Strategy failure: Why I’m angry with Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB- Chukwuma

Before I go on to state why I’m angry with Nnamdi Kanu, it would help to put the issue of Igbo Marginalization in perspective because it is what serves as a breeding ground for the likes of Nnamdi Kanu and others to spring up. 

When we talk of Igbo marginalization, many of our non- Igbo friends will not understand. I hope this post will throw more light on this issue so many can understand. 

Igbo Marginalization is in my opinion, 80% political. 

Of all the regions in Nigeria, South East is the only region that has only 5 states… With a region like the North West having 7 states. 

Why is this a serious issue? 

It is a serious issue because…

=> When it comes to the Civil Service, it ensures that Igbo will produce the least number of civil servants, despite being highly educated….

=> When it comes to the recruitment of police by states, Igbo will produce the least number of police officers. 

=> Igbo will also produce the least number of soldiers in the Army…

=> When it comes to party politics, Igbo will produce the least number of delegates… 

=> Igbo will produce the least number of Ministers in the Federal cabinet… 

=> Igbo will produce the least number of House of Rep Members… 

=> And Igbo will also produce the least number of Senators. 

Now can you see where this is heading? 

It means that when it comes to the overall sharing of National Cake and the ability to shape the policies of our future, Igbo will have the least share….despite being one of the largest tribes in Nigeria by population. 

To majority in Igboland, it is seen that the system was deliberately created against them. 

All attempts to solve this problem through several national dialogue and national conferences have not yielded any fruit. 

And this gave rise to someone like Nnamdi Kanu, who capitalized on the resentment of this system that exists in the heart and minds of millions of Igbo to create a movement with the goal of breaking the East away from Nigeria, if other parts of Nigeria refuse to resolve these issues.

And this is where my frustration with Kanu starts. 

My anger and frustration with Kanu comes from applying the wrong strategy to a sensitive topic like the systemic marginalization of one of the largest tribe in Nigeria. 

When it comes to Southern Nigeria, there are two people that have cult-like following. 

One is Tinubu from the South West. The Second is Nnamdi Kanu from the South East. 

Rather than use his influence and cult like following to make Igbo more relevant at the center so we CAN NEGOTIATE FROM A POSITION OF STRENGTH, he instead used it to pursue Biafra through a strategy of violence. 

But deep down within me, I know Kanu doesn’t have what it takes to achieve Biafra. 

Here’s why… 

1. Igbos are not sufficient in food storage and production. This is important because, contrary to popular belief, it was actually hunger (and not bullet from Nigerian army) that frustrated the first attempt to create a Biafran state. 

While the Igbo had excellent and formidable soldiers that could match their Nigerian counterpart on the battlefield and held them for close to 3 years, unfortunately, the Igbo couldn’t match the Nigerian side in terms of uninterrupted food production and supply. Hence, hunger became the most powerful weapon in the hands of the Nigerian side that led to millions of Igbo dying, the depletion of young Igbo that would serve as reserves, and the eventual surrender of Biafra forces.

Obviously, you cannot keep fighting on an empty stomach, while your adversary is well fed. 

I would have taken Nnamdi Kanu seriously if he began by addressing the food supply and storage problem before taking on Nigeria. 

2. Igbo do not have access to functional Seaport. This is important because the economic blockade placed on the East by Nigeria frustrated the supply of critical materials to Biafra at the height of the war. 

And the reason why the blockade worked and became effective was because all the seaports in the East at that time were in the lands of non-Igbo, who were easily convinced to not support the war. 

Igbo land currently have great rivers like the Imo River that leads straight into the Atlantic Ocean, without passing through the lands of non-Igbo and would serve as a much needed seaport for trade between Biafra and the outside world. 

If Kanu had begun to address this issue by canvassing support of Igbo abroad before taking on Nigeria, I would have also taken him more seriously. 

3. Logistics Issue 

The invasion of the Midwest by Biafra during the war was stalled as a result of logistic issues. While they were idly waiting for reinforcement and supplies (food, water, bullets and other weapons) from Enugu, the Nigerian Army with better logistics had regrouped and started launching a counterattack, which made Biafra forces to retreat to Onitsha. 

If Biafra had unhindered logistics, the war would have successfully been taken away from Biafra land and fought in Nigeria territory. All the destruction and infrastructure collapse Igbo suffered for making their lands the battlefield wouldn’t have been. 

Kanu has not addressed this issue. While hurriedly forming Eastern Security Network (ESN), it’s obvious they’re plagued with logistics problems…And till today, the destruction of life and property occurs in Igboland. No good leader would want his land to be a battleground. Looks like Kanu and Zelensky of Ukraine are thinking the same way. 

If Kanu had sort out his logistics issues, I’d have taken him seriously.

In fact, claiming he wants peaceful separation sound noble. But what happens if Nigerian Army starts marching towards the East. Does he have what it takes to withstand and engage such a force? 

All of these things made me Angry with Kanu because it appears he’s just wasting the gift of influence and cult like following he has, which could have been used to better the lot of Igbo if only he used a different strategy. 

So what could he have done differently? 

Here are some ideas… 

1. He would have used an urgent, but non-violent method to get financial support from the multitude of Igbo living abroad. 

2. Channel this huge funds towards the development of Igbo land. Build hospitals, schools, market place, and lots of factories across Igboland. 

3. Plenty of our graduates migrate to Lagos, Abuja or elsewhere for greener pastures and thereby reduce our voting strength as a region. 

The outflow of these eligible voters boost the voting population of wherever they’re based and increase voting apathy in the East. More than 50% of our voting population are outside Igboland. 

These factories, if established, would serve as an economic and political net to capture these graduates and keep them in the East along with the players of the supply chain their presence would create. 

Their presence in the East will come handy during elections and serve as grassroot support, which will make it difficult for any aspiring presidential candidate to dismiss the East in their calculations. 

4. Form a political party and build alliances outside Igboland, especially with the Yoruba and South South. 

Imagine what the negotiating power of Igbos will be if all IPOB members decide to give all their votes to a particular party. 

It will make sure that no politician running for presidency will sideline the East in their political permutations. With this huge voting population to leverage on and a buoyant economy beside it, the Igbo will be able to strike deals with various politicians and political parties to rapidly address the issues that make us feel marginalized as a people, including the pertinent issue of Igbo Presidency. 

Furthermore, by building alliances with the Yoruba, Southern Nigeria will be able to present a common front to address the issues that are plaguing us as a nation. 

The failure to do this…while pursuing a failed strategy of violence and presently unachievable Biafra, is why I’m very angry with Nnamdi Kanu. 

Not only has the movement of Biafra faced numerous setbacks, he also failed to use his influence to move us close to the center and negotiate for permanent solution towards the marginalization of Ndigbo. 

Thereby making us lose at both ends. 

We don’t have Biafra on one hand, and on the other hand, we aren’t enjoying a better deal in Nigeria either. 

What a wasted asset! 

These are the very things that make me angry and frustrated with Nnamdi Kanu. 

Vincent Chukwuma, an ICT consultant, writes from Owerri. 

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