(Published in The PUNCH, on Friday, July 14, 2023)
Intricate, intelligent and dangerous beauties of creation, I love snakes and their zigzaggery. For its undergraduates in the 80s and early 90s, Abia State University, Uturu, was a Garden like Eden, where cashew wasn’t the forbidden fruit. American collegiate architecture etched on a breathtaking landscape covering unending cashew plantations, ABSU was the oasis of learning, cohabiting nature and nurture.
In the ABSU garden, snakes sneaked up on the descendants of Adam and Eve, like their progenitor, the Serpent, did in Eden, validating the curse: “Your children and her children will be enemies. Her son will crush your head. And you will bite his heel.”
As a student, I did crush the heads of many snakes at ABSU. It was a pastime for me. For me, it’s less stressful to kill a snake than to kill a rat. But now, wildlife awareness and the law have made me realise it’s better not to kill snakes, just let them snake away for the sake of peace.
In the US where I reside, you are liable to a $25,000 fine and prison time if you kill any snake listed in the Endangered Species Act of 1973. If you kill two, you pay $50,000 as a fine. If you kill three, just multiply $75,000 by 750, the current exchange rate of the naira to a dollar, and you’ll get N56,250,000 only. N56.2m for three snakes when Nigerian forests are thoughtlessly depleted of the species in large numbers without replenishment every day!? Let the snake snake away, biko.
Unlike the scorpion, the snake carries its power in its triangular head which opens into an elastic throat connected to a long, warm belly. By the way, could Jonah, the Nineveh deserter, survive therein? I don’t know.
For several reasons, snakes regurgitate their meals. A cornered snake will regurgitate its meal to quickly move away from danger or if the meal is too large or if sick.
In Igbo land, a worm that should have been long exterminated has turned into a fearsome snake called eke. Eke, the mighty python, now has the entire South-East in its jaws, slowly devouring, unblinking. Everyone is watching: horror glazes the eyes, mouths terrified beyond speech, sweat turns into rivulets, reason flees, fire burns, violence reigns, Igbo land bleeds! Shame.
In modern history, the American and French revolutions – the father and mother of self-determination – were wars fought for the right to choose, justice, liberty and freedom from authoritarian rule. The European revolutions of 1848, post-World War I resolutions and the decolonisation movement after World War II, all gave teeth to self-determination.
However, self-determination, as it is being championed by the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra, is a sinful, senseless self-slaughter. IPOB and its affiliates have abandoned protests, agitation, sensitisation and rallies as instruments for achieving self-determination, and have dishonourably embarked on naked terrorism.
Let’s even agree that fair is foul and that IPOB is free to employ terrorism like other butcher organisations such as Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, ISIS, Terhik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Al-Shabaab, Hezbollah etc, it still stands logic on the head that the south-eastern python is strangling itself to death, along with its children and their heritage.
Worldwide, agitators of self-determination struggles often employ terrorism and its lieutenants, which include killing, kidnapping, bombing, and hijacking, as tools for attracting attention and enforcing demands. The September 11, 2001 bombing of the US and the Boko Haram bombings in Nigeria are reference points. However, the self-destruction embarked upon by IPOB, which cuts the nose to spite the face, is stupid. In the end, IPOB will end up plundering Igbo land, setting the Ndi Igbo back in terms of financial, human and intellectual capital without achieving the desired result.
The Bola Tinubu administration is just a little over one month in the saddle. It’s still unclear what the policy of his government would be on IPOB and Kanu. However, former President Muhammadu Buhari didn’t hide his disdain for the self-determination struggle by IPOB, saying, “IPOB is just like a dot in a circle. Even if they want to exit, they will have no access to anywhere. And the way they are spread all over the country, having businesses and properties, I don’t think IPOB knows what they are talking about.
“In any case, we’ll talk to them in the language that they understand. We will organise the police and the military to pursue them.”
The view of the Tinubu administration over IPOB might not be far removed from the view of its progenitor – the Buhari government. And Buhari got IPOB where he wanted it – keeping it busy with self-destructing. The self-immolation of Igbo land by IPOB and its paramilitary arm, the Eastern Security Network, has no tangible effect on the Federal Government. Both are just plain stupid. What security are you ensuring when you sow sorrow, tears and blood in the homes of those you purport to protect?
I think it’s high time IPOB reassessed its strategies and abandon the path of class suicide it’s treading. It’s a no-brainer to see that the struggle has become an albatross on the necks of the masses whose plight it set out to improve before it descended into barbarism – like many struggles before it.
The unravelling of IPOB affirms the underlying disaster in the aphorism, ‘power without control’. On a number of occasions, the Yoruba self-determination group, Oodua Peoples Congress, had stepped out of line but the leash of moral suasion held by elders and leaders of society restrained the Gani Adams-led faction of the OPC.
Particularly, the Gani Adams faction of the OPC, in a brazen display of support for the Goodluck Jonathan administration, turned itself against the masses during the countdown to the 2015 presidential election, unleashing terror in the Maryland axis of Lagos State. But no life was lost in the OPC madness.
When the Boko Haram insurgency started in 2002, jaws must have dropped in shock across Igbo land in reaction to the lunacy that drives terrorism. Now, here we are, Igbo land is being consumed as the same horror that lives in the Sambisa Forest has emerged in the Land of the Rising Sun.
In terms of acceptability, organisation and strategy, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra led by India-trained lawyer, Ralph Uwazuruike, was far better than IPOB. MASSOB started the sit-at-home initiative which was to honour fallen Biafran heroes. The Ndi Igbo gladly participated in the sit-at-home to drive home the point of Igbo marginalisation. It appears Kanu, who was a mentee of Uwazuruike, learnt nothing good at the feet of his former master.
Today, the initiative now occurs every Monday, including every day Kanu appears in court. So, if Kanu appears in court three times a week, excluding Monday, that means buying and selling – the oxygen of Igbo people would be cut short. How would the strident call on the Igbo to return to develop Biafra land be heeded in this insane situation?
IPOB should step back, look at the scores of broken skulls and the splatter of innocent blood littering Igbo land in the name of the fruitless struggle, and return to sanity.
Facebook: @Tunde Odesola