Write it in capital letters, if you will, but the fact remains that words may not exhaust the import of Biafra. As an idea, an identity, a cry for justice, a fortress of refuge, self-defence, an ambition, an ideology, a nation-state, a people and a religion, Biafra has attracted many interests. It always proves to be a comma instead of a period, resisting all pressures and efforts at obliteration while remaining elliptical. Yea, Biafra ends in ellipses; it never closes! It is a metaphor, which means many things to many people. To some people, Biafra is a history, and to others, it is a resilient determination of the human will to be free. It is a code name for human dignity, a metaphor for poverty-stricken and disease-infested children. In reality, it represents the best of our promise and the worst of our poverty, demonstrating a tale of will and guts and an incredible tenacious survival spirit and renaissance. Over time, Biafra proves to be an ideology that makes chronic resonances, attracting many Samaritans, both the good and the bad ones alike. Missing the ramifications of the cause of its unabating resonances, the bad Samaritans address the Biafran question with inadequate and destructive instruments.
Hence, the bad Samaritans deny the possibility of self-determination, thereby denying freedom, which is one of the most important possessions of humans. In contrast, others create a non-seeing emotive band of crusaders that drive populism while in enmity with reason. Therefore, the common denominator of the bad Samaritans is the denial, suspension, rejection or misapplication of reason. No matter the depths of one’s anger, reason should always drive processes. Emotions can fuel the drive but should not be allowed to control a situation that requires collective intelligence, wisdom and tact. One of the subtle waves of bad Samaritanism is succumbing to populism and embracing earthly messiah. Populism, with its narcotic grip, possesses a hypnotic spell that suspends hardcore reason. Under this narcotic effect of populism, most people negotiate away true freedom that characterizes persons, leading to imprisonment within a spell-bounding milieu. As a result, as is generally the case, populists end up despots and turn emancipation into victimization. In this scenario, freedom, truth, and peace become the fundamental causalities. One of the most challenging things would be to engage those under this effect.
Across fountains and mountains, across times and climes, many promising and hope-inspiring solutions with romantic appeal turned out to be disappointingly worse than situations they were meant to address. And that serves as a caveat to all who follow populism blindly. Some populist’s solutions often fail because of too much reliance on earthly messiah figure. Thus, the failures of populism become a reminder that man cannot be a messiah. The multifaceted approach to solution proves a better way to tackle challenges. The fallacy of populism is just the heresy of anointing a socio-political messiah, and there cannot be another Saviour of human stock because of man’s imperfection. Humans more often destroy the structures if they accept messianism and do not submit themselves to the system of checks and balances. The bad Samaritans are not only the perpetrators of reconciliation deceit, who, by their policies, actions and inactions, continue to fight the Nigerian-Biafran war by other means, including marginalisation and exclusionism.
They also include some of the federal security forces who molest and kill innocent agitators, perpetrators of human rights abuses and violations, misguided agitators who constitute a nuisance to the very people they claim to be fighting for, those who attack peoples’ values and faith in the name of political liberation and those who refuse to use reason relative to the struggle. The elders who look away while atrocities are committed against the dissatisfied youths are not left out. Others include the government that irresponsibly waste the lives of young men whose only sin is crying against the marginalisation being meted to their people and the elite who are aloof to the situation of their people. The bad Samaritans are all the unhelpful agents relative to Biafra, which is a reality that has become a metaphor. Metaphors are dynamic, and Biafra is a typical warrant that justifies the claim. The changing narrative relative to Biafra makes room for developing a dynamic meaning suitable to each age. While Biafra was once thought to be the problem by many Nigerians, the current situation has sufficiently convinced most Nigerians that Biafra is an answer. Within a proper framework of appreciation, Biafra serves as a caveat to oppressors. It echoes most Nigerians’ loud and silent cries for justice, freedom and fairness in the ramifications of our national identity.
Therefore, the Biafran question is a clarion call to the nation to search for a solution, and yet the solution is Biafra. This solution has to be sorted out in a dialogue session and not within the competence of this piece to proffer. The political negotiations and agitations will sort out the type of Biafra that will best suit the circumstances of today. In doing this, reason has to drive the process and its progress, bearing in mind that populism is laden with dangers. In reading the signs of the times, Late Dim Emeka Ojukwu fought in defence of a territorial Biafra, and before his death, he proposed an ideological Biafra. Going forward, all hands have to be on deck to proffer a solution that will be for the true good of all Biafrans, meaning all suffering and deprived Nigerians. Whether it is Biafra of the mind, which will involve restructuring Nigeria to give all sense of belonging or Biafra of territory, it all boils down to the need to sit down and talk. Now is the time to dialogue because it is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war. And that is if only we do not wish to be bad Samaritans.
• Rev. Fr. George Adimike is of the Archdiocese of Onitsha, firstname.lastname@example.org.