Kanu's brand of Biafra agitation was becoming something else and needed to be stopped
At the tail end of the previous week, the governors of the Southeast Zone of the country and the Ohaneze Ndigbo leadership, announced the proscription of the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), asking its members and all aggrieved groups in the zone to articulate their positions on all national issues and submit it to them.
According to a news report, they also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw military presence in the zone, assuring that they had taken concrete steps to protect the life and property of non-indigenes and indigenes in the zone.
Rising from their emergency meeting in Enugu attended by the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo, the General Officer Commanding the 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Enugu and National Assembly members, the governors resolved to ensure that no activity of IPOB existed any longer in their various states. The leadership of IPOB did not honour the meeting, even though the Southeast governors acknowledged their regrets.
While restating their belief in restructuring, they however called on the federal government to withdraw the army from the zone.
Indeed, to say that Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB group have overheated the polity is to state it mildly. Although everyone, or nearly everyone, agrees that the Igbo are not getting a fair deal in the country, it is the manner in which the Biafra agitators led by Kanu are going about it that has been the problem.
While the position of the elders and leaders is that of a more planned and cautious approach based on dialogue, the Kanu group wants an all-action approach which, many fear, could result in violence and bloodshed. That fear came to pass on the first day of the army operation in Abia State where some Biafra loyalists attacked a military tank with stones and other objects and got hurt in the process.
The Abia incident was one of many where the youths threw caution to the winds and risked their lives in blind support of a man whose Biafra agitation was fast becoming that of a quest for personal glory.
Since his return from prison, Kanu has refused to listen to advice and has shown signs that if he is left unchecked, his actions will spell trouble for the Igbo Nation. When the Arewa Youth group from the North issued a quit notice to Igbos in the North sometime in May this year, they attributed it to the activities and utterances of IPOB.
Even the operation by the Nigerian Army is believed to be connected with the IPOB threat in this part of the country.
IPOB on its own has called for a boycott of the Anambra governorship election, a call that has continued to baffle many, being that the group has no business with elections.
It was really getting to a stage where it seemed as if Kanu had created monsters he would not be able to control. It is one thing to form a group but another to properly coordinate and control it, especially when emotions are high.
Kanu and his group have not done anything to douse the fear that they were getting too strong and uncontrollable for the good of Ndigbo.
It was therefore, in the light of that, and in order to quench that fire before it escalated, that the Southeast leaders proscribed the activities of IPOB.
While many people questioned the leaders' authority in taking that action, we believe it was the wisest decision at the moment, given the way things are drifting. It would have been unwise for the elders of Igboland to stand by and watch while things degenerated, with our young people daily losing their lives because some other person is goading them on to their doom against good advice.
Whatever anyone may feel, that ban, proscription, or whatever, is good for the Igbo Nation at this critical moment. Things should always be done in a planned manner or else the consequences will be unpleasant. We thank Kanu for his efforts in bringing the Igbo issue to the front burner of national discourse, but we believe the time has also come for him to work with the elders, rather than going it alone and in such a dangerous manner.
It is hoped that the polity will become calmer from now as the Southeast continues on the path of dialogue and other civilised means of correcting the imbalance in the country.
It is also hoped that the Igbo youths will calm down and listen to superior advice, while allowing those who know better to take over proceedings. Achieving Biafra is not what many of those who are making noise all over the place can do on their own. Without government support (that is Southeast governors), as well as that of Ohaneze who represent the elders, that aspiration will remain a pipe dream. It is the bitter truth.
But we also blame the federal government for embarking on this operation at such a time of frayed nerves. We also blame it for overreacting, going by the way they hit back at the protesters. Such does not happen in civilised countries.
It is equally worrisome that the federal government should ignore other, more dangerous, groups like the killer Fulani herdsmen and the Arewa Youths in the North, and descend this heavily on IPOB. Despite the herdsmen being described as the fourth largest terrorist group in the world, the FG has not lifted a finger against them. No known arrest has been made of any of those killers.
Also, none of the Arewa Youths who issued a quit order to Ndigbo in the North was arrested, despite assurances from the Northern governors and the Inspector-General of Police. Yet, the FG moved with lightening speed in arresting the Biafra agitators in Abia.
It is actions such as these which suggest that the Southeast is not part of the country, that have given fillip to the Biafra agitation. The FG's reaction is nothing but an overkill and does not inspire belief in One Nigeria.
We however hope that lessons have been learnt and we pray that now mistakes have been made, and action taken, sanity will prevail.