By Femi Fani Kayode
I believe that it is not only the height of naivety but also deeply insulting to say that the way to stop the Biafran agitation is to offer the Igbo cake.
Quite apart from that I find it curious, incredulous and somewhat patronising that those behind the “Biafra at 50” event, which took place at the Yar’adua Centre in Abuja today, would think it appropiate to invite the leaders and representatives of a government that has blood on its hands and that is committing genocide against the Igbo and IPOB members on a daily basis to their programme.
They talk peace and reconciliation but can there really be peace and reconciliation without restitution and justice?
You can say anything and rationalise it in any manner that you deem fit but the reality is that 1 million innocent igbo children were purposely starved to death in the civil war and 2 million igbos were killed.
Worse still the problems and atrocities that the Igbo complained of in 1966 are still with us today. The very reasons that they were forced to fight that war are still with us today.
If you want peace and reconciliation, if you want to celebrate or remember Biafra at 50 and if you want to honor the memory of those that lost their lives during the struggle for Biafra the promise of a greater share in the national cake will not cut it.
Instead the first thing that you need to do is to get the Nigerian state and authorities to give an unconditional apology for the atrocities committed against the Igbo during and after the civil war.
Secondly you must reach out to those that are agitating for Biafra today with love and genuine affection and endevour to make it worth their while to stay in Nigeria by treating them with love, compassion, respect and sensitivity.
You do NOT kill them in the streets, lock up their leaders and attempt to kill their dream of emancipation from subjugation and servitude and at the same time claim that you want and believe in reconciliation. It is either one or the other.
You either love and honor them or you fight them and reject their attempt to express themselves freely or to exercise their right of self-determination.
This charade of kill them and pretend to love them all at the same time sickens me. It dishonours the memory of ALL those who fought for and believed in the ideal of Biafra.
It is like dancing on their graves and spitting on their blood.
How can you talk about Biafra and celebrate Biafra at 50 when the leaders of the new Biafra like Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB and others are not there.
How can you talk about Biafra when an Igbo who has lost every sense of self-worth and dignity is invited to the gathering.
If anyone really wants peace in this country and true reconciliation, the only way to achieve it is to set into motion a process of, and a programme for, restructuring and the devolution of power from the centre. They must also accord due respect to every ethnic nationality in this country including the Igbo.
Failing that it is only a matter of time before Nigeria breaks into two or more pieces and this will be done peacefully or not so peacefully depending on the attitude and disposition of those who believe that they own Nigeria and that the rest of us are slaves.
Encouraging was the fact that Chief John Nwodo, the respected and much-loved Chairman of Ohaeneze, was at the Abuja event. Of all those that attended, together with Pat Utomi and one of two others, is one of the few that I trust and admire. What a leader this man is. Nwodo is a man of immense wisdom and courage and well bred too.
He comes from a well-educated, noble and illustrious lineage of statesmen and political leaders of the rarest kind.
He will never bow down to ANYONE that attempts to undermine the interests of the Igbo and he will never sacrifice or betray any of the millions of young men and women from the south-east who are yearning for Biafra.
With him at the helm of affairs of Ohaeneze I have no doubt that the Igbo are in safe hands and that they will not be fooled by the wolves in sheeps clothing that organised and engendered this shameful event.