The increasing notoriety of the IPOB, this time as an external terror group, is yet another baffling example of the rising profile of counter-democratic forces in Nigeria. Gone are the days when the most potent threat to democracy was the military coup. The barrel of the gun has now been effectively replaced by the brigandage of rogue civilian individuals and groups who absurdly insist on realising their rabid political interests by undermining established constitutional democratic institutions and processes.
The IPOB exists on the extremist edge of such political derangement, possessed by the “actualisation” of the dead and buried corpse of Biafran “nationality”, as its crazy cause. Under the misguidance of Nnamdi Kanu, a queer non-entity who lived mostly in the UK as a south London DJ with dual British-Nigerian citizenship, IPOB, which rose from the debris of its predecessor MASSOB, took on the outlandish agenda of agitating for the “Independence and Restoration of the defunct state of Biafra”.
Coming almost four decades after the generality of Igbos had re-integrated themselves into the post-war “no victor, no vanquished” Nigeria as fellow citizens across the land, exhuming Biafra as a political objective was an unthinkable farce and an abominable re-opening of healing wounds of war. But there was clearly something sinister behind the emergence of Kanu, wearing a Jewish prayer shawl and claiming to be a Jew, while fanning embers of ethnic rebellion to dismember his fatherland in inciting broadcasts from his London based Radio Biafra.
It was no surprise that Kanu eventually focused on “guns and bullets” aimed at “Fulani herdsmen” before coming to Nigeria to, as it were, ignite the timed upheavals of provocative posturing against law enforcement and peaceful co-existence with his rapidly revitalised private army. He had no qualms in literally imposing his delusional leadership over the mandates of elected governors in his south-eastern pockets of influence and exhibiting daring defiance of court bail conditions and the wise counsel of respected elders and statesmen to exercise caution and restraint.
Only the no-nonsense “Python Dance” military operation decisively ended Kanu’s disaster-seeking daydreams and forced him to take to his heels in a clandestine escape that not only betrayed the zombie-loyalty of his “troops” but also lent credence to his mercenary mission as an agent provocateur. More devastating however was the quandary in which he left the so-called Igbo leaders who, in their own moment of myopic opportunism, dramatically embraced the irreverent rebel as their “son” and facilitated his bail apparently for pre-election interests.
The latest outing of Kanu’s IPOB followers in Europe as the terrifying enforcers of former Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu’s “Nuremburg Trials”, and threats to launch similar physical assaults against Igbo leaders, including elected governors, who visit Europe henceforth, is an indication of the IPOB determination to constitute an external and internal counterforce to the stability of our democracy. It has also been rightly viewed by Ohaneze NdIgbo and the south east governors as a direct attack on their mandates as recognized leaders of the Igbo which could indeed challenge the sustainability of democracy in the south east.
The unsettling scenario of the potential danger that the activities of IPOB pose to the integrity and survival of Nigeria’s democratic dispensation takes on an ominous implication in the face of Kanu and the IPOB’s glaring lack of credibility or popular mandate to so forcefully demand the actualisation of Biafra. They willfully refuse to recognize the right of all Igbos to vote for or against the proposition, as stipulated in the constitution.
If this is not akin to a coup d’etat in the making, it surely looks like one. In which case the Federal Government must take a renewed serious view and take necessary action to deal decisively with the looming threat to our democratic dispensation. Particular concern should be directed at the international dimension of the IPOB menace, especially the seemingly duplicitous stance of the British Government , which provides a safe haven for Kanu and his Radio Biafra to launch attacks against the Nigerian state. Even when Kanu was in legal custody in Nigeria, he was visited by members of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. There must be more than meets the eye in Britain’s interest in an enemy of Nigeria it brought up and granted citizenship but refuses to call to order!
It is worth restating that, notwithstanding the political heresy of advocating a Biafran “renaissance”, Kanu and his clique would not be seen as enemies of the nation state if they channeled their agitation through registered political parties and the National Assembly as they know they should instead of war-mongering and seeking to destabilise Nigeria. Their deliberate choice of counter-democratic pursuit of political aspiration exposes them as unapologetic saboteurs of the Nigerian state thereby deserving maximum deterrence by all means deemed fit.
•Gracelyn Eshiet is a teacher in Calabar, Cross River State