By James Ogunjimi
When the deal to release anti-apartheid fighter of the ANC in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was being ironed out, fight was going on in the streets. The blacks that had been victimized and hounded were no longer running. They had armed themselves and had become the aggressors.
Their demands were simple. They wanted every white out. They wanted control of their economy. They no longer wanted to be slaves and second-class citizens in their own country.
The De Klerk administration knew that an end had come to suppressing those people and reached out to Mandela. Mandela’s job was to convince the people to stop fighting and forgive. Forgive those who had refused to mix with them. Forgive those who had banished them to the slums in their own country while they lived in the choice areas of the country. Forgive those who had found it insultive to be addressed directly by blacks. Forgive those who wouldn’t even share seats or buses with them. Mandela’s job was to come out, convince the fighters to stop, convince them to let the whites stay, convince them to let them hold on to the lands that were seized from the natives, and convince them to let them continue to control the economy.
Today, South Africa is independent but economically, most of the natives still have to feed off the hand of the settlers. The lands still belongs to the settlers. And the economy is still controlled by the settlers.
Fast Forward to 2017 Nigeria, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been released on bail after close to two years in prison. That’s the good news. The bad news is that his release – as evidenced by the bail conditions he met – marked the end of his group.
When Justice Binta Nyako made the ruling and reeled out the bail conditions, it sounded ridiculous and laughable and for a while, people laughed. Then it dawned on everyone that she wasn’t kidding.
Two of the bail conditions were that he was “barred from attending any rally and granting any form of interview and must not be in a crowd exceeding 10 persons.” Talk about a gag order, huh?
Some civil society groups spoke up about the conditions. IPOB itself issued a statement condemning the conditions. Which made it all the more confusing that the IPOB leader would accept those conditions.
Take this from me, IPOB as a movement fighting for the creation of Biafra is dead and buried. Those who don’t see this yet are Jon Snows; they know nothing.
Movements have different workings that stand them out. Despite its claims to the contrary, IPOB as a movement has a central leader whose absence would crumble the movement. Without Nnamdi Kanu’s voice bellowing on the radio, without him addressing his people, IPOB is done.
The IPOB leader’s move now will be to turn IPOB into a political party and encourage his people to vote, to get Biafra with their votes. He will put himself up as Governorship aspirant and attempt to contest elections.
Whatever agitations for Biafra staged by IPOB died when Kanu accepted the deal. That’s not to say IPOB will not still issue a few statements and all, but mark my words, even those will fizzle out till nobody remembers what IPOB is or what they once stood for. And they have Nnamdi Kanu to thank for it.
Kanu is not done with Nigeria though. He is returning as Governorship aspirant. As always, time will tell.