A member of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nwada Onyinye Chukwudi, has said that a primary motivation for her joining the separatist group was being swindled of a significant part of her salary as an Anambra state employee.
In a video obtained by Daily Times, Chukwudi, who hails from Awkuzu in Oyi local government area and now sells Biafra merchandise, said her salary as an employee of the Anambra State Traffic Agency was cut by more than half in a “scam” which she blamed on her bosses. Speaking mostly in Igbo, she said, “As I’m standing here, I was one of those that kick started the Anambra State Traffic Agency. I underwent the training involved but the agency scammed me of my salary. my salary, out of ₦70,000, they scammed me of ₦40,000 out of anger, I quit the job. You are paying me ₦10,000 and I spend ₦500 every day on transport. Am I gaining or am I losing? I got angry due to my salary, I was scammed off.
“I was pregnant while working then, so they asked me to go on leave, I went on leave, gave birth to twins and when I was back for them to pay me my salary, I went to the government house, they scammed me of ₦40,000 and gave me ₦30,000 only. Out of anger, I withdrew from the job. It was a case of Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop, so I pulled their uniform. I don’t have any work doing, can you hear what I’m saying, I don’t have anything doing.”
She came to the town as part of the visiting contingent of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu on 21 August, 2017. “Our master said he is coming to Ekwulobia, so we came with him but standing here now, I don’t know or have anybody in Ekwulobia, I’ve never been to Ekwulobia. We insisted we must come so as to know our brothers and sisters and in return, they can also know us and know that we all are one, that Biafra land is one, that’s why we are here today.
“Our master is coming so I came with my goods. These goods are what I use in training my kids, I don’t have any work I’m doing in Biafraland. I’m not working.”
Of her time as an Anambra traffic officer, she describes a work environment that was less suited to the goals of proper traffic management and more focused on revenue generation at all costs. “The reason I stopped the work was because we are always on the road, when we get on the road, we begin to arrest anybody we can because if you don’t, that means you are not working and your salary will be slashed, that’s why I stopped working with ASTA.”
For her, being an IPOB member was not only about ideology, it was about survival. “So I got involved in the Biafra business by selling Biafra merchandise, that is what I use in feeding my 11 children.” In English, she said, “I’m a woman with 11 children.” Switching back to Igbo, she sounded almost declaratory, “All my children are alive. All these Biafra merchandises are what I use in feeding them, without this Biafra merchandise, hunger would have killed my kids.”
“That they go to school is from what I make selling Biafra merchandise, otherwise, hunger would have killed my kids and they will not be able to go to school.”
She was equally suspicious of the significant interest by the Nigerian security forces in IPOB and its activities, afraid not to draw parallels with Boko Haram.
“There is nobody we are forcing, we don’t have guns, we don’t have knives. I and two other women came very early, put out our goods and sell. The Police, Army, Navy, Civil Defence and even SARS [the Special Anti-Robbery Squad], all these security agencies are here as if we are fighting a war in Anambra State, Ekwulobia.
“Even if it is Borno State where they shoot guns, they should please take all these security agents over there so they can join in the shooting guns over there, since they want to shoot guns, they should go to Borno State and shoot guns, or even Kaduna State, they can go there and shoot guns, since they have where they shoot guns there.
“Those places Boko Haram is killing people, they should go there and shoot guns, because if I was given a gun like them and posted there, I’ll go to those areas and start shooting guns. You then come to a state where people are peaceful, where there is no trouble, no hold-up, no fighting and they come here and start firing guns and tear-gas where women are…, Obiano (a reference to the Anambra state governor) has done something wrong, the Anambra governor have offended us.”
Onyinye Nwada was also scathing in her assessment of the present Anambra state governor and his immediate predecessor.
“Take a look, the cloth I wore, someone gave me this rapper I tied around my waist, without the rapper someone gave me, I will be naked. So what I’m trying to say is that Obiano has done and added to what Peter Obi (former Anambra Governor) did.
“Peter Obi killed our brothers and sisters, dumped their bodies in the river. Obiano killed our people and buried them at the Army Barracks.”
“I’m from Awkuzu. Awkuzu and Aguleri we are one, there is no difference between us, but I stand here to say, it’s either they give us Biafra or they kill me. I am talking here today for all the people of Awkuzu both home and abroad if I die today just know Obiano killed me. if I die just know Obiano is responsible for my death. I’m not a troublemaker, I’m an easy going person.”
IPOB has grown in significant numbers over the last year or so in large part by tapping into a large pool of disaffection over a lack of access to decent education, good housing, and jobs and in this regard, Nwada is no different. Her conclusion about Nigeria is damning.
“Since Nigeria is not feeding me, I’ve a right to feed myself with the business I do. What I need is either you give me Biafra or you kill me, I need freedom of speech, I need freedom of movement, I need freedom of worship, there are the three things I need but Nigeria is depriving us of our rights, we cannot talk, we cannot move, we cannot go to church. So what I’m saying is, if they don’t give us Biafra, I’m ready to die at any time, after all, what is one living for? I cannot boast of feeding my children three basic meals a day. Now that I’ve something to do and they want to block me.”