Political leaders and analysts remain divided on what the recent increase in agitations for a sovereign Biafran State means for the present Nigerian government and the sustenance of Nigeria’s young democracy. On the streets of Onitsha, Enugu, Port-Harcourt and Lagos, Igbos men and women are debating each other on whether the people of South-East of Nigeria need their own country. Whereas there are Igbo people that have come out and speak against the idea of a sovereign Biafran State, there are some who still believe that Igbos are better of segregated from Nigeria.
Over the past two weeks, there have increase in protests in various cities and towns in the South-East against the arrest Nnamdi Kanu, a self-acclaimed Leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the lead operator of Radio Biafra. Mr. Kanu was arrested by Nigeria’s state security agents over allegation of inciting violence and acts of treason. At the 2015 World Igbo Convention in Los Angeles, United States, a YouTube video shows Mr. Kanu soliciting for financial support for the purpose achieving his organization’s mandate, including buying weapons to fight the Nigerian government.
“In 1967 there was a blood moon before the war started. It comes once in a while. There was blood moon in 1967, there will be blood moon this year. Because after this year we are going to get Biafra, no matter what happens. If we don’t get Biafra, everybody is going to die. We are not joking,” Said Mr. Kanu.
“World Igbo Congress was set up to do exactly what IPOB is doing today. They are still deporting us from Lagos and burning our shelves. No appointment from Buhari. The oil and gas comes from our land and we say we are proud to be Nigerian.”
But not everyone at the convention agreed with Mr. Kanu. Some accused him of inciting Igbos into another needless war while others praised his courage. So far political and traditional leaders from Igbo states in South-East of Nigeria have failed to condemn outrightly IPOB’s agitations for a Biafran State.
“Their inconvenient silence are indications that some the leaders are sympathetic to Biafra cause and some might be willing exploit the group to achieve personal goals,” said Adams Osunbor, political commentator based in Lagos. Mr Osunbor advises President Muhammadu Buhari not to underestimate IPOB’s agitation and to put in place immediate strategic plans to deal with the situation.
“Members of IPOB suspected of treasons should be swiftly prosecuted in the court of law and the President should make efforts to address the legitimate concerns of people from the South-East, likewise Nigerians in other regions. Another Boko-Haram like insurgency and civil unrest will be a disaster for the whole country.”
Meanwhile the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign States of Biafra (MASSOB), another Biafra activist group, has given the Nigerian government up to November 16 to release Mr. Kanu or face uprising from its members.