“If you are emotionally attached to your tribe, religion or political leaning, to the point that truth and justice become secondary considerations, your education is useless, your exposure is useless. If you cannot reason beyond petty sentiments you are a liability to mankind” – Dr Chuba Okadigbo
There are lots of opinions and counter opinions out there after Governor Wike reacted to the violence he had seen in River State even after a statewide curfew.
Don’t blame him yet for enforcing the Federal Government’s proscription of IPOB. Perhaps, there would have been a better way to handle it or this is the only way to handle it. Why did he have to do it now? Why didn’t he place a bounty on the leader of IPOB in River State before now? Can you put yourself in his shoes and still criticize him for that?
I’ll try to communicate my thoughts in a very simple way. This is my opinion which I have every right to.
When innocent and well-meaning citizens took to the streets to protest against police brutality, there was no violence recorded, at least not on a large scale. The only violence experienced in some places especially in APC communities were against the #ENDSARS protesters. The protesters were largely organized and focused, they showed unity regardless of tribe and was only concerned with seeing a better Nigeria.
While the protest was on, it was obvious that in South-East and some parts of South-South, IPOB members were infiltrating it. In what I would call a wise counsel, Uche Okafor-Mefor, who is serving as the deputy director of IPOB wrote saying
“Biafrans/IPOB family members joining the protest must make it as “anonymous” as possible at this stage. You must smartly not display Biafran flag and other paraphernalia. You must not have any information that betrays or gives you away easily on your phone. Common sense must prevail at all times. Every protester in Biafraland and elsewhere is an indigenous person. The inspiration is Biafran, the spirit is Biafran, the groundwork is inspired by the resilience, and the indestructible spirit of Biafran ingenuity but this is now collectively THE PEOPLES’ REVOLUTION. Desist from making it a Biafran affair for now, it must be uniformless, sectionless and as AMORPHOUS as possible at this stage.”
I believe Uche Mefor understood better how these things work, his counsel was a very wise one and if it was left at that, it would have worked out well for the good of everyone. It was common sense that the protest shouldn’t be hijacked.
However, after the Lekki Massacre, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB announced and instructed his followers to capture politicians, destroy their properties, target government facilities, storm prisons and free inmates.
I listened to this broadcast myself. There had been such statements before and they were waiting for the right time to strike. They leveraged on the opportunity which wasn’t wise. It was problematic for IPOB and the purpose of the protest as well.
He, however, said further when it seemed the attack had gone beyond their initial target:
“Cardinal Rules of this Revolution*
- No attack on Banks.
- No attack on private homes and businesses.
- No ethnic bigotry, Nigerian youths are united.
- No attack on mosques and churches.
- If you are attacked by the police or army, retaliate. It’s called self-defence.
- No attack on fellow citizens.
- Arrest every corrupt politician and traitor regardless of tribe or ethnicity.
- DEMAND TO SEE BUHARI IN PERSON. He must address Nigerians in English and Fulfude.
- ‘Buhari’ should answer questions LIVE from Nigerian youths via a phone-in.
Nigerian youths have demonstrated how formidable they are, they MUST destroy everything that has been destroying their lives especially bad government.”
For me, it was damage control and the damage was already done! They wouldn’t have been involved at all in the first place because their involvement would cause a lot of problems like I have pointed out.
IPOB was proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the Federal Government which was wrong, IPOB however, should have known that certain involvement in national issues would give credence to that. Breaking into police stations and carting away with firearms makes it even more obvious.
River State has a very high population of IPOB members especially in Port Harcourt, same as many states in South East. While people took to the streets, it became an avenue for people to destroy properties of those they never liked, it became an avenue for anyone to do anything. Because the IPOB members were instructed to use some sort of violence, it was easy for anyone to do anything using IPOB as a cover.
The peaceful protests went on without a leader, every government official knows this but IPOB has leaders and anything that was done in their name will become a tool to be used against them. Many government properties were looted and torched, many facilities thought to be owned by politicians were looted, they also went on to the properties of private citizens because whatever they were asked to do presented them with the opportunity to do so.
IPOB’s involvement also became a tool for ethnic bigots, they accused Igbos of being responsible for attacks in Yoruba states and started using it to plant seeds of hatred and disunity among people who were once united for a cause. If IPOB didn’t involve themselves, their involvement wouldn’t have been weaponized.
Prisons were broken, inmates including hardened criminals were freed and ammunition was carted away. No Governor or political leader would look at this and treat it with light gloves. You can’t destroy public properties and except a governor to be happy! While the governor will not repair these things with his money, he was elected to lead and protect his state and these destructions will affect their credibility.
Nnamdi Kanu took responsibility on behalf of IPOB for the Warri prison break, he wrote
“WARRI Prison liberated, many more to follow!”
This means every prison break can safely be credited to IPOB and that is very dangerous for the cause of IPOB. Every attack on Politicians and people of influence can also be credited to them because he said: “arrest every corrupt politician”.
Again, Nnamdi Kanu wrote:
“We have located the mass murderer Okezie Ikpeazu, the former Governor of Abia State. He is hiding in the home of Philip Nto (former Abia State Commissioner of Finance) in Ameke village, Ututu Arochukwu. Find and arrest him.”
He was instructing men who have not been trained with rules of engagement to arrest politicians. As long as these people are not trained, it will always degenerate to violence, looting and fights!
Only illiterates can be used to launch attacks on properties and these illiterates can only understand attack! They can’t understand “don’t attack private properties”, they believe the rich is their problem and so every rich man is often considered an enemy of their cause.
No governor will sit comfortably and watch these things going on without taking actions. Before now, Governor Wike had not issued a very hard statement against IPOB but the amount of destruction that went on in his state may have warranted that. A governor is supposed to be the Chief Security Officer of their respective states, at the end of the day, it will all fall on their table.
If not for anything, for breaking into prisons, looting firearms, attacking politicians unlawfully and destroying government properties, whatever River State Governor is doing is what you may also do if you were the governor.
Let me summarize by saying this. It was wrong for anyone to hijack the protest that was championed by Nigerian youths, it was wrong and a cheering display of cowardice for anyone to have hijacked it! Like Uche Mefor said, the protest was not about Biafra, it was wrong to make it one, IPOB should have stayed off it entirely and if they wanted to protest, they should have done that at their own time after the #ENDSARS protest is entirely over.
Permit me to also say, Biafra is not the solution to Nigeria’s problem, Nnamdi Kanu is not the saviour of Igbos. He has guts, there are roles he can play, he commands authority but he is not the saviour. It is fellow Biafrans who attacked brothers, they are the ones who made the poor poorer by looting shops, they are the ones who took us backwards by destroying infrastructures. Biafra is not the solution.
Until we liberate ourselves mentally, Biafra will only be extraction of Nigeria.