Part D. Meditations on Biafra: Land of the Rising Sun
At this point, I have a word or two for our Biafran agitators and their leaders, a word or two they can take cognizance of or ignore at their peril. I therefore urge them to read my message with an open mind and examine the logic of my arguments carefully before they react to it.
With the incredible damage (see cases 1 – 13) your own dispensation has done to the Igbo homeland since the end of the war, in what way will the Biafra you are agitating for be better than Nigeria without water and electricity 24/7? How will the Biafra you envisage be better than Nigeria without regular payment of workers’ salaries and the pension of retirees? And in what way will that Biafra you are agitating for be better than Nigeria by flying Biafrans abroad for medical treatment instead of building an equivalent, state-of-the-art, super hospital in the Igbo homeland and providing our people with affordable healthcare and equality of opportunity?
For a country to prosper, there must be law and order. How will Biafra be better than Nigeria without a Rule of Law and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect our people against abuse of power? In what way will Biafra be better than Nigeria with two- or three-year rent payment in advance your own dispensation sees nothing wrong with instead of providing Biafran tenants with affordable housing? And how will Biafra, its homes, cities, businesses, and institutions be better than Nigeria in this information technology age without land-based telephone lines and door-to-door mail delivery services?
Is agitating for Biafra while the Igbo homeland and society are being destroyed by our post-war leaders a more pragmatic approach to the problems of ndi Igbo than taking the leaders to task for the destruction and demanding immediate and unconditional restoration and expansion of the establishments and amenities highlighted in cases 1 – 13 for the comfort and well-being of our people?
Ironically, the post-war leaders in question claim to have served the Igbo homeland well, since nobody stoned them when they were at the helm of the Igbo society, or held them accountable for their misrule (= misgovernment) thereafter. They had the opportunity to fix the Igbo homeland for the general good of our people. They did not. They had the resources to help our people survive the unprecedented hardship of post-war life in the Igbo homeland (= hunger, poverty, sickness, etc.). They chose to leave them to starve and die (see cases 1 – 13). Now, they are blaming the youth roaming the streets, the wheelbarrow pushers, the unemployed college graduates, etc. for not hurling rocks at them.
If Biafra had re-emerged in the last ten to twenty years, what would have prevented its leaders from corrupting, rubbishing, or bastardizing it as our post-war leaders have done unto the Igbo homeland? Since Biafra would have transformed the Igbo homeland into the earthly paradise it was meant to be, what prevented your leadership from using the legendary Biafran ingenuity to accomplish a lot in that regard alongside the agitation and, ipso facto, save the thousands of Biafrans that did not have to die before the re-emergence?
Like the well-being of our people, in general, those of the soldiers who fought on our side during the Nigeria-Biafra War, in particular, should also be our collective responsibility, with or without Biafra. Some of them fought and died so that we may live; other survived the war and are living in abject poverty today.
So, is the agitation for Biafra more helpful to the soldiers than mounting pressure on the post-war leaders of the Igbo homeland prior to, or alongside the agitation, for aid programmes that would have taken care of the needs of the veterans and their families over the years in appreciation of their sacrifice? In fact, as I write this message, hundreds of images of Biafran veterans in dire need of help have flashed through my mind. One of them, in particular, has been on crutches since 2019 because he cannot afford 1.4 million Naira for hip-replacement surgery in the Igbo homeland.
Fifty years after the war, we are still telling the maimed soldiers begging for alms on some of our roads to go in peace and await the re-emergence of the Biafra they fought and got maimed for. That is tantamount to expecting the enemy they fought gallantly against to take care of them for us, pending the re-emergence of Biafra. This is not right. And time is running out for our belated gesture of appreciation.
Biafra is a worthy alternative to Nigeria because Nigerian leaders lack the courage and the will to accommodate the changes ndi Igbo, as one of the founding nations of Nigeria, have for years been demanding to enable them develop their ancestral homeland as they wish. However, if the track record of the youth dispensation is a video of what the Biafra is going to be like, in what way or manner will it be better than Nigeria when it re-emerges?
In what way will Biafra be better than Nigeria when the youth leading the Igbo homeland today, and those aspiring to be the leaders tomorrow, are pretentious Pharisees, hawks among eagles, self-serving megalomaniacs issuing fatwas condemning our people to death à la Ayatollah Khomeini and, above all, products of the same Nigerian predicament?
Will Biafra be better than Nigeria (a) by embezzling and facilitating the embezzlement of public funds for selfish ends (acquiring property at home and abroad, stashing money away in foreign bank accounts, etc.), (b) by using the funds for the economic security and social welfare of the Igbo homeland, or (c) by providing no such assistance to Biafrans in need – the sick, the elderly, the unemployed, the underprivileged, the disadvantaged members of the Igbo society, etc.?
Before you preach the gospel according to Biafra to our people, you need to whet their collective appetite for it, first, by telling them what Biafra holds in store (= what life in Biafra will be like) for them.
Finally, if Biafra were to re-emerge today, how will the vices engrained in the mentality, the subconscious of the militants and their leaders make the young republic a better country than Nigeria, innumerable vices that have done more damage to the Biafran cause than our detractors would have imagined in their wildest dreams? Will the vices be left behind in Nigeria or carried over to Biafra? And how does the youth dispensation intend to remedy the inexcusable errors of its administration and indemnify innocent victims and their families accordingly?
We can criticize and blackmail Nigeria from now until the world freezes, but the leaders of the Igbo society treat our people no better than Nigeria does, as evidenced by the facts herein exposed. We are simply being hypocritical in that regard.
Fifty years after the Nigeria-Biafra War, our people are no better off in their ancestral homeland, today, than they were before the war. They are moaning and groaning under excessive hardship, moaning and groaning their disapproval of the post-war leaders of the Igbo homeland who are busy hosting the worst states in Nigeria, proscribing the IPOB meaninglessly, embracing the Fulani herdsmen and their cows, and erecting statues across the Igbo homeland while our people are starving to death. What does that tell you about the much vaunted knowledge of ndi Igbo that does not translate into visionary leadership?
How can you, the youth, continue to point the finger of blame at Nigeria or the post-war leaders of the Igbo homeland when you are not different from them today and will do what they do if you were to have the opportunity?
What distinguishes you from the post war leaders when you easily sell your soul and conscience to your oppressors for political leverage or material luxuries, turn against the cause you once believed in and agitated for and, without qualms, betray the allies with whom you were fighting a common enemy?
Biafra may re-emerge in five, ten, fifteen, twenty, or more years from today. It may also not re-emerge in our lifetime or the foreseeable future, depending on how we go about it. Between now and whenever it will come to pass, thousands of Biafrans alive today will continue to die unnecessarily in the Igbo homeland every year because of excessive hardship while we are in a position to sustain and keep alive everybody except those destiny has decided to call back home.
To give every Biafran alive today a better chance of witnessing and embracing the much anticipated re-emergence, verbal assurances of what the Biafra will or will not be like are not enough to secure their lives and allay their deeply rooted fears and skepticism relative thereto.
Biafra is neither a panacea (= cure all) for the problems and tribulations of ndi Igbo and their homeland nor a magic wand any hypocrite can wave to transform the Igbo homeland into an earthly paradise overnight, as some of the Biafran agitators erroneously believe (or are made to believe). It is essentially a river we cannot cross before we get there.
Whether or not we would get there, we need to better the lives and lifespan of our disoriented people, give them hope as Nehemiah did for his Jewish people, and move them to or towards a brighter future by (i) ameliorating the hellish and unacceptable condition under which they live in the Igbo homeland today, (ii) raising their living standards, and (iii) providing them with essential life-saving amenities and services that should ideally precede rather than follow the re-emergence of Biafra.
Such services and amenities must include those herein highlighted, security of life and property, and no less rights and freedoms than those enjoyed by the citizens of the freest and most generous country in the West (= Europe and America).
For a people who have historically served as sacrificial lambs for the unity of their country, nothing can be more important to Biafrans alive today than that (= rebuilding the Igbo homeland and society they used to know and be exceedingly proud of). Besides, enough resources exist already in the Igbo homeland to enable us accomplish that now, without further delay.
Since Biafra will not avail you after you are dead, redeeming and fixing the Igbo homeland for the well-being (= health, happiness, prosperity, security, peace of mind, comfortable and stress-free life, etc.) of ndi Igbo does not preclude the re-emergence of Biafra; consequently, the latter does not have to happen before the former. They are complementary rather than mutually exclusive approaches to the problems of the Igbo people.
Instead of enjoying such a comfortable life, our people are suffering and dying because the resources in question are being harnessed and misused by the misguided and unconscionable post-war leaders who plundered the Igbo homeland, dismantled its pre-war establishments, and turned their backs on the foundations laid by the Eastern Nigerian Government for the economic and social development of the region.
The same folly is more than likely to happen in Biafra, even with the best of intentions on the part of the agitators and their leaders; consequently, we will take nothing for granted in that regard. A person bitten by a snake in the Igbo culture dreads an earthworm.
We would rather remain where we are and suffer perpetually than end up with a half-baked, non egalitarian Biafra that will be similar to or worse than Nigeria. So, as you agitate for Biafra, be aware that ndi Igbo are no longer willing to be lured into the lobster trap blindfolded, or fooled into believing that Biafra will miraculously be better for them than Nigeria.
Before we jump off the cliff, therefore, we will have a close look at the place we are jumping into. We are not going to put the cart before the horse and leap before we look. In other words, we will regret the regrettable error before we commit it.
In sum, ndi Igbo want to be shown the proof that Biafra will be better for them and their posterity, seven generations down the road, than Nigeria when all the actors in the rape and impoverishment of the Igbo homeland (= the destruction of all the things that bind us together as a people) are ironically Biafrans. And so far, none of the governors of the Igbo homeland or the leaders of the various militant organizations jockeying for emperorship, ministerial positions, and power (they will be ineligible for in a level playing field) ahead of the actualization of Biafra, has been able to do that.
Baring the sudden collapse of Nigeria, the agitation for Biafra is doomed to failure if it is not accompanied by the rebuilding of the Igbo society and homeland à la Nehemiah.