Here is a piece between IPOB and Boko Haram, as written by Olakunle Abimbola.
Caveat emptor! This piece is not for the glass-jawed. No punches shall be pulled!
The South East has a democratic right to rock its space, so long as it’s within the law.
But its actions — and consequences — are a lesson to the South West; since some not-so-smart Alecs are already pairing the two for cheap points.
After Igbo-on-Igbo violence by “unknown gunmen”, the IPOB madness in the South East hit new lows with hoodlums storming schools and chasing Igbo children from WAEC examination halls.
The holy cause? Sit-at-home decrees to spring Nnamdi Kanu from detention, pending his trial for alleged terrorism, treason and allied charges.
Those whose parents fed flowery fibs as one-track victims of the original Biafra, are set to feed own children one-track rainbow tales about neo-Biafra!
A fitting gist, for that moonlight fable, would be those that raided Igbo schools, and set Igbo teachers and Igbo pupils scuttling in panic, and made a tinder of Igbo teachers’ motorbikes, were Boko Haram zealots — no, not the Kanuri original from the North East; but the hated Fulani (sent by Buhari — who else?) from Daura, North West!
Still, as this tragi-comedy reels out in realtime, good old Karl Marx wafts through it all, as some morose sound track: history repeats itself, first as tragedy; then, as farce.
Sit-at-home strikes hit the Nigerian consciousness, most successfully in Lagos, during the June 12 struggle, from 1993. After military goons, ordered by Gen. Sani Abacha, had mown down street protesters, the organizers shifted to sit-at-home strikes.
Now, between MKO Abiola, the first beneficiary of sit-at-home; and Nnamdi Kanu, the IPOB wannabe beneficiary, do the parallel.
Abiola won a free presidential election. IBB cancelled it. So, sit-at-home was to revalidate that sacred mandate, and later free its holder, by a raped electorate — most especially in the South West, after other regions had distanced themselves.
Kanu, on trial, jumped bail. Before that, he shredded his bail terms, procured for medical reasons, though he was only one of a three-some in the dock.
Before and after, he never let go of his reckless baiting of anarchy and goading of inter-ethnic, inter-faith tension; his rude and crude stuff one of the reasons the Nigerian government imposed the Twitter ban.
So, if sit-at-home would press MKO’s free presidential mandate, sit-at-home must also push Kanu’s democratic right to viciously traduce others, set ethnics against one another, consecrate his bail-jump, and spring him from trial for grave charges, right?
Talk of history repeating itself as tragedy and farce!
Of course, of course — he fights Igbo marginalization: the same “marginalization”, this time of the Yoruba, Sunday Igboho (their Igboho Oosa!) tactlessly pushed until he landed himself in cruel Benin gaol, where like Roberto Duran, that famous Panamanian boxer, he now shouts “no mas! no mas!” to any “Yoruba Nation” rally in his name or his mother’s!
True, as the rights lobby that goaded him on would gloat, an Oyo State High Court in Ibadan just awarded Igboho a N20 billion damage for wrongful invasion on his home.
But that, even if Igboho prevails at the Supreme Court, hardly cancels out the right of the state to arrest any citizen accused of crimes. It just insists on civil arrests.
Indeed, the Kanu-Igboho link becomes all the more enthralling, given their current hallow as “freedom fighters” (at least in the excitable media, and in rights ideological conclaves), against the sheer hollow of their past hustles.
Pre-IPOB, Kanu was an unabashed hustler for PDP’s embattled President Goodluck Jonathan, particularly in those terminal days, when it was becoming clear the feckless Jonathan might lose power; and the South East/South-South political elite, their federal honey pot.
In truth, it was that desperation-turned-bitterness that launched Kanu from foreign legionnaire of PDP power hustle, to IPOB local enfant terrible!
Remember how the so-called New Avengers started the South-South campaign to make Nigeria ungovernable; and how the mainstream South East elite drummed up their politics of unbridled hate and mind-poisoning? Behold, the IPOB nativity!
Then, Igboho Oosa! As late as the 2019 Kogi election, Sunday Igboho was reported as one of those “foreign” enforcers, procured by the “local-foreign” PDP legion, to give PDP’s push-and-shove a stiff jab in the arm. But then, Igboho and co scrammed, after the local “ra-ta-ta-ta” Kogi rivals showed they wouldn’t take prisoners!
That, of course, was long before the Igangan Fulani campaigns, in Ibarapa, Oyo State, that catapulted Igboho from partisan enforcer, to Oodua Republic champion, with his elite puppeteers, juggling him from the shadows!
Still, this brief Kanu-Igboho pre-activism bio is no way to suggest their past must always blight their present — no. For one, Saul turned to Paul in the Bible; and the ultimate anti-Christ became perhaps the most flourishing vessel of the gospel.
Besides, such a sweeping stand would amount to an ad hominem fallacy, that suggests whatever a person says or does — no matter how factual or right — is ruined by his person.
The moral though is to rigorously grill activists, before jumping into the fray, in these days of cheap, opportunistic binges, which thrive on nothing but headless passion.
When Kanu’s IPOB made a landfall in the South East, it was a horrible hurricane, tearing at the federal formal order. That was music to the South East mainstream elite, whose PDP just lost federal power.
Today, they are much less sanguine. Their governors are pitiful hors-de-combat; their common folk chaff under IPOB sit-at-home slavery; their hoodlums are new kings, bending everyone to their rogue will.
As you lay your bed, you lie on it! Still, it could well be morning yet on trouble day!
But that could easily have been the fate of Yoruba land, had the high season of Igboho’s “Yoruba Nation” madness not made the callow fellow himself the crippled horse.
The triumphant Igboho would gallop into the Yoruba country, traduce the Ooni of Ife for taking phantom bribe to undermine the Yoruba, swear his Yoruba rabble would dethrone the Alake of Egbaland and threaten he would “kill” Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the prime Yoruba political figure, for not sharing his rash Oodua Republic dreams!
Now compare and contrast, with IPOB’s crude iconoclasm, the Igboho formula, which by the way included inciting the gullible Yoruba against their elected leaders!
But the idea here is not to criminalize agitation. Peaceful and lawful agitation is a democratic canon, even if Igboho and co have not brandished any Yoruba plebiscite mandating any “Yoruba Nation”, beyond presumptive passion.
Besides, when agitation’s prime goal is to delegitimize the formal order, leaving a dangerous vacuum, then it’s the Achebe handshake that grapples with the elbow.
If you doubt, witness the happy paralysis in Achebe’s commercial country, where IPOB plays Boko Haram, shooing kids from school. There, indeed, was a country!
But that could easily have been the lot of the Yoruba, had Igboho not rammed himself into a Benin gaol.