Ik Muo, PhD.
Anambra is in the news of late. In the first instance, it is for good reasons: the inauguration of Mr Governor, Professor CC Soludo and his initial sure-footed steps. The inauguration was devoid of money-guzzling fanfare. He visited Okpoko as promised and the clean-up has started. He nominated his commissioners within record time and these have been confirmed. The office of the first lady appears to be on sabbatical and this is a good one, given our awful experience with the last occupant of that unconstitutional office, including the valedictory slap incidence. And then, we have also been on the news for the wrong reasons: the arrest and humiliation of the ‘working’ Willy Obiano, his wife’s Senatorial ambition, and the activities of the UGM, the viciously enforced but ‘voluntary’ sit at home (SAH) and the illogical, irrational utterances of some UGM supporters. The Prof-Governor had convoked a peace building and security round table, and in cohort with the distinguished attendees, declared Monday, 4/4/22, a day of prayers to mark an end to wasteful SAH. The so-called defenders of Biafra went haywire, badmouthing the governor, accusing him of setting up our people for death, fighting against his own people and being a traitor like Hope. They also asked how he had compensated those who had died in the process, why SAH should be his first concern and finally, they declared that the SAH was a little way of appreciating Kanu for speaking up for Ndi-Igbo. Of course, if they had been affected and afflicted by the UGM murderous activities, they would not have espoused these views and some of them, like Simon Ekpa, are enjoying the good life outside our shores. That was as IPOB declared unequivocally that it had nothing to do with the SAH and supported any measures against the rogue-enforcers.
To drive their point home and create an atmosphere of fear, the UGM murdered some FRSC officials at the Uga-Igbo-Ukwu highway. Incidentally, I interacted with these innocent, harmless and unarmed FRSC officials on Tuesday, 29/3/22. I pray for the peaceful repose of their souls and divine consolation of their families. It is also reported that they attacked the church where the Governor had the symbolic Mass on Monday. How can destruction of lives, businesses and properties in our own DOT corner secure Kanu’s freedom, or lead to the materialisation of Biafra? Is that how we will run the expected Biafra? And by the way, where are our security and intelligence agencies? Are they for us or against us?
The governor has followed this up and in fulfilment of his promise established a star-studded Truth, Justice and Peace committee to work on the insecurity in Anambra and by extension, the South East. People have also attacked the Governor, asking why he did not interface with other governors and attacking the composition of the committee. That is government in practice; it is normal for the governor to have people critiquing( not criticising) his policies and programmes. And just a day after establishing the Truth Committee, the UGM dared the Governor by torching the Aguata LGA Complex , terrorising the Ekwulobia-Aguluezechukwu axis and causing some mayhem at Igbo-Ukwu, my hometown.
What exactly do these people want? Are they really ndi Igbo and if so, are they from Anambra State? How can they adopt the scorched earth policy in their own home? Meanwhile, the Governor is right to have prioritised the SAH and insecurity challenges in Anambra state. There is no way Anambra will be a liveable megacity where we will enjoy to work, trade, invest, rest and retire if we live under the terrorist shadow of UGM.
My views about these senseless bloodletting and coerced solidarity have not changed and I present herewith my comments on the Ghost Town Monday and allied matters, written some 6 months ago, with a small haircut. Read on.
Our people have many proverbs and idioms used to define the unlucky or ill-fated fellow. He needs to pick his teeth after drinking water; whenever he goes hunting, even the tortoise would learn how to climb; the day he searches for a wife, only mad women would be available and the day he wants to ‘do’, the lady’s ‘holy-of-holies’ grows thorns. As you can agree with me, these are unusual occurrences, with water sticking in between someone’s teeth, as the weirdest. But that is the fate of onye chi ojoo (the ill-fated fellow). As it is, we, the DOT-people or IPOBians, ( for PMB, every ‘onye-Igbo’ is IPOBist) have become the quintessential ill-fated people. This includes Dave Umahi who swore that Ebonyi would NEVER be a part of Biafra because that would be tantamount to second slavery ( haa)! I don’t know whether he spoke for himself or for his people and whether he has bothered to find out those who constitute arch-IPOBians; those who act before they think on behalf of IPOB. Anyway, because we are an ill-fated people, whenever we or some of us do less than 1% of what others do freely, it becomes a front-page news and we, all of us, become subjected to the ‘language–they-can-understand’ treatment. By the way, there is a book titled ‘An ill-fated people: Zimbabwe before and after Rhodes’ by Lawrence Vambe and published by Heinemann in 1972. I read it during the period when I read ALL the titles in the African Writers Series.
Just look at the recent front-page news and you can understand what I mean. This includes the militarisation of ana-Igbo, and the arrest and brutalisation of Chief Chiwetalu Agu for wearing a Biafranist attire. But nobody has said a word to Gumi, the uncrowned Minister of Terrorist Affairs(he has already requested for the establishment of the ministry), or Executive Consultant to bandits, who hobnobs with heavily armed assorted bands of terrorists, who pleads that we stop killing bandits because they have families and who just said that Nigeria would end if Buhari declared bandits as terrorists (which is what they are). Even the armed terrorists are neither arrested nor ‘neutralised’ because, according to the great Lai, the government does not want to harm innocent citizens, because they are petty criminals who love Nigeria and because they are a favoured people. But the reverse is the case with my people, my people because, we are an ill-fated people.
In the past few weeks, it has been a reign of terror (ROT) in Anambra state, supposedly by UGM. The gruesome murder of Dr Akunyili was the height of it. Of course, the carnage at Nnewi, (the burning of the house of the drainage specialist, Joe Igbokwe, together with the DSS and FRSC complexes) and the attack on the Project Specialist, Hon Azubogu, occurred around the same time. Then came the attack on APGA rally at Ihiala on 12/10/21.Some people have already accused IPOB and its ‘military arm’ ESN of complicity. Suddenly, just suddenly, Mr Malami, announced the intention of the FGN to declare a SoE (State of Emergency) in Anambra State. A look at the terror statistics in Nigeria shows that before SoE gets to Anambra, it would have become a national affair. In the first 6 weeks of 2021, 1521 Nigerians were murdered by NSAs (Non-State Actors), with Kaduna, Zamfara and Borno states responsible for 497, 267 and 257 respectively. The Southeast and the entire South accounted for 85 and 300 respectively, making the SE, the most peaceful region in Nigeria. Yet, the South (SE, and Anambra in particular) is where the pythons and crocodiles are gyrating now, in the forms of golden dawn, enduring peace and still-water. You don’t get peace by raw force or fiat and the water cannot be still when it is consciously being troubled.
Now just the other day, Nnamdi Kanu was brought to court and charged with, among others, insulting the President and looting the Oba’s place in Lagos. But we all saw when a young man slapped the French President the other day and in a lesser degree, the public hot-slap given to Brig Gen Abedin Khorram, the Governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province on 23/10/21( long before the Biancarish award-winning slap!). The most laughable however, is the one about looting the Oba’s palace. On 21/10/21, Olawale, Ajayi, Rafiu, Lukman et al were charged for the invasion of Oba’s Palace. These names do not sound Kanuish. By the way, if the FG charged Kanu to court for badmouthing the President, what will it do to Fani Kayode? They just rewarded him: they invited him to come and chop!
Now, the precarious situation in Anambra and indeed in the Southeast, started with the Ghost Town Strategy (GTS). It started with Monday lockdowns and then the rebuttal of the GTS by IPOB itself and then the brutal attempt by some unknown elements to enforce the same lockdown. And then the GTS became amoebic. One week, it is just Monday; another week it is Monday and Tuesday or Monday and Thursday. So, when you wake up every morning, you listen to news and rumours to ascertain whether the day was open or closed. And if you wanted to schedule an activity, you would undergo a 30-day dry fasting so that the date would not fall into a GTS day. There was even threat of 30-day lockdown a. As it is now, nobody is sure of who is announcing or enforcing the lockdown. But people, remembering what had happened to those found on the wrong side of the Ghost-Town days, have decided to stay away but some of us claim that the SAH evidenced love and support for IPOBism. Of course, people in Imo spoke, when they mobbed an Unknown Young Man enforcing GTS (which was why those at Nsukka deployed masquerades for the enforcement). Nobody brings war home!
Incidentally, I have been on the road on 4 of these lockdown days, not necessarily because I wanted to prove that ‘nothing mega’, but because I just had to travel on these days. On the first day, I went to the Igbo-Ukwu market square to see things for myself. I have also spoken to a lot of people, those who are directly affected by the lockdown; the ‘ejehu olu ma elighi nni’ group (Those who cannot eat unless they go to work). The last two people I spoke with were drivers, who appeared sympathetic to IPOB but decried the lockdown, which had impoverished them. On 25/10/21, transport workers in Abia State asked IPOB to provide them with palliatives to cushion the negative effects of these ghost-town days, including some vehicles burnt in the process of enforcement.
So, who is responsible for this ROT in Anambra State? As can be seen in the charges against Nnamdi Kanu, the Government is ready to accuse IPOB of everything, including the number of police tollgates on the Shagamu-Onisha high way, the increasing bloodletting by the ‘harmless’ bandits or the wrinkles in Buhari’s face. IPOB has denied involvement and promised to cut the ears of those enforcing the GTS. But our security officials will accuse IPOB before even getting to the scene. We should however remember that the founder and GO of ‘Hopism’, Governor Uzodinman had told us that 70% of those arrested for the Imo mayhem were not Nd’Igbo. And then, a meeting of traditional rulers in Imo State ended in an orgy of blood. It had been reported officially that the policemen on duty were recalled by their commander before then. What has our security people done with both intel?
What I believe is that some criminal elements are hiding under the statements by some loud-mouthed IPOBists to inflict pain and confusion in Anambra. More so, the one and only Enynnaya Abaribe had declared that there are more than 30 separatist groups in the South East. However, IPOB has gone ahead to openly accuse the Chief Hopist of culpability in this matter, listing the names and phone numbers of those involved in recruiting fake ESN members to cause the regular mayhem in the entire Southeast. You want me to mention the names? I have not written my will yet and I don’t have the money to buy justice for myself.
But why do we still talk of UGM when governor Umahi threatened the other day to punish the parents of UGM? If he knows the parents of the UGM, then he sure knows the UGM!
I want to state unequivocally that the GTS, which costs Anambra State N19,6bn each day or N3,8trn cumulatively (according to Soludo & Ohaneze) cannot be in the interest IPOB, or even the Igbos. It is consciously contrived self-inflicted wound because we are punishing and brutalizing ourselves, and destroying our properties. Most important, PMB and his government do not give a damn. If PMB did not notice the El Zakzaky group, which was protesting in his ‘doormot’ for months, how will he notice and respond to people engaging in self-annihilation of the DOT part of the country? One uninformed local told me on the first day of the SAH that government would be pained by the amount of money (levies and taxes) it would fail to collect on that day, which was an Nkwo-market day. I just laughed! How much does the FG collect from Nkwo Igbo-Ukwu? Even if it fails to collect anything, the CBN is there to provide ways and means advances! However, the GTS hurts our people and you cannot save or liberate the people by inflicting pain and sorrow on them. As one Unknown Compatriot had asked after the first Ghost Town Monday: who owns the busses that were burnt today? Who owned the goods in the busses? Whose businesses were truncated? Who was killed? Whose children were stopped from taking NECO math’s exams? Whose children will be denied admission into tertiary institutions because they did not have Maths? Who is being affected economically? To all these questions he responded: Igbo Man. Unfortunate; Sad!
I agree that sacrifices are needed to achieve any worthwhile objective but the sacrifices must be strategically aligned to the said objectives. And now, Anambra State is said to have approved a Monday-Saturday School week because of the ghost-Mondays. And that is after the Governor and South East leaders had ordered a stoppage of the GTS, to which IPOB responded ‘you no fit’! Governor Ikpeazu who is doing signs and wonders at Aba agreed with them, saying that the SE stakeholders, including governors, lacked the capacity to stop the GTS.
I witnessed the Biafran war of independence, LIVE and I will not wish for an encore of it. However, separation does not always mean war and in any case, we cannot because of fear of death, run away from war that is brought to our doormot. As our people would say, one cannot, for fear of a monkey, fall down from the tree. Also, if we want to go on our separate ways, we must talk it over; everybody MUST be carried along (not the type of carrying along by our politicians). Our people say that with proper negotiation, people will readily end up in the mat (What do they do on the mat? I no know!). Most important, we must prepare for it to the best of our capability. Being oji onu egbu oji (one who fells the iroko tree with his mouth), is NOT an optimal strategy. It is not even a strategy!
Conclusion is what writers do when they are tired. I want to condemn all the bloodletting and syndicated ROT in Anambra State. The killings and ROT, including enforced GTS is not in our interest. However, the degree of Igbofobia, IPOBfobia and DOTfobia in the presidency is condemnable and stands condemned. I also repeat ad-nauseum, my age-old view that the way Nigeria is presently structured and run is NOT sustainable. This cannot stand and something MUST happen in that regard. What will happen when and how it will happen, the son of man does not yet know. But things cannot continue to be done the way it is being done today.
As I was writing this, ‘somebody’ wrote: Sunday Igboho crippled; Nnamdi Kanu incarcerated, Gumi& Miyetti Allah, protected. And now, Justice Ladiran Akintola has just ruled, in a suit filed by Sunday Igboho, that based in international and domestic laws, agitation for self determination is LEGAL. So, wither the consolidated suit against Kanu?
Ik Muo, PhD. Department of Business Administration, OOU, Ago-Iwoye. 08033026624