Positive events are unfolding negatively in Nigeria. IPOB is the acronym for Indigenous People of Biafra campaigning for actualization of the sovereignty of the state of Biafra, along with MASSOB, the Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra. That’s not news at all. It is already a known fact and not new. What seems to be new is the animating, or the incarnating, of the Ohaneze Ndigbo Youth Council. The story is that some Arewa Youths groups apparently led by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum issued an ultimatum to Igbos living in the northern parts of Nigeria to leave the North before October 1. This is part of the news, from Ripples Nigeria:
“Some groups from the northern region of the country on Tuesday gave the people of South-East origin, three months to vacate all 19 northern states or risk mass attacks. The groups, among them the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, said the deadline for them to leave expires on October 1, 2017.
The ultimatum is believed to be the groups’ response to the sit-at-home order by the Biafra agitators in the South-East that was massively adhered to by the people of the region on May 30.
The order which was issued at a press conference at the Arewa House, Kaduna, on Tuesday, was signed by Nastura Ashir Sharif (Arewa Citizens Action for Change); Alhaji Shettima Yerima (Arewa Youth Consultative Forum); Aminu Adam (Arewa Youth Development Foundation ); Alfred Solomon, (Arewa Students Forum); Abdul – Azeez Suleiman (Northern Emancipation Network) as well as Joshua Viashman, who signed on behalf of the Northern Youth Vanguard”
The text of the order is a topic for another day’s analysis which promises to be very interesting. Various reactions have trailed the order but on focus are the reactions from Ohaneze Ndigbo Youth Council and Indigenous People of Biafra, which seem to be contradictory. Is there really a contradiction – in the real sense?
Ohaneze Youths reacted first reacteby urging ndigbo in the North to prepare to defend themselves and not be intimidated. An important part of the reaction is as follows:
“They are at it again and this is a sad reminder of the civil war. This is how it started as a joke and before we knew it, a coordinated and simultaneous attack was launched against the Igbo in the North.
“This is a sad development considering the efforts being made to unite this country. This is a sad commentary considering the sacrifices Igbos have made in this country”
What is very evident here is that Ohaneze Youths regard themselves as Nigerians, and very patriotic ones at that, who believe in One Nigeria which is the official national position for now. Being Nigerians, and in the spirit of One Nigeria, every part of Nigeria is their political heritage, as is the case for all other Nigerians, and they therefore have inalienable rights to live and own homes and other property in any part of Nigeria. They ought to defend their rights. They are right.
The stand of IPOB has been clear from its inception: they are Biafrans designate and no more Nigerians in the real sense but only referred to as Nigerians in the unacceptable official national position. They believe all Igbos, and indeed, all members of other ethnic indigenes of the geographical area called Biafra, are supposed to have the same status. It makes no sense, therefore, staying put in the North in the face of Northern rejection; they should come home to their own country, Biafra. They should come home happily because the negative happenings have positively supported and enhanced the process of the actualization of Biafra, which they are supposedly wishing for.
None of the two positions is superior to the other and none is actually opposed to the other. They are each a standalone (unlinked and unopposed to the other) right and legitimate position. It is not that the Ohaneze Youth Council does not believe Igbos are Biafrans; they rather also believe that Igbos are equal co-owners of Nigeria and every part of it and should own their own, at least for now. Indigenous People of Biafra, on the other hand, believe that Igbos have equal rights for Nigeria and for everywhere presently part of it. IPOB seems to believe that the negative developments in the North present a positive situation which Igbos should exploit and come home to their lovely country, Biafra, to participate in the final parts of its actualization and its development as early as now.
It may seem that the position of Ohaneze Youths Council does not augur well for the security of the Igbo elements in the North given the well-known record of easy disposition of many Northerners to violence and unrestrained brutality but it behooves on the Federal government of Nigeria, and the state governments in the North in particular, to ensure their safety. This is their right to claim under the constitution. It may seem the position of IPOB is not mindful of the enormous losses of products of their sweat, what they rightly and legitimately own, by abandoning them to come home. It has to be stated, however, that issues of “Abandoned Property” cannot be allowed to happen in this age. Internationally, properties owned legitimately in every part of the world, belong to their owners and to no other.
Igbos living in the North will have to take informed personal decisions they consider appropriate given the unfoldings now and in future, on the way to October 1 and beyond.