Carlisle Umunnah's article, " The Great State of Biafra Is Strong and Alive"  was meant to enlighten his audience about the ÔÇśBiafran Idea' - according to him - but not only has his piece failed at enlightening this commentator [and many others out there, I believe], it also assaulted the reader's sensibilities and left him somewhat confused as to what the author's original intentions were in that article. I will explain how.

First, the author starts off by talking about how the Biafran idea was conceived and executed on May 30, 1967, after years of persecution of the people of Igbo extraction in Northern Nigeria. Well that is common knowledge, I thought, but I nevertheless prepared to learn something new from this author as I read on. After all, he has said in his introduction that his piece is meant to be and eye-opener for those who are less informed about Biafra and Biafrans so that "they might discover a world of wisdom for their children and grandchildren".

Perhaps you can imagine my expectations of his piece then - and my later suprise, when I reached the second paragraph of his article where he started off thus:

"We all know that 2007 is filled with measures of uncertainties and 1966 issues/concerns are yet to be addressed. Corruption and greed then, corruption and greed today are unprecedented.  It has become clear that Obasanjo and his cronies will gamble and heat up yet again the body polity. Third term manipulations will be a child's play considering the contextual theatrical jibes of the actors of this experiment called Nigeria."

Wasn't this supposed to be an enlightening treatise about Biafra? What has it got to do with 2007 or President Obasanjo today? I asked myself these questions but I still gave the author the benefit of doubt - it might be a writing strategy unique to him, you never know.

So he goes on: "By 1967..one Anthony Ermosele Enahoro..". Wait a minute; did I miss something? I wondered. He had just mentioned the event milestone of May 30, 1967 a few sentences above. How come he is saying "By 1967.." again? Oh well, probably a small oversight. I kept on reading for the next two or so paragraphs; he quotes Enahoro then he later quotes Obasanjo from his book "The Animal called Man" about a certain comment on the need for the Constitution of Nigeria to include a clause that would provide for a "right of secession". Says the author, "This apparently is a new trend for a man whose interviews and public proclamations indeed impeded or resisted even the creation of Midwest."

Ok, that definitely doesn't tell me anything new, nor does it touch on the Biafran cause in the remotest way that would make it worthy information that will benefit my "children or grand-children", I thought. Plus Biafra is not Mid-West anyways. But I stubbornly read on, believing that somehow, this writer must have a special message - the type we can share with generations yet unborn. Unfortunately, there will be more disappointments to come.

Here goes Umunnah: "As we celebrate the declaration of the great republic - Biafra on May 30, 1967, a battle of attrition executed gallantly and fearlessly, we remember with pride and honor that it was the right thing to do to secure o[u]r existence. The actions and freedom of three years which, actions and freedom was differed in January 15, 1970 is up and running again through peaceful means manned by MOSSAB.."

Is this an Igbo village-meeting speech to invoke the spirit of Biafran camaraderie or what? This sounds more like some back-slapping, morale-boosting speech than an attempt to "educate" or "enlighten" a diverse audience that include, according to the Carlisle Umunnah, "some writers, detractors and enemies of peoples' survival and existence (who) write tirelessly and meaninglessly with venoms".

No, I thought, I am not giving up on this man too easily. I have to find out that inter-generational enlightenment he hopes to share through his article. And on I read:

"Without the bravery of our men and women who fought gallantly to protect our villages, territorial waters and lands, the likes of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Ekwesiliezes and others would not have survived or lived to have their opportunities today. We remember, revere and adore these great men and women, living and fallen heroes today and forever. All hail thee Biafra. Without your volunteerism, Ndiigbo would have been destroyed off of its earth-plate by bloodthirsty Arab-Islamic fundamentalists, enemies of righteousness, enemies of God." Huh?!

This is akin to Okonkwo's (from Achebe's "Things Fall Apart") palm wine-inspired, chest-beating speech under a large tree in the Village Square to rally his kin to rise and defend themselves and appreciate the sacrifice of others before them - something which is good for anyone. But so far, this is not what the author promised his audience. So much for enlightenment!

But Carlisle Umunnah was not done yet; he won't limit his treatise to an invocation of his people's gallantry; he would push the boundaries of decorum and civility to insult other tribes' statesmen - living and dead - who have left impressive legacies by their own right for others to emulate. Umunna goes:

"Obafemi Awolowo, an opportunist and other opportunists like him including Anthony Enahoro waged war of treachery, war of criminality and a war of opportunism; they accomplished this criminality by blockading food from international community from entering Biafra territories. We remember your crimes against humanity and you will pay one by one. As long as the spirit of Biafra lives, so does Biafra. Long live Biafra. Long live motherland."

Those men Carlisle Umunnah branded are among those who fought for our independence in Nigeria - men who also fought for us to remain one nation. Abe Lincoln remains one of America's heroes because he fought to keep that nation together during the attempt of the South to secede, and no amount of cursing or bad-mouthing him can remove the positive status which history has attached to his name. The same goes for men like Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Anthony Enahoro - nothing you say can take away their good name and legacy.

Having said that, the least one expected from Carlisle Umunnah was a scientific, analytical and in-depth showcase of the Biafran experiment that can probably appeal to the common-sense of both the supporters and those who oppose the Biafran idea alike. Unfortunately, we are left to grapple with a ping-pong-like jump-about and zig-zag-like meanderings on issues that he couldn't even communicate across to his audience in an efficient and understandable manner.

He touched on everything BUT the enlightenment he boasted he would give - one which, according to him, our children's children will benefit from. Not only will his idea of enlightenment be toxic for adults and children of today, his rhetoric is dangerous for our society because it is nothing but the sowing of seeds of discontent that serves no useful purpose in the development of the cause of the Ndiigbo or Nigeria at large.

It is an insult to compare MASSOB to anything Oodua or Arewa, which are historically and culturally-inspired representative bodies of the ethnicities they represent. MASSOB is, simply put, an illegal militant group which engage in near-treasonable activities in Nigeria. The resort to uncivil and violent means of agitation led to the incineration of the residence of a late Igbo icon and First President of Nigeria - Nnamdi Azikiwe - only recently. For days on end late last year, they masterminded holding the local economy of the South-East hostage which resulted in the tension of burning and looting that ensued. Arewa has not gone that far, neither has Oodua.

Focusing on Mr. Umunnah's article, it is a complete failure of an attempt to enlighten anyone on ÔÇśBiafra' or anything Biafran. Rather, we have Mr. Umunnah boasting of the invincibility of everything Biafran and making off-point and unintelligible comparisons. East Timor was invaded and annexed in 1975 by Indonesia before it regained her independence in 1999. Quebec is proud to be a part of Canada. Biafra was the republic declared by the Ndiigbo of Nigeria in an attempt to secede in 1967 and which for three years the rest of Nigeria fought to keep as part of the Nigerian geographic entity - as one nation, indivisible. Today, we still remain same with an abundance of potentials.

The sad truth is, the Ndiigbo are not alone in their sufferings ÔÇô we are all together in the battle for recognition of our rights to life, liberty and justice. A call for secession in Nigeria today is unwarranted. A call for Self-determination, yes; a call for resource-control, yes; a call for a practice of true federalism, yes! But no one tribe in Nigeria is being persecuted or neglected in such a way that it has come to a stage to cry secession.

A call for secession in the current scheme of things is unprogressive. There is nothing that the Ndiigbo suffer today that the rest of us don't bare ÔÇô the average Ijaw, Ibo, Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba and all the other tribes that make up the current geographic entity and peoples called Nigeria and Nigerians respectively share very similar burdens. As a matter of fact, the Ndiigbo are one of the more successful tribes in Nigeria.

Mr. Carlisle Umunnah should stick to rallying his people to agitate for recognition within the Nigerian polity ÔÇô like the rest of us ÔÇô instead of flogging a dead horse with the hope that the horse will suddenly rise and neigh aloud. And if I may add, next time he wishes to enlighten anyone, he should simply enlighten ÔÇô not prevaricate on issues that have no bearing on whatever he set out to enlighten his audience about in the first instance.