How Buhari Renewed Pro-Biafra Activities – Amanze Obi

Editor’s note: The recent arrest and continued
detention of Nnamdi Kanu, the pro-Biafran
activist, by the Nigerian government has
sparked protests.
Amanze Obi, the respected columnist for Daily
Sun newspaper, shares his views on how
President Muhammadu Buhari has resurrected

image

the ghost of Biafra.
The protest of pro-Biafra supporters.
The recent upsurge in the agitation for a
Biafran state
In recent weeks, I have watched two former
heads of state, Generals Yakubu Gowon and
Olusegun Obasanjo, fret over Biafra. They are
worried by the recent upsurge in the agitation
for a Biafran state.
Gowon, obviously agitated by the
recrudescence in the Biafran struggle, said that
Biafra was long dead and that those agitating
for its resurrection were misguided. Obasanjo
followed suit. He said Nigeria finished with
Biafra on the day Phillip Effiong, Chukwuemeka
Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s second in command,
handed over the instruments of the Biafran
surrender to him (Obasanjo). He held that the
young men and women of today agitating for
Biafra were merely looking for meal tickets.
The role of Gowon and Obasanjo in Biafran
question
Gowon and Obasanjo, from all indications,
sounded simplistic in their dissection of the
ongoing Biafran fervour among some Igbo
youths. But the two civil war veterans did not
mean to be simple-minded about the Biafran
issue. They merely papered over the matter
while habouring unspoken worries about the
recent developments on Biafra.

I really had a good laugh after watching them. I
wondered why they were worried about Biafra.
I had thought and still think that these men had
played their role in the Biafran question and
should rest their case. They prosecuted the
war up to the time of surrender. Biafra has
been resting since then. And both men in
question have aged. They are in the twilight of
their lives and should not worry about the
exuberances and exaggerations of youth.
Therefore, Biafra, which they said was long
dead, should not give them goose pimples as it
is doing.
The spirit of the Biafra struggle never dies
But before we begin to think that the fire of
Biafra just started burning again a few months
ago, let us remind ourselves that the agitation
for the Biafran state as represented by the
Movement for the Actualisation of the Sov­
ereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has been on
since the return of civil rule in Nigeria in 1999.
In between time, we have had other Biafran
bodies like the Biafran Zionist Movement
(BYM) and, lately, the Indigenous Peoples of
Biafra (IPOD). All of these bodies have been
approaching the Biafran struggle in whatever
way it appeals to them.

Unlike the likes of Gowon and Obasanjo, I have
never really been bothered about agitations for
Biafra. For me, that is normal. It happens in
every clime where a war of independence has
been fought. The disadvantaged bloc, in such
settings, never let go. They keep agitating for
centuries on end. They do so to draw attention
to what they want as a people. Their
aspirations may remain suppressed for
hundreds of years, but the spirit of the struggle
never dies. That is what the Biafran agitators
are doing.
Significantly, the Biafran agitation has been
peaceful. It is more symbolic than anything
else. And so, for most of us, the agitation is a
tolerable menace and should be seen as part of
the evolutionary process that will eventuate in
the Nigeria of everybody’s dream.
Why the recrudescence in the Biafran agitation
coincided with Buhari’s presidency
As we wait for that state of Eden, I have heard
some people say that those calling for a
Biafran state are young men and women who
did not know about the pains and ravages that
came with the Biafran War of 1967 to 1970.
This, for me, is not the point. I say so because
these young people we are talking about are
not planning to take up arms against the
Nigerian state. They are not planning to go to
war with anybody. As a matter of fact, these
young folks are not even supposed to know
about Biafra since the war story is not taught
in Nigerian schools. But they know about Biafra
because successive Nigerian governments
have always raised the banner of victory
before the Igbo. And this, invariably, reminds
the Igbo people, including the younger
elements, of their lack and loss.
Even though this is the case, Nigeria has been
managing the situation until the advent of the
Buhari presidency a few months ago. So, the
question is: Why the recrudescence in the
Biafran agitation in the recent months that
Buhari assumed office as Nigeria’s president?

The answer is simple. Buhari, from what we
have seen so far, did not come as a Nigerian
president. He came as a northern president in
a united Nigeria. That being the case, Buhari
has not given us any cause to believe that he
has come to keep Nigeria one. Rather, the
feeling we get, through his actions and
inactions, is that he has come to widen the
ethnic gaps and divides among the peoples of
Nigeria.
Under Buhari’s discriminatory regime, the
worst hit is the Igbo whom the president has
willfully excluded from his administration. In
taking that action, Buhari did not care a hoot
about inclusiveness. He is not concerned about
national integration or cohesion. The feeling he
has is that he can shut the Igbo out and
nothing will happen. Of course, nothing is
happening. Buhari has had his way. But those
at the receiving end of his divisive action have
a right to a whimper. That whimper is part of
the reason for the Biafran spirit is squirming.
By his action, Buhari has resurrected the ghost
of Biafra. Because Biafra did not die a peaceful
death, it has been ill at ease in its grave. Its
spirit has been roaming the land in pains.
Nigeria and Nigerians would have wished
Biafra eternal repose. But Buhari has, through
his spiteful action, resurrected its ghost.
Nigeria may have to live with this nightmare for
some time.

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Amanze Obi
Amanze Obi is the columnist for
Daily Sun newspaper.He served as a
commissioner under former governor Ikedi
Ohakim of Imo state and recently lost his
mother-in-law, Madam Patricia Nwereme
Anyanwu.

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