17th March, 2021
By Fredrick Nwabufo
In the tome of liberation struggles, a few names resonate infinitely. One name that rings trenchant to this day is Ernesto ‘’Che’’ Guevara. ‘’Che’’ envisioned a world as recreated in the dialectics of Karl Marx – where those in the lowest rung of the social strata can command their destiny. Che fantasised about an ‘’international revolution’’ which would sweep across the world beginning from Latin America.
The Argentine revolutionary found an ally in Fidel Castro, the late leader of Cuba. But Castro found in him a useful marionette. Che was disinterested in acquiring political power. It was all about spreading the Marxist ideology for him. However, Castro, his ‘’comrade’’, had other plans. Castro desired political power, and he courted it, gaming his guerrilla leader. Che, dauntless and irrepressible, became a pliable device in the actualisation of Castro’s ambition. But he was later killed in Bolivia in circumstances that taint Castro of culpability.
There is always a personal interest – most times not so kosher — in every struggle. There will always be users, and there will always be the used. To be on any of the divides is a personal choice.
However, the Cuban struggle must not be blemished or compared in any way to the barbarous gyrations for Biafra and Oduduwa Republic by some groups. I do not see the agitations for Biafra and Oduduwa Republic as a ‘’liberation struggle’’ – because there is absolutely nothing to be liberated from other than bad governance in Nigeria. If the agitations are anchored to demanding good leadership for the country and the right of every Nigerian to be treated equally regardless of religion or ethnicity, then I will rhapsodise them as ‘’liberation struggle’’.
The liberation Nigeria needs is from distressing leadership and its corollaries of corruption, poverty and insecurity. Nigeria does not need to be bifurcated into Biafra Republic and Oduduwa Republic to make progress. The ingredients for all-around development are already in profusion here. But we need leadership to put them to work.
COMMERCIALISATION OF AGITATIONS
Sectional agitations have become merchandise. This bellicose commerce is largely sustained by conspiracy theories and ethnic hate-trading. Conspiracy theories are fed to followers some of whom will give up their lives for a ‘’delusive happy-ever-after country’’. They are lied to that their adversaries are those who do not speak their language and worship like them. They are seduced with fallacies of ethnic superiority like Adolf Hitler corrupted Germans with the supremacist venom.
These followers give themselves and resources to this ill-fated cause – ‘’a kingdom of heaven on earth’’ where there will be no more night. And as they are fed more conspiracy theories, supremacist doctrines and fables of a utopian country on the horizons, they give and give to the ‘’cause’’. And of course, the ‘’promoter’’ of the ‘’struggle’’ luxuriates in the good things mammon can afford.
Also, politicians find in these ‘’agitations’’ a market where they can acquire oppositional ammunition to deploy against adversaries. So, they fund them through proxies.
I watched a video which dramatised the commercialisation of agitations. In the video posted by Kayode Ogundamisi on Twitter, there was a squabble over money between a lady and Yomi Koiki, Sunday Igboho’s spokesman.
The lady said N2.5 million was given to Igboho but he did not acknowledge receiving the money even after he admitted collecting another N6.5 million from a Yoruba group in the US.
‘’Yoruba liberation should not be a money making venture,’’ Maureen Badejo, the lady in the video said.
‘’Liberation struggle’’ is the new hustle.
On Sunday, Asari Dokubo declared a Biafra government in the Old Eastern Nigerian enclave. But what I found amusing was his call, which he knotted in a Biafra flag-waving bromide, for volunteers to join the struggle.
Asari: “My brothers and sisters, the four of us will kick start the process, others will come on board. We want volunteers who are committed; we want volunteers because there is nothing anymore. We are the people who have volunteered to salvage ourselves and the rest of us.’’
The ‘’volunteers or followers’’ are the real merchandise. The more of them you can muster, the more influence and money you command.
It is worrying that the commoditisation of people’s disaffection with the government is now a thriving business. The captains of these agitations know that there is yawning discontent with the leadership, particularly in some sections of the country. So, they exploit these emotions and play on them.
Really, if Nigeria had responsive leaderships, the chances of people like Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu emerging as ethnic champions or crusaders with mass followership would be slim.
The system created these anomalies.
Nigerians must approach these agitations with sobriety and not lend themselves to anyone’s personal agenda. We must keep making demands on and holding the government to account. That is our bounden duty as citizens. Anyone advocating secession knows it is impossible in today’s Nigeria, but the real agenda is secreted underneath the advocacy.
*Nwabufo is a writer and journalist. Twitter: @FredrickNwabufo