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Don’t Just Sit And Drink Beer On May 30th For IPOB - Think! By Churchill Okonkwo

May 28, 2017

As we sit around and drink beer on May 30th, let us transform the bars into discussion war rooms.

As we set out to close shops and offices, disrupt movement by burning tires and then retiring to bars to drink beer, the fallen Biafran heroes told me to inform Ndigbo that such goalless acts are pure self-entertainment and not an honor to them. The Biafran heroes are feeling the pains of a second death and not honor watching Ndigbo embrace two lepers, FKK and Reno, the mentally wrecked bigots who were abandoned by their tribes only to become our spokespersons on social media. They said we should stop the iberibe and wondered when our mumu go do.

Having relayed the message from Biafran heroes, and despite my strong disagreement with the agitations for an independent State of Biafra, I still believe in the redemptive value of Ndigbo to pursue their goal of political and economic equality in Nigeria. As we participate in this May 30th sit-at-home protest voluntarily or “forced”, the question remains whether we are leveraging on our disaffection to achieve real change.

So, as we park our buses, okada and tricycles in honor and remembrance of our fallen heroes and heroines, we should also make out time to figure what really they would rather see us do. Will it gladden the souls of the fallen heroes if we just close shop and waste the whole day without thinking of the opportunity cost of our frivolity? Is there no better way of remembering the Biafran heroes and heroines? What is the pragmatic way of changing our narratives?  

Biafran heroes and heroines are not saying that sit-at-home protest is not important, but they want us to be real. Twenty years from now, our kids will want to know what we did when we felt marginalized. What will we tell them? Will we boldly tell them that we simply closed shops and offices and went about drinking beer to punish Buhari, Tinubu and their brothers? Or like MOSSOB, are we going to beat our fist on our chest like a chimp and boast to have paralyzed economic activities in Onitsha and Owerri for few hours in the name of “honor”? Think!

The fallen heroes want me to tell Ndigbo that the closing of offices and shops is a self-imposed misery if we cannot think of what to do with the protest. Instead of just going to church and praying, the heroes and heroines will be happier to see us use the church as a meeting room where we can challenge the unreasoning in the reasoning behind the sit-at-home protest. They said I should find out why we have not figured out how to convert the sit-at-home protest, a retreat to an advance. They said we can burn tires, but that we should also think!

Are you of those under the spell that Biafra independence is within months? Have you been deluded into believing that there will no longer be election in southeast states? Think!

I know all these are not soothing, but I am a writer and should, therefore (in line with Chinua Achebe) not provide “prescriptions” but “headaches!” Here is another headache: Have you ever wondered if the Biafran heroes and heroines were speaking through Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, when he said Ndigbo should fight anybody who wanted to secede from Nigeria, including the Arewa and Oduduwa people? What will it take to capitalize on our political capital and change our narrative rather than attach our political fate to groups that impose misery on us?

Ask questions. He who asks will never go astray. The Biafran heroes and heroines said we should demand for new direction rather than just follow the weird thought that an Independent State of Biafra will materialize from nowhere simply because we closed shops and offices. They are asking us to develop alternative ideas through a framework of a coherent action plan that will result in the election of Governors, Senators, and representatives at the state and Federal houses that will be responsive to the needs of our people. That’s real honor.

So, as we sit around and drink beer on May 30th, let us transform the bars into discussion war rooms. Find out what’s going on in our government houses. Do you know your representative at the state house? You have kids of school age, but do you know what the government policy on education is? Are you happy paying high school fees in private schools and for “special centers” so that you kids will do well in exams? Think! Act for quality public education.

The Biafran heroes and heroines said I should tell Ndigbo that the cliché “gwazi ndi yard unu” (tell your neighbors) that we use on social media is an act of lazy political strategy. Typing and sharing garbage on WhatsApp and other social media platforms with by-line “As Copied”, “share until…”, is pure entertainment. It won’t prevent Andy Ubah from becoming our governor in Anambra or Okorocha as our senator by 2019.  Act to stop incompetent representation.

So, in addition to closing shops on May 30th, they want us to get involved in a tangible way. They want us to mobilize our neighbors to participate in the political process. Run for office. Yes, do something that will transform Ndigbo from acting as victims of political circumstance to problem solvers. Atonement will not come through a “sit-at-home” protest.

As we drink beer and eat goat meat at these joints, let us resolve that the mass movement and energy in the streets of Aba and Onitsha MUST be mobilized into a powerful political force that should ensure that elected public officials are delivering the dividends of democracy. Let us do this to gladden the hearts of the fallen heroes and heroines.

It’s been only 50 years since we were beaten and killed for a military a coup that was described as an Igbo gang up and subsequent attempt to secede from Nigeria. Even though the fallen Biafran heroes and heroines are grateful that we still remember them, they will prefer that we wipe the slate clean before drawing a new picture. Marching on the streets aimlessly with a scowl on our faces is equivalent to writing in unclean battered slates. Rather, march to the polling units, make your vote count and hold those you elected accountable.

The Biafran heroes and heroines understand that we are hungry, but they will rather have us go and hunt for food than swallow the phlegm to appease the pangs of hunger. Forcing indigent traders to close shops is like swallowing phlegm. “Worshiping” Nnamdi Kanu on social media is like swallowing phlegm. Think; act to free ourselves from that awkward slavery mentality.   

We have nothing to lose by thinking for ourselves rather than allowing the irrational thinking of those who are “forcing” us to close shops and offices render opaque the Igbo DNA in us. How can we use the invisible currency of the anger on the streets and mobilize the voting public or spend it to enforce reforms at Awka, Umuahia, and Owerri?

Time is a scarce resource, and failure to use the sit-at-home time efficiently will only cause more damage to the bottom line of our brothers and sisters. Say no to mumu. Don’t just sit-at-home and drink some beer on May 30th, think!

Udo! (Peace).


You can email Churchill at [email protected] or follow on Twitter @churchillnnobi.