By Philip Agbese
The projects were dead on arrival. Their only beneficiaries were the so called separatist leaders, who used the agitation for secession to bilk unsuspecting donors, sponsors, financers and backers even when they knew from the onset that what they were offering their followers has lesser value than a snake oil cure. They cheated the fanatical ones among their broods of their lives and limbs as they sent them on suicide missions in confrontation against constituted authorities knowing that their illegitimate activities would be met with firm state response. They lied to lied to their followers without remorse.
This week, after putting the whole of Spain on edge, Catalonia’s leader, Carles Puigdemont, settled for a symbolic declaration of independence from Spain based on 90% pro-secession votes of 2.3million Catalans. Puigdemont deferred the real declaration of independence “by some weeks” even though common sense shows the topic is being eased out of the public space in a manner that allows the hardline secessionists some face saving grace while keeping opportunities open to again test the corporate integrity of Spain in the future.
In Nigeria, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, who had vowed to sacrifice his life to realize the defunct Biafra republic did not enjoy the fortune of face saving just as his toxic approach to issues alienated even those that were once his sympathizers. Like a chastised cur, Kanu fled with his tail between his legs – he smuggled himself out of Nigeria, incognito, reportedly back to the London, United Kingdom, where he once subsisted between living on state provided welfare package and being a care worker before discovering he could make billions of naira off those deluded by the pipe dream of a revived Biafra.
Incidentally, Kanu and the most rabid of his brood of feral followers had wallowed in the illusion that Catalonia would light the way for their perverted vision of a balkanized Nigeria. They had marketed the fraud that the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) would invade Nigeria to help them create a new capital for Biafra in Afaraukwu, where Nnamdi Kanu would reign as the first imperial supreme leader under some bizarre monarchy possibly after killing off his own father, who is another monarch. The Catalonian independence struggle was for IPoB a justification to argue that the new trend in the world is for countries to voluntarily fragment to suit ethnic and tribal whims. Anyone that still believes that bunkum should have their medication evaluated for potential psychotropic side effects.
Suffering the same strain of delusion as Kanu, Puigdemont too had expected an EU censure when Spanish riot police unleashed the harshest crackdown of the year to stall Catalan’s referendum that even the Supreme Court ruled to be illegal. It came to the point where Puigdemont practically groveled as he pleaded for EU intervention that never came. The supra-national organisation knows better than to interfere in the internal affairs of a member nation and it promptly and rightly pointed that out. If the sledgehammer was slammed on the fly when the referendum held then the equivalent of a nuclear weapon would be detonated to kill a rat if Catalan dares press ahead with declaring independence. Options reportedly in the offing in such scenario is a full-fledged direct rule from Madrid, a fate worse than the current arrangement that guarantees Catalonia some measure of autonomy.
This was an insight that the governors of Nigeria’s five south-east states had to promptly proscribe the activities of IPoB before the court declared it a terrorist group. The path chosen by Kanu, which was more vexatious than the approach adopted by Puigdemont, was guaranteed to bring those states under emergency rule – the Constitution (as amended) has provision for declaring State of Emergency when situation degenerates in any part of the country but interestingly is mute on holding a referendum for secession. The demented chant of “no referendum, no election” by IPoB members is meaningless as the court would easily rule the conduct of a referendum as illegal, which would place the rebirth of Biafra via referendum on a footing weaker than that of Catalan.
Catalonians have retreated to lick their wounds and if they are smart they would engage in some soul searching while at it. In the wake of being declared a terrorist group, IPoB members similarly indicated that they merely retreated to come back in a more ferocious manner – they are already manifesting what they imply through the return of a more toxic version of hate speech targeting other ethnic nationalities. Retreating to review strategies and alliances as the Catalonians are doing is beyond IPoB, it requires too much mental effort for a rabble led by a scam artist.
The duty falls by default to the elected representatives and governors in the south-east to avert their geopolitical zone being catalaned. In this regard, it is encouraging that one of IPoB/Kanu’s cheerleaders and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, is now singing a new song – chanting hallelujahs to Nigeria’s unity. Ekweremadu, who once marketed the IPoB leader as a victimized freedom fighter told an audience in the United States that “We must continue to assure that the best way to go is restructuring, not dismemberment of the country.”
Other political leaders that had backed IPoB and other Biafran separatists against the state have a further responsibility to take a trip to Catalan, a mental trip at the very least. Then they would realize that pursuing the resurrection of a defunct republic that was committed to the grave through a costly civil war is not the way to go. This time around Biafra II may not be as fortunate as Catalan, and to think their woes are just beginning.
Agbese is a U.K. based public affairs commentator and publisher.