By: Gloria Mabaiem Ballason
And what a week last week was! The crime, intrigues and manipulation were all at another level. A few people, sitting somewhere in the comfort of their rooms in Kaduna, gave an eviction notice to the Igbos. One’s initial reaction was to dismiss the so-called Kaduna declaration for lack of mandate but reading the credence lend by no less a man than Prof Ango Abdullahi piqued curiosity. Since 2015, Nnamdi Kanu, has been agitating for a sovereign state of Biafra. He has a radio Biafra to show for it.
A deluge of interesting actions and inactions have chronicled around the Biafra demand. Kanu was arrested and arraigned for charges of criminal conspiracy, intimidation and membership of an illegal organization contrary to sections 97, 101 and 397 of the penal code. Kanu was granted bail on 28th April, 2017 having been in detention for over a year and despite various court orders that ruled for his release. It is important at this juncture to educate ourselves on who the guy in question is. Kanu is a British-Nigerian national and a leading member of one of the several separatist groups called the Indigenous People of Biafra. Kanu considers himself a Jew and believes in Judaism. He was born in the 1970s long after the bloody dates of 6thJuly 1967-15th July 1970 when the civil war was fought and concluded.
The guy did not witness the over 100,000 military casualties or the over two million civilians whose lives were claimed by the war nor the over 3million who died from starvation. And by the way, none of the authors of Kaduna declaration fought the civil war too. Now you know why it’s so easy for them to do what they do -their ignorance is bliss. I honestly don’t trust any call for independence except if it comes from someone who fought that war. Today, Nnamdi Kanu is a buzz word. He is steaming up as the symbol of New Biafra despite the fact that none of the influential kings- Eze Aro or Eze Nri nor the chiefs of Arochukwu, Awka or Owere have given him the mandate to speak for the Igbo nation.
So if Kanu doesn’t have that mandate, how is it that he has set an agenda for ‘secession’ for the Igbo people? I’m glad you asked. Kanu, a man who was himself largely in Britain and expressing himself in a manner he deemed exciting, began to move into public consciousness after the Federal Government ordered his arrest and detention which fuelled public outcry and attracted public sympathy and when-as we often do in this country, we shifted focus from issues of serious concerns to amundane matter.You could say that the shabby handling of the matter by the government and the vulnerability of the people turned a lowly agitator to a freedom fighter.
As it stands, Kanu’s IPOB does not have the collective backing of the Igbos. It’s hard to even believe that his family would follow him to a Biafra should one be created; more importantly, as Nigerians and as recently as the 2014 Nigerian National Conference, we the people of Nigeria of over 371 tribes reaffirmed our commitment to stay together as one indivisible, and indissoluble sovereign state. Until the over 180 million Nigerians change their minds and decide they want Nigeria fragmented or the 30 million Igbos decide to give someone the mandate to present their decision to own their country,the 2014 resolution stands and we must ignore the distraction and keep up the work of nation building.
But there are other issues: The timing for this debate is curious. It reminds one of mischief makers in the university who would wait until it’s close to exams then they would arrange for all kinds of aluta riots while craving the buy-in of the majority. After a while we saw through their mischief and learned to ignore them. In our instant case, Nigerians need to open their eyes wide enough to read in between the lines. How could Kanu’s call for secession become a ‘national matter’ only at a time when Nigerians are asking about their President? Why does it coincide with the period when people are clamouring for the long awaited signing of the 2017 budget? How is the talk louder at a period when the Kaduna-Abuja road has become the most audacious kidnapper’s den, taking scores of people to ransom in broad day light? How come the discussion about Biafra became interesting at the point of renewed hostility by Boko Haram?
The coincidence is too intentional to be accidental. If we continue to be pedestrian in the manner we process issues, we will become the game of a few mischievous people who persistently want to keep this country in bondage and who unwittingly set agenda for us.Think about it, in the past few days, this has been the trending matter-no thanks to problem makers.But if there are problem creators like those who are making calls capable of undermining the security of the Nigerian state, then there needs to be more people who will remove the veneer from the issues and treat them for what they really are- threats to our territorial existence.
It is time to run on our own steam. It’s that moment when the real patriots must rise up and drown the noise of deception with the sound of reason. When rabble rousers bake their mischief, we who claim to love this country must not join in their schemes. And this is not to say that people cannot in fact seek for their own country. International and national laws have established the moral and legal baseline for state creation. The political existence of an intending new state is independent of recognition by other states which means a new state in the international community can be created without hullaballo whether they are so recognized or not.
Even before recognition the state has the right to defend its integrity and independence, to provide for its conservation and prosperity, and consequently to organize itself as it sees fit, to legislate upon its interests, administer its services, and to define the jurisdiction and competence of its courts.The Montevideo Convention on Statehood of 1933 sets out the requirements for Statehood. The criteria of the convention are: a permanent population, a defined territory, governmentand the capacity to entire into relations with other States. Hence, a people who satisfy the four conditions may, operating and existing under its own authority and power, make for itself an International state without any fuss.
However, the problem with our instant case is that a few people just want to ride on the gullibility of the majority.At a time where there is a palpable case of structured state neglect which is serviced by the present administration, some want to capitalize on our default system of nepotism and politics of emotions (as opposed to politics of ideology) to force an outcome.
No! We cannot let the wrong people control the dial. We must not let the enemies of the Nigerian state win rather let us humanize our country and governance, re-purpose the Nigerian space and continue in the task of building a nation with a more nationalist approach. We spoke collectively at the 2014 National Conference and on that Abuja declaration we stand. When and if we decide we want the country fragmented, we will do the civic and civilized thing of returning to the negotiation table to decide what to wall in and wall out and who is to have what, when and how. No weapon formed by the phony Kaduna Declaration shall prosper.