IPOB & Nnamdi Kanu: Let All Nigerians, Including Biafrans, Support Actualization of a Just & Equitable United Nation – Says Pastor Lawrence Oyetunde
Operation “Python Dance” has helped to reveal the worst that the Nigerian nation can become in perceptions of those whose sovereign authority is supposedly vested in the state. The associated extrajudicial killings of unarmed youths with pro-Biafra sentiments in Umuahia and Aba in Abia state that the ruling elite who exercise control over the military establishment would not hesitate in using lethal force to sustain the status quo which, according to Pastor Lawrence Oyetunde, is only pleasing in eyes of the Hausa/Fulani and no other group in today’s Nigeria nationwide. The objective could have been to assassinate the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, during the staged raid by the Nigerian Army to his ancestral compound near Umuahia on September 10, 2017. Minders of the status quo in Nigeria consider extrajudicial application of coercive force, including killings, torture and intimidation, as legitimate tools for suppression of dissent in a supposed democratic system of government run by a militarized “civilian” president.
Pastor Oyetunde harbors a lot of sympathy for Nnamdi Kanu and the group he leads, Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB). He lauds IPOB’s fight for justice but is, at same time, discouraged because of the Biafra-centric focus of the group’s operational agenda and rhetorical armamentarium which tends to assail whoever are assessed as not a recognized part of neo-Biafran nationalism. The pastor’s thesis is that the struggle for justice being led by Nnamdi Kanu through IPOB could actually be broadened in scope to accommodate other disenchanted constituents who abound in all parts of Nigeria. The Yoruba pastor went further to rally support and sympathy for Nnamdi Kanu, personally and IPOB, as a group, so as to back up their quest for a better and brighter future for all.
Conflating the Igbo with Biafra, IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu
The pastor comes across as innocently conflating Igbo core strategic interests with Biafra, IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu’s fate. His perception is not too far-removed from those of many out there who regard the geopolitical space called Biafra to be same as today’s Southeast zone, civil-war Biafra (Eastern Region), Alaigbo or the Lower Niger (Eastern & Midwestern Region a. k. a. Greater Biafra). Pastor Oyetunde is jumping the gun and therefore, wrong by presuming that the totality of ongoing self-determination struggle in the eastern half of Southern Nigeria is personified in Nnamdi Kanu and faction of the IPOB he leads. What the pastor has done is akin to presuming that the totality of self-determination struggle wedged in the modern era can be swept under the ambit of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), for example. This is not factually accurate, of course.
The self-determination quest of ethnic nationalities cohabiting the eastern half of Southern Nigeria, otherwise popularly known as the Lower Niger, is currently being driven under aegis of the Lower Niger Independence Movement (LONIM) of which IPOB (DOS) is a founding partner. The nature of justice that inspires the self-determination struggle being alluded to by Pastor Oyetunde certainly transcends the boundaries of Alaigbo and civil-war Biafra territory. In fact, the LONIM is driven by the Biafranist ideology as articulated in the Ahiara Declaration of June 1, 1969. Biafranist ideology is not about fostering micro nationalism of the Igbo ethnic group or any other entity for that matter. It is also not about haggling over territorial boundaries predicated on past imposed delimitations by those who had stolen and occupied our ancestral lands and our God-given natural wealth for the past half century. The future that we collectively fight for shall be predicated on the Biafranist ideology propelled by the burning quest to build an exemplary modern Black African nation state through which JUSTICE for the Black man can be manifest in all aspect of nation building.
Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB & Biafranism
The overture being made by Pastor Oyetunde to Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB is misdirected. Asking Nnamdi Kanu and the IPOB faction he leads to detach themselves from the symbolism of civil-war Biafra is not a wise counsel and thus should not be deemed as a smart advice. Civil-war Biafra is a major milestone in the evolutionary journey of Nigeria. It marked the point of inflexion from where post-Independence Nigeria lost its innocence by opting to slaughter millions of its supposed own constituents on the altar of a unilaterally controlled national unity. The justice being fought for in the eastern half of Southern Nigeria is not quite the same variety that is being angled for elsewhere around the country, including the Southwest geopolitical zone.
While the urgency of struggle for justice being spearheaded under the aegis of LONIM and all its constituent organizational platforms is informed by hash experiences of the past fifty years, the variant of justice for which the pastor is ready to partake in decided upon as a matter of convenience. The relative comparisons made between Lagos state and its counterparts in Southsouth and Southeast geopolitical zones underscore this mindset. It is somewhat insensitive for Pastor Oyetunde to expect that Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB and other entities involved in self-determination struggle for all indigenous peoples of the Lower Niger to modulate their agenda, game plan and rhetoric to suit dispositions of the sundry interest groups nationwide who, justifiably or not, have one gripe or the other against minders of the status quo.
Pastor Oyetunde’s suggestions regarding the best nonviolent tactics to confront the bellicose inclinations of the unitary central government are well-intentioned and are well-taken. The hundreds of unarmed pro-Biafra youths killed extrajudicially by the Buhari-led Nigerian Army troops in Umuahia and Aba during the week of September 10, 2017 cannot justified by the fact that some of the victims were said to be holding sticks and stones when they were shot. How does one account for the scores who were tortured until they drowned in muddy murk? Passive resistance must be the operational mantra, going forward, so as not to give the trigger-happy hateful Nigerian Army troops the excuse to perpetrate extrajudicial killings on behalf of their masters at the controls.
The advice that Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB and sundry groups engaged in self-determination struggle within the Lower Niger should drop the regional focus in ongoing quest to unshackle their peoples from the enslavement and occupation of the past fifty years by the conspiratory alliance responsible for creating the status quo is insensitive to the peculiar circumstances of the indigenous peoples of the target territory. The Civil War was fought in the Lower Niger territory and the victorious alliance agreed to take post-war Nigeria down the path to where we find ourselves today. Pastor Lawrence Oyetunde is right about the universality of injustice in all other parts of Nigeria, but there is something exceptional about the unique plight of the Lower Niger and all the ethnic nationalities that cohabit the shuttered Nigeria’s Eastern Economic Corridor (NEEC).
Yes, all Nigerians must unite to fight the 800-lb gorilla which has devised the fraudulent 1999 Constitution to enable the Arewa North to steal constituents’ ancestral lands and wealth, and impede our capacity for self-help. Pastor Oyetunde’s call is proper and timely. But let him be the one to provide the needed leadership for actualizing the goal of universal justice for all Nigerians as envisaged by him. He should not be content just advising Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB on how best to do the needful. If Pastor Oyetunde is persuaded in seeing justice for all, why leave the leadership of such a humongous endeavor to Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB or any other entity out there and not himself?
Pastor Lawrence Oyetunde should be commended for baring his mind on crucial matters that perturb the peace, survival and future prosperity in the lives of fellow compatriots who have shared common Nigerian nationhood, through thick and thin, since the Amalgamation of 1914.