So even the leadership of our so-called Ohanaeze Ndigbo still lives and shares in the illusion that Biafra died in 1970 and as such that all matters relating thereto ceased to exist thenceforth – based on the imposed and theoretical “end” of the Nigeria-Biafra war which in the estimation Yakubu Gowon ended on the note of no victor, no vanquished? Indeed, to say the least, it is just a pity that this sort of remark could be blurted out by an ordinary Igbo person in the first instance, let alone when it is reported to have emanated from a hitherto highly respected group of elders who as a matter of fact are not only in position to know but also to speak authoritatively about the fact of the subsisting state of Biafra in the hearts and minds of the vast majority of our people (old and young alike) and in their spirits too.
Of course, we have been reportedly told by Dr. Chris Eluomunoh (the Chairman of forum of state Presidents of Ohanaeze in the seven Igbo-speaking states) that the mere fact that the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi, did contest for Senatorial election under the Nigerian political fabrics, and coming in the aftermath of the Nigeria-Biafra war, marked the actual demise of Biafra as a sovereign state (?). Anyway, much as it is not the intention here to begin to join issues with some of our highly respected elders and chieftains of Ohanaeze Ndigbo on issues bordering on the raging pro-Biafra demonstrations across the states of the Igbo enclave and beyond, the truth of the matter is that our individual and collective failure to set the record straight now, and within the purview of justifiable historical realities, will not only amount to doing a great disservice to ourselves and posterity alike, but also it will avail charlatans, opportunists and, above all, mischief-makers ample opportunities to re-write our history for us and in the process present and propagate sheer fallacies, canards and personal opinions as historical facts.
To begin with, perhaps not a handful of us (Ndigbo) still recall that it was basically because of this sort of unbecoming attitude and unhistorical remarks which tended to emanate from certain members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo that the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu would be impelled to disagree sometimes with the positions being canvassed by the leadership of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on certain serious issues of regional interest and concern, during his life time.
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Moreover, concerning Dr. Chris Eluomunoh’s assertion that Biafra died since 1970 and which, according to him, can be well buttressed by reference to late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s political participation in Nigeria, there is no gainsaying that this is one of the examples of the awkward mentality of some of our Igbo elders and Chieftains of Ohanaeze Ndigbo who, while parading themselves as leaders, are most unfortunately endowed with oddities instead leadership qualities and this in itself can be implicated as part of the bane of Igbo leadership. And the reasons for this submission are not far-fetched.
First and foremost, as one may wish to know, what has Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s political participation in Nigeria, in the aftermath of the Nigeria-Biafra war, got to do with the obvious fact that the people of Igbo nation, particularly their youths, still desire and agitate for self-determination and/or the establishment of the sovereign state of Biafra, decades after the Nigerian state led by General Yakubu Gowon had brutally waged one of the bloodiest wars in the history of humanity against their forebears? And even though the people’s General, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, did rightly decide to participate actively in the Nigerian politics (which we all know is a continuation of war by other means), does this decision in itself vitiate the fact that this legend never for once gave up on Biafra and the pursuit of the cause of his people till he breathed his last? Even by stretch of anybody’s imagination, is there any proof that Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu did at any time downplayed or undermined the agitation for Biafra or the fact of its survival on the minds of the people?
On the contrary, rather, it is still very much on records that Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu never relented in giving his unalloyed support to Mr. Ralph Uwazurike-led Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), throughout his life and time. Incidentally, unlike Dr. Chris Eluomunoh and his ilk in the Ohanaeze Ndigbo group, our dear Ojukwu would never have failed or hesitated to pressure President Muhammadu Buhari to release Mr. Nnamdi Kanu unconditionally, if he were to be alive today.
To this end, it will suffice at this juncture to take a look at his immortal words of reproach to the then government of President Olusegun Obasanjo over the continued incarceration of Ralph Uwazurike and other MASSOB members as follows: “There were so many still in detention. And very often, you ask, what have they done? Why are they still in detention? It’s like you and I are talking. Today, the Niger-Delta is in flames but their union leader, with all threats he has made, is not in detention now. On the Yoruba side, in the West, the leader of OPC, everybody knows. He is not in detention. Why do you then have to keep locked in detention, Ralph Uwazurike? He is still there in detention. Sooner or later people will say it’s because he is an Igbo man” (see Newswatch, July 30, 2007).
Interestingly, does the above excerpt portray late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in any way as a man who actually gave up on the cause of Biafra or one who chickened away from supporting his people’s inalienable right to peacefully, legitimately and non-violently seek self-determination from the Nigerian state?
On the other hand, assuming that Biafra became a dead phenomenon in the 1970 as Dr. Eluomuno is inclined to think, then the question that follows is: why does the name (beyond looking at the increasingly current agitation over it) still evoke concern, fear, trepidation, comments, actions and reactions? In the same vein, why must the likes of Generals Gowon and Obasanjo appear to be in a hurry to speak to the public about the dead (phenomenon) called Biafra? Or, is it no longer customary and instructive in our clime not to speak (ill) about the dead? Or, again, could it be that Dr. Chris Eluomunoh merely wants the pro-Biafra protesters to reckon with his self-conceited idea which seems to postulate that an unrealizable dream of yesterday can no longer be earnestly pursued or realized as a viable last resort of today or as the hobson’s choice that allows for the attainment of a guaranteed prosperous future for a people?
Indeed, it is high time that Dr. Chris Eluomunoh and his Ohanaeze Ndigbo group co-travellers began to throw their weight behind the growing demands for an immediate convening of a United Nations’ backed referendum in Nigeria and the non-violation of the inalienable right of Ndigbo to seek self-determination, bearing in mind that the Nigerian state as presently structured and operated, especially under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari, is clearly nothing to build on and repose a people’s hope in it for their general good and security alike.
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