#BounceExclusive: IPOB And The Burden Of Anambra Election
It is no longer news that the embattled Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, a separatist group fighting for an independent state of Biafra, has threatened to boycott, and disrupt the governorship election that is scheduled for this weekend in Anambra State.
Anambra is at the heart of Igboland and a free and fair democratic process is critical, not only to southeast region’s political stability but also heralds what is in the horizon as Nigeria prepares for a general election in less than two years from now.
By the book, IPOB has become an outlawed group, having been christened a terrorist organization and consequently proscribed by Nigerian government.
Although its proscription remains contentious, the group appears unperturbed and sees its encounter with the Nigerian government as only a temporary setback.
Despite its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, being on the run, IPOB has quickly regrouped and only on Tuesday announced a restructuring that would see the former leader and infamous director of radio Biafra replaced.
Should Anambra People Or Federal Government Be Worried About The Threat?
Does IPOB have the political clout to influence such a civil disobedience as election boycott? Many people would not think so.
“In the first place, IPOB’s membership does not have clear majority in Anambra. Greater percentage should come from Aba, Abia state, port Harcourt in Rivers and Asaba in Delta state and probably a handful in Enugu,” started Joel Ogueji, a political analyst.
“So, even if its members in Anambra decide to boycott the election, one wonders how that will affect the outcome of the election.
“More so, IPOB seems to have been emasculated. Much has not been heard of the group since after the Nigerian army conducted a military operation that saw many of IPOB members killed,” he stated.
“To make matters worse, its leader, Nnamdi Kanu’s silence since after escaping the military invasion has been far too long, giving an impression of a leader abandoning his struggle and disciples,” Ogueji added.
Many believe that the former leader’s fiery approach to the secession agenda did a lot of damage to the group and his silence since the military invasion has only further damaged the group’s legitimacy.
Undoubtedly, many of IPOB members would have had to rethink their commitment to the struggle.
And talking about its integrity, the allegations that came to light on Tuesday that Nnamdi Kanu used the cause of the struggle to enrich himself could not have come at a worse time.
With all that baggage, it would be surprising to still have majority of IPOB members deciding to boycott the electoral process in Anambra, just to spite the Nigerian government.
What IPOB Should Do
A vast number of Igbo people sympathize with the secession cause, but IPOB’s approach had been wrong, all along.
They need to redefine their strategy and reconsider the fact that political alienation will not work.
For instance, IPOB cannot be in denial that a secession struggle should align closely with the politics of the day. To achieve their objectives, you cannot just fight from the periphery but also from within.
So, the idea of boycotting the Anambra election would not sit well with even those who desire a separate Igbo state. It simply makes no sense.
IPOB has its job well cut out. It has not completely lost its relevance. And part of that job should start with Igbo nationalism, not by propaganda or hate speech.
Setting a long-term strategy that will involve a historical teaching and introspection of young Igbo people would be the right place to start.
This history is important for Igbo people to understand who they are and how events that shaped their present came about and what role they may play to influence how it affects them in the future.
This history is even more imperative because, by the time it has been entrenched in Igbo people all over the world, it would come to be that though they may be distracted by momentary prosperity, this history will help them hear the whispers of a new future by remembering the past.
Anything short of this is shortsighted and only results in endless bickering and continued subjugation of the entire tribe.
It is also imperative for IPOB to understand that in every struggle, there would be fighters, lukewarm followers and traitors. Now, the group has not been able to figure this out and it is still treating everyone as fighters.
That will not help the cause in any way.
Revisiting The Secession Argument
It has been half a century after a brutal civil war was fought to keep the Igbos in Nigeria. For the secession struggle to start all over again strongly is simply an indication that one cannot kill an idea by brutal violence.
This idea has been sustained, not just by extreme desire for an Igbo nation, but by continued extreme neglect and mistreatment of the Igbo people in the affairs of Nigeria.
Many Igbo men, even as boys, knew that the Nigerian state had no love for them as Igbos, and indeed it could have none, even today.
50 years after the Igbo people were readmitted into this Nigeria union, their stake in the Nigerian equity remains questionable. They have continued to play second fiddle.
What IPOB has stirred up should demands a re-examination of the definite principles of our co-existence as a people.
The idea of a Biafra, is still the only reminder that the Igbo nation cannot condone sinking into complete political insignificance.
However, the Igbos on the other hand must form a united front of political resistance to better their lot in Nigeria, and IPOB could as well step in to play this role effectively.
And this starts with the Anambra elections.
Rather than call for a boycott of the elections and resort to violence, what IPOB should be doing is push for the conduct of a free and fair election.
Calling for a boycott and threatening to disrupt the electoral process not only achieves nothing, but further alienates the group, and indeed the entire Igbo nation, pushing them further from politial relevance.
If IPOB cannot use its clout to push for unity, and the conduct of free and fair elections in its region, how does the group hope to gain a seat at the national table to push for the cause of it's people?
It is unimaginable that with all the region’s economic strength and quality of human capital, they have remained powerless.
For long, the Igbo people seem to have drunk a poison and as this poison spread, it crippled common sense and the simple instinct of self-preservation.
To this end, IPOB can be a turning point in the history of the tribe, and the Anambra elections can be the fresh canvass it needs to paint a new picture.
With the unprecedented level of attention the group has gained at this point, IPOB needs to seize the day alright, but not like a band of disgruntled people as it appears to be now.
It needs to act as a watchdog for South-East leaders, ensuring that noone but the best candidates are elected into power. Candidates who will not only work towards the betterment of their states, and South-East region as a whole, but also promote the interests of the Igbo people on the national level.
For it is only when the Igbos start to work as a united front, that they can begin to think of wielding any influence at the centre.
Afterall, a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Also Watch: #BIAFRA904: Why History Must Not Repeat Itself