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Why I disagree with Biafra cyberactivists
 By Herbert E. Nwankwo, PhD
Exclusive commentary for USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston 

First of all, let me state that the word 'Biafra' is not a theme songor a chorus. Why do I make this preliminary point? We have manyflag-huggers shouting Biafra in cyber-space, but doing nothing inactuality to bring it to realization.

Second, theBiafra declared as a republic//state of the 1967-type is gone and hassince become history. That was the Biafra of physical separation.Today, separation is not the answer and separation will be as foolishas it sounds. The Biafra of today is a state of mind being driven byspecial kind of accomplishments that can preserve Ndigbo as an entitywithin and beyond the boundaries of Nigeria. I made this point in a2000 keynote article for I also respect the factthere are Ndigbo who are no longer subscribed to the concept ofNigeria - as it is being run against their interests.

If the sound of the name 'Biafra' makes youfeel manly and happy, then you may create a huge entrance gate toyour village home and name it the Kingdom of Biafra, as that will bethe closest you get to it. Unless we must begin to think in concreteterms of building a nation - brick by brick, no such thing willbe.

However, there is a Biafra as a psychologicalstate that can be planted, grown, nurtured and harvested on a globalscale.

In the next twenty years, there will be middleand older folks of Igbo descent that will know very little aboutBiafra. There will be many more who may never step their foot inNigeria.
To keep them part of Nigeria and not lose them to other nations, wemust create a means to make them party to the Biafra of the mind.Shouting 'Biafra' from the view point of oppressed people will be aweak strategy for success. People of the modern reality identify withand are motivated by strength and accomplishments not weaknesses.Saying you are marginalized and weak drives people away rather thanmotivate them for success. This is particularly true for those Igbothat know nothing of what they talk about. Recall that the cries ofIgbo marginalization by older Ohaneze politicians did not resolve theissue of marginalization and did not empower Ndigbo to go out andconquer the trouble. Saying you are weak does not inspire the youngwho would rather identify with strength and power. A reason DimOjukwu is the spiritual rock of power that he symbolized for theyoung, even to this day since 1966!
The question then is who is a true Biafran? Those who want to makeNdigbo powerful through building a strong Igbo global community orthose who just want to shout Biafra? Or is it those who diedfighting, those who hug and exploit the rising sun? or those who justtalk about it but do nothing realistic to actualize it according totoday's realities? My answer is obvious. Biafra is a state of mindthat we all can quickly identify with and speak commonly of - thesame way Americans speak of an Apollo mission to the moon, theBrooklyn bridge, the empire state building, or the U.S militarymight.

What the new WIC is about is to create asuperficial state of being that will give us what we look for inBiafra but within the framework of a global nation, aimed toaccomodate diaspora ndigbo and their intention to see a proud andhappy people Igbo land.
One difference is that the Americans speak of things they can see andtouch but the Biafran flag-huggers speak of a superficial being thatcame to be by accident of chance. Biafra was never a plannedaccomplishment. I believ that Biafra was rather a reaction by thosewho happen to be there, to a state of the nation they have no controlof but to which they reacted appropriately. What we can cherish aboutit is that we admired the courage and inspirations of those whoreacted and how they did so with strength and courage. Though verysuperficial, that strength and courage has become a source of freshair and energy to the young post war Igbo youth who in many ways knewvery little about the war. While this energy lasts for them, thequestion one must ask is: what else? We need to build something thatwe can all talk about and touch. Something that is a true worldnation.
It is good to recognize accomplishments whether incidental orplanned, but what is more important is what one did with anyinspirations derived there from. I have heard shouts of freedom fromthe many flag-hugging cyberspace Biafrans, but have seen nothing ofsubstance in the form of activities and planning or preparation thatcan hand them their Biafra of the furture. The truth is this: shouldthe West and The North of Nigeria decide to take off as they alwayssay, the first place there would be a civil war or anarchy is Igboland. The reason is we have no leadership structure and the onlystructure we have in place is that approved by Nigeria's presidentOlusegun Obasanjo, his PDP party chairman Audu Ogbeh, and hisright-hand man Tony Anenih.

Every state in Igbo land today has a localwarlord in the form of political godfather. The latter stakes out forcontrol with the other key god fathers at the federal level who alsofund some of the activities. If this scenario plays out, you can seethat anarchy will be everywhere in Igbo land. Obviously, it is clearthat Obasanjo cannot persuade Orji Kalu. Chris Uba could not bepersuaded either by the committee of his makers in the PDP. EmekaOffor fought to the last day of Mbadinuju's reign. Suddenly, whenthere is nothing more to fight about, they became friends again. Whosays miracle does not happen!
With all these money bags and their trains of security outfitsrunning around with no business skills nor managerial prowess tocount on, and no education to lead us, the question then is how canthis Biafra come to be. When Ojukwu took lead in 1967, he had a formof structure and authority in place that smoothened the process.There was only minor adjustments needed for folks like the late Dr.Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr. Kingsley Mbadiwe and the rest of the nationalcaliber politicians who had to be subordinated to a much youngerofficer, personified by then Col. Ojukwu - as head of Biafra. It wasclear who was leading or going to lead in 1967.
The question today is who is going to lead this Biafra should anotheraccident happen and we find us scrambling for a nation. Obviously,Ohaneze is not posotioned to do any thing in that regard, It will beoverrun in just hours as the group has no substancice or authority orgovernance structure in plan to overpower the godfathers. Ohaneze isa mere congregation of people who don't have any loyalty to eachother will be more confused than was the case just last year as theytried to selected a concensus igbo political leader. They are menwhose common interest is being noticed for possible nationalappointments or contracts, and that a new faculty has been put inplace based on their old structure, changed little. All we have arenew faces doing the same thing the old ones did.

A world cader leadership must understand more than selfserving ends.The leadership with forward looking interest requires more than a fewpeople reacting to or uspporting national level oppressive behaviorsor moves. To create and grow the kind of leadership that would moveinto any sudden vacuum requires more than the annual conventionplanners the Igbos in the diaspora has assigned to the World IgboCongress (WIC). Building a new Igbo nation hinged on economic andpolitical strength would require more than conventions in which thesuccess is only that people gathered to spend money for hotel roomsand transport fares. Those who agitate for Biafra must have aleadership that would move and provide services to needIgbos/Biafrans as done by any government today, in preparation forthe call. This structuring and positioning must have been in placeand functioning as was the case when Ojukwu filled the vacuum whenthe need for Biafra arose in 1967. A new thinking that will grow andsustain this new kind of Biafra must be nurtured, harvested, andutilized.
Dr.Nwankwo, an engineering designscholar and frequent attendee of the World Igbo Congress (WIC)conventions is advocating the creation of what he calls the WorldIgbo Community (new WIC). He is affiliated with the North CarolinaA&T State University and contributed editorial viewpoints Contraryviews on the issues raised hereare welcome and may be published.
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