There is this thing called the self-destruct button. For purposes of this piece, it is a metaphorical gadget that when pressed, kills not the enemy, but the person that presses it. Indeed, it is not something anyone going to war against enemies will want to take along or to do. Really, everyone, or nearly all, knows the dangers associated with this kind of button and they do well to avoid it. But sadly, in the Igbo Land of today, some people who are supposed to know better are pushing to press this button in a rather reckless display of agitation for a new nation. I am talking about the activities and utterances of the group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
This group is among others craving to be freed from the contraption called Nigeria in which unfavoured ethnic groups have always found themselves at the receiving end.
Indeed, not many Nigerians are happy with the state of affairs in their country today. It is not as if things had been better previously. No; the difference is that they have been getting worse. Those who have been contributing more than a favoured tiny minority had discovered long ago that it was a case of our popular saying, ''monkey dey work, baboon dey chop''.
This aggrieved group includes the people of the Niger Delta who though they produce the oil from which the nation prospers, have got little in return except a polluted environment.
Another group is represented by the people of the area called the Middle Belt. They were used by Nigeria in fighting the then people of Eastern Nigeria during the Civil War. They thought then that they shared a common kinship with the ruling Hausa-Fulani class, only to
discover, many years later, that although the butterfly has wings and can actually fly, it, sadly, can never be a bird.
Now, the one time allies have fallen apart and the Hausa-Fulani are paying back the people of Middle Belt with death.
Even the first group, the Niger Delta, had in the course of the war, feared that the South East people were going to dominate them if Biafra was achieved. They (many of them) thus embraced the Nigerian Government of that time and became opposed to those clamouring to pull out of the federation called Nigeria.
Today, these Niger Deltans know better who their real friends and enemies are, but that realization seems to be coming very late in the day.
As for the Igbos who represent the people of the South East Zone of the country, they have been the greatest contributors to the One Nigeria Project. They bought this philosophy whole and entire and set up shop all over the country. They became employers of labour outside their zone and became major drivers of the economies of such places.
Other Nigerians who tried to venture out of their safe zone hardly make any positive impact in the land of their hosts. I recall the day I went to Onitsha to the house of one Yoruba man that dealt in herbal medicine. I was looking for a cure to my aching back. When I entered his one room house, I got the shock of my life. The only things in the room were a mat and a shirt hanging on a thin rope across the wall; nothing more, nothing less. I had to sit on the mat. Mind you, the mat was the original golden brown mat used in the 1970s; not the nicely patterned ones we use now.
It occurred to me that in the case
of emergency, all the man will do will be to put the other shirt he had in a polythene bag and pretend as if he was going to work and disappear. By the time the landlord comes for his rent, his tenant will have been long gone.
Compare this to the style of the Igbo man outside his zone. The Igbo man builds mansions, establishes big businesses and settles down in those far-off places with his family.
Is it any wonder that in the event of crises the Igbo man is always targeted because the assailants go for their property? Would they go after anyone whose only property is a mat? Of course, no.
This little story I have told goes to illustrate how the Igbo man has taken to the Nigerian Project whole heartedly, while the others have appeared to be mere pretenders.
But despite their valiant contributions to Nigeria, the Igbos have got nothing but marginalization, deprivation and death. This is why some Igbos have started dreaming of a New Biafra where they can be free to live their lives and actualize their true potentials.
Among those who clamour for this are the Biafra agitators, chief among who are the Movement of the Actualization of a Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). These are the militant arms of the pro-Biafra propagators. The others are you and me who however are more realistic and believe Biafra could be achieved not just in one way.
The Ohaneze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, also believes that the Igbos can remain in Nigeria and still have a say without having a physical Biafra. They, like the militant pro-Biafra agitators, are not happy with what they see in Nigeria.
Presently, they are toying with the idea of restructuring, having obviously realized that it is the best workable option at the moment. Thus the Ohaneze is planning a summit in Awka to discuss the way forward, via restructuring.
But IPOB, which rather wants a referendum, is saying no to Ohaneze, a body they should
ordinarily be taking directives from.
They have vowed to stop the Ohaneze from holding that summit.
To this end the Indigenous People of Biafra plans to invade and occupy Awka this Sunday evening and stay till Monday evening.
The group said it would occupy Awka from various states of the Southeast and South South to ensure that the proposed Ohaneze Summit in Awka is scuttled.
The group added that it would attack Ohaneze Ndigbo during the summit and that no amount of security mobilised to the venue would stop it from carrying out its threat.
A press release by the media and publicity secretary of the group, Mr Emma Powerful, stated that Nwodo and his leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo would be held responsible for whatever damage that accrued from the proposed summit.
IPOB had months back warned Ohaneze Ndigbo to desist from holding any summit that would discuss restructuring of Nigeria anywhere in Igbo land, as doing so would incur its wrath. Not long after this threat, the country home of Ohaneze president, Chief John Nwodo, was bombed, even though he was not at home when it happened.
Now IPOB is threatening Nwodo and his group again, with IPOB insisting that its interest was rather a summit to discuss a referendum for Biafra, instead of one on restructuring.
Listen to IPOB, 'It seems Nnia Nwodo and his Ohaneze Ndigbo don't understand the language of liberty. We shall meet them head-on in Awka on the 21st at Ekwueme Square. They better bring enough squadron of their Fulani soldier friends as always to provide them protection and kill us all because the summit will not hold.
'We are urging all IPOB families to mobilize to storm, not just Ekwueme Square, but to saturate the whole of Anambra State and Awka from all directions on the 21st of May, 2018. Awka will be occupied from midnight of the 20th of May to 5pm on the 21st.'
Now, if this isn't a call to anarchy, can someone tell me what it is? For sure, if IPOB carries out their
threat, there's no doubt that people will die or be wounded in a certain face off with security agencies who had already been told that IPOB had been proscribed.
But my concern is why IPOB should be turning their guns against themselves which is what threatening to fight Ohaneze and kill Nwodo and others is all about.
The enemies of Ndigbo are known; not Ohaneze or Nwodo. Any attempt therefore to cause anarchy here will only over heat the polity and offer an opportunity to the federal government to kill the IPOB fly with a sledgehammer (as always).
But IPOB are pointing their guns at their own flesh and blood. And how our supposed enemies must be laughing at us!
IPOB wants to kill Nwodo and all other elders of Ohaneze for organizing what they believe in. What stops IPOB from organizing their own summit to discuss their referendum? No one says that having a referendum is a bad idea. In the same vein, having restructuring isn't bad either. So why must people die for holding on to what they believe in?
But since IPOB wants to start killing anybody that holds a contrary view to theirs, good luck to them but let them know that it is actions like this that make some people regard them as rascally and not fit to mix with responsible minds.
They have shown little patience with those who criticize them and will easily pick offence and threaten to deal with them, forgetting that our elders will always talk when something isn't going well.
IPOB's planned action on the day of the Ohaneze Summit is ill advised, rascally and uninformed. If they kill Nwodo, what will they achieve, save to be slapped with murder charges? Will that get them Biafra? Will it win them more support?
To me, their past, present and future actions have only vindicated those who banned them. IPOB is right to be angry with Nigeria. We all are. But the difference lies in the way we pursue it and the way they do.