An Appeal to IPOB
By: Deji Yesufu
Yesterday I was at the staff clinic of a tertiary hospital somewhere in South West Nigeria. As we waited to see the doctor, a young house officer came in for her medicals. She had just been taken by the hospital to do her internship. From the conversation between herself and the nurse on ground, I learnt that she had schooled in Enugu, South East Nigeria. And had travelled all the way to the South West for her continued training in medicine. I immediately engaged her in a dialogue, showing her that I enjoyed my trip to Enugu in 2018 but that unfortunately my second trip last year was not so enjoyable. I told her that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and their agitation was not adding to the economy of the South East, rather it was destroying it. The young lady responded saying that at the moment IPOB has split into different factions with each of them having different modus operandi – some are more violent than others.
Now, there is nowhere in the world where violence has been the sole means of actualizing a vision. Everyone employs the carrot and stick approach in realizing a purpose. Even in the house, a wise father knows when to employ the stick on the recalcitrant child and he knows when to offer some carrots. It is time IPOB and all other agitating groups in South East Nigeria begin to consider other options before them. I have listened to many of their thinkers and they come off to me more like rabble-rousers than persons with ideas that can convince a nation. Those who effect change in society are individuals who do not always employ a gun; those who effect lasting change mostly involve the pen – which they use in enumerating their ideas in coherent ways. Even if those ideas are not utilized in their lifetime, a generation will rise up; pick up what is written and implement them. In this article, I want to talk to IPOB about the idea called Peter Obi.
In 2018, when I published Victor Banjo, my primary audience were the various groups agitating for Biafra. My main thesis was this: Eastern Nigeria had more reasons to call for secession in 1967 than they have today – yet, even in 1967 Ojukwu and others with him made the wrong decision by seceding. The cost of that decision was that some three million people perished in a needless war and every part of the country paid a price for that decision; some families are even still mourning fifty years after. One of such families is the family of Victor Banjo. Therefore when a people agitate, they think the matter through properly. And war should always be a last resort. In that book, I suggested that Eastern Nigeria should put forward one of their sons and sell him to the Nigerian electorate with the hope that they will buy him. When I made that suggestion, Peter Obi was not in the picture. Today, even his detractors cannot deny the fact that Obi is the best option among the individuals that have come forward to run for the presidency of the country.
So, my appeal is to the various factions of IPOB: sheath your sword and give Peter Obi a chance. It is sad that while people from other parts of the country are spending and being spent to see Obi elected into office, members of IPOB are carrying out attacks on INEC offices in South East Nigeria. Do you realize that politics is a game of numbers? Do you realize that no one will deny Eastern Nigeria a place in Aso Rock if 100% of the votes casted in the whole of Eastern Nigeria and South South go to Peter Obi? Do you understand that those of us in the South West and the middle belt of the country are poised to give Obi at least 25% of votes casted? With these numbers, there is no way Obi will not coast to victory in the coming election. And there is no one born in Nigeria today who will deny him the right to rule the country. I am saying in essence that the best chance you have in realizing your desires to be inclusive in the whole Nigerian project is Peter Gregory Obi. Kindly consider that option.
The other option before you is the continued division among you. The continuous hit and run measures you employ. You may need to check the history books and see that there is no group in the world that has ever realized their purposes in such a manner. Dialogue is what the modern man employs in realizing their vision. Put your best ideas forward and run with them. Peter Obi is the best idea for South East Nigeria today. Run with him.