By Churchill Okonkwo,
I am Prof. Chukwuma Soludo and I approve this message for every supporter or sympathizer of Biafra (like myself).
We are all very familiar with the Igbo proverb that a goat that died in a barn was not killed by hunger. This proverb sadly encapsulates the reality facing Ndigbo in Nigeria today. Our barn is full of yams as we can boast of men and women that can deliver good governance. Our challenge (a puzzle) as a people is how to stop the goat from dying in the barn. The good news is that I know how water entered the stalk of the pumping and that is why I have raised my hand as the new face of pro-Biafran movement.
My mission is simple: transform the rise of nationalism in Igbo states into an economic and political force. It is not the huge size of a man that makes him famous, but what he can do. An objective observer of political developments will agree with me that a complaint-based agenda has never worked anywhere in the world. That’s why I have volunteered myself to market a non-violent alternative to the actualization of a semi-sovereign State of Biafra through economic empowerment.
But first, Onye Igbo who feels marginalized and all sympathizers of Biafra should see themselves not just as an abstraction, but as ethically engaged subjects. We should realize that without a political strategy, pretenders in our midst will hijack the message of the pro-Biafran Movement. To prevent that, we need to coalesce the different pro-Biafran movements into an organization capable of competing in elections and taking governance responsibilities. That is the first step in transforming revolutionary rhetoric to political pragmatism.
I had earlier stated in a press conference that the continued detention of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu is unacceptable and an abuse of Mr. Kanu’s right to legitimate agitation. Beyond street protests, this agitation can only be actualized by transforming it into a political force. IPOB, MOSSOB and the rest should all remember that it is not by staring hard that one sees the road. Even Hitler converted a de facto discussion group to an actual political party.
As I step up my involvement in putting pressure for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the questions of holistic political strategy are always on my mind. Where are we going as a people and how are we going to get there? We should be smart enough to call into question the strategies so far adopted towards the actualization of sovereignty. Let us all remember that when a tortoise argues and stretches himself, his shell breaks. We should stop breaking our backs on protests alone. We need to change gear.
We should stop encouraging our children to keep dying without a coordinated political game plan that will aim for political power in the southeast. I want to save the life of my Igbo brothers from the murderous-crude Nigerian security operatives. I am thus challenging the pro-Biafran movement to ask their followers to look at political power through the ballot box. The time to change the tame strategy is now.
I challenge the pro-Biafran intellectuals to throw their heart and energy into the ring as a true test of our grassroots support. We should rally round a good candidate for the Anambra State governorship in 2017. I urge every Anambra citizen and all the different pro-Biafran groups to use the enormous goodwill, to mobilize the voting public for such candidate.
Obviously, it will be difficult to register a political party with Biafran identity. But there are dozens of registered political parties out there that we can use as a platform to actualize “sovereignty” without bloodshed. Winning the Anambra Government House will be a starting tsunami of a non-violent alternative to the actualization of semi-sovereign State of Biafra. After winning Anambra, we will, together, transform the economy of the state before marching to capture the rest of the Southeastern State in subsequent elections.
To this end, I have started consultations with stakeholders on our best candidate for Anambra 2017. As the New Face of the Pro-Biafran movement, I will formally make the candidate public and the political platform after due consultations.
As I stated in a press release, Nnamdi Kanu should be urgently released. I am also calling on all pro-Biafran intellectuals, both home and abroad, to suspend all actions and activities that have ended up causing more deaths of our young men. Like grasshoppers, we should stop running into the midst of fowls in order not to end up in the land of the spirits. What we need now is forward thinking ideas that will transform our sentiment to freedom. That freedom starts with economic transformation of southeastern states.
Ndigbo should assume greater responsibility for our own economic development by setting clear and attainable goals and designing policies and programs to achieve them. Like the Obi of Onitsha Igwe Achebe stated, we (Ndigbo) need good leaders to achieve a development plan. A na ekwu ekwu, a na-eme eme (talk the talk, walk the walk). My solemn pledge is to kick-start the 50-year development plan of the entire southeast region with my state, Anambra.
Achieving the goal of building the most sustainable economy in the West African region is a possible endeavor for Ndigbo within the present Nigerian system. For that to happen, we have to stop sobbing and start taking meaningful steps towards emancipating ourselves. Let us build a diffuse economy consisting primarily of small businesses and anchored by a strong manufacturing base. All we need is an efficient way for small companies to receive incentives for creating high paying jobs in the entire region.
Let me end this message by urging my people to stop attempting to lick our elbows. The grasshopper caught by a hornbill is either hard of hearing or too self-absorbed to heed its surroundings. We have been beaten by the rain, but not completely soaked, so, the time to start running is now. Capturing the Anambra State Government house should be the first prize towards emancipation of Ndigbo. Impossible is nothing!
If a woman is sweet-voiced, her husband does not refuse her food.
(This is the message Prof. Soludo should be spreading as the New Face of pro-Biafran movement. He has a pleasant voice and I am sure his Biafran-Nigerian brothers will listen to him.)