By Mike Onyeama
In developed nations of the world, self determination or actualisation, is a right accrue to a group, group of individuals among others. Such rights which are embedded in the constitution of such nations, guides the modus operandi of the individuals or groups agitating for self determination but in Nigeria, such call for self determination is a hoax.
In one of the interviews granted the Ist leader of Biafra and the Governor of Eastern Region, Nigeria, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, he succinctly said “the real problem of Nigeria’s federalism, has always been that of imbalance,(preponderance of the Northern superiority over the Western and the Eastern regions), adding that, “the imbalance caused friction right from the day the structure was handed down to Nigeria from the British”.
After several years of staying together as one indivisible entity called Nigeria, instead of a breach of the imbalance in the country, past administrations and present have done little or nothing to address the various misgivings, imbalances, fear of the minority who are predominantly from the Southern zone of the country, leaving the country wallowing in agitations which has in recent time led to deadly protests among other vices fuelled by the imbalance.
A question may now arise, in a country like Nigeria, where the level of imbalance is conspicuously obvious, and nothing has been done to breach it, why won’t there be agitations, calls for self determination by a region who are the most affected by the imbalance? While the answer goes on the affirmative, it will be wise, to state here that the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, after it was formed in 2012 with the aim of restoring an independent state of Biafra in the South East of Nigeria through an independence referendum, has lawfully pursued its course, and has always done that within the confines of the law.
Regrettably, the Nigerian Government has always incarcerated members of this organisation whose members out of fear left the shores of Nigeria to different African and European countries and turned to refugees or asylum seekers in another man’s country. While this is happening, terrorist groups like Boko Haram which has formed an alliance with the ISWAP, are having a field day, killing innocent Nigerians while a group like IPOB that bears no arms, are dehumanised because they are tired of the marriage with the Nigerian Government.
The likes of Chimaobi Ajoku, Emeka Akujobi, Kenneth Nwosu, Cherechi Nduka, Emmanuel Ndukwe to mention but a few, all died in 2017 ensuing from clashes between the Nigerian security agents and members of the Indgenous People of Biafra, IPOB which led to a three day curfew in Aba and other parts of the State.
As this is still happening, the families of the following: Chukwuemeka Ibe, Onyebuchi Ifeanyi, Chukwudi Chinatu, Chinyere Onyekachi, Chinedu Onyewaku, Ejike Nnamani, Chituru Onyelor, Chinecherem Obilor are still weeping and searching for the whereabouts of these able bodied men who disappeared after the clashes that saw the military attack the residential home of the IPOB Leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kalu at Afara, in Umuahia North LGA of Abia State.
Similarly, Kelechi Ofor one of the few lucky ones that escaped Nigeria, after their home at Afara Ibeku was attacked by the Nigeria forces, has been declared wanted in Nigeria for being among those calling for the establishment of Biafra Republic having been adversely affected by the imbalance in Nigeria. Today,he is an asylum seeker passing through many dehumanising situations in Europe, same story goes to Onyekachi Nwakanma, who was also a product of incarceration as at 2018, but was lucky to escape from the prison during a jail break, and today he is also an asylum seeker in the Middle east while stories back home in Nigeria is that he has been declared wanted by the Police and Military authorities.
Furthermore, a certain Onwumere Vincent Ndubuisi, was wrongfully accused by the Nigerian Police of buying arms and supporting IPOB members simply because he bought bags of water for fellow comrades the day IPOB and security forces had clashes on September, 16th, 2019, his IPOB membership Identity card was confiscated, while the Nigerian authorities, quickly declared him a terrorist. But as God may have it, he managed to escape Nigeria to a place where it is not sure if he is alive.
Despite his disappearance, the Nigerian security agents are still threatening the family, asking them to produce Onwumere Vincent Ndubuisi, whom the family is not even aware if he is alive or not. It got to a point in one of their visits that they swore that they must kill Onwumere Vincent Ndubuisi if he visits home. All attempts by the parents to explain to the security operatives that their son’s whereabouts is not known to them, proved abortive.
Indeed the situation in Nigeria, has reached an alarming rate, clashes between security forces and the IPOB, has left thousands of members of IPOB missing while nothing is done to render account of their whereabouts. The families of Onyedikachi Odinaka and Micheal Ibeakor who managed to escape to neighbouring Niger Republic, are still receiving harassment ensuing from questioning over the whereabouts of their sons.
It will be worthwhile to reiterate that call for self determination is a right, in countries where leaders are not doing well like in Nigeria, it is not out of place for the governed to advice leaders to sit up and change the narratives of the country. But Nigeria today has gone beyond amendment, this is further complemented by the way the government of Nigeria go after peaceful protesters, example IPOB members while the real enemies of the country are allowed to unleash mayhem on members of the society.
It will also be wise to categorically state that the announcement by the United Kingdom Government to offer asylum to IPOB and MASSOB is a move that should be pursued vigorously. Since the Nigerian government has declared the members of IPOB and MASSOB wanted, thus fugitive in their own country, granting them asylum in any country of their choice, will assist them in settling down, after all a rejected stone, can eventually be the cornerstone.
Written By Mike Onyeama
(A Public Affairs Analyst Based in Southeast).