeria after the civil war was purely a self help intervention and not as a result of the Gowon’s 3R policy. Research has proven this. Back then solution to rural community problems are sort for within the rural community using its resources and capabilities. Town unions were then impeccable in their responsibilities. They built good schools, hospitals, sank boreholes and built hospital. This was the spirit back then. Let no one make any one believe that a Biafran nation would allay fears of Ndigbo and lead them to their avowed destiny. If Ndigbo can foster unity, love one another, embrace their language, and importantly relocate half if not entire business down east Nigeria will woo her like a damsel. Nnewi has proven that where the wares are, buyers go. It is not surprising that Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, Okwadike Ezeife, and the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alphonsus Achebe had at various times advised Ndigbo to relocate thriving industries and businesses.

These set of think home philosophers have one thing in common; they saw the war and are old enough to see farther in time without climbing on the shoulder of giants. In June 25, 1949, while addressing a teeming crowd at the Igbo State Assembly held at Aba, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe of Blessed memory categorically stated, “The Igbo people have reached a cross-road and it is for us to decide which is right course to follow….” There is only one road that I can safely recommend for us to tread, and it is the road to self determination for the Igbo within the framework of a federated commonwealth of Nigeria… other roads in my opinion are calculated to lead us astray from the path of national self realization. Our fate is our hands. Our fate is not in Biafra. It is in our unity, love and leadership. Only then can we rise to our collectively potential.

About Menkiti Onyebuchi Bernie:

He is a PR expert, social commentator and the Nigeria coordinator of My Footprint (Small World) Project operating in Nigeria and Switzerland. He wrote in from Lagos.


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