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The untouchables

By   /  July 31, 2017  /  No Comments

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When we are lucky not to fall in the forbidden group, we don’t count ourselves lucky. When we are not Osu in Igboland, we see ourselves as privileged. When we are not black or Hispanic or any minority in the United States, we swagger on hilltops. When we are educated Hausa-Fulani, we feel entitled. Our footwork soft-pedals, carriage regal, voice like petals.

The victims or rebels think the privileged groups hold them in contempt. Those who know understand that fear is the volcanic force. Zealots have fears in their eyes. Dictators kill as a way to postpone their own suicide. Boko haram is in terror of learning.

In the political arena, we are witnessing such palpitation. Our new version of anxiety helps us track how taboos begin. They are ethnic entrepreneur Nnamdi Kanu and his hysterical Biafra goons, Yerima Shettima and his incarnation of privileged preening, and the question of restructuring and how everyone knows where it is but no one pays a visit.

We act as though they are not here. The big elephant strides and crushes, but we look the other way. For instance, the law frowns at the hectoring of Yerima Shettima and his threat to oust Igbos from the north. Governors and the top cop swiped back and called for arrests. The perpetrators don’t hide. The law sees but does not pursue them.

We fear the lawless among us. We condemn in flowery rhetoric, flaunt the inviolability of the rule of law, and yet the perpetrators swank and huff about. The reason no one wants to touch a Shettima or his youth buddies is simple. They belong to a privileged class, from the vortex of power. So, we have a group of haters. Paradoxically, their taboo status bears a warped justification. Kanu and company say they want to leave. The Shettima boys open the door. Kanu’s kinsmen back a cowardly retreat and call them subverts. Who wants to eat a cake and have it?

The distorted logic of a Shettima finds traction in the self-contradiction of the Igbo separatists. Against the law of gravity and motion, they want to leave, and they want to stay. No courage to state in a clear-head sentence the logic of their position. It’s like the quote from Charlotte Bronte in her famous novel, Jane Eyre. She said, “I was not heroic enough to purchase liberty at the price of caste.” If ethnic entrepreneur Kanu sees his group as a sort of caste, he and his group should congratulate Shettima.

IPOB and its cohorts have lionised Shettima by their lack of coherence. Kanu is an opportunist who has flattered the secret hopes of the Igbos who want a better deal. Kanu is not the deal maker they want. But it is the one they have got. The Igbo seek a symphony but a croaky voice steps up, violates the rhythms and lyrics, but they dance anyway. I recently called Biafra a corpse. Its supporters, bright-eyed and ecstatic, are still copulating with the bloodless beauty in a midnight dance ringed by sparks of fire.

The same Kanu who does not understand the meaning of confederation? In a recent article where I pointed this out, a barrage of ignorant vitriol responded that he was being pragmatic. You don’t play pragmatism by compromising the basic principle of your struggle. Ghandhi, De Gaulle, Mandela, Lincoln, Nyerere, Churchill didn’t. Biafra flies in the face of confederation. Since my criticism, the former London vagrant and now peacock, has backed away from his assertion of confederation.

So, Kanu and IPOB also belong to the group of untouchables, especially in the east. The governors joined the crowd that called for his release when under detention. Now, they are his targets. A Frankenstein monster. His Biafra Radio has taken on Imo State governor with a raft of allegations that are unprintable. Rochas Okorocha must have been gratified that some groups countered the ethnic entrepreneur’s rally under his nose.

But the untouchable Kanu has defied the court. He is doing virtually everything the judge forbade him. He is stirring the pot. No one knows what to do from the presidency to the police to the Igbo elite. Some of the Igbo elite are trying to play harlot, be Nigerian or what the zealot calls a zoo, or be Biafran and belong there. He is openly calling for Anambrans to pooh-pooh the upcoming governor poll. He wants a referendum that he will lose in Niger Delta. That makes him an imperialist who is fighting against imperialism. He knows a Biafra of only Igboland will be a landlocked, kwashiorkor-festered, fishless and meatless deadlock with only the Bight, shall I say bite, of Biafra for succour and water. Remember the civil war?

The other untouchable is the question of restructuring. The Senate, under Bukola “Eleyinmi” Saraki ran away like a rat that sighted a cat. They fled from voting in favour of devolution of power to states and the issue of lands. Alpha governor Akinwunmi Ambode recently called for return of Lagos assets. Federalism thrives when its parts are free. The centre chokes its parts. The Senate’s failure reflects the fear of our true federalism. No one wants to touch it, but stalks us, fuelling opportunisms like Kanu and idiocy of Shettima and his youth group.

APC set up a committee under a governor who mocked it. The fish is under the cat’s care. Northern Governor’s Forum also has set up its committee. Will the committees fit Charles Kettering’s view that Fred Allen who defined it as “a group of people who individually can do nothing, but who, as a group, can meet and decide that nothing can be done.” Or shall we applaud Ross Perot’s: “if you see a snake, just kill it – don’t appoint a committee.”

What we are witnessing is the impunity of the untouchables and a nation still at peace with living a lie. Pakistani playwright Ayad Akhtar’s play, Disgraced, shows how truth has to come up for air when a people lie against themselves. The Pulitzer Prize winning play shows how a man who wants to deny his ethnic truth eventually faces the truth in a dinner. We have to deal with the truth around us. We cannot deny the phony cries of the untouchables. They are phony because as a people we are also phony. We are a bastard nation breeding bastard sons, like IPOB and Arewa Youth Consultative Forum. There is a pain but the wrong men are wailing.

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