“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord.
– The Holy Bible
Since this letter is likely to be read by a wide range of Ndi-Igbo and non-Igbos alike, I think it is just appropriate that I introduce myself: I am Law Mefor, a pro-Biafra Igbo man. Even though I may not be found down in trenches, the Biafra struggles of various hues are fairly known to me. Like most other Igbos, I suffer the plights and official marginalization of Ndigbo in Nigeria. I have taken pains too to chronicle these plights of Igbo in my current book, titled: “The Audacity of Power…Exclusion of Ndigbo in Nigeria Power Politics and the Specter of Biafra”, co-authored with Dr. Godwin Udibe. Regardless of what any Igbo man or woman may claim or say, we are all Biafrans.
It may interest some to also know that my surname – Mefor – is also not a coincidence. The deputy leader of IPOB, Uche Mefor, is actually a blood brother. So, the struggle concerns and affects me in more ways than one. If you recall, not long ago, when a futile attempt was made to factionalize IPOB or fake up one, the fakers called me out and designated me not only as a member but also the Treasurer of IPOB, and as having collected millions of naira for IPOB. I called in my lawyers to query the newspapers that shared the falsehood. I haven’t slept on my rights as far that matter is concerned and sincerely hope that the redress I seek would guarantee my early retirement in opulence and comfort as they have alleged. So, I have been suffering persecution too in my little ways.
This letter therefore is borne out of a genuine concern of one truly involved. This said, I will now proceed to address my brother and comrade, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB over this rankling subject matter.
When IPOB called for boycott of Anambra election 2 years ago, I visited Umuahia 2 or 3 times for us to engage on the issue. Before then, recall I was in Kuje prison to see you for 2 or 3 times whereupon I pressed for IPOB to allow political solution/involvement. I published our conversations, with your kind permission, under the title: “What Nnamdi Kanu told me I & II”.
You graciously acceded to these requests to visit but we differed on the necessity and feasibility of boycotting Anambra governorship election. I had argued then that since the Nigerian Constitution contains no minimum voter turnout to validate any election in the country, even those in governor’s office alone would be enough to carry out the election.
Anambra election came and went, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Now, IPOB is calling for the boycott of the 2019 general elections – again. Like Anambra election, the forthcoming general elections on February 16th and March 2nd will also hold. This election is however different. It is an election which Ndigbo have taken up as a project for the unique opportunity it offers us to change our fortune and ensure the future.
I am aware that Ohanaeze, which is leading the expression of interest of Ndigbo in the new quest, has a frosty relationship with IPOB. I am also aware that it is a relationship that must the repaired and not allowed to stay awry for our own good. I have said the same thing to Ohanaeze leader Chief Nnia Nwodo and he too sees this point of view and recall that we were working on it before Operation Python Dance was unleashed and truncated everything.
During many of our engagements in both Kuje prison and Afaraukwu Umuahia, your ancestral home, your position had unshakably remained that Nigeria, as conceived and structured, can never work. Your position on Nigeria as a perfect sample of crisis of civilizations is unassailable and all your prophetic utterances are being fulfilled one after the other. We agreed mostly on all things except on the issue of boycott and restructuring, which you also said is not possible under a Hausa-Fulani President.
Yes, President Muhammadu Buhari, true to type, has repudiated his own promise and the promise of his party the APC to restructure the country and restore true federalism. If not anything, I well recall that you agreed that regionalism can pass for an irreducible minimum for you and IPOB. I had staked then that restructuring was possible with or with Buhari.
Your challenge was that Igbo elites of which you graciously acceded I am one, should make restructuring happen as a prerequisite to the demand of cessation of agitation for a sovereign state of Biafra by IPOB et al.
This Saturday election is another opportunity for the Igbo elites to redeem themselves and make a go at restructuring. As you know, Vice President Atiku Abubakar (as he once was) is flying the PDP presidential flag and one thing he manifestly proposed that resonates with ndigbo is restructuring Nigeria.
Understandably, Atiku hasn’t quite drawn down the specifics of the kind and level of restructuring he wants to bring on. It is not in his powers to determine the extent even. He will have to pass through the National Assembly or convoke another National Conference if need be. Or, review and implement the 2014 Confab Report with over 600 recommendations, which our own brother, Goodluck Azikiwe Jonathan, convoked but failed to implement.
I don’t know Atiku well but I think I understand Peter Obi his running mate, and this joint ticket is something you and IPOB really have to give a chance. Yes, Obi will not the President. But a strong vice, like Atiku was to Obasanjo, is half the capacity. Give yourself a chance to be proved right and win most of us over without preaching a word.
This letter is not meant to weaken your resolve but to strengthen you by giving you the chance to hear from some of us who can tell you the truth undiluted. Though you never know with politicians, as a psychologist, there is something about Atiku that makes him even if not trustworthy, but at least amenable. Sharing his bed with Jennifer our sister is a fact none can wish away. Two cannot be together unless they agree. We can take a chance with Atiku/Obi.
Your position on Nigeria as a clash of civilizations is a fact. The master –servant patterning of the country has indeed stifled Ndigbo in particular and old Eastern Nigeria in general. The consequences of these policies of marginalization and exclusion have driven up to 70% of Ndigbo out of Igbo land to all parts of Nigeria and into the diaspora. The Eastern Economic Corridor closed since the Nigeria-Biafra civil war remains closed with propaganda and criminalization. Igbo businessmen are forced to import through Lagos whereas it is closer for them to import through Eastern Ports of Port Harcourt and Calabar. Yes, your observations are true and I reviewed same in my current book here under reference too.
You and I know that the realization of sovereign Biafra will be tough and will require long drawn diplomatic battles. IPOB seems to understand this and have shunned armed struggle since we are not in a position to wedge any positional war with Nigeria. Ojukwu tried it and soon discovered he was up against Britain and her allies and not federal Nigeria. Despite being peaceful for which the world admire you, IPOB was still branded a terrorist organization, using the excuse of your setting up of Biafra Security Organization (BSO). If they use the green wood like this, what will happen it is dry? Your guess is as good as mine.
I believe in your sincerity and commitment to the struggle and that is why you have somebody like me as brother and friend. I am not alone. We are perhaps in millions who think and hold you as a good man working for the liberation of Ndigbo and old Eastern Nigeria. Majority of us are like Nicodemus, who could go to Christ only in the night ….nicodemusely.
Many of IPOB members may not be able to tell you; majority of Ndigbo believe in a restructured Nigeria. Most Igbos also believe that sovereign Biafra may not be necessary if restructuring is done and Ndigbo and other zones in the country, are left with the constitutional latitude to take charge of their destinies.
In the 1st Republic, somebody like Sir Ahmadu Bello never set his foot in Lagos the Nigerian capital then even before independence. He remained in Kaduna to develop northern Nigeria. His rule remains North’s golden rule, like that of Michael Iheonukara Okpara, who like yourself was also from Umuahia, in the Eastern region and Obafemi Awolowo in Western Region,. What this means is that the regions can be developed by some while others can still operate from the center in a true federation which we crave.
For good measure, the State of California in the US is the 6th largest economy in the world, yet, it is only a State in the US. Like I have often told you, what Ndigbo need is true federalism. Most of us who are thus inclined will be decided otherwise if restructuring fails but only after a reasonable time has been allowed. We cannot preclude the possibility of restructuring without giving Atiku and Obi a chance.
Recall that I wrote in my book that Biafra coming by default (i.e. if imposed on us by the country imploding and breaking up) is better for us. That way, our people will not have to shed blood of the innocent.
IPOB believes that staying at home on February 16 is an indirect referendum. This claim is wrong and a fallacy. It can only record that Peter Obi lost at home and if Atiku wins without the East, nobody should blame him for dumping restructuring and relegating Obi. IPOB has absolutely nothing to gain by scuttling the opportunity.
For the avoidance of doubt, Peter Obi losing at home can come in many ways. The PDP winning only with paltry votes through the process of demobilization, which IPOB now champions by boycott. It means PDP may win despite massive boycott but the total number of votes compared to the 10m registered voters will show that South East didn’t pull its weight. Your boycott and demobilization of Igbo voters is therefore winning it for Buhari, make no mistake about it. Even if it may be unintended, by default, the result is what will matter in the final analysis.
If Buhari wins, he returns with vengeance and more python dances will follow and more innocent Igbo youths dying as usual. Are you sure you want to live with this inevitable outcome?
Please recall that in 2006, Raph Uwazurike, your erstwhile comrade-in-struggle called on Ndigbo to boycott population census. A great number complied. The result: South East population, going by Nigeria census figures, crashed from being majority to minority. It is a self-inflicted injury for which posterity will not forgive Uwazuruike. He has since fizzled out and now easily dismissed by most people as a con artist. But not before inflicting a maximum damage on Ndigbo. May you not go the same way, nwa Chineke. It will set the Igbo liberation struggle back by decades.
There is something I want to mention about referendum before I draw the line: referendum is not in Nigeria’s Constitution. Do you know why? Our brother and father, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, rejected referendum in the Independence Constitution; whereas Awo and Ahmadu Bello fought to have it included. Britain sided with Zik. If referendum was contained in Nigeria’s Constitution, Biafra would probably be standing today because Ojukwu’s quest for Biafra would have been legal and not viewed as secession as IPOB quest for same is also viewed and treated today.
Finally, this boycott call also carries the grave danger of IPOB lending itself to take responsibility for disruptions of elections in the South East. I have seen a video or two purportedly made by IPOB members spewing threats. Staying at home by members of IPOB is bad enough and needs to be rescinded. But attempting to disrupt the elections in the South East will likely spell disaster and most likely to lead bloodbaths.
Enemies of Ndigbo can also latch on it to heap the responsibilities of their degenerate activities on IPOB and its leadership. Blood of those who die in such contrived circumstances will not rest in the sands but cry up to God for vengeance.
God be with you and give you wisdom, which is truly needed at this material time, more importantly, the spirit of discernment. There are moments beating a retreat is courage and that moment is now. Stay the course and remain true to God and Ndigbo, and leave your footprints on the sands of time, my brother.
• Dr. Law Mefor, is a concerned Igbo man; Tel.: +234-803-787-2893; email:firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on twitter: @LawMefor1