WARS HAPPEN IN THREE DIFFERENT WAYS: EITHER YOU START A WAR OR YOU PROVOKE ONE OR YOU JOIN ONE STARTED OR PROVOKED BY OTHERS.
When the political change you are seeking is not negotiated and agreed to by all the stakeholders, one of two things will happen. If you have overwhelming power to impose that change on other stakeholders, you can do so. That will be an unnegotiated change without war. Your overwhelming power will prevent resistance, and the absence of resistance will result in an unnegotiated change without war.
But if you do not have the power to overwhelming others and you seek to bring about change, you must negotiate with them. Otherwise there will be resistance to the change you seek. If you insist on that change, there will be war. The attempt to impose unnegotiated change on someone you cannot overwhelm is tantamount to provocation of war. In fact, you do not even need to mention the word “war” to provoke war or to bring war about. The effort to achieve an unnegotiated change and the resistance to that effort leads to war.
Why did I bother to make the above clarification? I did so because I have heard IPOB and its supporters say that they do not want war, that they do not seek war, that all they want is to secede from Nigeria, ie, to redefine the map of Nigeria. That is: seeking a change. IPOB has has the option of either negotiating the change with the rest of Nigeria or to impose the change on the rest of Nigeria. However, IPOB cannot impose such change because it lacks the overwhelming power. In fact, IPOB’s only option is to negotiate. If it does not negotiate, it will provoke resistance and that is war.
So, please, it will take a particularly naive and uninformed person not to understand that any attempt to secede without an agreement with the rest of Nigeria will result in war. In fact, it already did on May 30, 1967. So, we have a precedent.
We already know that IPOB does not have the power to overwhelm Nigeria. The next question is whether IPOB has the power to counter the resistance of Nigeria. No, it does not. Rather, Nigeria has the power to overwhelm IPOB. In other words, not only that IPOB has no power to overwhelm, it also lacks the power to counter resistance. Indeed, the opponent can overwhelm IPOB and subjugate it relatively easily.
Also, I have read the views of some people who believe that Nigeria’s breakup is eminent and will occur without war, ie, that Nigeria will somehow implode and disintegrate and every ethnic group would go its own way. Nothing could be as naive as this line of argument. Countries do not break as neatly and as instantly as chinaware or glass cups. It takes an agonizing period of small wars, instabilities, civil strifes, breakdown of law and order, extreme suffering and anguish before a country can disintegrate on its own. Indeed, such never happened in history. There shall come a time when external forces would come in to achieve some break. If Nigeria goes into self-propelled disintegration mode, there will be at least a 15-year rule of banditory, gang-warfare and militancy. That will be worse than any war you could imagine.
Having laid out this background, I will be bold enough to state that the position of IPOB (secession or unnegotiated restoration of Biafra) will lead to war, which IPOB is not ready to fight. Such war is not in the interest of the Igbos. It will set the Igbos back by another 50 years. Even if IPOB manages to achieve through prayers a disintegration of Nigeria (breakup without war), that is still not in the interest of the Igbos. That will set the Igbos back by 50 years.
The point of this post is that those Igbos who don’t want war, who have the interest of the Igbos at heart must be bold enough to say no to the IPOB method.
It is true that IPOB has made an excellent case against the Fulani herdsmen and the dangers they pose. It is true that we all want an immediate end to the herdsmen problem. The fact is that eradicating the herdsmen menace is not the key objective of IPOB. IPOB wants secession or restoration of Biafra without the consent of the rest of Nigeria. That is its goal and its method.
There is nothing wrong in the desire for the Igbos to form their country or to join with other groups in the South-South to form Biafra or whatever other name they call such entity. There is nothing wrong in that as an objective. However, it must be pursued in a manner consistent with the best interest of the Igbos. That is to say, it must be pursued in a manner that will not provoke war.
Any Igbo person who dares to disagree with IPOB method has been met with vicious attacks, condemnation, threats and intimidation. As a result, many Igbos who do not want war have been forced into silence in face of IPOB’s stance that is clearly provocative of war. If that war occurs, as it is already manifesting in Imo State right now, the war will not spare those who wanted peace. It will consume all of us. Why then is it that those who don’t want war will remain silent and IPOB dominates the space?
Whatever killed Gulak in Imo State, no one knows. But people are already talking of revenge against the Igbos in the North. And a professor from Abia State has been killed in Minna, allegedly in revenge of Gulak’s slaying. Yet, that professor was not a member or a supporter of IPOB. In fact, every indication shows that that professor opposed (silently) the IPOB method. Why would an Igbo man who was never a supporter of IPOB take a blow meant for IPOB? But that is exactly the irony of our reality – that every Igbo person faces danger as a result of the utterances, threats and actions of the IPOB. Therefore, silence and indifference to IPOB is deadly, more deadly than actively supporting IPOB.
Many have asked me: What shall we do about the Fulani herdsmen? What shall we do about the atrocities they commit in our land? What shall we do about the systemic enslavement of umuIgbos in Nigeria? My answer is this: We must resist the presence of the herdsmen in our lands. We demand our Governors to totally remove them and ban their presence. The so-called freedom of movement the Attorney-General tried to use to justify the criminal presence of those herdsmen must be denounced actively by the Governors. All Igbo politicians – Governors, Senators, House Members, etc must come together and take a stance on the matter. And guess what, the umuIgbo should not vote for a governor or a party that does not actively seek to enforce the ban against herdsmen presence.
I have heard that the Igbo Governors are lackies who have no minds of their own. But it is easier for the Igbos to vote out these Governors than to fight in another civil war. It beats my imagination why IPOB never tried to use its apparent voting power to remove the Governors that have failed to stop the herdsmen. Let us educate the people and show them how to remove those politicians who cannot fight against the herdsmen. How can we vote-in a politician who is a servant of the Fulani hegemony? It is much easier to educate our voters on how to vote than to educate them on how to fight wars. In fact, I wish IPOB could become a political party and clear the Igbo votes. I will probably join IPOB if they can register as a political party and renounce violence.
I use this opportunity to announce that I will be seeking to bring together Igbos who seek change for the betterment of the Igbos, but without war and through peaceful and diplomatic channels. The silence of the Igbo elite is dragging into a war that will destroy our people.
Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire, President, Eculaw Group, Founder and CEO, DPA