German-based Abia State-born showman and social critic, Mac Wilson, in this interview tells CHUKS EZE that the seeming containment of contemporary pro-Biafra agitations led by MaziNnamdiKanu, IPOB leader, does not, in any way, detract from the fact the Igbo are in a distressed marriage with Nigeria and ought to be left to go.
A lot has been said about the negative impact of hate speeches on the polity. What role should entertainers play to help in addressing the situation?
Hate speechesare a dangerous development but are indicative of the level of anger and dissatisfactionin the land. Anger, dissatisfaction and things like that breed agitations from which hate speeches emanate. Once again, Isay that it is very sad to read all the hate speeches going on in the social media. You read about the Yoruba writing against the Igbo, or Hausa writing against Igbo or Yoruba, and vice versa.
Why do we still make claims about one Nigeria? The injustice, neglect and unequal treatment being meted out to the black race as a whole is a global phenomenon. People are fighting against such issues in Europe and America; the global target is how to initiate and promote peace in the whole world but here you are at home, with people of same race, fully blessed with everything, yet you are faced with even fiercer, deadlier tribal war and hate speeches. It is unfortunate and I blame the government for that kind of development in Nigeria. They ought to know that if you have six children in the house, for instance, and you decide to favour a select few above the rest, that there is bound to be bad blood and dissatisfaction.
Some people have also ascribed the recurring enmity, hatred and antagonisms in the country to wrong marriage of Nigeria in the name of Amalgamation, in 1914; what is your take on that?
The issue of ethnic and traditional division of the three major ethnic groups – Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa, will continue to set alight or incite antipathy, distrust, and hostility. The three groups have ever remained unquestionably hostile and cruel to oneanother while still pretending that everything is fine, which is not true. This is where you find that Nigerians are telling lies to themselves.
Why do we refuse to call a spade a spade? It is easier to call for one large peaceful Africa, like we have it in Europe, than one united Nigeria, because, in reality,‘One Nigeria’exists by force. Anything that is forced always ends in no peace and progress, just like we have been witnessing in Nigeria. The present structure of the country is not working at all.
‘One Nigeria’ only exists in our lips; even those saying that our unity is not negotiable know it. The system needs to be rearranged, overhauled and entirely restructured. That is the only way to encourage peaceful co-existence under the same roof called Nigeria.
On the role that entertainers should play in the present situation in the country, the mental buildup of Nigerian artistes has to be looked at. It has been widely known how artistes all over the world come together in times of difficulties to either show solidarity through their works; through peaceful protests, or even put calls to lawmakers or those in political authorities pleading with them to take action to better the situation.
Many peace-advocacy songs have been produced across the world, sending messages of peace and hope. Standup comedians, who usually perform at major events could formulate satiric jokes and crack them at major functions to promote peace. Nigerian entertainers need to create a lot of peace-advocacy works. Musicians should write more peace songs and do collabos on peace. That would go a long way, but the bulk of the job is on the shoulders of the federal government.
What is your view about the agitation for Biafra, especially the NnamdiKanu-led group?
The agitation for Biafra is a sweet, unending story of a rocked marriage where the wife, in this case, the breadwinner seeks divorce, but she is being denied by her husband, who fears for tomorrow-post-divorce existence. It is also an agitation fueled by a simple mistake made by the federal government, by arresting NnamdiKanu, the leader of IPOB. And worst of all, at a critical hard time in Nigeria, when many people are hungry and angry.
In reality, it is clear as crystal, that none of the three major ethnic groups that we have in Nigeria’s present arrangement, want to be seen as one, but we have been pretending to be one, like I said earlier. That is a big lie. This can even be verified through the viral tribal home videos and audio messages that have been circulating across the world, in various Nigerian tribal languages. The meaning of oneness is one language, culture, religion, belief and destiny. The question is, are all these elements not missing in Nigeria’s current arrangement? Do Nigerians believe in one country? Do they believe in one another or have regard for their religious differences?
So, are you in support or against agitation for Biafra?
Honestly speaking, if I weigh the merits and demerits, I think I should declare support for Biafra, and even for more countries out of Nigeria. After a general review of the outcome of our 50 years of being together, it became clear to me that it has yielded poor fruits. So, Biafra is a beautiful and just cause.
But, everything about it should be within the confines of the law – both local and international laws. So far, we have not heard of any transgression on the side of Ndigbo’s agitation, but I still think IPOB should stick to its philosophy of non-violence no matter the provocation, and tone down its rhetoric. There is so much involved in getting a nation to stand after gaining expected freedom or exit. Citizens need to be assured and reassured that those leading the agitation are aware of all that?
What is your reaction to Operation Python Dance and the eventual invasion of NnamdiKanu’s family home in Afara-Ukwu, Umuahia?
It was completely ill advised. It had no explanation in law or security of social order. In the first place, the federal government, through the initial arrest and detention of NnamdiKanu, helped in making him the popular, international personality he is today. I read that it was as a result of advice by former President Obasanjo, thatBuhari should clamp down heavily on any Biafra agitator.
But it has turned out to be very wrong advice,a destructive piece of advice at that. When the idea of re-arresting the IPOB leader for allegedly breaking his bail conditions, was mooted, people kicked against it. But, it would have been better if he had been re-arrested because that would have been, to a large degree, in accordance with the law.
But, for the government to deploy soldiers to invade his home, allegedly killing and maiming people in the process, was the height of political rascality on the part of government. Because, the question still remains, just what were soldiers sent to Kanu’s home to do? Was it to kill or arrest him or what? What the government used soldiers to do in Kanu’s house had no place in law; it’s complete illegality.
The man had a case barely one month away when they invaded his house, couldn’t they have waited for hid trial to resume? And when did soldiers become an arresting authority in our statues?Ok, Kanu may no longer be talking, but who says it has ended the agitation. Truth is, agitation is alive and strong, even stronger now that it has been driven underground.
I said earlier that the country is already tension-soaked, and so, the government should be concerned with adopting dialogue and a more civil than militant way of resolving issues. It is a pity that such agitation would pop up at this time of Buhari´sadministration and he took the deceitful advice of arresting NnamdiKanu and detaining him for too long thereby creating a window for a stronger and louder activation of Biafra agitation.
If the President had released Kanu early enough or even completely ignored him, the music would have been be playing a different tone today, and pro-Biafra agitation would have been an underground operation without all the global media attention it has received after Kanu’s arrest and detention.
Agitations and protests are healthy in any healthy democratic society because they are rights of any person or group of persons so long as they are carried out in peaceful and civil manner. Agitation for Biafra is not the first of its kind in the world. Look at India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Look at Great Britain and Ireland and the current agitation from Scotland.
What about Russia and Ukraine to Georgia? You know, this is part of human nature we all have to adjust to and accept as part of the changes that nature carries with it. Nigeria did not have to wage war with England to achieve her independence. So, let people agitate but it’s for government to find a way to dialogue with agitators not use force to disperse. If you do that, as they have done with Kanu and IPOB, you may have won the battle but not the war.
There are complaints by the Igbo that they are not being treated fairly by the Buhari administration; is that the notion of Ndigbo in Germany or entire Europe as the case may be?
I beg to disagree with the phrase ‘Igbo are not treated fairly by Buhari´s administration’. Biafra agitation is not an offshoot of ill-treatment or neglect of Ndigbo by Buhari. The whole agitation had started a long time before the advent of Buhari´s administration.
Biafra agitation was not caused by Buhari’s administration; it only resurrected and fuelled the agitation through some of its policies and the arrest and detention of Kanu. The undisputed fact is that about 95 per cent of the Ibo populace have Biafra at the back of their minds, while still hoping to be fully integrated, respected, recognized and de-marginalized in Nigeria, which has never happened.
I would say succinctly, that every Igbo sees Biafra as the Promised Land – supreme alternative. Ndigbo are scattered all over Nigeria, Africa and the world over 70 million across the world. That is a huge nation embedded under the Nigerian nation, not to talk of the Yoruba nation and other nations that were married, under duress, to Nigeria in the name of amalgamation.
Do you believe that Biafra will ever materialize?
Biafra agitation came about as a result of the materialization of greedy and wicked leaders. Agitations are usually targeted at bringing about peace. When people agitate or demonstrate, we should see that as a positive means of calling those concerned to come to look into their complaint and possibly open up negotiations to resolve the problem. Agitators must be listened to and not silenced or forced to stop.
So, Biafra is already a reality because it has become an international phenomenon, courtesy of the present administration in Nigeria. The realization of Biafra is something we should gradually start coming to terms with, accept and start working out ways and plans on how it could be carried out without a single drop of anybody´s blood. We should desist from threatening with quit notices and hate speeches even if Biafra does not materialize beyond our time. That is the best way to deal with pro-Biafra agitations, as far as I am concerned.
What are your regrets as a Nigerian?
The regret is that it is a pity that Nigeria has never been run the right way for over 50 years of its existence and everything has continued to fall apart. For 50 years, no leader or political party has been able to deal the deleterious problem of ethnic and tribal turbulences, which has made it impossible for Nigeria to be one, to facilitate the growth of the country.
Nigeria is a country with millions of natural resources in abundance and yet the people are living in decadence – no electricity, no good roads, poor educational system, massive armed robbery, kidnapping, bribery, corruption, police, navy and army brutality, ritual killings, cultism, BokoHaram, Fulani Herdsmen, militancy, and so on. Let us think outside the box for God’s sake. Let us ensure that only the right individuals are allowed to assume leadership positions in this country. Let us take the right decision for once. Let us allow Biafra to go.
Europe has a population of about 743 million people while Africa has about 2.3 billion, almost three times the population of Europe. One of the less populated countries in Europe is Luxemburg, with a population of 583,000, yet they are a country. Europe carved out 50 countries out of 743m. However, Africa carved out only 54 countriesout of 2.3 billion, when it (Africa) is supposed to have at least, 150 countries.
As I already said, Luxemburg has a population of about 583,000 while Belgium has about 11 million population, and so on. The keyword is peace – how to bring about that peace. Let Nigeria learn from Europe. Belgium could have been merged with France and Germany with Luxemburg, Austria.
These are countries that almost speak same language, yet they are separated into small countries, which is one best reason there is peace in Europe today. I think there would be more benefit than disadvantage from Biafrexit for Nigeria. Even looking at it on the historical aspect, it would go down in history that Nigeria gave independence to Biafra.