By Olakunle Abimbola
Blundering into anarchy is sweet and giddy. Clambering back into sanity is more sober and chastening.
That is the long and short of the IPOB sit-at-home in the South East.
But even now, no one is taking responsibility, beyond the funny apologia that Nnamdi Kanu — or even his IPOB inner shrine — was or was no party to the original order.
But if, as the Bible says, you don’t seek the truth (no matter how ugly or how stupid it makes you look), how do you set yourself free?
Enyinnaya Abaribe, senator of the Federal Republic, moaned aloud, what the IPOB leader told him, in his DSS suite: that he, Nnamdi Kanu, didn’t know anything about, or ordered anyone to sit at home on Mondays.
IPOB would later amplify Abaribe: “Comments from Abaribe are true, because we stated it before now that Kanu, through his lawyers, had asked IPOB members and its leadership to stop the Monday sit-at-home order,” it claimed. ”Those purportedly enforcing the directive have been killing and burning property of Igbo people and they will incur the wrath of IPOB in due course.”
Sweet alibi, isn’t that? Wait! Is that IPOB’s idea of ramming shut the stable doors, after the tragic stallion had galloped free, wreaking free havoc all over the place?
Compare and contrast this lame apologia to the ringing, 30 July 2021 diktat, from Emma Powerful, the IPOB spokesperson:
“We the global family of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), ably led by our great leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, wish to announce to all Biafra citizens, friends of Biafra and lovers of Biafra freedom and independence,” blared Emma the Triumphant and Powerful, “that IPOB leadership has declared every Monday ‘a ghost Monday’. This declaration takes effect from Monday, 9 August 2021. Nobody should attempt to flout this directive, as doing so may come with huge consequences. Anybody flouting this order is taking a grave risk.”
Still on the original diktat and the Abaribe recant: the language of threat and force rips through both.
That exposes the IPOB lack of any grand strategy, beyond cheap bluff and bluster in the media.
That lack of strategy handed rogue elements the (a)moral licence to sack the vulnerable Igbo, eking out daily bread; under the pretext of enforcing the sit-at-home. That’s the genesis of today’s brewing lament. No tears from here!
By the way, of what good, tactical or strategic, is a Monday sit-at-home for a people that glory in their beloved commerce? Monday, the capital day of trade, wilfully wasted, week in, week out?
For how long did IPOB hope to enforce its language of force? Or hope to hold out against the Nigerian state, not at all willing to suffer gladly its costly tantrums?
If milking mass sympathy from the Igbo that subscribe to the Biafra philosophy was its strength, how long did IPOB hope that loyalty would last, with daily bread vanishing; and same loyalists plunged into economic ruin, if not outright poverty?
The way IPOB postures in the media, even with its diminishing ace(s), reminds you of the tortoise in the folktales.
“I’m travelling”, he declared.
“When are you returning,” he was asked.
“When I’m thoroughly disgraced,” he deadpanned.
A struggle, no matter how justified, is almost doomed to failure — and disgrace — if it lacks a sound strategy. That is the story of IPOB and triumphant sit-at-home, fast turning ash.
But that could also ring true of Senator Abaribe. Abaribe was he, the zesty Biafra ideologue, that stood bail for Kanu. But his protege jumped bail without thinking twice.
The same Abaribe made sweet propaganda of his “one-dot-nation”, a vicious pun of President Muhammadu Buhari’s dire warning to IPOB, over possible isolation, in its secessionist gambit.
Ironically, that isolation — of failed tactics, if not of ideology — is what is now putting IPOB on the defensive. Yet, it would blindly bluff than reappraise its methods.
But back to Abaribe: what are his motives by his exertions? True belief in Igbo secession? Glory, on the Igbo political street, to later power him to Abia gubernatorial glory? Or just the preening Biafran in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
No one can bet which is which. Yet, the Abaribe multivalence echoes the Igbo political crossroads, in the context of a federal Nigeria.
IPOB wants Biafra. Ohanaeze Ndigbo wants a federal Nigeria, consecrated by an Igbo Presidency in 2023.
Which of the two represents the genuine Igbo yearning? And how are other Nigerians, with whom Ndigbo must negotiate, supposed to understand and interpret these many voices from the Igbo Babel — and bedlam?
However the Igbo navigate out of this logjam, playing the card of victim hood wouldn’t cut it. Here is time for fresh thinking — if that is not an impossibility.
In truth, the Nigerian debacle is no sole monopoly of any ethnic group. So, it’s time to face the stark facts and stop playing the ostrich.
When power changed hands in 2015 and leading Igbo politicians found themselves in novel opposition jungle, they embraced Kanu and his reckless, insane screeches.
They told themselves the lie that they had suddenly become the sworn enemy of the Fulani — the same Fulani they had shared and savoured central power since 1960. But that was because the Fulani that became president wasn’t from their preferred party.
That lie gave Kanu’s cross-ethnic abuse-and-traduce campaign its initial bounce. Now that Kanu’s methods appear coming a sad cropper, the solution is another lie: Kanu the Immaculate has done nothing wrong. Spring him, and open sesame, things would be sorted! Really?
If it’s any comfort, this time last year, the so-called “owners of the Yoruba” were busy goading Sunday Igboho to his “Yoruba Nation” doom. Those vicious data tigers stopped only after Igboho had rammed himself into the Cotonou ditch.
Not IPOB! Even with Kanu in the can to answer for his alleged crimes, IPOB continues to bluster as if it had another ace, beyond the footloose, tongue-loose Kanu.
The other day, IPOB jerked awake to oust Nigeria’s national anthem from “Biafra”. Its New Year’s package also banned “Fulani cow” from Biafraland. Hip? Okay.
But how about Lagos waking up to ban “Igbo spare parts” from Lagos? Or Kaduna or Borno or Sokoto decreeing “no Igbo spare parts” in their area? Hip too? Or welcome yet another din, wail and squeal of “Igbo marginalization”?
“Fulani cow”. ”Igbo spare parts”. What do they even mean — beyond the folly of ethnicizing mutual economic value? It leads nowhere but avoidable perdition.
It’s a grand irony — isn’t it? — that those who gripe over eternal “injustice” seem numb to the routine hurts they hurl at others!
Fixing Nigeria is a function of give-and-take. After IPOB’s sit-at-home, and the self-ruin it has unleashed on its locale, let the South East agitators turn a new leaf.