In the last few days, Anambra has witnessed its share of bloodletting disturbingly exemplified by the gruesome daylight murder of Dr Chike Akunyili, the widower of late Prof Dora Akunyili. The orgy of violence followed IPoB’s sit-at-home order on October 1st 2021, and the banning of Nigerian flags in the South East region with a threat to ‘do it their own way’ if and when the notified public failed to comply.
Conceivably, IPoB and its horde of online disciples are now screaming that the DSS is behind these attacks by unknown gunmen which have become a regular occurrence across Igboland. Ironically the same IPoB and the same followers have been tweeting in support of the faceless hoodlums to justify their bid for secession. It is obtuse that we are expected to fathom how these threats are usually made by IPoB, but supposedly carried out by the Nigerian state. Who is fooling who?
Dr Akunyili’s children, all professionals and residents in the diaspora penned a heartbreaking tribute thus: ”He was a son — as a young man, he fought as a soldier in the Biafra war. A war that earned him a bullet that stayed lodged in his skull ever since. From this experience of violence and death, he went on to become a doctor saving thousands of lives — a powerful testament to his journey through life.”
Those who watched the gory viral video of the man struggling to survive with a bullet wound while onlookers recorded his agony were appalled at how much we have lost our humanity. Howbeit that those who claim that to protect us from Fulani slavery and killings are now enslaving and killing us? I have previously argued that Nnamdi Kanu and his co-travellers may wittingly or unwittingly be acting a script by the West to push Igbos further away from political power at the centre. But that is another matter for another day. I am not talking politics now because we are all bleeding. The land of the rising sun has turned from yellow to red.
How did we get here many continue to ask.
I will tell you with some borrowed words from my previous thesis.
“We have allowed a group led by unelected renegades appropriate a sole franchise to define and proselytise our Igbo identity in a violent and despicable manner”.
That is the route we took to arrive here. Blaming Buhari, Nnamdi Kanu or Igbo leaders alone won’t cut it. It is a collective dereliction of our responsibilities, customs and tradition as Igbos.
You see, I always say that Nigeria’s political history isn’t too far-fetched. The country just turned 61 so it’s not like you have to read volumes of manuscripts to know our history. Disappointingly quite a lot of supposedly educated people are ignorant of recent happenings.
Take for instance the transformation of Boko Haram. I vividly recollect how the group’s campaign of violence started in 2007 with similar attacks as we now have in the South East. It eventually grew into the hydra-headed monster that terrorises the North East till date. We all watched video clips of how Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram was murdered extrajudicially by the police. We saw the initial attacks on military targets and eventually on civilians.
Stephen Davis, a former Anglican clergyman who negotiated severally with Boko Haram attributed the genesis of the crisis to local politicians who use militants to intimidate their political opponents.
The insurgency soon relegated the proclaimed Salafist Wahhabism to the background for economic gains which benefitted the criminals, corrupt military/politicians and even NGOs alike. The brunt was mostly borne by the innocent masses of the North East the wanton abduction of even students for ransom became the order of the day.
Now I will leave you to take a look back at the timeline of IPOB’s metamorphosis.
What do you think?
Frankly, I believe that the conflict with the Nigerian state has been in the South East for a long time now. The region willfully decided to alienate itself and confront the central government. There is no running away from this fact, and by the time the military is fully deployed with all other profiteering contingents embedded therein, Igboland will be like the North East.
However, the bigger worry is that the Igbos are the ones who will bear the brunt. How many Yorubas, Fulanis and Hausa reside in the South East? The lives lost so far are mostly Igbos. The properties and vehicles destroyed are not in Kano but in Owerri, Onitsha, Enugu and Umuahia. At a time when states like Kaduna and Ogun states are exponentially growing their IGR which just about doubles the combined total of the entire South-East states, we are busy destroying the sparse government infrastructure located in Igboland.
Isn’t it preposterous that the so-called ESN that was supposedly created to protect the region is nowhere to be found while unknown gunmen ravage Igboland? Are the ESN militants limited to marching in the forests and boasting on social media videos? Could it be that they are actually the unknown gunmen spilling the blood of those who they are supposed to protect? The killings of the last few days were aimed at instilling fear in the South East populace and coercing obedience to the Independence day sit at home order.
Much as I may agree that some of the killings in the South East were not the handiwork of IPoB because I know that governments all over the world sponsor agents to perpetrate such acts in a bid to taint perceived opposition groups. However, I am also aware of an Igbo adage about the man who fetches ant-infested firewood. We must know that even with the pockets of ungoverned spaces all over the country whenever a group’s nuisance value exceeds government tolerance that region will feel the full weight of constituted authority. Nigeria is a sovereign nation with all the security apparatus ready and able to take on both foreign and domestic enemies. Nothing will convince any right-thinking Igbo person that IPoB and the ragtag ESN can match the military might of this country.
So whether state actors or non-state actors are responsible for the bloodshed in Igboland is secondary to the urgent need to condemn it in unison. It is a fact that we have hoodlums at large from prison breaks. We have read about how Kanu instructed his militants to kill and snatch the weapons of security operatives. A truckload of weapons was intercepted by providence. And we watched the abduction and mutilation of a saboteur. All these constitute a deadly recipe for a prolonged period of violence.
However, I believe that the federal government will continue to look left since the nation’s source of revenue is not threatened. Shutting down Onitsha Main Market for a year has little effect on Bonny pipelines. Therefore, a smart leader will want to avoid being accused of militarizing a region where even elected lawmakers have accused him of perpetrating genocide. I expect President Buhari to ignore the South East until her leaders come cap in hand begging for his intervention.
One thing is certain though, some Igbos do not easily relinquish their source of income regardless of public perception. And IPoB is a huge profiteering racket. So I can tell you for free that the monster we created isn’t going away anytime soon. It will remain with us long after Buhari has retired to Daura, with his kunu and gworo.
They say once beaten should be twice shy however, that wise saying sounds discordant right now. The truth is that watching how Igbo youths cheer the destruction and killings in our homeland, one can only conclude that it is just a matter of time before we start witnessing suicide bombings. So we should be ready for the consequences of our actions or inactions. In the end, those who survive will realise once again that there was never a good war or a bad peace.