I have always thought that history is the best teacher. I know a lot of people who believe this.
But I am beginning to doubt. But if you still believe, then, you are with your thoughts locked up
in eternal masturbation. Something teaches us better than history. I am yet to understand what
that thing is. But I am certain it is not history.
I say this with regard to the rising agitation of pro-Biafra groups. For several weeks, these people
have protested in the states of the south east and south south. In doing this, they have exercised
their right to peaceful protest as a means of conveying their grievances. So far, there have not
been violence associated with the protests and street marches. However, within this context,
there has been a deluge of condemnation and name calling. There have been invectives poured
on the youths. I have followed most of the tantrums against the protesters. Am I angry at such?
Not at all! This is Nigeria. Anyone who looks into our past will know why Nigeria is still the sort
of country it is: we don’t work to find solutions to problems. We rather play the ostrich and wish
the problems away like they do not matter.
If we are a people that study history, and think through the progression of struggles for
emancipation, we would have realized that struggles of this nature, all over the world, are fed by
youths who had become alienated from society and from life. It has never been driven by people
of comfort. All they need is a trigger and the flames go up. Yes, it is true that the Pro-Biafra
youths are frustrated as some had argued. It is also true that they are misguided and unrealistic as
many also say. They are also confused miscreants and some say still. But the best fuels for
violence are frustrated youths who are also confused, misguided, unrealistic and alienated. Those
are the factors that made Yusuf Mohammed a reality. Out of his frustration Nigeria got a gift
–Boko Haram. Out of Gani Adams’ unseriousness we had the violent branch of OPC. Out of
Asari Dokubo’s misguided views, we were handed a Niger Delta Peoples Liberation Volunteer
Force. Out of Raph Uwazurike’s frustration with his country, Nigeria was gifted a MASSOB
(Movement for the Actualisation for the Sovereign State of Biafra). The outcomes are with us.
Those outcomes are a result of government mismanagement of their frustration, miguidedness,
alienation, unrealistic confusion etc.
I recall a meeting of media executives with then Director General of SSS, Chief Press Secretary
to the President and the Information Minister in 2006. I was present. The SSS boss narrated how
he had separately ‘arrested’ Uwazurike, Adams and Dokubo and brought them to Abuja. (I
remember that Dokubo had a red carpet and was specially flown in a Presidential jet). He said
that after investigations, they were all found to be jobless and frustrated people. Specifically, he
said Adams was just a misguided roadside carpenter. He said Uwazuruike was involved in a
husband and wife thing that had no followership but looked more like a swindle. He also said
that after some days ‘detention’ at Nicon Hilton (as it was then), they were all cautioned, and
then, given some money to “go home and don’t make noise again”. That was what the SSS boss
told editors as how he managed the situation. The effect? OPC, MASSOB and NDPLVF
blossomed. NDPLVF eventually had splinter groups and created several “generals of the
Our history tells us that Yusuf Mohammed started his outreach as The Talibans about 2008 or
even before that. Then, even security experts dismissed him as a frustrated young man who was
seeking food to survive. Some even said he was unserious. The Federal Government ignored
him. In all, we forget the Shakespearian dictum that there is no fury like that of a woman
scorned. But these are no women. They were young men who wanted to prove a point and as
such their fury could be stronger. And they did. Yusuf proved his in a more painful manner after
the state exterminated him in cold blood.
Today, the pro-Biafran agitators are asking for one thing: release Nnamdi Kanu or state his
offence and charge him before a court. I don’t think this is too much to ask for if we are indeed
prepared to nip what may become another tragic development. Government must realize that
continually ignoring such demands stokes the fire. An infiltration by renegade groups, seeking
the next battle front, may change the equation. Therefore, delay is dangerous.
Nnamdi Kanu gains popularity and followership the more governments keeps him in detention. It
was same way that Gani Adams, Uwazurike and Dokuba gained popularity to the shame of
government. I recall the reception Adams and Uwazurike received at the Lagos airport each time
they arrived from any of their detention sessions in Abuja. Such situations could be, and should,
be avoided. But with the way government is handling this matter, there is a body language
suggestion that government is daring the resolve of frustrated, alienated, misguided, confused
and economically traumatized miscreants. Again, if we look back into history, we could draw
lessons to know that such agitations don’t end with only a group of people. If it inflames, more
groups will catch the bug.
Let us not forget that in liberation struggles, even the most comfortable group, find reason to
protect itself. It become such that the decimation of the weak attracts sympathy from groups who
may see opportunities for trade. No one ever wants a war after seeing the effects in Liberia,
Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya etc. But history tells me that except for the Iraqi
Invasion, no war is planned. The plan is developed afterwards.
I am certain that none of the pro-Biafra protesters want a war. None of them is prepared for a
war. Nigeria does not desire it. No Nigerian desires one too. T if we look at it critically, those
misguided, frustrated, confused miscreants, as some have called them, may be taking advantage
of an established power norm which seems to say that unless you make some discomforting
noise, Nigeria will not take you serious. An Igbo adage says unless a young man acts like a mad
man, his family won’t get him a wife.
– By Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu