Attack on Ekweremadu, politics of Biafra and 2023 presidency
The recent assault on Ike Ekweremadu, a former deputy Senate president, in Nuremberg, Germany, by members of the proscribed Independent People’s of Biafra (IPOB) has elicited many questions as to whether the shameful act could have been politically motivated due to clamour for the actualisation of a state of Biafra, and/or because of the emerging battle ahead of 2023 presidency.
Rather than a peaceful clamour for the achievement of the state of Biafra as being widely speculated, the battle for freedom by the members of the Independent People’s of Biafra (IPOB) has assumed a messier dimension. The agitation seems to be getting violent and more dangerous by the day, thereby transferring aggression on South East leaders, a development, observers say, could throw the region into more crises, especially ahead of the 2023 that the Igbo nation is craving for power shift.
Sources say that the IPOB members’ attack on Senator Ekweremadu, precisely on Saturday, 18th August, 2019, stemmed from the allegation that the former DSP is sabotaging the group’s effort to actualising the creation of State of Biafra because he wanted to become president of Nigeria in 2023.
Also, the attackers hinged their demonstration on the premise that the masses were being massacred by herdsmen while their leaders could afford to party and wine in foreign lands.
They (IPOB) claimed that Ekweremadu and other prominent Igbo leaders, especially governors of South Eastern states are frustrating the Biafra struggle, hence it is imperative to physically bring them on track – and also, that there is insecurity in the southeast region and the leaders are simply looking the other way.
Following the attack on the senator, political pundits say the assault is disgraceful. They also suspected that it was motivated by some major political actors. According to analysts, Ekweremadu has already positioned well and that some bigwig Igbo political leaders are threatened, hence the planned attack to rubbish him.
Of course, this is not the first time prominent Nigerians had been attacked and embarrassed in the Disapora. However, the recent attack on a senator who stands for the progress and stability of his people is most denigrating and cannot be easily forgotten.
On March 10 , 2016, then Rochas Okorocha, then governor of Imo State, was disgraced at the Chattam House, London by a solo IPOB protester who called him a “liar’’ and “murderer ’’, and attempted to prevent Okorocha from giving his address.
The recent attack on Ekweremadu and many others in the past, represent a dark spot on Nigeria’s democracy where leaders put personal aggrandisement above the common interest of the generality of the people. This makes the masses aggrieved.
“The tendency of grooming authoritarian leadership under any guise in Igbo land and Biafra in general will never be tolerated because the republican nature of Igbo man does not allow such authoritative rulership,” Samuel Edeson, spokesperson of Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), said.
As it is, some prominent Nigerian leaders, as well as many political analysts are warning that if not urgently addressed, the ugly situation is capable of tarnishing the democratic image of the country, and could thwart the keen aspiration of the Igbo for the 2023 presidency, as well as the actualisation of a Biafran state.
While Leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu has described the attack as a ‘courageous act’ and ‘polite warning’, the Federal Government has condemned the attack, saying it was shameful and pathetic.
Kanu’s reaction was contained in his official Twitter page. He said: “The courageous act by IPOB at Nuremberg Germany is a polite warning to those engaged in selling our collective interest to Fulani caliphate. Nwodo, Igbo governors are warned.”
Meanwhile, in a statement issued in Abuja, the Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on behalf of the Federal Government, said the incident was an embarrassment to the country.
“It is also shamefully pathetic that an event, which was nobly put together by the Ndi-Igbo community whose members make up the majority of Nigerians living in Germany, ended up in such a disgraceful manner,” She said.
Somehow, there appears to be apprehension as the Leader of IPOB has warned all south eastern governors to halt foreign travels as the group has planned to unleash attack on them, in abroad.
With this development, the questions are what becomes of the safety of the governors? Are they also sabotaging the actualisation of state of Biafra? Who and who among them is nursing presidential ambition? Are the attacked leaders really incompetent in addressing security challenges? The questions are endless.
While there is the opinion that the inability of the governors to end insecurity in the eastern region and their alleged seeming inability to speak up against the obvious injustice against the zone are among the issues IPOB is agitating, others posit that it is because most Nigerian leaders fraudulently amass wealth and travel abroad to squander. The leaders often times do not show concern to the abject poverty condition of the teeming populace.
A prominent Igbo leader told BDSUNDAY on condition of anonymity that what Kanu and IPOB group members are doing was influenced by some key political actors. Although the names of the political gladiators are not mentioned, the source said some political bigwigs from other zones outside South East were also involved.
Their aim, the Igbo leader alleged, was to ensure that south eastern leaders are distabilised and scattered so that they cannot fight a common course. According to him, the North and South West are also, seriously strategising to occupy the number one seat in 2023.
Speaking on the threat issued by IPOB, Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, had said the travel ban and planned attacks on them by IPOB were simply an empty threat.
Umahi stated in a statement issued by Emmanuel Uzor, his chief press secretary, that the governors of the southeast had no issues with IPOB to warrant the group’s threat to attack them anywhere abroad.
“The IPOB members abroad should come home and settle any issues they hold against the governors, instead of doing so in a foreign land.
“Attacking governors in a foreign land is a wild goose chase. We love the IPOB members because they are our children,” he had stated.
According to him, “They don’t need to attack the governors to achieve Biafra and we warn them not to allow political opportunists to use them to destroy the zone. They should unite and work with the governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo to achieve a president of Igbo extraction in 2023, instead of fighting the governors. We want them to be close to us, instead of taking the struggle to international arena.”
Oliver Orji, a public affairs commentator, while reacting to the attack, said: “The fact that former deputy president of the Nigerian Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, was nearly lynched by an angry mob in Nuremberg Germany did not come to many Nigerians as a big surprise given the present helpless frustration among Nigerian masses home and abroad.”
Orji posited that “Although I personally do not support physical assaults on public officers no matter what the grouses are, public protests and civil demonstrations are a part and parcel of a healthy democracy – more so, when it is recognised that those occupying such positions are accountable to the masses.”
“It is common to see presidents egged and drenched by angry protesters in civilised countries; a sign that power belongs to the people. Such outpouring of emotions when not lethal or life-threatening is totally permissible, if it galvanises public functionaries into living up to their responsibilities.
“Ekweremadu may have been an unlucky scapegoat (given his decent representation in the Senate) who has taken one for a political crop perpetually accused of being ensconced in obscene luxuries and cloistered from the everyday grind of the long-suffering citizenry, but his ordeal is a warning that ‘abroad’ may no longer be a safe haven for leaders who shirk their main responsibility of representing the interests of the masses,” Orji insisted.
SOLOMON AYADO, Abuja