Friday, 7 July 2017

Re: Prospects of Biafra 2.0

Preamble: Any news-savvy individual not ensconced under the rock, not living in another planet in the last couple of years will attest to the strident publicity, increasing appeal of the Biafra independence movement. In addition to the #BiafraAt50 Anniversary cum a very successful sit-at-home order by Biafra campaigners which took place on May 30, 2017 and completely shut down the entire southeast and parts of the south-south, on Aljazeera, July 5, 2017, Aljazeera’s The Stream featured a programme titled - #Biafra50YearsOn: Is Nigeria's secessionist movement re-emerging? Coincidentally, the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, also did a broadcast on July 5/6, 2017 titled -Biafra at 50: The war that changed Nigeria. As the global awareness ramps up…the plot thickens and Nigeria increasingly looks like a country on the brink.



Food for thought: ‘’Treat the surrendering Biafrans well or risk their children rising’’
-         General Philip Effiong, Biafra Second-in-command, 1970


Similar to his gung-ho military approach to the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta which subsequently petered out through deft diplomacy, President Buhari’s miscalculation, whimsical and ultra vires incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu transformed him into a folk hero with an impressive global cult following. Dyed-in-the-wool proponents of Biafra independence movement proclaim that Biafra is a fait accompli. They affirm that there is a spiritual dimension, a ‘’God factor’’ to the affairs of Biafra. Now to the crux of this discourse.


SBM Biafra Intelligence’ Survey
May 25, 2017; SMB Intelligence, a market intelligence and communications consulting firm affiliated to Stratfor, a United States-based geopolitical intelligence firm founded by George Friedman, published a report/survey titled ‘’Prospects of Biafra 2.0’’. The report aimed to gauge the PERCEPTION and PROSPECT of Biafra in southeast and south-south Nigeria. SBM Intelligence’ says it sent correspondents to interview people in South-East and South-South geopolitical zones and also conducted an online survey open only to indigenes of those zones. In total, the survey had a trifling 489 valid responses. The survey asked motley questions with potpourri optional answers such as (1) Who is Nnamdi Kanu to you? (a) Fighter for justice (b) Noise maker (c) Saviour of Southern Nigeria (c) Saviour of Igbo land (d) Traitor to Nigeria and (e) Other (2) Where do you consider to be part of Biafra? (a) South-East (b) South-East and South-South (c) Former Eastern region (d) Anywhere with indigenous Igbo people (3) What makes the idea of Biafra appealing to you? (a) Marginalization by Nigeria (b) Restriction of economic (c) Freedom by Nigeria to chart our own course (d) We have nothing in common with Northerners (e) Lack of fair, just and unbiased leadership by Nigeria (f) Other.

SBM Intelligence’ submitted conclusively that, ‘’in general terms there is rising support for a Biafra in the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones. However, those who support secession are not yet in the majority. More people are inclined towards a restructuring within a united Nigeria’’.

I Beg To Differ With SBM Intelligence
Given inter-alia, the abysmally narrow data set (489 valid responses out of a population set of tens of millions of Igbos scattered around the world), the poor geographic spread or spatial arrangement of the survey, I humbly dispute the conclusion of the aforesaid survey that, ‘’there is rising support for a Biafra in the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones. However, those who support secession are not yet in the majority…’’. I think SBM Intelligence’ submission is hypothetical, debatable, fallible, conservative hence not a silver bullet.

As an information and social media savvy writer/blogger, voracious reader, a security analyst cognizant of up-to-date events, goings-on, my personal interactions with Ndigbo (grassroots and abroad), feedback from sources, open-source intelligence research, I wish to infer that if a free, fair straightforward “Yes” or ‘’No’’ Biafra plebiscite/referendum devoid of ‘’interferences’’ and undue ‘’psychographics’’ (I will cite such probable interferences, psychographics shortly) is conducted under this prevailing ambiance of rage fertilized by the Buhari administration’s apparent marginalization and subjugation of Ndigbo, a Yes vote for Biafra independence would trounce a no vote.

My contrarian opinion gainsaying SBM Intelligence’ conclusion is also premised on the growing weaknesses of seemingly popular polling forecasts or models. I will cite few examples to buttress my point. Out of the 168 polls carried out over the European Union referendum campaign, less than a third (55) predicted Brexit, much less a winning edge of a million votes. During the United States presidential election, the New York Times meta-polling forecast placed Donald Trump on a 15 per cent chance of victory on Election Day. A similar thing played out in the June 2017 general election in the United Kingdom where forecasters extremely underestimated Labour party’s support. All of this point to the fact that the outcome of polls/surveys is not cast in stone.

Prospect of Some South-South States Been Part of Biafra
If there is anything the Nigerian establishment is adept at, it is deploying and entrenching divide and rule schemes. Some apparently sponsored Niger Delta folks, groups have voiced out that they don’t want to be part of Biafra. Notwithstanding, prominent south-south persons have overtly voiced support for Biafra. Daily Post newspaper of July 2, 2017 reported that ex-Niger Delta militant leader, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, reiterated his support for Nnamdi Kanu, declaring that he is not a Nigerian but a Biafran. Also, Niger Delta environmental and human rights activist, Ms. Ankko Briggs believes it is rather too late to restructure Nigeria, says Nigeria should split. Common sense, cultural, religious affinity and compatibility suggests that if Niger Deltans are given a choice between been part of Biafra or remaining in Nigeria, they will be better off , opt for Biafra than to be yoked with, henpecked and stifled by the Muslim Hausa-Fulani oligarchy. History tells us that General Philip Effiong, the second in command to General Odumegwu Ojukwu, hails from present day Akwa Ibom state. Recall that SBM Intelligence’ conservative survey result cautiously adduced that 42.5 percent of respondents consider southeast and south-south as constituting Biafra. On the disinformation that Biafra would be a landlocked country with little promise if Niger Delta states opt out, Wikipedia tells us there are 49 landlocked countries in the world; 16 of them in Africa. Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Ethiopia, Botswana, amongst others are landlocked. Nigeria with its vast shoreline is not better than all the aforementioned countries. Ndigbo are survivors and will thrive anywhere. Ever wonder how Biafrans survived the three year civil war, manufactured their own weaponry despite been blockaded?

Biafra Referendum, Vested Interests, And ‘Interferences’
As is always the case, there are overt and covert vested interests in international affairs, diplomacy. Interferences that could influence the outcome a political process or a referendum include inter-alia: disinformation, psychological warfare (threatening Igbos with the prospect of losing their investments in Nigeria (or a damaging scandal), psychographics, outright hacking of poll/election or referendum result. Amid deafening calls for Balkanization of Nigeria by separatists groups such as the IPOB et al, the United States ambassador to Nigeria recently opined that Nigeria is better off together. Will the US government go all out to foster and sustain the ‘forced marriage’ called Nigeria or will they switch sides if Biafra guarantees their interests? The Buhari administration stridently supports independence for Palestinian territory and Western Sahara. Common sense suggests that Israel and Morocco, antagonists to Palestine and Western Sahara respectively will likely reciprocate Nigeria in good measure.

There is an allegation that the Scottish referendum was rigged. Similarly, the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, mulled over the possibility that Britain’s EU referendum may have been hijacked by the American alt-right using a technique known as psychographics? The UK Guardian newspaper expounded BBC’s report. In  a piece published May 7, 2017 (Modified 15 June 2017) titled, ‘’The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked’’, the Guardian Newspaper submits that, ‘’A shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign influenced the result of the EU referendum’’. This is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the cobweb of behind-the-scene machinations of SCL Group, a British company with 25 years’ experience in military “psychological operations” and “election management”; Cambridge Analytica, a Data analytics company which carried out major digital targeting campaigns for Donald Trump campaign; AggregateIQ, a Data analytics company based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and ASI Data Science, a Data science company in Britain’s EU referendum. Cambridge Analytica is currently engaged by the President Uhuru Kenyatta administration in Kenya. Could this be similar to the role played by a Chicago-based political consulting firm – AKPD - founded by Obama administration confidante, David Axelrod which we understand helped the APC to win the 2015 general election? Also recall that SCL played a role in the 2007 general election in Nigeria won by late president Yar’ Adua.  

I cited the aforementioned scenarios to remind Biafra activists’ that it is not Uhuru yet; the game-plan of hedging actualization of Biafra through civil disobedience/referendum is not a walkover. Keep our eyes on the ball.

Biafra Independence Agitation No Longer A Pastime For Riffraff’s
Prior to now, the Biafran Cause was deemed a pastime of uneducated and no-good Joe Bloggs in Igboland. The dynamics have changed. Scores of enlightened, educated Igbos and non-Igbos though not as virulent, are joining the difficult conversation which Nnamdi Kanu and other intransigent Biafra campaigners amplified and foisted on Nigeria. I saw a video of Anglican Bishop Okechukwu Ikeakor speaking to a congregation about the patent marginalization and injustice in Nigeria. He summed up his preachment saying, ‘’you can only stop Biafra but one day Biafra will go’’. Eminent legal luminary and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), is one of those justifying the Biafra self-determination movement by the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, which is seeking a referendum on Biafra independence. Agbakoba asserts that IPOB’s quest for self-determination is lawful and justified in Article 1 (2) of the United Nations Charter and Article 20 (1) of the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights, to which Nigeria is a signatory. Similarly, more than ever before, Ndigbo in the diaspora constitute a sizeable chunk of those angling for Biafra independence.

On Southeast Leaders, Ohaneze Ndigbo And Nnia Nwodo
Southeast governors and leaders have been running helter-skelter chanting ‘One Nigeria’. Like the Biblical King Saul who was not aware that power has long changed hands, these paper-tiger geezers are oblivious of the fact that their time has passed. Just recently, the president of an apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. John Nnia Nwodo addressed the Anambra State House of Assembly denouncing Nnamdi Kanu’s directive asking Anambra people to boycott the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Anambra state. Nwodo spent most of his time reiterating how Anambra State is ahead of other Igbo State and how Anambra people are more intelligent, sophisticated than other Igbo speaking folks. This superiority complex is unnecessary. Nwodo says Nnamdi Kanu cannot arrogate leadership of Igboland to himself. Neither does being president of Ohaneze thrust Nwodo as leader of the entire Ndigbo. Nnamdi Kanu’s tenacity, narrative is profoundly entrenched in the hearts and minds of a plethora of Ndigbo that many are ready to lay down their lives for the Biafra Cause. A Daily Post newspaper report of 22 June, 2017 bears witness to a video that went viral on social media of thousands of Ndigbo who besieged Nnamdi Kanu’s compound in Umuahia, Abia state chanting, “Give us Biafra! Give us Biafra! Give us Biafra!’’, All we are saying, give us Biafra”, “We need Biafra”. Those were not the typical crowds rented by Nigerian politicians. That the reincarnated quest for Biafra independence is been anchored by youths is a ‘vote of no confidence’ on wishy-washy so-called Igbo leaders/elders that unashamedly buckle under pressure and kowtow to the Nigerian establishment, the Caliphate.

Conclusion
While the Nigerian government downplays the ongoing Biafra frenzy, with the aid of big data analytics and the cornucopia of their surveillance and intelligence gathering tools, the United States, Russia, Israel, United Kingdom, amongst others could have a better grasp of geopolitical undercurrents in Nigeria and can predict or sway probable outcomes. To test the waters and to ascertain the prospect of Biafra, I suggest an unofficial straightforward Yes/No question encompassing a comprehensive data set. For instance, the Scottish referendum which took place on September 18, 2014, the Brexit referendum and the proposed Catalonia referendum scheduled to take place on October 1st, entail a simple Yes/No question as to whether or not to remain part of the UK, EU or Spain respectively. Similarly the unofficial, non-binding, online and privately organized Venetian (one of the 20 regions of Italy) Independence Referendum dubbed ‘’digital plebiscite’’ or ‘’plebiscito.eu’’ which took place 16-21 March, 2014. Granted many people especially on the other side of the divide loathe Nnamdi Kanu’s swagger and boisterousness but the gospel truth is that his undiluted narrative, tenacity, courage to challenge the status quo and stand up to the corrupt and morally bankrupt Nigerian brass resonates with millions of people in his part of the world and beyond.
Written by: 

© Don Okereke, a security analyst/consultant, writer is CEO, Holistic Security Background Checks Limited

Twitter: @DonOkereke

July 7, 2017