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ANALYSIS: The Ongoing Biafra Agitation; A struggle For Posterity Or The Aggrieved?


By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau

The feeling about marginalization; against exploitation and for total freedom as well as self-realization gave in May 1967, to the Republic of Biafra – secession of the States then in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. The demand for this Republic was effectively rested after defeat by the Military in January, 1970. But some years back, the agitation was renewed via a different platform – The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB). The same pan-Igbo Militia group is also otherwise referred to as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).   

I admit it will be unfair for anyone to pretend or declare that MASSOB has not been visible with its agitation over the years, especially in the six years of the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan’ s administration. The group has been so up and doing, to the extent that it was once enmeshed in war of leadership, a development, which in the end, resulted to emergence of two factions, one run under the control of its founding leader, Ralph Uwazuruike and the other, being led by Comrade Uchenna Madu. 

The restless MASSOB fighters and agitators have so far refused to give up their struggle. The dimension of the ongoing struggle by the Biafra protesters gives impression as if the agitation is just coming to the Nigerian political landscape. For instance, the resilience displayed by the protesters; the approach adopted in their protest and seemingly unclear motive of the agitators as well as their surging number have left so many, in worry and subsequently make them to ask question, why the protest now, especially when the country still battles with challenge of Boko Haram terrorists in the North Eastern part of the country.
The disturbing approach of the Biafra protesters also includes hoisting of the Republic flag during every procession. When put into perspective factors, such as condemnation (except if political) of the agitation, by the forum of South East Governors and the blame by so many South Easterners, the question that comes to lip is: what actually did current Biafra soldiers want? Who actually are they? Who are their sponsors and what is their grouse? And why the protest now?

The ferocious protest by the present Biafra aggressors from all indications does not appear to enjoy the support of so many Igbo speaking people – both who habitate within and outside the region.

So, who are these Biafra agitators fighting and working for? Will it be morally right; defendable and logical for these Biafra protesters to confront the present administration with the complaint of shortchange? Is the protest actually over opposition to marginalization or strictly on secession? If yes, then the agitators must be told to they are wrong; that instead of the present approach, the agitators, if they are really genuine, ought to face, fight and question their political past leaders who have disappointed them so much.

In the last 16 years of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria, the South East geo political zone has enjoyed the benefits of being in the freely used cliché, “centre politics’. Therefore, If the zone is governed by the former ruling party; canvassed for support of the immediate past President, yet, rated poorly and so low in transformation and development, such that the ongoing protest was necessitated, then the protest (approach), if real, and it is for the common goal, ought to be re-channeled and re-directed.

If the present Biafra agitators are keen about the posterity, they are supposed to be at the loggerheads with their past leaders, for collecting so much on their behalf from the so called “centre” Government, but doing so little to better their lots, hence, reduced them to the present sorry and deplorable state.

Otherwise, the protesters who have been in the news in the recent times could be considered to be fighting the war they lack basic knowledge or knew next to nothing. In other words, they are fighting the war assigned to them by their mischievous sponsors and for the cause of the disgruntled few.

But it is very painful, that the same people who are supposed to be called for questioning are those surreptitiously fanning the ember of the present discord and which has become another National debate.

At this juncture, I wish to clarify that there is no attempt whatsoever to undermine the freedom of expression and to protest, by members of MASSOB. Still, I dear say, the constitution which allows the liberty to the citizens also provides the restriction against excess. Therefore, the protest against alleged marginalization still falls within the ambit of the law, but protesting and working for secession is criminal and punishable by the law. Now the question; should a focus and serious government allow illegality to thrive or the sovereignty of the country to be trampled upon?

On the part of the Law enforcement agencies, my feeling is that, every legal means must be deployed in enforcing the law of the land, with respect to checking illegal mode of agitation. Specifically, if the police make arrest over illegal assemblage and protest, they must prosecute without delay, otherwise, whatever good reason (s) or factor (s) adduced for their action will in the end be countered and defeated.

As for the Federal Government, it carries the biggest burden. This administration must be proactive in nipping the brewing crisis in the bud. Happily, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation has resumed duty. He must swing into action now on the renewed Biafra agitation. Obviously and to a very large extent, the present Biafra warriors are “spent forces”, therefore must be checked, arrested and quickly prosecuted.

Perhaps, if they are arrested, investigated and arraigned before the court of Law, they might reveal their sponsors to the public and we all know the enemies in the ‘house’ and be told what their grouses are.

I strongly hold that the Attorney General should help Mr. President and more importantly, the country – to be prevented from another terrorists’ crisis. Let me state here that being pragmatic is very significant, as the sponsors of the agitators got their thinking all wrong.

For instance, those who engage the present Biafra agitators so as to be a distraction for the present government and a means of taking back their pound of flesh are wrong. The Boko Haram which started with late Musa Yar’Adua and Jonathan administration still remains with President Muhammadu Buahri’s government. Whereas Buhari has been once be accused as one the backers of the terrorists. If the argument was reliable, wouldn’t Boko Haram insurgency ought to have stopped ever since he assumed power?

Finally, as it is the wish of teeming Nigerians that the present Biafra fighters be promptly and constitutionally dealt with, the present administration must rise up to its electoral promises, by addressing crisis of youth unemployment and dealing with every section of the country equally. The causalities suffered so far, in the over six years of insurgency in Nigeria is too huge, therefore, the country cannot afford further disaster please! Let all hands be on deck to check outbreak of another insurgency!      

E-Mail: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com; Facebook: Tajudeen Balogun; Twitter: @tjaysuccess10

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