Divided Biafra Cannot Stand

This close relative of ours made a passionate plea sometime ago that it is better for each ethnic group to go its own way than to stay together bytulasi killing one another. It’s like a wife pleading to leave an abuser rather than stay with him and get killed from one of those violence. No matter how we feel about Nigeria, most Nigerians do not encourage abusers that failed to reason and make amends to his victims, each time after violence erupts.

It is getting to a point where many Nigerians have given up, that much the agitations for break up has achieved. It must be started that Igbo are not the only ones that want to leave Nigeria, there is a general agreement that most Nigerians are tired and do not care if the Igbo leave. The Hausa were lured into Nigeria with conditions and the Yoruba are just sick of labels for making Nigeria work. Even more important are the various ethnic groups that may not be as big as the three behemoths but whose interests are just as important as each of the ethnic groups.

IPOB is now encouraging and going back to the same violent tactics that got MEND famous. We must account for destructive process achievements. Years of environmental pollution by the oil companies complemented with sabotage of pipelines, contracts to protect pipelines and six years of Jonathan at the very top as President, never made a dent to the fishermen in the area or those that live, go to school and play by the rules. The poor are always the victims of power.

If this is true about Ijaw agitation and the rest of the militias, one must wonder why the Igbo would want to drag other ethnic groups, no matter their claimof relationships, unwillingly into Biafra. If they see themselves as past victims just as the Igbo feel in Nigeria, it not in their interest to entice them into Biafra with the promise of a better relationship they were not offered in the past. Do they really want Ogoni, Okrika, Itsekiri, and Edo in Biafra?

It is true that many Nigerians think Igbo is Igbo but Igboid deserve the same self-determination as any other ethnic group. The reluctance of Ndi-Igbo to accept this fact may undo their own destiny in an Independent Biafra. It has been alleged that Biafra need Ijaw, Urhobo and Itsekiri for no genuine purpose other than to get access for the shore and more important for the same reason Nigerians want them. That is, for their oil resources. BTW, oil has lost its market value.

Some brothers and sisters want us to distinguish between the agitation of Indigenous People of Biafra and the aspiration of Ndi-Igbo. They are not necessarily one and the same. Each time Nigeria bleeds, IPOB cheers. Their cry is louder in the support of Ijaw than the bereaved and their cheers for Tompolo and the destruction of Niger Delta environment is louder. Yet, you do not see IPOB turning Igboenvironment into wasteland the way Delta has turned into disaster.

Pipe blowups turning the land and water into waste has been used against Niger Deltans by the oil companies and ethnic groups within and outside the Delta because intentional sabotage and polluted environment has not achieved anything but concessions to a few militias that take the money and invest it outside. Operation Wet-E in the West, Biafra War and Borno massacre are lessons some of us learn from while others repeat the same violence expecting different result.

While many Igbo feel more Nigerian, loyal and patriotic; extremists on all sides betray the way we feel about the Country. Innocent victims are dying for a few craving power. Some folks claim Igbo want it both waysas soon as they fail to win at the ballot box: hold on to Nigeria and at the same time use agitation as blackmail toget juicy positions. Indeed, almost all the ethnic groups have militias to back them up. No matter what, you do not cut your nose to spite your face.

Ikwerre are Igbo closest relations, so are the Anioma that claim their relationship to Benin than to their brothers on the other side of the River. The case for Ijaw, Urhobo and Itsekiri is more tenuous. An independent observer, that is someone that is not from any of the ethnic groups may be tempted to ask if the Igbo are not making the same mistake. If they cannot learn from their relationship with other Nigerians,enticingrebellious Biafrans in Biafra will be adisaster.

It is very difficult to find a “pure” Nigerian especially along the border of each ethnic group. We are so related that many observers wonder how successful this separation would be. Calabarareas of Nigeria around the Ibibio and Efik illustrates this point. As we move north, more ethnic groups are related one way or the other to Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa. The Idoma and Igalaclaim to be independent ethnic groups in their own right. Anything else would be disrespectful.

Looking at the southernmost part of River State where we have Ijaw and Ikwere dominating, it may be wishful thinking to expect them to give up their independence of self determination for a new country with the Igbo, even when we know Ikwerre are closely related. Yet, this is where the Igbo lost most of their properties after the war. It is such a sore point that many Igbo have moved on for peace sake and the Rivers folks do not want to be reminded. Can this be Biafra?

One of these are the Edo. They are known to be bigger than present day politics would admit as Edo make up the majority of the old Mid-West. Their role in the old and new days of politics in Nigeria cannot be relegated or diminished because of violent ethnic militia of smaller groups. In terms of relationship to ethnic groups, NnamdiAzikiwe,Igbo, traced his people to Benin just as the people of Anioma. It will take a skillful surgeon to separate twins of Nigeria. Ethnic Map

The Edo are related to one of the behemoth, Yoruba. Their relationship is now being re-defined. Instead of the Yoruba giving birth to Oba of Edo, the son of Oranmiyan;the novel theory is that Prince Ekaladerhanthe Yoruba has known as Oranmiyan gave birth to the father of Yoruba,Oduduwa. It suffice to say, Edo now claim to be the progenitor of most Southern ethnic groups.

By the same novel theory, the Ijaw has laid claim to all coastal areas within Edo, Igbo and Yoruba areas. The whole Country is up for grab by the most volatile militias. The reason is that there is hardly any area in the Country that does not have other ethnic groups as minority within. So creationof any statehood will not only have to deal with its minorities but also with their cousins that are in majority in the neighboring states.

This illustrates how Biafra has to prepare for the new Biafra within it. In spite of the creation of many states in the Country, there is always a cry of marginalization by some ethnic groups that feel they are not being treated equally. Africans generally blame it on the arbitrary delineation by the colonial powers but some Africans still hold allegiance to them.

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Articles by Farouk Martins Aresa