NIGERIA’S SOUTH-EAST region well-being, is gradually under siege, not by foreign or external marauders, but by the easterners themselves, perpetrating cruel violence on its citizens. The region is absorbing what some analysts have described as a people with “clueless leadership” in politics, governance and other spheres; but driven by commerce. Miscreants are now in control of governance and leadership in that part of the country.
Nigeria’s eastern region, some analysts and observers said, has been a “model of political tolerance”. For years, the region put up with ignominious marginalization and neglect, politically and economically, by national governments in the country. They never engaged in infamous political agitation in their demand for attention, due to such marginalization. That has changed with the emergence of “separatist movement” known as the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, was founded by Nnamdi Kanu in 2012. IPOB claimed, its aim was to drive the quest for an independent state of Biafra, from Nigeria. It gained prominence by criticising Nigeria’s federal government for alienating the eastern region from federal investment, inequitable distribution of resources, ethnic marginalization, political neglect in distribution of national offices and wealth.
What was viewed as a legitimate agitation soured, when IPOB toed the part of violence and earned the tag of a “separatist violence organization” in Nigeria’s south-east. IPOB made pronouncement of violence against the national government, threatened to bring down institutions and targeted individuals with violent crime. Curious about the activities of IPOB in the eastern region, was the violation of the rights of its citizens – the Igbos with violence.
Nigerian government, felt no longer at ease with IPOB’s pronouncements and activities. In 2017, the government proscribed the organization under the Terrorism Act; after a Federal High Court in Abuja, on September 18, 2017, labelled IPOB a “terrorist organization”. Massive military operations were deployed to the south-east region to crackdown on the separatist movement.
LEADERSHIP FAILURE in the south-east to manage the agitation of IPOB, worsened the situation. Curiously, also, is that the violence unleashed in the south-east by IPOB, is killing the Igbos; destroying the peoples economic and commercial lives; against what IPOB claimed to be its aim – to fight for the genuine course of the Igbos. What then is the purpose of the agitation by the separatist movement – for good or evil?
Perhaps, suffering from regal incompetence and incoherent leadership, governors, political leaders and traditional leaders in the region speak from both sides of their mouth; while criminal activities championed by IPOB thieve in their domain. The eastern region’s voice, Ohaneze Ndigbo, merely mumbles appeal to criminal elements without any effect.
IPOB’s criminal elements, now govern the eastern region. They determine when the citizens in the region engage in legitimate business and commercial activities – move out of their homes or sit-at-home; in what the IPOB elements described as “sit-at-home order”. For weeks, now moving into months, IPOB, has effectively, implemented “sit-at-home order”, in the eastern region. While elected governors and chief security officers of the respective state in the eastern region watch helplessly.
ANALYSTS ON THE SITUATION in Nigeria’s eastern region, have wondered, what IPOB’s objective is, in unleashing violence on its people – for the love and good of the people, or for evil? What freedom is the separatists elements fighting – freedom of slavery to criminality? IPOB has defied logical appeal to give up criminal activities, and engage the authorities in meaningful and strategic dialogue and negotiation.
IPOB sees any Igbo man or woman who disagrees with its activities as a conspirator or saboteur. They resist any form of engagement – dialogue, negotiation or new methods to the struggle for the self-determination for the people of the region. The concerns of both Ndigbo and others, who are keen in the political and economic interest and advancement of the region is – what is IPOB after?
The views of some analysts, however, are that Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB, and the activities of the separatist organization, have benefited the eastern region in some way. It has, specifically, awaken national and international consciousness to the depth of political and economic marginalization, and the neglect of the people of the region.
Ahead of 2023 general election, IPOB has elevated strong national feelings and consensus that the presidential candidates of the two leading political parties in the country – the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC; and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, should come from the south-east. How that works out in the region’s political environment, where the leaders are passive, is another matter.
ANARCHY is likely, in the offering in Nigeria’s eastern region, if collective and extreme measures are not taken by the governors, political and traditional leaders, and Ohaneze Ndigbo, to reverse the drift. The situation in the region has gone beyond separatist agitation, to the brigandage of assassinations, presently going on; perhaps, by some mercenaries, who have taken advantage of the situation in the region.
Chike Akunyili, Professor and a medical professional of records, and a widower of late Dora Akunyili, Professor and amazon in national service – a former Director-General, National Agency of Foods, Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, and former Minister of Information and Culture, was gruesomely murdered by unknown gun men on his way from an engagement in Onitsha, Anambra State.
Murdered along with Chike Akunyili, were his security detail, his driver and two other persons. His son, Obum, was reported to have escaped the bloodbath by the assailants. He drove in another car from the same event, different from his father’s car. The assassination of Chike Akunyili had caused the family great pain – leaving the children orphans.
The event Chike Akunyili attended was organized by the University of Nigeria Alumni Association, UNAA, at the Sharon Hall, All Saints Cathedral Onitsha. UNAA was honouring Dora, his late wife, posthumously; and Chike Akunyili and his son were present. In utter generosity, he donated N500,000 to the association on behalf of his family. After the event, father and son were reported to have embraced each other, and headed home separately.
Further pointer that the region is failing, is IPOB’s renewed threat to enforce “one-month sit-at-home” order, that will shut down the economic, commercial and social activities of the region, beginning October 21, 2021, if its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is not brought to court for his trial by Nigerian government, on that date. Nnamdi Kanu, was recently extradited from Kenya, to face charges of alleged treason in the country.
Last weekend, unknown gun men invaded Nnewi and other parts of Anambra State, set ablaze the Department of State Service, DSS, office and the home of Joe Igbokwe, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, who is based in Lagos. They have threatened that the November 6, 2021 Anambra State Governorship election, would be a mirage.
SOUTH-EAST GOVERNORS, political and traditional leaders, Ohaneze Ndigbo, and other concerned citizens in the region, analysts stated, must prove themselves, convince other regions in the country that they are dependable, adaptable and trusted to take charge of the challenging situation; and provide strategic solutions to the crisis the region. Otherwise, the region’s demand for rotation presidency to the south-east will be an illusion.
Tuesday, October 5, 2021, South-East Governors and some selected political and traditional rulers, rose from a meeting in Government House, Enugu; and rhetorically, condemned the every Monday of the week sit-at-home order, by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
They said such order by IPOB can no longer be sustained, as it is crippling the economic and social activities, and means of livelihood of people of the region. They also alleged that the sit-at-home order emanated from people outside the country, who were not feeling the crippling effect of the order.
Governor Dave Umahi, Chairman of South-East Governors Forum, and Governor of Ebonyi State, stated after the meeting, said “The South-East condemned the killings in the region and have agreed to join hands with security agencies to stop the killings. The meeting condemned the sit-at-home orders, which are mostly issued by our people in diaspora who do not feel the pains”.
“In view of the information that even IPOB had cancelled the sit-at-home, the meeting resolved that governor and all people of the South East do everything within the law to ensure that there is no further sit-at-home in the South East and that people are allowed to freely move about in the zone”, Umahi added.
Analysts, also, believe that IPOB is avenging what they see as “selfish” and “self-centered” politicians and governors of the region, who are not concerned about the development of the States in region. But are more concerned about their personal interest and ambition.
Will the governors, political and traditional leaders, Ohaneze Ndigbo, and other well-meaning easterners change the narratives, going forward? Further unfolding events in the region, will tell.