OPINION: Of Arewa Youths, IPOB And Other Messengers From Hell By Peter Claver Oparah

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Not a few tongues have
wagged since a radical Northern youth group issued an ultimatum to Igbos
to leave the North in three months. Not a few ‘patriots’ have risen to
condemn that reckless demand and describe it for what it is: a
thoughtless demand by ill-advised youths meant to cause further
disaffection amongst the fractious entities that make up Nigeria. The
ultimatum was reckless, as has often been restated, but then it is a
reaction to another thoughtless, indeed mad, agitation by some more
thoughtless and partisan Igbo youths since the 2015 electoral defeat of
former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party.

The reckless Northern youths did not speak in a vacuum. They did not
just come out to blab their mouths from nowhere. They did not come out
to dance naked in the market square for nothing. Indeed, they came to
meet their equally naked Indigenous People of Biafra compatriots in a
dance of folly. They were pushed into sounding irresponsible by an
equally irresponsible Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB, who have dangerously
played the wild card of bloody disintegration since the PDP, some of
whose chieftains unarguably back their irresponsible actions, was shoved
out of power. If you are in doubt of this fact, what is the attractant
in Biafra that draws such professed Igbo haters like Femi Fani-Kayode
and Ayo Fayose to the IPOB nectar? The lingering hate messages that have
been promoted to a general art in Nigeria today were pioneered by the
duo as they adopted desperate means to see the PDP and Jonathan remain
in power beyond 2015. Where were Nnamdi Kanu and his Biafra before the
2015 election? Or was it that Igbos were not marginalized before then?

However, the misguided Northern youths could be accused of having
carried their reaction too far, and we would do well in condemning them
for that. They should have seen through the plot to know the rotten
underbelly of the demand they were responding to and to know that not
all Igbos but an unruly, vocal minority were behind the agitation. They
would have been better schooled to understand where the issues that tail
spinned into the insensate demand for Biafra since the 2015 election
started and focused their darts on the wellheads of hate that birthed
the Biafran malady instead of putting every Igbo on the spot with their
reckless ultimatum.

I will not mince words in condemning what the Northern youths did.
Gracefully, Nigerians did not mince words in condemning them. God be
thanked, Northern leaders and various opinion leaders in the North did
not kiss them, pat them on the back and offer them dubious approval. At
least, in the open. If you feel they did otherwise at the back, it is
your job to prove. What even infuriated me and many other well-meaning
Igbos was that in issuing the ultimatum, these youths did not make any
effort to differentiate between the Igbos that saw the irresponsible
hectoring of IPOB as a way of reaching back at the Nigerian state for
taking away the feeding bottle from their mouths and those that have
been genuinely cautioning IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu in their voyage of
stupidity. They made no effort to separate the wheat from the chaff and
draw a distinction between Igbo that wanted out of Nigeria and those who
believe Nigeria best serves the Igbo people as a united entity.
Perhaps, the fault is with us Igbos for not speaking loud enough to
disown the anarchists that endangered our lives and interests in a clear
quest for selfish political interests.

The vindictive Northern youths lumped every Igbo together and
threatened to expel them from the North. They made no effort to even
leave out innocent Igbos that have lived in the North for decades, who
have been enculturated into their system, bore their children, pay their
taxes and do their businesses in the North and who have contributed
immensely to the progress of the North. To these hooded youths, they all
must suffer for the sins of Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB and their backers. This
is wrong and translates to playing into the mischievous hands of Kanu,
IPOB and their hideous backers.

Whatever prompted the Northern youths to spew such bile in demanding
the withdrawal of Igbos from Nigeria, there is nothing to justify that
nauseous moratorium. There is nothing that gives credence to the acerbic
wordings that were on display when this ultimatum was issued. There is
nothing to vindicate the liberalization of the theater of stupidity
which the Northern youths sought to display. There is nothing to suggest
we had gotten to the bend where rattling of ethnic and sectional saber
has replaced the directive principles of state policy in Nigeria. So, in
all its ramifications, the demand of a section of Arewa youths met all
the negative adjectives that have been used to describe it by cross
section of Nigerians and most especially, Northern opinion leaders sans
one or two beclouded voices.

But then, we cannot gloss over the factor that brought about the
irresponsible outing of Northern youths. The gross act of brigandage and
irresponsibility displayed by IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu was the reason. Even
as these dangerous excesses have been collapsed into a mantra of
agitation for a separate nation called Biafra, it was an overplay of
crass irresponsibility. How and when Biafra and such quirky outbursts
that were brought to bear on its demand became a toy in the hands of
politically-driven and atavistic mongrels is yet unclear. When Biafra
became the plaything for all manners of scoundrels and reprobates that
were manipulated by fleeing political poetasters is still a subject of
conjecture to those who watched the dangerous employment of Biafra for
nefarious ends since 2015.

We should be clear on this. Biafra has maintained that forlorn,
eerie, melancholic sentiment amongst Igbos since January 1970 when the
effort to secede was put down by the Federal authorities. But then,
considering the cost of the first botched attempt, it rankles that
Biafra, as desirous as it may be to many Igbos, could be employed in the
dangerous partisan way it had been employed since 2015. It is
unthinkable that political speculators that lost their deposit in
the general election of March 2015 should tinker with Biafra in such
ways as to lead a bloody uprising that would certainly have exerted much
higher toll among Igbo if other Nigerians have taken up the hate
challenge and call to war that IPOB and Kanu threw as soon as Jonathan
and PDP lost the last election. That is the reason why Igbos who
ostensibly invested so much emotion in the Jonathan/PDP victory in the
election bought so heavily into the vacuous hate and venom
that Kanu/IPOB laundered after the election. The outcome of the election
met many Igbos thoroughly disheveled such that buying into Kanu/IPOB’s
cheap, irresponsible pranks was so easy. Helped by an army of diaspora
economic refugees and cultural savages that invested and lost heavily in
the election, Biafra became a very charming talisman to cure the sad
effects of the election.

Subsequently, Igbos became purveyors of hate, laboratories of abuse
and vendors of impotent swear words who employed the social media as
tool to ventilate bile and opprobrium. The pitiable spectacle of Igbos
reduced to a bitter, swearing, insulting and hate-vending recluse that
flips off at the slightest prodding and the social media became a
dangerous vehicle that transported these hate messages to crevices
unimaginable. The sorry spectacle of a forlorn, bitter recluse pawing
away his anger and frustration on the borderless social media via the
fabrication of, oftentimes, silly, childish and despicable rubbish and
fake news marked an all-time low for the Igbos that were just needed to
manage their loss and plan a comeback after the precarious damage they
did to themselves to 2015. With the futility of such harebrained tactics
in an emerging world where fake news and insipid propaganda have only a
very short time, the Igbos nudged themselves further into mass
perdition and these found expression in a chaotic demand for Biafra with
no definable border and no agreeable mode of relationship. In fact,
what best damns the demand was that it was led by ruffians, motor park
touts and okada riders who should ordinarily warm the backseats of any
serious drive.

Perhaps the Northern youths would not have reacted the way they did
if most Igbo leaders and opinion leaders cautioned the excesses of Kanu
and IPOB. They did not. They rather played the ostrich and offered a
hidden prop not knowing that they were creating the impression of being
behind the anomie. Because Igbo got to the corner where the tail wags
the dog, it was very easy for elders, the educated and the professionals
to yield place to okada-riding, barely literate ragamuffins who took
over the airspace and threatened every voice of reason with a
combination of insults, threats and curses. Through a mixture of
cowardice and acquiescence and of course, a quaint neighing for native
popularity, these elders silently aligned with the miscreants and
together, issued fatwa to the few sane voices  who cautioned against
these malfeasances. The most pitiable in this lot is the body of retired
hustlers and political fortune traders and professional rent seekers
called Ohaneze and its affiliate groups, which found themselves in a
Golgota of sorts as a result of their purblind, partisan roles during
the 2015 election. Finding the Biafra mantra of IPOB and Kanu so
irresistible to keeping their tribal flanks, Ohaneze and its affiliate
unions waxed subtly acquiescing to Kanu’s noxious acts. Biafra became a
refuge for the litany of failed politicians and public office holders
whose decades of grand failure to Ndigbo while satiating their selfish
cravings led Igboland to its present state. Waving the Biafra bandana
and sounding off so beautifully about the utopian promises of a Biafra
became their favorite preoccupations.

Today, these anarchists have fully embraced the art of forging fake
news and distributing same on the social media for the purpose of
building eternal fear in the minds of Ndigbo, ignite a larger
insurrection and start a war fare as means of realizing their intents.
What is, however, surprising is that these gamut of ethnic warmongers
were oblivious of the grave danger they were posing to Igbos outside
Igboland as well as their investments and well being. This, more than
anything else, showed the leadership atrophy and arid vision that
afflict Igboland. That we all played deaf to the timeless warning for
caution especially given the danger such impetuous recklessness as
displayed by Kanu and IPOB posed to the lives and interests of Igbos in
all parts of Nigeria shows that the mainstream Igbo problem is
leadership atrophy which has left the race so naked as it is today.

With the above scenario, it was easy for the fiendish Northern youths
to conclude that Igbos are wholly united with Kanu and IPOB in craving
for dismemberment of Nigeria as they alluded in their irresponsible
statement. But how wrong they were. What is happening in Igboland is a
frantic political project, as recently revealed by Ralph Uwazuruike and
has nothing to do with a Biafra where life will be miraculously painless
and cozy. It is a deadly project to settle political scores, chicken
out of the larger and more intricate Nigerian political space and hew a
kingdom for the local oppressors, having battered their political
chances in 2015 Nigeria. It has nothing to do with the interest of
Ndigbo. It has nothing to do with the marginalization which those
frantically backing the IPOB insurrection created and sustained for
decades. It has nothing to do with the threatened interests of tens of
millions of Igbos who do their business and eek out their livings
outside Igboland. It has nothing to do with the wellbeing of Ndigbo who
are now being desperately incited to leave their comfort zones for a
utopian Biafra that promises to beat the existing Nigerian space in
terms of chaos and bedlam, should it come in existence.

In some ways, it is good that the northern youths issued their
satanic declaration. More than anything, it is uniting Nigerians to pull
together and disavow such similar moratoriums as they issued. But most
importantly, it is serving Igbo with the real dangers in encouraging
such irresponsible acts as IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu levied since 2015. It
forces Igbo leaders out of their nests to see danger when it comes and
make efforts to arrest it than get cowed by ruffians and cower away in
indifference. I can bet that Nigeria will be more united henceforth to
beat down such stupid behaviors that IPOB and the Arewa  youths and such
other messengers from hell exhibited. Who knows, it might even help
strengthen the unity of Nigeria.

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