By Elechi Nnadi
February 21, 2016
The agitation for a new state of Biafra by the IPOB has attained a crescendo that is yet to abate.
Supporters of the cause have risked their lives, and in many cases paid the supreme sacrifice at
the hands of elements of the Nigerian Army and Police. They have fearlessly protested the detention
of their leader Nnamdi Kanu and been adamant on their demand. A leadership arm in the UK has sent
out letters to world leaders and the United Nations to plead their case and to bring attention to
the killings of their unarmed comrades. In the midst of all this, a critical question has arisen
among the Igbo, supposed major benefactors of this new state should it become a reality, and it
deals with whether a new state of Biafra would be politically stable immediately it separates from
Nigeria. Essentially, will it implode as a consequence of fierce political combat for political
control of the state and splinter into smaller states controlled by potentates, including unsavory
characters stained by kidnapping, 419 and other criminal
The young and enthusiastic supporters of IPOB may not be equipped to
engage in a thorough analysis of this concern, but it is the subject of
discussions wherever the Igbo are gathered these days—at traditional weddings, in bars, at restaurants, in churches, and at several other places of public gathering.
The Southeast geopolitical zone of federal Nigeria consists of 5 states. The IPOB’s proposed New
Biafra would consist of these states and swaths of the South-south and the North Central zones.
Except for the Igbo speaking parts of these zones, many Igbo do not think the territories of New
Biafra will include these zones, were IPOB to achieve its dream of secession from Nigeria.
IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu arriving in court where he is
facing a charge of treasonable felony
IPOB protesters in the city of Onitsha
A possible scenario laid out by people concerned about the existential stamina of New Biafra could
play out like this: New Biafra somehow becomes a reality; the sitting governors of the 5 Southeast
States and the undisciplined segment of the Igbo political class immediately embark on a violent
political struggle for control of New Biafra; this goes on for a period of time during which thousands are killed and property destroyed; hundreds of thousands flee their homes and become refugees in the Nigeria that
New Biafra had separated from; the dust settles at some point after retired military officers of
Igbo extraction broker peace, but New Biafra is now splintered into 5 new smaller countries based
on the state structure inherited from Nigeria; the bitterness from the political violence prevents
any union among the 5 countries, leaving New Biafra in shambles for a very long time; the Igbo of
the South South who supported New Biafra are left hanging and wanting to return to Nigeria. All of
the above may not happen, but the concern about their possibility is the subject of conversations
going on right now among the Igbo.
A majority of the Igbo believe that the grievances of the IPOB have some merits. Chief Simon Okeke,
a highly respected elder among the Igbo, a man whose house was the meeting place of senior Nigerian
and Biafran officers to discuss terms of the Biafran surrender at the end of the Nigeria-Biafra
War, weighed in on the IPOB protests recently and condemned lawless elements of the security forces
for shooting unarmed protesters. The IPOB has struck a nerve in the Igbo. There is no doubt about
that! But it has its work cut out in convincing the Igbo that Okorocha, for instance, would not
declare the State of Imo as a country under his control as its lifetime President.
Elechi Nnadi is a staff writer for Learnigbolanguage.com