Nnamdi Kanu and the labelling of a prominent Igbo man deserves mention today.
Or in its crude form, “Sabo”!
I doubt that there is any living being (including those that exist as fetuses in their mothers’ wombs); of Igbo blood that does not shudder at the mention of that word. A relic of the Nigerian genocide against secessionist Biafrans in the late 60s and earlier 70s; this word and what it connotes has been passed down by word of mouth. Furthermore, it has been handed across from generation to generation. Describing any other Igbo-born as a saboteur was an act sure to evoke instant stigmatization and distancing; because that word was sufficient to seal an individual’s fate.
There was no need to prove the accusation. All that was needed was to mention it in the direction of the accused. Thereafter, the war weary neighbors would immediately brand him as one and execute swift “justice”. For the uninformed, the word “sabo” was used to denote a Biafran who was spying on his own people; usually on behalf of the Nigerian army. Sabotaging their efforts to win the war and therefore setting himself up as an enemy against the people. Again, there was no need to prove the allegation. All that was needed was to make it.
For long, a lot of people have quarrelled with Nnamdi Kanu and his opinion and also version of Biafra. Initially posturing as a freedom fighter, one whose mission was to deliver the dream of the average Igbo man; a disengagement from the oppressive and marginalization regime of a Nigeria that was largely run and also administered by the Northern oligarchs.
It was easy initially to queue with someone who appeared to be keeping the Biafran dream burning and; at the centre of the Nigerian conversation, refusing to allow the Nigerian government paint over that sad portion of the history of the country by constantly agitating for a review of the continued terms of engagement. This was until it suddenly became obvious that there was no agenda. But to continue the same tyrannical oppression of dissenting voices; by one man whom his followers had begun to see as a messiah.
Any calls for caution to the many rabid statements of Nnamdi Kanu; even as one continued to caution the Nigerian government against being high-handed in their bid to restrain him; always sounded like scratching fingernails across a chalkboard to his followers. They do not want to be reasoned or persuaded with. It was either their supreme leader’s way – or the highway.
If their Supreme Leader, Nnamdi Kanu, declares that he is a Jew today; all of them immediately will begin to don yarmulkes and to call themselves “Shabbat Shalom”; even if they do not understand the meaning of the words they parrot. It was a bit hilarious – painfully so – watching these ones who could neither quote nor adhere to the Bible; suddenly become avid perusers of the Torah and Talmud. One wonders if they understand a word in it; but that is neither here nor there.
All of a sudden, our dark history resurrected and stood arms akimbo in front of us; requesting a retrogression into the long months of fear and pain and suspicion.
I remember the first time the word “saboteur” was thrown at me in the midst of a heated social media argument. I had felt that IPOB had no tangible strategy and were presenting themselves as rabble rousers; rather than conscientious freedom fighters. Therefore, I had called for caution and for an inclusion of every demography; so that a workable plan for how referendum could be achieved; with the least collateral damage in terms of lives and property could be drawn up.
This was not what the IPOBians wanted to hear in the heat of their “zogbue, tigbue” antics. We had warned that IPOB so far, had comported itself well with little to no violence. Therefore, the federal government was also being forced to thread lightly with them too. But when they began issuing threats willy nilly; they ran the risk of being labeled with the ultimate aim of being silenced.
Calm down and let us strategize.
That was all it took for me to be labeled a saboteur and threatened with sure death; if I ever so much as crossed the River Niger and found myself at the Onitsha end of the head bridge.
I was not the first to be so threatened, neither would I be the last.
Apparently, our Biafra was going to be one where everyone was dragged along with the rabble rousers; whether we liked it or yes. In fact, any attempts to resist were met with all sorts of abuse and threats. Women who voiced dissent were labeled commercial sex workers. Men and really vocal women like I am, were labeled saboteurs; and likewise threatened with sure death.
Is this the Biafra we seek?
One where dog has already begun to eat dog to the amusement of the hyenas?
Now, Nnamdi Kanu has taken it upon himself to issue an order for John Nnia Nwodo; the President of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, to be attacked. He stated that Nnia Nwodo was unable to prevent the invasion of the South East by the Nigerian army blablabla. And for that reason, anyone who sees him has Nnamdi Kanu’s authority to stone him to death. By Nnamdi Kanu’s calculations, Nwodo is a “saboteur”.
This may be laughable, until you consider it side by side with the fact that another prominent son of Igboland; Senator Ike Ekweremadu, was laid upon by his hosts at a new yam festival in Germany. Consequently, he was beset upon with stones as well as sticks.
Are you still laughing?
The average IPOBian would believe that carrying out Nnamdi Kanu’s orders, was his sure passport into Jewish heaven. They keep forgetting one or two things which we keep pointing out to them;
1. Nnamdi Kanu the “strong man”, is hiding away in Europe; too lily-livered to put himself in the thick of the confusion he is trying to brew back in Nigeria. He should come back home and lead by example. Let his hand be the one that lobs the stone. So that perhaps his chest will be the one that will host the bullet.
Too many Igbo youths have been lost trying to obey Nnamdi’s rabid desires; it is disheartening to say the least. Violence is not and can never be the answer.
2. Is it not laughable that you ignore the person who is posing a threat to you? Instead, you concentrate on fighting the one you think is responsible for staving off that threat? John Nnia Nwodo’s position as the President of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, makes him a diplomat. An elder statesman.
He can only dialogue.
You Nnamdi Kanu, come home and come and show Nnia Nwodo how it is done.
Until then, my candid advice to every well-meaning Igbo son as well as daughter would be:
Do not allow any divisive sentiment that would only stoke up internal tensions and in-fighting in our midst. There are no saboteurs in our midst. It is an Igbo proverb that says that there are many routes to Onitsha market; provided one arrives safely.
May we be guided and not act foolishly in the best interest of our people.