A Combustible Stalemate
The asymmetrical battle of wits between the Muhammadu Buhari Administration of Nigeria (I have chosen my words very carefully) and the neo-Biafrans led by Nnamdi Kanu’s Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) has predictably settled into a combustible stalemate. The neo-Biafrans cannot peacefully achieve Biafra Independence without external foreign support and internal domestic acquiescence by the Nigerian State.
On the other hand, given the overwhelming support which Biafra enjoys from Igbos predominantly as well as sympathy from other growingly discontented Nigerians increasingly, the Nigerian State under President Buhari cannot legally, legitimately or even forcibly crush or extinguish agitations for Biafra.
Forget about the erroneous fallacy of ‘One Nigeria’. It only exists on the lips of deceptive politicians or deluded citizens. The heat recently generated by President Buhari’s ill-health and the apprehension in the core Hausa-Fulani north that power may be about to slip into the hands of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a bona fide Yoruba is proof that Nigeria is not one, has never been one and unless Nigerians restructure their attitudes and the nation itself, may never be one.
In the event that President Muhammadu Buhari is unable to continue in office, measures are currently afoot to intimidate Vice President Yemi Osinbajo into (a) either resigning in tandem with his boss so that another Fulani can take over power or (b) forcing a potentially disloyal Fulani, not a Hausa, not a Kanuri, and certainly not a Middle-Belter upon him as his Vice-President so that he becomes a lame duck President or (c) in case both options fail, instigating the military under a Fulani General to stage a coup d’état and re-establish the status-quo ante.
Given that ‘One Nigeria’ has never existed and will never be allowed to exist by its most vociferous proponents for fear of what it really entails – the replacement of blood-line with capability, as the prime consideration for political ascension, why must Nigeria so obdurately oppose Biafran Independence?
To answer this question let us paint a scenario of what would happen if by some miracle, Biafra attains independence with capital at Enugu.
Hardly would the dust of Biafra’s departure from Nigeria settle down, before the Yorubas to a man would immediately follow suit and unilaterally form their own Oduduwa Republic with capital in Lagos. Once the Yorubas exit Nigeria, the peoples of the Niger Delta would be very hard pressed to remain with the rump of Nigeria.
Their South-South geo-political region would probably be partitioned into three, maybe four or even five parts. One part (the Igbo speaking parts of Delta and Rivers States) would depart with Biafra. Another part (the Itsekiris and perhaps the northernmost parts of the current Edo State) would merge with the Yoruba led Oduduwa Republic.
The Ijaws across Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Edo and perhaps Ondo State would almost contemporaneously with the Yoruba declaration of independence, declare a Niger-Delta Republic with capital in Yenagoa. This may later be confederated with Biafra if both countries do not come to blows over the partitioning of metropolitan Port Harcourt which the neo-Biafrans tactically call Igweocha.
The Efiks, Ibibios and allied nationalities in Cross -River and Aqua-Ibom State may either form their own nation with Capital in Calabar(unlikely, except the price of crude oil rises dramatically), merge with Biafra, confederate with Ambazonia (Southern Cameroons separatists) across the border, or again most unlikely join the Niger Delta Republic.
The Binis, Esans, Afemais, Oras from Edo State together with the Urhobos, and Isokos may form a Midwest or Bendel Republic with capital in Benin-City which would down the road probably confederate with either Biafra or Oduduwa or most unlikely the Niger Delta Republic.
Potentially, the future Oduduwa, Niger Delta and Bendel Republics would most likely come to blows over the partitioning of the cosmopolitan Warri area. It would be very messy.
Up north there would probably be a partitioning into at least three or may be four countries. The non-Hausa, non-Fulani, non-Kanuri and non-Yoruba Northerners would likely declare a Middle Belt Republic with capital probably in Abuja or Jos if the Fulanis predictably seize Abuja (it would be very bloody).
The Yoruba northerners would likely merge with their kith and kin in Oduduwa Republic. The Kanuris would either go it alone as Kanuri Republic with capital at Maiduguri, become a bona fide Boko Haram Caliphate or merge with Chad or Niger Republics. I am almost certain that they would not remain one country with the Fulanis and the Hausas.
The Fulani and the Hausa would likely be left to go it alone or be forced to merge with Niger Republic across the border. Left carrying the can of the massively shrunken Nigeria, if they choose the first option, the very first thing they would do would be to rename their massively shrunken Nigerian nation as the Arewa nation with capital in Kaduna. But when the chips are down and everyone else has departed, I personally doubt that the pure Hausas would not become restive under their Fulani overlords.
If partitioning is messy in Southern Nigeria particularly between the nascent Oduduwa and Niger Delta Republics over the partitioning of the Warri area, and less so between the nascent Biafra and Niger Delta Republics over the partitioning of the metropolitan Port Harcourt area, it would be even more messy up north.
The Fulani would not willingly cede their settlement outposts dotted across Northern Nigeria even if many of these outposts have no contiguity whatsoever to the core Hausa Fulani heartland in the North West. In fact, there may be no territorial contiguity whatsoever existing between the Fulanis of the North West and the Fulani of the North East (Adamawa region).
Potential flash points up north would be who takes Ilorin between the Oduduwa and the Arewa Republics. Apart from Ilorin and scattered Fulani outposts in non-Fulani tribal territories, other potential partitioning hot spots would include Kaduna Abuja and Plateau States (the Hausa-Fulani have their eyes on Jos and Abuja) among multiple local flash points.
And so, voila, we see the core reason why Nigeria will never allow the Igbos to succeed with Biafran Independence. It is simple. Biafran Independence shall mark the end of Nigeria as we know it today.
Have you ever seen dominos fall? I have seen a few. They werequite remarkable. If you have never seen dominos fall, simply type ‘falling dominos’ in YouTube. Effectively once Biafra goes, like dominos Nigeria goes. Without the Igbos, there can be no Nigeria. For Nigeria, it is all together or all asunder. QED. It is as simple as that.
You can also turn it about on its head and potentially it will still hold true. Without the Yorubas, the Ijaws, the Urhobos etc. there will be no Nigeria. The only difference is that of all the tribes in Nigeria and perhaps even in Black Africa, only the Igbos have the capacity and the stamina to embark on a seriously consequential project like secession and progress it to its logical conclusion despite daunting odds, without giving up. On the Nigerian street, they mockingly call this peculiar attribute of the Igbos as Igbo Determination.
I am not a betting man, but even if I was one I would never bet against Igbo Determination (ID). Those who know will tell you that it is sheer folly and the height of stupidity to underestimate ID. Indeed, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari was amply and adequately forewarned. For the past three or so years, this writer has repeatedly sounded the note of warning to the powers that be in Nigeria to no avail - that they should cease and desist from the criminal marginalization of select sections and segments of Nigeria, and particularly the Igbo heartland.
The Igbos are not the kind of people to go in half-heartedly into a venture. When the Igbo go into a venture, even criminal ones for that matter, they are either all- in or all-out. After the Nigerian Civil War, the Igbos came back and went all-in into Nigeria. Faced with criminal marginalization from Nigeria that sought to strip them of their core dignity as a people, and which marginalization rose to its zenith under the present Buhari Administration, the Igbos are currently on the verge of going all-out from Nigeria, effectively marking its bitter end.
Indeed, Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB can be likened to a small axe, initially dismissed by all as inconsequential which eventually, powered by Igbo Determination, brings the giant oak tree called Nigeria crashing down.
In the current stalemate that exists between the Buhari Administration and Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB, the biggest mistake the Nigerian side can make is to attempt to violently crush the secessionist move. It would only fire up Igbo Determination and there is a limit to the number of Igbos that you can kill before global opinion moves against Nigeria with the consequence that the Igbo would get their Independence on a platter ofred-hot coal, albeit watered by the blood of Igbo martyrs, and Nigeria would cease to exist.
Although many Nigerians are offended by the taunting antics of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB, Nigerians must bear it manfully as the price to pay for this country’s past sins against the Igbo. These taunting antics will continue until Nigeria comes to its senses and seriously begins to pursue the 3D’s policy of:
- de-escalation of national tension by releasing all Nigerians illegally incarcerated by the Buhari Administration including the Shiite Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his followers, the hapless Colonel Ibrahim Dasuki and his co-travelers and all IPOB members in detention.
- de-confliction of the Nigerian territorial space by disarming all Fulani herdsmen who currently consider themselves to be supra-judicial i.e. above and beyond the rule of law, and compelling them to go into private ranching without discriminatory benefits not equally extended to other Nigerian business people.
- de-marginalization of all criminally marginalized peoples, geographical areas and segments of Nigeria including the Igbos and the Igbo homeland.
On the IPOB side, the biggest mistake IPOB can make is to move from peaceful agitation and peaceful civil disobedience into armed struggle. Armed struggle is one thing IPOB would never win. Moreover, it would allow Nigeria to paint IPOB as a violent organization cut in the same mold as Hamas. Despite all provocations that may come its way, IPOB can only win by maintaining self-discipline and not taking up arms, no matter the provocation.
Nigeria may be likened to one vast prison (IPOB’s Nnamdi Kanu mockingly calls it a zoo) under Fulani overseer-ship, which is maintained by their historical stranglehold on the Nigerian State and military. Fulani domination of Nigeria (the Fulanis are part-prisoners in Nigeria like other Nigerians and part-overseers of Nigeria unlike other Nigerians) is propped up by probably inflated population figures, and by porous Northern borders through which non-Nigerian Fulanis easily infiltrate to be counted as bona fide Nigerians when it suits them. It is also ably aided and abetted by pro-Fulani British meddlesomeness in Nigerian Affairs.
Apparently the only set of Nigerians who sincerely and genuinely like Nigeria the way it is today are the Fulanis (for obvious reasons), and maybe, just maybe the Hausas. However, Fulani disastrous overseer-ship of Nigeria has come at a very steep price to the Fulanis themselves, although only few Fulanis currently realize it.
Even as they maintain a choke hold on power and its derivable benefits, Fulani youths are missing out on the sort of self-reliance skills which being forced by circumstances to fend for yourself confers on other Nigerian youths, particularly Igbo youths.
In this vast Nigerian prison, all the inmates apart from the Fulani overlords would want to break out and make a dash for self-determination and freedom but nobody apart from the naturally rebellious Igbo has the courage to make the first move. Like all prisoner settings, once the first successful out-break occurs, everybody then musters the courage to make a personal dash for liberty.
At the planning stage, however, prisoners take it upon themselves to dissuade their more daring fellow prisoners from taking the plunge, by pointing out to them the pit falls and dangers involved. This is done not out of genuine concern for the potential escapees of course but out of fear that these daring ones may succeed and leave them behind to continue facing the music alone.
And so, other Nigerians routinely take it in turns to point out to the Igbo that they are landlocked in an erosion prone homeland!!! They totally miss the point. The Igbos are not the kind of people to be deterred by physical barriers such as a land-locked, erosion prone homeland. The Igbos innately believe that with good health, there is no obstacle they cannot overcome. All it takes is persistence, perseverance and courage. It is not for nothing that these attributes are summarized in the popular catchword known as Igbo Determination.
It is by the application of ID that Nnamdi Kanu who was dismissed as a joker by all and sundry has become the small axe steadily chipping away at the stem and roots of the big tree called Nigeria.
The prolonged incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu against court orders, the willful and malicious killing of peaceful Igbo youths agitating for Biafra, the systematic and vicious marginalization of the Igbos particularly under the present Buhari Administration are the catalysts that have turned the Igbos away from Nigeria.
Indeed, if the Igbos get Biafra, the greatest challenge they would face would not be geographical, agricultural or natural resources based. The greatest challenge they would face in my opinion is the very same thing which may one day win them Independence if Nigeria continues to be a prison for all. That thing is Igbo Determination.
You see Igbo Determination is like nuclear energy which can either be used positively to power a nation or negatively to cause an explosion. In Nigeria, Igbos are often stereotyped as hardened criminals. That is not true for all Igbos just as it is not correct to consider all Fulanis as supremacists or feudalists.
Considering their vast numbers, Igbos are not per capita more criminally minded than other Nigerians or other ethnicities globally. It is just that when Igbos commit crime, they parlay their natural talents of Igbo Determination into criminality, thereby committing crimes of such scale and magnitude that inevitably make it into front page news.
The tragedy of Nigeria is that out of fear of domination by the Igbo, Nigeria has not been able to positively harness or exploit the unique attribute of ID which the Igbos possess in abundance to the benefit of the entire country. It bears reminding all Nigerians of that phrase popularized by John F. Kennedy – a rising tide lifts all boats.
A resurgent Igboland within Nigeria would lift all Nigerians out of poverty. An example is Nollywood, powered into international reckoning by Igbo Determination. Not all the actors and actresses in Nollywood are of Igbo extraction.
Since Nigeria cannot exist without the Igbos or any other Nigerian tribal groupings for that matter,it behooves all patriotic Nigerians to join hands to make Nigeria a better place for all, which nobody in their right senses would ever contemplate leaving and not a horrible prison from which everybody aspires someday to escape.