Candy Stallworth is Caucasian with no Nigerian biological connections and who has never set foot on Nigerian shores. She is designated on Facebook as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Chief Mobilization Officer in the United States of America.
Her Twitter handle is @BiafraQueen1 and her Twitter Profile describes her thus: “Ambassador of Biafra Candy Oluchi Stallworth, I like to fight bad government! I will take down Buhari Government! I am a thorn to President Buhari Side!” She seems to work full time for Biafra and on Biafra.
Two months ago, Ms. Stallworth, who is somewhat challenged in written English, promised the IPOB faithful that she had secured an appointment for July 21st 2017 with the US government for a meeting at the White House between some IPOB delegates and President Donald Trump during which a referendum for Biafra would be declared. On her Facebook wall, she listed the names of the IPOB delegates that were to see Trump.
Following this development, Ms. Stallworth’s Facebook wall became a beehive of palpable hysteria amongst Biafra agitators with many of them profusely celebrating the American lady as god sent and saying all manner of prayers for her wellbeing. Some people who tried to caution the overexcited Biafrans that the US president has no powers to declare a referendum in another country were branded saboteurs (if they were Igbos), traitors and collaborators (if they were Yorubas) and APC sponsored terrorists (if they were Hausas/Fulanis). If they were from the Niger Delta or their ethnicity could not be immediately deduced, they were branded “slaves of the zoo.”
In one of her posts, the American lady acknowledged the gratitude of the Biafran agitators but asked why the people were excited about positive developments towards their liberation but unwilling to make financial sacrifices towards it. She went ahead to solicit for funds towards the visit to the White House and stated means through which money could be sent to her.
July 21st arrived and the agitators gathered on Candy Stallworth’s Facebook wall demanding for pictures and videos of the Trump/IPOB meeting and declaration of “Biafra Referendum.” After several hours of suspense, the lady released two live videos. In one of the videos that have been viewed almost 100,000 times and shared more than 6,000 times, she appeared with the Capitol (American Congress building) behind her and announced that the meeting regarding the referendum went according to plans and that the date for the Biafra Referendum has been shifted to September 12, 2017.
In another one which she titled, “I’m with all the senators” she could be seen walking along a long corridor with the offices of US senators on opposite sides. She occasionally zoomed her camera on the doors bearing the names of the senators and read out the names and their constituencies. These were the only visuals available to those salivating for a breaking news on CNN whereby President Trump, flanked by IPOB officials, would announce a date for Biafran referendum.
Expectedly, most of the agitators realised that Ms. Stallworth has taken them for a ride and started pouring invectives on her. Many invoked terminal diseases on her while some wished her instant death. Later several people posted a release purportedly from the leadership of IPOB asking the Biafran agitators to sever all links to Ms. Stallworth and to disregard any further announcement of high profile IPOB visits unless it came from the office Nnamdi Kanu, the supreme leader.
The Stallworth saga is a sad illustration of the use of lies and deceit to propagate the nascent Biafra agitation, especially amongst the Igbos who spearhead the struggle. The intellectually enfeebled are being exploited by spurious promises and false hopes by the intellectually dishonest. Lies and deceit are being carefully employed to hoodwink barely literate people entombed in Biafra romanticism and the utopia of Biafran liberation and nationhood.
The other time, one Mr. Abdulkadir Erkahraman, said to be president of an obscure body called International Nations Association in Turkey visited Nnamdi Kanu and after the visit a video was released showing a despicable charade whereby the Turk was shown taking an oath to “see to the actualization of Biafra”. The IPOB faithful were told that Mr. Erkahraman was a diplomat from the Turkish government and his visit symbolizes Turkish government cum international support for the Biafra agitation.
Some weeks later, IPOB released a video showing a man who claimed to be an emissary of the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu IV, pledging allegiance to Nnamdi Kanu. This was meant to show the support of minority groups in the old south eastern region to the new Biafran movement.
Also most recently, IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu was quoted as saying that while he was in prison, the federal government offered him to secede with only the five core Igbo south eastern states but he refused the offer as he insisted that he must also go with Rivers and Benue States. He also said he was offered oil blocks and mansions in Dubai but he rejected them in preference for the complete secession of Biafra.
It is antithetical that an agitation purportedly propelled by the evils of injustice and oppression is being fueled by no lesser iniquities of subterfuge, lies and deceit. In the current Biafra crusade, there seems to be a despicable application of the eventual victor not being bothered about the route to eventual success, without compunction as to whether he lied or not as long as whatever was said and done took the battle over the finish line. However, success here is relative because there are limits to credulity. For the people, the after effect of victory procured through deception is usually rising frustration at the dawn of reality because of dashed expectations, leading to the reappraisal of what success actually means.
The nexus between the nascent Biafran agitation and biting economic conditions propels a near permanent mindset that discriminates against truth and realty in favour of one that elevates primordial sentiments, unbridled optimism and utopian dreams. Thus the okadarider in Aba believes that the coming of Biafra would instantly elevate him to a keke rider while the keke rider at Onitsha sees Biafra as a sudden route to becoming a bus driver. In some extreme cases, the labourer that carries bricks for a living at a construction site at Owerri envisages himself immediately enjoying the privileges of a medical doctor if “the zoo falls and Biafra becomes free”.
The inherent danger in this kind of mindset is that the agitators see their struggle as a means to survival, a route to an immediate upturn in economic, social, political and living conditions. They exhibit great inclination to take grave risks towards actualization of their mission. Anybody or anything that stands on the way is regarded as a mortal enemy and an existential threat, which must be removed by whatever means necessary. And having allowed utopian inclinations to shut down the interrogative sections of their mind, they are willing tools in the hands of demagogues who use them as a vital weapon to drive their agenda.
The huge role of Mr. Kanu in the nascent Biafran agitation is instructive. To most of the agitators, he is the sole symbol of the struggle, the messiah and saviour. They have literally offered their bodies, souls and spirits to him and they are all at his mercy, to be manipulated and used if he so wishes.
This explains the crowd that troops to catch a glimpse of him and a seeming readiness of some IPOB zealots from Anambra State to jettison state patriotism and heed the directive of a man from Abia to ensure the upcoming November 18 governorship election in their state is disrupted not minding the prospective uncertainty and anarchy such an action might bring upon their state. It is also instructive that the obeisance and genuflection to the new messiah extends to the spiritual realm. Mr. Kanu promotes Judaism as the religion of the agitation, the creed of Biafra. The ease with which the adherents, most of who practice the Christian faith, succumbed to the cardinal sin of apostasy by accepting a religion that does not recognise Jesus Christ as the lord of lords and king of kings shows the extent of their commitment to the leader and the agitation.
As it is at the moment, the Supreme Leader of IPOB does no wrong, his word is law and his followers, enamored by his suzerainty, are helplessly susceptible to his whims and caprices. His hold on them is so total that he can easily cajole his followers to mass suicide in the name of Biafra. The adherents gave themselves a supreme duty to the leader to defend his emotional outbursts, rationalize his indiscretions and blame the common enemy and the enemy’s agents for blatant gaffes. In some instances when there seems to be no one else but the supreme leader to be blamed, the conventional media is accused of working with the enemy to fabricate stories injurious to the maximum leader and inimical to the struggle.
The way it is at the moment, there is virtually no one to save those intellectually challenged Igbos from their disastrous reckless optimism. The subterranean ethnic undertones of the agitation demeans the credibility of the opinion of any non-Igbo on the agitation. That leaves the Igbos as the only ones to help their brothers listen to reason and harken to reality. However, conspiracy of silence means that eminent Igbos and prominent intellectuals are wont to keep quiet, hoping that Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB would get them restructuring or more federal appointments or Igbo presidency. There is also conspiracy of cowardice as some people are very afraid of the reaction of a people steeped in Biafran romanticism, people who regard any call for caution or common sense as sabotage or heresy.
Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB deserve credit for the ongoing debate about restructuring of the country. Most Nigerians are today wondering how the country has been allowed to exist with so much structural deficiencies for so long. However, a pertinent question is what is the end game for Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB? Most of the IPOB faithful believe that Biafra is at hand and referendum for Biafra self-determination is somewhere around the corner. How would they react when they realise that these dreams are hardly practicable? Can they be appeased with restructuring when they realise that it is likely that the okada rider would continue to solicit for passengers under the scorching sun and there would be no reduction in the number of bricks that labourer at the construction site would carry in a day under a restructured Nigeria?
What of Nnamdi Kanu? How does he react when confronted with the scenario of his ardent followers accusing him of sacrificing the dream of a Biafra land of milk and honey on the altar of a restructured Nigeria? With the adulating crowd that throngs around him wherever he goes today, how does he react tomorrow, when he is asked to make some sacrifices that would be for the good of his followers but which would also lead to the adoring crowd thinning out with some of them accusing him of being another sellout and others regarding him as a nonentity?
Truth and reality are not incompatible with a quest for justice and equity. The truth must be told no matter how uncomfortable it sounds and how bad people feel about it. Manipulation or conspiracy to manipulate makes one a manipulator, and a lot worse than the people he or she claims to want to liberate the manipulated from.|
An opinion piece by Mayor Ikoroha, an author and social media activist who resides in Asaba, Delta Sate. He is on Twitter as @tellthemayor, Facebook as @MayorOkeyIkoroha.