Any news-savvy individual not ensconced under the rock, not living in another planet in the last couple of years will attest to the strident publicity, increasing appeal of the Biafra independence movement.
In addition to the #BiafraAt50 Anniversary cum a very successful sit-at-home order by Biafra campaigners which took place on May 30, 2017 and completely shut down the entire southeast and parts of the south-south, on Aljazeera, July 5, 2017, Aljazeera’s The Stream featured a programme titled – #Biafra50YearsOn: Is Nigeria’s secessionist movement re-emerging?
Coincidentally, the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, also did a broadcast on July 5/6, 2017 titled –Biafra at 50: The war that changed Nigeria.
As the global awareness ramps up…the plot thickens and Nigeria increasingly looks like a country on the brink. Similar to his gung-ho military approach to the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta which subsequently petered out through deft diplomacy, President Buhari’s miscalculation and whimsical incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu transformed him into a folk hero with an impressive global cult following.
‘’Treat the surrendering Biafrans well or risk their children rising’’ – General Philip Effiong, Biafra Second-in-command, 1970
SBM BIAFRA INTELLIGENCE’ SURVEY
May 25, 2017; SMB Intelligence, a market intelligence and communications consulting firm affiliated to Stratfor, a United States-based geopolitical intelligence firm founded by George Friedman, published a report/survey titled ‘’Prospects of Biafra 2.0’’.
The report aimed to gauge the PERCEPTION and PROSPECT of Biafra in southeast and south-south Nigeria. SBM Intelligence’ says it sent correspondents to interview people in South-East and South-South geopolitical zones and also conducted an online survey open only to indigenes of those zones. SBM Intelligence’ submitted conclusively that,
‘’in general terms there is rising support for a Biafra in the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones. However, those who support secession are not yet in the majority. More people are inclined towards a restructuring within a united Nigeria’’.
I BEG TO DIFFER WITH SBM INTELLIGENCE
Given inter-alia, the abysmally narrow data set (489 valid responses out of a population set of tens of millions of Igbos scattered around the world), the poor geographic spread or spatial arrangement of the survey, I humbly dispute the conclusion of the aforesaid survey that,
‘’there is rising support for a Biafra in the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones. However, those who support secession are not yet in the majority…’’.
I think SBM Intelligence’ submission is hypothetical, debatable, fallible, conservative hence not a silver bullet.
As an information and social media savvy writer/blogger, voracious reader, a security analyst cognizant of up-to-date events, goings-on, my personal interactions with Ndigbo (grassroots and abroad), feedback from sources, open-source intelligence research, I wish to infer that if a free, fair straightforward “Yes” or ‘’No’’.
Biafra referendum is conducted under this prevailing ambiance of rage fertilized by the Buhari administration’s apparent marginalization and subjugation of Ndigbo, a Yes vote for Biafra independence would trounce a no vote.
PROSPECT OF SOME SOUTH-SOUTH STATES BEEN PART OF BIAFRA
If there is anything the Nigerian establishment is adept at, it is deploying and entrenching divide and rule schemes. Some apparently sponsored Niger Delta folks, groups have voiced out that they don’t want to be part of Biafra.
Biafra independence is not an Igbo affair. Prominent south-south persons have overtly voiced support for Biafra independence. Daily Post newspaper of July 2, 2017 reported that ex-Niger Delta militant leader, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, reiterated his support for Nnamdi Kanu, declaring that he is not a Nigerian but a Biafran.
Also, Niger Delta environmental and human rights activist, Ms. Ankko Briggs believes it is rather too late to restructure Nigeria, says Nigeria should split. Common sense, cultural, religious affinity and compatibility suggests that if Niger Deltans are given a choice between been part of Biafra or remaining in Nigeria, they will be better off , opt for Biafra independence than to be yoked, henpecked and stifled by the Muslim Hausa-Fulani oligarchy.
Recall that His Royal Highness Chief Frank Opigo Dawai 111, Amananaowei of Angliama in present day Bayelsa State was the person who reportedly suggested the name “Biafra’’ and it was subsequently adopted.
History also tells us that General Philip Effiong, the second in command to General Odumegwu Ojukwu, hails from present day Akwa Ibom state. Recall that SBM Intelligence’ conservative survey result cautiously adduced that 42.5 percent of respondents consider southeast and south-south as constituting Biafra.
On the disinformation that Biafra would be a landlocked country with little promise if Niger Delta states opt out, Wikipedia tells us there are 49 landlocked countries in the world; 16 of them in Africa. Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Ethiopia, Botswana, among others are landlocked. Nigeria with its vast shoreline is not better than all the aforementioned countries. Ndigbo are survivors and will thrive anywhere.
BIAFRA REFERENDUM, VESTED INTERESTS, AND ‘INTERFERENCE’
As is always the case, there are overt and covert vested interests in international affairs, diplomacy. Interference that could influence the outcome a political process or a referendum include inter-alia: disinformation, psychological warfare (threatening Igbos with the prospect of losing their investments in Nigeria (or a damaging scandal), psychographics, outright hacking of poll/election or referendum result.
Amid deafening calls for Balkanization of Nigeria by separatists groups such as the IPOB et al, the United States ambassador to Nigeria recently opined that Nigeria is better off together. Will the US government go all out to foster and sustain the ‘forced marriage’ called Nigeria or will they switch sides if Biafra guarantees their interests? The Buhari administration stridently supports independence for Palestinian territory and Western Sahara.
The game-plan of hedging actualization of Biafra through civil disobedience/referendum is not a walkover. Keep our eyes on the ball.
BIAFRA INDEPENDENCE AGITATION NO LONGER A PASTIME FOR RIFFRAFF’S
Prior to now, the Biafran Cause was deemed a pastime of uneducated and no-good Joe Bloggs in Igboland. The dynamics have changed. Scores of enlightened, educated Igbos and non-Igbos though not as virulent, are joining the difficult conversation which Nnamdi Kanu and other intransigent Biafra campaigners amplified and foisted on Nigeria.
I saw a video of Anglican Bishop Okechukwu Ikeakor speaking to a congregation about the patent marginalization and injustice in Nigeria. He summed up his preachment saying, ‘’you can only stop Biafra but one day Biafra will go’’.
ON SOUTHEAST LEADERS, OHANEZE NDIGBO AND NNIA NWODO
Just recently, the president of an apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, denouncing Nnamdi Kanu’s directive asking Anambra people to boycott the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Anambra state. Nwodo spent most of his time reiterating how Anambra State is ahead of other Igbo State and how Anambra people are more intelligent, sophisticated than other Igbo speaking folks.
Nwodo says Nnamdi Kanu cannot arrogate leadership of Igboland to himself. Neither does being president of Ohaneze thrust Nwodo as leader of the entire Ndigbo. Nnamdi Kanu’s tenacity, narrative is profoundly entrenched in the hearts and minds of a plethora of Ndigbo that many are ready to lay down their lives for the Biafra Cause.
While the Nigerian government downplays the ongoing Biafra frenzy, with the aid of big data analytics and the cornucopia of their surveillance and intelligence gathering tools, the United States, Russia, Israel, United Kingdom, amongst others could have a better grasp of geopolitical undercurrents in Nigeria and can predict or sway probable outcomes.
To test the waters and to ascertain the prospect of Biafra, I suggest an unofficial straightforward Yes/No question encompassing a comprehensive data set.
For instance, the Scottish referendum which took place on September 18, 2014, the Brexit referendum; entail a simple Yes/No question as to whether or not to remain part of the UK, EU or Spain respectively.
Granted many people especially on the other side of the divide loathe Nnamdi Kanu’s swagger and boisterousness but the gospel truth is that his undiluted narrative, tenacity, courage to challenge the status quo and stand up to the corrupt and morally bankrupt Nigerian brass resonates with millions of people in his part of the world and beyond.
Part 1 of this article can be found here: “Biafra – Nigeria on the brink”
© Don Okereke, a security analyst/consultant, writer is CEO, Holistic Security Background Checks Limited