I wouldn't refer to Ralph Uwazurike, the leader of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), as a stunted individual. If however one takes out all the wadas of Nigeria out of the equation, Mr. Uwazurike would, no doubt, go down as a Lilliputian. The orbs of his eyes seem perpetually wakeful, paranoid of dangers that are non-existent for his Igbo kinsmen but rather exist for all Nigerians. The Igbo “liberator” is either the most ill-informed Igbo leader or pretends not to see the realities and hence tows millions of young Igbos along a tangent that undermines the tranquility that is necessary for prosperity of all interests, including the social and business interests of his Igbo kinfolk across the country.
If Mr. Uwazurike is exploring avenues to fame where they don’t exist and explains why his argument to push his cause for a separate nation for the Igbos, native to the southeastern part of the country, is always insipid. The first time I caught an idea of his baseless arguments was when he visited the Africa Service of the BBC while in the UK, some years back. According to him, the Igbos in Jos, Plateau State, were unfairly targeted while the Jos conflict lasted. I am a living witness of the social unrest in Jos till date and I see it as needless to waste ink here, trying to clarify the circumstance of the Igbos within the context of the Jos conflict, a conflict whose place in history will, no doubt, be made obscure by the bulky hulky issue of Boko Haram in the northeastern corner of the country. The clarification is pointless because I am sure the Igbos in Jos would have already made the picture clearer to Mr. Uwazurike or Igbo leaders generally, had they been facing an unfair persecution. If they did not, he ought to have asked them first.
Recently, Mr. Uwazurike tried to jump across a gutter that is wider than his stunted legs can scale, when he suggested that all Igbos living in Northern Nigeria should return home to the “East”. It was from this suggestion of Mr. Uwazurike that I got the impression he has issues with his logic of thought, a logic that is, obviously, twisted by his desperation for heroism.
Northern Nigeria is a vast region, perhaps taking up two-thirds of the land area of the whole country. Across this region, you have Igbos in every inch of it. The Igbos are largely traders and were attracted by the business windows they saw in the region, just as elsewhere where you find Igbo entrepreneurs. They took hold of these openings, prospered and built empires. So when Mr. Uwazurike orders such a population of people to move home and crowd the region that, as far back as the sixties, already had one of the highest population densities in Africa, it naturally raises the question of how to handle the wealth many of them labored all their lives to create. Such an exodus will, no doubt, involve a lot of board-rocking, whose ending will be uncertain. This is comparable to replacing a rope suspending a heavy load with a string; the place of your wealth is your home as it is where your mind will always dwell. Wealth, here, is not just money but the landed properties and the business ties and profiles one has built in a locality over the decades. The Igbos clearly own more wealth in Diaspora than they own in their native home.
Mr. Uwazurike had previously masterminded an attack on Enugu State House and a public radio station. I watched on social media, a photo of topless men who were alleged to have carried out the assault. The picture evoked the disturbing feeling associated with its abortiveness and what it aimed to achieve. Someone posted a comment hinting that the assault lacked brilliance and could not even measure up to the smartness of Boko Haram operations.
These vignettes of events have only worked to tag Mr. Uwazurike and his followers as a bunch of ill-advised elements. With this, I wonder how Mr. Uwazurike can fit into the imagery of a liberator in the eyes of responsible Igbo men and women. If the Igbos saw any relevance in Mr. Uwazurike’s cause, he would have been included in the southeastern delegation to the National Conference, just concluded in Abuja.
If River Niger eventually flows across five nations rather than its current four, it will be because the new nation was created either out of Guinea, Mali or Niger but not in Nigeria. While the agitations for a new nation may come, largely, from people like Mr. Uwazurike, the irony is that the Igbos, by virtue of their prosperity across the whole length and breadth of the nation, have become the cohesive matrix of the nation. This, again, underscores the belief that our diversity is actually our strength –in it there is solution to all of our challenges. Clearly, the viewpoints of a few within the population of Igbos at home and outside confront rather than meet, as far as the topic of homeward migration is the agenda. Thus young Igbos at home need an orientation that their Diaspora have, by virtue of their extensive travel.
Obviously, Mr. Uwazurike is already waiting for the prophesy, to come to pass, of former American Envoy to Nigeria, Terrence McCulley, suggesting that Nigeria will explode into bits in 2015. However, the series of travels the nation had gone through seem to indicate that the bond binding Nigeria as one nation is superior, by far, to the abhorrent forces that aim to tear it apart. Thus Mr. Uwazurike may live out his life and be buried in Nigeria, rather than in Biafra. Those who belief in one Nigeria strongly feel that until the last Nigerian soul is laid to rest Nigeria will go on as one nation.
Ralph Uwazurike cannot break what Heavens has joined.