Opinion: In support of Arewa youth by Obinna Akukwe

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Arewa Youth came out last June with a quit notice to all Igbos residing in the north to leave the zone within three months and all hell was let loose on them. I am in support of the principles behind the quit notice on Igbos in the north but differs on the timing. Probably if they had said three years, I would have been more comfortable; to allow for a less fractitious homecoming.

Being an activist, clergy and member of influential Igbo groups in Nigeria, both the mass movements, professional, intellectual. Including Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and a frontline defender of Igbo interests for over a decade now, I have a good idea of what the Igbo want. Also as a gospel missionary who traverses many parts of northern Nigeria in the past, made friends among both religions, interacted with the locals, I have an advanced idea of the mindset of the elite northerner, the common man in the north and the almajiris and I know that many information being spewed to the public, from the days of Boko Haram till date about northerners are half truth and more lies, and I blame the northern elites hawkish disposition for such festering lies.

Since the recent upsurge in IPOB popularity due to Nnamdi Kanu’s unfortunate arrest, I have cautioned publicly both as individual and as opinion leader against the use of hate speeches to actualize Biafra. I detest the use of languages like “monkeys’, ‘baboon’, ‘pedophile’, ‘rapist’,’ cowards’ etc on elements of other tribes as though such do not exist in the South East. I have cautioned our people that Biafra can be achieved without spewing hatred the manner Hitler used Nazism to incite and murder six million Jews in the worst holocaust in history.

During the sit at home order of last may, which I observed at Living Faith Church while receiving briefings on Bishop Oyedepo’s proposed prophetic visit, I told some Ohanaeze chieftains who came calling that soon the north will call the bluff of Igbos on secession. Days later the Arewa youth threatened a quit notice on Igbos in the north. My phones started ringing unabatedly; my predictions had come to pass. I attended another secret meeting of some elements within Ohanaeze and we mapped out a plan of action to ensure that the order was not carried out, which was subtly sown to Igbo leadership. The three moth quit notice must be discountenanced by all Nigerians using every means and the plot worked very well.

Everything worked according to plan, but what I find uncomfortable is the renewed calls for the arrest of Arewa Youth for saying their minds. Arewa Youth only reacted to the strident cry for Biafra by acquiescing to the demands. They do not deserve being invited by the police not to talk of being arrested. They used their rights as Nigerians who are tired of being denigrated especially on social media by hate filled separatists whose stock in trade is calling northern leaders all manners of vile names alien to the igbo Culture to ask the secessionists to go home. . Buhari has been called a terrorist, rapist, pedophile, aged fool and all that without the consent of the Igbo public by some elements within the separatist agitations. People have been advised to embarrass Pastor Kumuyi, Bishop Oyedepo, Pastor Adeboye and Yoruba pastors if they bring their religion to Igbo lands. Rev Fr Mbaka has been called a betrayer and marked for elimination. All these hate filled words are alien to the Jewish Culture, Christian Culture or Igbo Culture. While the abuses lasted, the people cheered and jeered until the abused Northern youth reacted.

The spontaneous consensus of angst that followed the quit notice by Arewa Youth showed that both Nigeria and the separatists are indeed all zoo republics. We called for the release of Nnamdi Kanu from detention several times, why we should now call for the arrest of Northern Youth leaders. Kanu is advocating for Biafra, Arewa Youth have acquiesced to Biafra. Why should we condemn the arrest of Kanu, and then call for arrest of Northern Youth. Are both not freedom fighters. Kanu is fighting for Biafra, Arewa Youth said yes to Biafra. We should avoid a hypocritical high horse and use the same measure for everybody, irrespective of tribe and religion. The call for the arrest of these young men is as criminal, as the initial arrest of Nnamdi Kanu.

When elders sit by while the youth on a separatist cause raise propaganda to suicidal limit, without regards for the feelings of other tribes, they should prepare their people to pack and go home. The separatist voices have been asked by various Igbo leaders to remove hate filled messages, denigrating messages and abusive inclinations, and they refused.

Ohanaeze Leadership discussed it with IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu at Nwodo’s residence in Enugu last June when IPOB leader came calling.. The Arewa Youth asked their kinsmen in the north to vacate and the whole world is looking for their blood. This is madness and hypocritical. It is as hypocritical as the earlier incarceration of Fani Kayode and Olisa Metuh by APC chieftains using the EFCC in efforts to silence opposition voice in Nigeria. Nigeria may be a zoo, but Biafran Igbos should be careful not to form another zoo by the way they see any dissenting voice as evil.

The arrest and detention of Kanu is evil, and I have condemned it as a person and leader of some Igbo groups. I also called for the release of Ben Onwuka of Biafra Zionist Movement and Innocent Orji, betrayed MASSOB activist languishing at prison. I condemned the murder of over 5,000 MASSOB and IPOB activists by the Nigerian government and called for enquiries. I also condemned the killing of over 1000 Shiite Muslims by agents of the Nigerian army. All these are in public domain. I find it nauseating that people, who condemned the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu will turn round to call for the arrest of Arewa Youth for saying their minds on the failing Nigerian project. Arewa Youth made sense without being incisive. They are simply saying “Go Home with Your Biafra and Leave Us Alone”-what is wrong with it.

It is either the Igbos goes home to form Biafra or cautions the inciters of hate messages to seek other means of actualizing the dream without spewing atmosphere capable of breeding violence, hatred and bloody conflict. I stand in defence of Arewa Youth right to say their mind, and where they need correction, cognizance must be taken of their feelings over the psychological trauma of strident calls for separation, and calling for their arrest is hypocritical.

Obinna Akukwe

profetobinna2@yahoo.com. www.facebook.com/obinnaakukwe, @ObinnaAkukwe