The next morning, Nnedi was still lounging in the comfy bed when Omang tapped her and she turned. ‘Hey, Nnedi. Come and watch this.’
‘Hmn? Same Boko Haram thing?’
‘Come and see it!’
She turned twice before she stood up and walked to the sitting room. The TV set was showing footage of a wreck and the caption below read – APAPA BOMBED: BOKO HARAM CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY.
At the time of report, there was no casualty. Nnedi sat down and starred at the TV without thinking. The news of bombing had become commonplace and attracted no one’s attention any more. She wondered why Omang woke her up just to watch another bombing by The Family.
Omang was on his laptop singing on a low tone. Suddenly, he sprang up, shouting, ‘I got it! It all fits now! Nnedi, come and see!’
Nnedi walked to him without excitement. He clicked on the play icon and the YouTube video started playing. It was Shekau in military uniform and supply of chambers hanging from his neck. He was speaking in English. ‘All those who conspire against Islam will be revealed and destroyed. It don’t matter where they hide. Let them wait and see. This is only warning. Anybody who think he too far for the anger of Allah is making big mistake. His anger will visit wherever they hide.’
Nnedi sighed wearily and started walking to her seat. Omang called her back. ‘Don’t you get it, Nnedi? This video was posted few hours ago in response to the bombing at Apapa!’
‘Yes, I know. But what else should I get from it?’
‘See, Nnedi, I have fixed the puzzle.’ He walked to her and sat beside her. ‘Let me explain this, Baby.’
She smiled. ‘Since when have I become baby?’
‘Oh – you are a baby when you don’t understand.’
Nnedi saw that Omang was very excited about his discovery. Nothing seemed exiting about it but she pretended to be interested so that he would hurry with whatever he had to say.
‘You see, Nnedi, there is a connection between the two events of yesterday. The Family accused Rahim of betrayal and said that the Apapa bombing is a warning to all enemies of Islam.’
‘I don’t see the connection.’
‘The Family thinks that Rahim was just one of many. If Rahim betrayed them, he had to betray them to somebody. Naturally, both the betrayer and the person he betrayed The Family to would be enemies to Islam – or in this case, enemies to the Family. Do you see the point?’
‘Now, who could Rahim have betrayed the Family to?’
Her phone rang. He brought it to her and she picked it. While she spoke on the phone, he drew objects on a paper and tried to connect them.
‘It’s Al-Farouk’s wife,’ she said. ‘She is in panic. There is turmoil where she lives because of the death of Rahim.’
He paused on his drawing and thought for a while. ‘Tell her to come to Abuja. She should call us from the bus stop.’
Nnedi did not ask him questions because she knew he must have done the best calculation. She simply called Ayeesha and gave her the instruction. Then she turned to Omang.
‘As I was saying, who could Rahim have betrayed the Family to? My theory is that he betrayed them to the Igbos.’
‘Yes, and that is the likely reason for the Apapa bombing. It might also interest you to know that on that same yesterday, a hundred and thirty suspected members of the Family were caught in Anambra. I think they must have been on a revenge mission. All these are happening at the same time that Rahim was killed by the Family on accusation of treachery.’
‘If you say that Rahim betrayed the Family to the Igbos, then the Anambra arrest may be a revenge mission, although I am yet to understand the connection. But what of the Apapa bombing? Apapa is in Yorubaland!’
‘Yes, yes – it is in Yorubaland, but who are the people doing business at Apapa? The Igbos! In all probability, seventy-five per cent of the people at Apapa are Igbos.’
‘Your theory is ridiculous, Omang. But assuming that you are correct, why would Rahim, an Hausa, betray his brothers to the Igbos?’
‘That is what I have been trying to figure out and I think I finally did. I looked at the bios of Rahim ibn Gadinba. He was an Hausaman but most of his friends were Igbos. In fact, he married an Igbo woman, and this should explain his strong attachment to the Igbo people. His most prominent friends among the Igbos are Generals Okonji and Dankwa. Who are these people? I looked up information about them. They were among the generals who criticised Ojukwu’s war policies. Ojukwu was an arrogant man and did not buy their criticism, or anyone’s criticism for that matter. So when Biafra lost the war, they blamed it on Ojukwu.
‘Do you remember the catchphrase after the war? “No winner, no vanquished.” Only the most stupid person believed it, and the Igbos are not stupid. It was obvious who won the war and who lost it. Those who fought in the war knew the meaning of losing. Some of them accepted defeat, others did not. General Dankwa and General Okonji were among those who did not accept defeat. Those are the facts, Nnedi. Now this is what I made of the facts. I think those generals and perhaps many other supporters, must have been planning another way of winning the war. Igbos don’t give up easily. They are like cockroaches, they still struggle even when you cut off their heads.
‘Now Nnedi, let us take a look at the background of the civil war. Many people postulate that what triggered the war was the massacre of the Igbo people in the north. That is, in my opinion, just a contributing factor. Igbos had been subject of violent attacks before, but nothing happened. The reason was that the Igbos, being natural businessmen, knew that one Nigeria was better for them in their better endeavours. So, despite the persecution in the north, they were not really willing to abandon it. Another massacre to the many massacres and attacks would not have made any difference, at least not enough difference to trigger them to call for secession.
‘Another reason often given for the war was the failure of Gowon to keep the Aburi Accord. Although this must have greatly ruffled the ego of the egoistic Ojukwu, I don’t think it would have been reason enough to make him take the Igbos to the war when he did. This is what I think caused the war: oil.’
‘Oil?’ Nnedi asked incredulously.
‘Yes, oil was the cause of the war. You know, before the discovery of oil, the north was the key economy of the country. The north, as you must know, has always been the favourite of the colonialists because of their unquestioning obedience. They had the best the colonialists had to offer. The Igbos, on the other hand, were in undying enmity with the colonialists because of their stubbornness. Naturally, they got nothing from the colonial masters when they were leaving Nigeria. Because of the confidence of the north, when the colonialists were folding their mats, the northern leaders sought the autonomy of the north. Tafawa Balewa was particularly vocal in this regard. He said he did not want the southerners to interfere with their development and that if the masters left, the north would continue expanding on its own. So at this point, the north was ready to secede.
‘But oil was discovered in 1957 in the eastern part of the country. Fortune turned. The Igbos saw an opportunity for rapid development and enrichment. So, immediately after independence, when the image of the domineering colonial masters were no longer there for the north, the Igbos sought to secede from the federation and manage the oil themselves. The north realised the enormous wealth in oil and fought for continued oneness. Now I will tell you why I think that the Biafran War was an oil war. By the way Nnedi, I read the attachment that you forwarded to me.’
‘What do you think about it?’
‘I think it made a lot of sense, especially the American connection.’
‘I think the American connection aspect is the rubbish aspect of the essay.’
‘Maybe you will change your mind when I am done explaining my findings to you. As I was saying, this is why I think that the war was an oil war. Two superpowers entered the scene during the war: Britain and America. Britain supported Nigeria against the seceding Biafrans for many reasons. One is the long-standing British-Igbo enmity. Another reason, which is the most cogent, is the interest of Britain in Nigerian oil. Remember that most of the oil companies operating in Nigeria are British companies, the most prominent of them being the Royal-Dutch company, Shell-BP. Now, I think Britain was wise enough to know that if the Igbos seceded, they would lose their hold on the oil because of the enmity between them. So Britain fought actively on behalf of Nigeria to ensure that the Igbos didn’t win. That resulted in the famous Harold Wilson’s scandal.
‘Now, United States has an interest of different sort. It saw the Nigerian oil as a major import and knew that if the oil fell exclusively on the Igbos, United States stand a chance of taking over from Britain. In addition to that, the Igbos are better tradesmen and business would flow better between them and United States. That was why United States supported Biafra, although not as actively as Britain supported Nigeria. Its support could be seen in its policies and relief supplies during the war. So you see Nnedi, United States has been in the picture from the beginning.’
‘All this is history, Rahim. How do they concern Rahim and the Family?’
‘Patience, Nnedi. This is how they are connected. “No winner, no vanquished” nonsense, as I said, was not accepted by anybody. I think that some of those who sought victory at all cost must have gone underground to achieve it. If they could show that Nigeria cannot stand as one, then it will be easier to draw the sympathy of the international community when they ask for secession again. To show that Nigeria cannot stand as one, they needed to spark controversy in the country. How best can they do this?
‘Religion and ethnicity, Nnedi. Islam is the most controversial religion in the world, and that is what they went for. Now the largest percentage of Muslims in Nigeria is Hausa. This was an added advantage. It is very easy to pit an Hausaman against his brother. You know, during the coup of 1966, Nzeogwu who was more Hausa in upbringing than Igbo, led Hausa majors to assassinate the Sardauna of Sokoto. Now other tribes would have thought twice before agreeing to be led by a man from another tribe to assassinate their own tribesman. This weakness on the part of Hausas proved an advantage for those who sought to spark controversy in the country. The logical person to use in igniting the fuse was an Hausaman. This is where Rahim comes into the picture.
‘If you know anything about Rahim, it is that he is a cunning man who hungry for power. Having been friends with the Igbos for long, he knew that the Igbos know how to punish their enemies and reward their friends. He knew that if he helped the Igbos, he would get wealth if not power as well. So Rahim likely agreed to use his influence to recruit the disgruntled northern youths to raise hell in Nigeria.
‘Now international connection was needed for ammunition. What country is logical for this?’
‘Yes Nnedi – United States. The conspirators would not have forgotten the US sympathy to the Biafrans during the war. So I think there might be a valid point in Eric’s contention that United States might be involved in the northern insurgency. Remember that Al-Farouk, according to Eric, said that their weapons come from United States. It all fits here, I think.’
‘It seems to fit, Eric. But why would US agree to serve such messy deal?’
‘It is really simple, Nnedi. Its support is not open. Even as they are supporting the violence, they are using their lips to denounce it. Have they not pledged several times to help Nigeria in fighting the insurgents? They even placed bounty on Shekau. And yet US has done nothing. Do you imagine for a moment that the Family is too strong for US to fight? This is not just a matter of foreign policy. Remember that when the Al-Qaeda chief, Osama bin Laden angered United States, it hunted him into the Arab caves. Obviously, America never intended to help Nigeria in fighting the insurgency because its hand is not clean in the matter. All said and done, when the fire of the controversy starts raging, United States will join the rest of the world in asserting pogrom and human rights violation and offering the only feasible solution: secession. So the ultimate plan will have been achieved.’
Nnedi sighed. Omang’s deduction was a shattering revelation and logical though they were, Nnedi hoped he was wrong. But the enormity of the whole plot crept into her heart to destabilise her hope. She asked, ‘Don’t you think that whoever is behind this plan is frustrated by the death of Rahim?’
‘Oh no, I don’t think so. For one, these rascals shackled up to spark the controversy in the north are not aware of the reason behind it. They think, as they must have been made to understand, that they are fighting religious war. They never knew they were fighting to gratify Rahim. Probably, they have just discovered that Rahim was not what he seemed. They must have found out his Igbo connection, which is why they called him a traitor. If that is the case, they are likely to continue their war since they never really believed that they were fighting for any man. They believe they are fighting for Allah. But really, whether they are fighting for politics or for God makes no difference to the people behind the plan. Either way, the tension is already in place, and if the Igbos call for secession again, the international community is willing to support them.’
Nnedi was awed no less by the grand conspiracy as by Omang’s logic. Yet it sounded too huge to be credible. She asked, ‘What if you are wrong in all these?’
He shrugged and smiled. ‘I am mostly right, Nnedi; but I know I can be wrong and miscalculate all my deductions. But what if I am wrong? I only strive to be logical, not correct; and I let whoever I am working for know that. Personally Nnedi, in this issue I hope that I am wrong. But you see, no amount of wishes can supress the truth. So if this is the truth, we cannot wish it away. But the important thing on my part is logic. Logic, Nnedi!’ He pulled her cheeks and she smiled without shunning him. He walked back to his laptop and said, ‘That is what I have pieced together, Nnedi. I am still working.’
Excerpt from THE ENEMIES WITHIN – By Joshua Omenga
The next morning, Nnedi was still lounging in the comfy bed when Omang tapped her and she turned. ‘Hey, Nnedi. Come and watch this.’