I am not an Igbo man but I have a lot of Igbo people as not just friends but confidants. In fact, my house was filled up by such confidants on the just concluded Sallah day, so much that you might conclude easily that I am more at home with those confidants than people from my side of the country. You may not be faulted.
For one reason or the other, I grew to respect the current leadership of Ohanaeze, the umbrella body of all Igbo speaking people in, and from, the Southeast, based on what I perceived to be the excellent personal and leadership qualities of Chief John Nwodo, the current President General of the body.
Though I have never met him one-on-one, but my distant assessment of him was that he is a complete gentleman, a nationalist, a lover of humanity and peace in all its ramifications and a father figure to all Nigerians, including your sincerely.
However my respect for the same Chief Nwodo and the Ohanaeze, by virtue of such respect, came crashing down like a pack of card yesterday after reading (and publishing on this platform), a statement he issued condemning the Nigerian federal government for deploying soldiers to the Southeast to carry out operations, including maintaining the internal integrity of Nigeria, which is their constitutional role.
The Nwodo’s Ohanaeze started by describing the military operations, tagged: ‘Python Dance 11’ as invasion of the Southeast, aimed at intimidating the Igbo people. He insisted that such operations should be called off immediately, even with a veiled threat.
Chief Nwodo said that Nigeria does not need such deliberate and proactive escalation of tensions and crisis at this moment and that rather than resort to the use of brute force in resolution of issue of self determination: “there are more civilised and established practices to resolve our democratic and security challenges”
On behalf of Ohaneze, Nwodo threatened: “if” this act of intimidation is not discontinued immediately, it (Ohanaeze) would be left with no alternative than to conclude that this is a containment policy aimed at the Southeast to intimidate our people from freely expressing their anger and angst at their marginalization and treatment as second class citizens.”
He even gave a lecture on democracy, saying that in a democracy, the level of disenchantment expressed by the people of the Southeast of Nigeria ought to have provoked a serious dialogue “between our people and the Federal Executive and the Legislature.
“History teaches us that the continuous use of force to silence dissent and free speech will only accelerate the growth of dissent and dissatisfaction. Fundamental Rights of freedom of expression are critical for a successful democracy.”
Ohanaeze’s clothed masquerade got undressed with open confession of Nwodo that the body was uncomfortable and indeed, angry with the Nigerian army for surrounding the house of a young man, a none entity that is leading the Indigenous People of Biafran (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
Nwodo described the action of the army as unfortunate and that “we believe that it is a deliberate invasion of a quiet homestead (of Nnamdi Kanu), an act of provocation and a continuing policy of intimidation.”
Now, the Ohanaeze and its leadership have shown that all along, they were the ones that pushed Nnamdu Kanu and his fellow thugs to disrupt the peace and unity of this country for what is clearly selfish and self-serving purposes.
The Ohanaeze cannot claim to be ignorant of the international law that forbids two leadership with two set of laws and military formations in the same country with no clear defined reasons other than marginalization, which of course, people in other parts of the country are also complaining of.
Ohanaeze cannot claim ignorant of the fact that its arrow head, Nnamdi Kanu, has formed his own government and controls his own army and other security apparatus within the sovereignty of a supposedly one country called Nigeria. And, Nwodo wants such nuisance to be invited for a dialogue!!!
As a matter of fact, Ohanaeze, in its haste to assert its hidden agenda that has now come into the open, even accused the federal government of not deploying similar number of soldiers to deal with Boko Haram in the Northeast and other security flash points, making it to look as if the government is unnecessarily against the Igbos.
Hear Nwodo: “crimes of monstrous proportions are occurring in other parts of Nigeria. Such crimes include ravaging killings by Fulani herdsmen in the Middle Belt, Secret cult killings in Lagos and the South West, bunkering and armed resistance in the Delta, wanton kidnappings and killing of military personnel in Kaduna State and environs as well as Boko Haram insurgency in the North East. The Nigerian Army has never embarked on Operation Python Dance in any of the other five geo political zones on account of these incidences. Innocent civilians living in these other parts of Nigeria have not witnessed the type of invasion Umuahia witnessed Sunday night.”
Nwodo, the man I respected before, and his sponsored Nnamdi Kanu, might have taken for granted, a statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari early last year that his government would give the same treatment he had given to Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast, to any uprising anywhere in the country that disrupt the peace and unity of Nigeria. And what are the IPOB and Nnamdi doing? Singing P-Square music?
Ohanaeze, the sponsor of Nnamdi Kanu and his ragtag IPOB with its military formation, might just be sarcastic by turning blind eye to the serious military operations that have been going on in the Northeast to route out Boko Haram, for more than two years now, and in other parts of the country where peace and unity are threatened. Nwodo is advised to go to Northeast, Northwest, part of North Central and even Southwest and South South and ask civilians there, what they have been going through simply on account of the miscreants, like Nnamdi Kanu, that are disrupting peace.
And, so, Nwodo, who, by all intent and purposes has now openly declared support for the manifestation of Biafra through the Ohanaeze’s sponsored Nnamdi Kanu, should be ready to face the consequences of their misadventure.
In any case, is it not foolish for Nwodo and his Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB to think that President Muhammadu Buhari, a war military general, who fought to keep Nigeria one, would, at the turn of this century, be the one that would also preside over the division of the same country? Why are some leaders not using their God-given brains to calculate well? Why the sudden agitation for Biafra in Buhari’s regime? Why not during the regime of Goodlcuk Jonathan, who of course, was still pounding Otuoke street without shoes during the civil war which Buhari fought with all his strength and might? Why, therefore, IPOB would not be qualified to be treated like Boko Haram as promised by President Buhari? A version of Boko Haram to disrupt or derail his government.
When Nwodo was speaking for the Ohanaeze, the sponsored of Nnamdi Kanu for the manifestation of Biafra, in the way he did, he never thought the people listening have brains.
Too bad that they take other Nigerians for a ride for too long. [myad]