Let’s Use “Biafra” Name to Break Up Nigeria First; We Can Debate Possibility of Name Change to Any Other Afterwards – suggests Simon Ekpa
This is a long video. That’s why the embedded link is not on autoplay. This article is based on only the 2nd part of this video which starts in the 39th minute. Click the “Play” button above to start watching the YouTube video and then, fast forward to the 39th minute.
This YouTube video producer, Simon Ekpa, attempted to oversimplify the object of his recent communication episode by telling his listeners that the only matter of disagreement between the Lower Niger Congress (LNC) and the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) is nothing more than the use of the name “Biafra”. According to him, the LNC and its leadership echelon don’t like the mention of the term “Biafra”. From this false premise, Mr. Ekpa proceeds to admonish the LNC Secretary-General, Mr. Tony Nnadi, for using unpleasant terms to characterize the IPOB leadership. He specifically identified Mr. Nnadi’s social media publication of March 15, 2020 titled “THE BIAFRA RESTORATION MULTITUDE AND THE LNC LIBERATION PROJECT: NOTES OF CLARIFICATION” (https://bit.ly/3boxRMl) in which the LNC scribe took time to explain the ideological, organizational and operational differences that exist between IPOB and the Lower Niger Congress.
Mr. Nnadi’s contentious March 15, 2020 article stated, “beyond the terribly flawed character traits of Nnamdi Kanu (including congenital dishonesty and treachery), the crux of the dispute between the LNC and the so-called “Biafra Restoration” bandwagon, at the organizational level, is solely on the question of the irreconcilable differences in STRATEGY and METHODOLOGY on a scale that simply spells either SUCCESS or FAILURE.
The adamant refusal of the “Biafra Restoration” bandwagon to EITHER present any viable alternative to, OR come to terms with the 8-point strategy design of the LNC, which shows clearly the HOW for dismantling the Nigeria cage we are trapped in (with others), is the reason why the LNC is focusing its energies on the balance of populace outside the Biafra Restoration bandwagon/merchants and is presently unwilling to waste any further energies and time trying to engage those who, without any roadmap of their own, seek “Biafra” but denigrate and sabotage the LNC strategy-based designs to take down the monster holding Eastern Nigeria in bondage.”
The preceding effectively negates Mr. Ekpa’s suggestion that only the term “Biafra” is the bone of contention between the two activist entities. Mr. Ekpa either failed to read the document to which he is reacting correctly, or he completely was unable to grasp the points being made by Mr. Nnadi’s article. The differences between the LNC and IPOB are ideological, organizational and operational. Ideologically, LNC believes that the preferred route to accomplish the takedown of today’s Unitary Nigeria is through orderly devolution designed to culminate in the self-determination of all stakeholders and not a disorderly disintegration as demanded by IPOB. Organizationally, the LNC does not have a “supreme” leader and does not believe in autocratic rule, while the IPOB is driven by personality cultism of its leader. Operationally, the LNC sees our peoples’ self-determination struggle as a marathon while the IPOB perceives its agenda as a short-distance sprint of a sort. This may explain the reason why the LNC doesn’t mobilize for street protests as IPOB tends to do.
Mr. Ekpa spent some time discussing the term “multitude” as used in Mr. Nnadi’s article. He is correct in stating that numbers are crucial in all matters political. Going after numbers as an operational priority for IPOB may meet the short-term needs of the entity’s leadership ranks. But LNC leadership has instead opted for organic growth of its Lower Niger Self-determination movement through the systematic unfurling of its roadmap with predetermined timelines. Numbers, per se, don’t give one freedom. Large crowds mobilized into the streets with unclear demands may soon be labeled a MOB that is suitable for prompt repression with all the might of government in power. Unless the IPOB intends to engage in partisan politics of today’s Unitary Nigeria, the issue of numbers (a. k. a. multitude) should NOT be seen as a priority task. The Almajiris of Kano could outnumber IPOB membership ranks in Nigeria. The illiterate, unskilled and impoverished Almajiri multitude is there to be exploited by the ruling elite at will. LNC prefers to raise its large numbers of followers who understand why they do what they do and where we are going collectively as a people.
Premature Obsession With the Term “Biafra” Is Tactless
Listening to Mr. Ekpa itemize the reasons why the term “Biafra” should be preeminent in the minds of all the stakeholders of former Eastern and Midwestern Nigeria, one can quickly surmise that the presenter lacks profound knowledge of history and political geography of the territory at stake. Mr. Ekpa certainly has no clear understanding of the geopolitical boundaries of the Biafra he wishes his IPOB group to restore. If he does, why does it make any sense to him that the name of “Biafra” shall first be used to attain the breakup of Nigeria and then, worry later about who identify with the emergent geopolitical entity or not? Similarly, he counsels that all the self-determination agonists, irrespective of their current dispositions, must first come together to bring down Nigeria and then, worry about what type of society to build later. Talk of fantastic daydreaming!
Mr. Ekpa is too young to have had a personal experience of civil-war Biafra. But from his statements in this video, it appears that he is too lazy to do even some basic research on the matter since he wished to make a video on a related topic. He believes that the disgust shown by ethnic nationality stakeholders for Unitary Nigeria is sure evidence of a unity of purpose among all the diverse interest groups in the country. That’s another naive perception that should be allowed to rest for now.
For the avoidance of doubt, let it be clear to the readers and watchers of Simon Ekpa’s video that there are basic requirements that must be in place before anyone or group can be given an audience to plead for oppressed peoples’ self-determination at the United Nations. First is that the territory at stake MUST be contiguous and have clearly defined borders. The second and equally important requirement is the presentation of Articles of Association delineating the relationship between constituents inhabiting the geopolitical space represented in the map. Other conditions are not nearly as critical as the preceding two.
IPOB wants “Biafra” now, not later. Good. But does IPOB have a map of Biafra it wants and Articles of Association/Relationship binding all the constituents inhabiting the said territory? When you promise your followers that they shall soon have “Biafra”, even though the basic preparatory steps have not been taken by anyone, it is called a FRAUD. We call the imposed 1999 Constitution a fraud because it is being peddled as a peoples’ constitution while, on the contrary, that ordinance was initially written by the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led ruling military junta as Decree No 24 of 1999. It was only during the Obasanjo administration that it was baptized to answer the 1999 Constitution that we have today.
Whoever wishes to ascertain the mindset of the many ethnic minorities of the former Eastern and Midwestern Regions of Nigeria regarding the IPOB’s approach to reviving civil-war Biafra should peruse this informative article written recently by one Mr. Michael Owhoko, who is not of Igbo ethnic background, at http://bit.ly/38khqiQ.
The domiciliary preference of a self-determination agonist is no reliable index for assessing one’s contributions or impact on the struggle. It is, therefore, disingenuous for Mr. Ekpa to rate the IPOB leadership corps higher than every other just because they are domiciled outside the borders of Nigeria. According to the video producer, anyone who lives peacefully and free within the boundaries of Nigeria while calling for the breakup of Unitary Nigeria must not be seen as an enemy by the Sokoto Caliphate ruling cabal. Only Mazi Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB resides in faraway London, UK. By implication, IPOB is the only dreaded enemy of Unitary Nigeria in the reckoning of the ruling cabal. What an overstatement that is starved of facts. For the sake of records, the overwhelming majority of the lead antagonists of Unitary Nigeria reside within the country’s borders 24/7.
The Anatomy of IPOB
Many may not be aware that there are other factions of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) whose leadership cadre is not based outside Nigeria. On Tuesday, December 22, 2015, various pro-Biafra groups merged to form one umbrella body and initiated what is called a shadow government. Pro-Biafra groups have ostensibly merged to form a new government. The merging pro-Biafra groups said that they would function as an interim customary government, as a legitimate organization, affirming that they would not break any Nigerian laws. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), the Biafra Indigenous People (NGO), the IPOB-BiafranEdu as well as other pro-Biafra groups merged under one umbrella body named The Customary Government of Indigenous People of Biafra (CGIPOB).
The CGIPOB had regarded the faction of IPOB led by London-based Mazi Nnamdi Kanu as a renegade entity whose rhetorics and activities are not in tune with the parent body’s and thus would not get the approval of the Council of Elders overseeing the entity. On its part, the Nnamdi Kanu-led faction used the Internet radio station it operates from London, UK to verbally assail its rivals within the IPOB family and beyond. Mazi Kanu’s official designation was the Director of Radio Biafra, London (RBL). That title has since been jettisoned for the more impressive appellation of the “Supreme Leader” of Biafra.
Mazi Kanu has repeatedly used his broadcasts from RBL to viciously attack and malign Mr. Tony Nnadi, personally and the Lower Niger Congress (LNC), as a group. Even estranged members of IPOB, who left for a variety of reasons, are not spared Kanu’s vicious tongue lashings. RBL has served the IPOB faction led by Kanu as a veritable tool for fundraising and for mobilizing awareness and following from many parts of the world.
Synergy Among Pro-Biafra Agitators Is Desirable, But Not at All Cost
Counseling the LNC and IPOB leadership to collaborate more closely, for obvious reasons, is unnecessary because these entities had done so in the past. Again, based on Tony Nnadi’s March 15th article, “four straight years of continuous engagements (2013-2017)” between the two leaders ended badly, hence the verbal warfare that has ensued between them since then. It is advisable that whoever wishes to dabble into the evident ongoing misunderstanding between Messrs Nnadi and Kanu should first understand what happened when they closely collaborated between 2013 and 2017. It is sophomoric and naive for one to simply adduce the apparent profound dispute between the LNC and IPOB leadership agenda to be a mere disagreement over the mention or no mention of the term “Biafra”.
The struggle for self-determination is neither easy nor is it cheap. It takes all that its protagonists can throw at it and more. Those seeking self-determination are the underdogs; they lack the military, diplomatic and economic might of the oppressor power. It, therefore, behooves the self-determination agonists to find the ways to synergize to optimize the outcome of whatever forces they can muster against an overwhelmingly more powerful enemy. But close collaboration may, sometimes, not be possible because of many reasons, including the trilogy of differences that keep the IPOB and LNC leadership at arm’s length from each other.
To broker any meaningful and sustainable peace, one must first endeavor to understand what each side is attempting to say. Mr. Nnadi has better clarity in this aspect. He clearly states that the differences between the faction of IPOB led by Mazi Nnadi Kanu and the LNC, whose Secretary-General is Mr. Tony Nnadi, are multifaceted. But the most problematic is what he calls “the terribly flawed character traits of Nnamdi Kanu”, the “supreme” leader of IPOB. So, expectations for the immediate future should be modest. Before getting to total synergy, all the self-determination groups should first publicly share their roadmaps for attaining our folks’ self-determination quest through a carefully designed course of action. All the stakeholders in the affected geopolitical territory must be thoroughly familiarized with the accurate picture of the collective future that we seek. The suggestion that we should first use “Biafra” to dismember Nigeria and then come back to the indigenous owners of the land and ask them to stay or opt-out is ludicrous.
One point which Mr. Ekpa got right is that words that hurt people’s sensibilities and self-esteem should be avoided or used only sparingly in the public discourse of this nature. It is not good public relations for a top official of the LNC to engage in verbal brawls that are garnished with hurtful words as a matter of routine, no matter the extent of provocation. Asking for a blanket disavowal of Nnadi’s very informative article of March 15, 2020, which clarifies the areas of differences between the LNC and IPOB, is an unnecessary demand at this juncture. Mr. Ekpa came to a hurried decision because he lacks the proper understanding of the real issues that are at stake. Mr. Ekpa believes that it is all about the term “Biafra”. He is wrong and that should be the end of his unjustified demand.