By Gideon I Onyedi.
Take it or leave it; love it or loathe it; embrace it or expel it, Nnamdi Kanu, either as a villain or a hero, celebrated, denounced or deprecated, has carved a name for himself on the marble or rough stone of political history and development of Nigeria.
Without much ado, it is a given, that the appearance of Nnamdi Kanu, the conduct of his activities, and the vituperations of his emotions, sentiments and motivations will be authenticated or castigated, later, by the present and future generations. And I say, much later.
Nnamdi Kanu, who was a member of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, had ‘fought’ ideologically, on the side of Ralph Uwazurike, for the actualization of the sovereign state of Biafra. The hobnobbing went on so well until the ‘wine’ went sour, and the common ground started experiencing tremor of dissension and incompatibility, in ideology and methodology. It was then the dancers knew that the party was over. The destination, the objective remained the same. But the road not taken became the sure route that promised success. Nnamdi Kanu did not hesitate. He took it.
Nnamdi Kanu, who came on as Director of Radio Biafra, eventually transmuted as the supreme leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). A group that would later, in a controversial fashion, redefine agitation for self-determination in Nigeria.
His utterances, considered uncivilized and culturally offensive, and his methods of operation led to his arrest, prosecution and incarceration. Eventually he was granted bail with certain strict conditionalities, after some persistent and subtle interventions and plea from within and without.
Respected members of the public, men of timber, caliber and character, men, whose patriotic credentials and commitment to nation building are not in doubt, including the highly revered distinguished Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, stood as sureties for him. Osita Chidoka also helped in bringing him home.
Upon his release, Nnamdi Kanu allegedly started engaging in activities that undermined his bail conditions, and seemingly rendered his bail null and void.
Kanu traversed and crisscrossed the length and breadth of the South East and the South South geopolitical zones in his campaign for the realization of Biafra.
Kanu pulled crowds. Unimaginably deafening crowds at Aba, Onitsha, Uyo, Asaba, Portharcourt, Umuahia, and many other places. He was not just the man with the microphone and the sceptre of IPOB, he was the man of the audience. Audience of fans and of foes. People either listened to him, to hear and clap, or to hear and criminalize him.
Kanu locked down the South East and a part of the South South on May 30, 2017, when he, a man without any instrument of authority and constitutional empowerment, ordered for a sit-at-home. The people obeyed. Many obeyed out of fear, and the bandwagon effect, not out of ideological conviction They obeyed out of sheer and shared sentiment. They obeyed out of distraught. And they obeyed out of uncertainty.
This was considered inciting. It was constitutionally subversive. It was adjudged treasonable.
Uneasy calm enveloped the nation. This was a harbinger of uncertain future and sorrow
And, Arewa reacted.
It became the unsavory precursor to the quit notice handed to the Igbo resident and eking a living in the north by the hitherto accommodating and loving Arewa youth. They considered the Igbo generally as Nnamdi Kanu’s kinsmen and suspected them of taciturnity with the ‘accursed’. The Igbo were asked to leave before October 1, 2017.
For this, the entire nation, apart from those behind the precipitated but infamous quit notice, the other nationalities: the Ijaw, the Middle Belt, the Yoruba, etc showing unusual and reassuring solidarity with the Igbo, not for the sake of the Igbo, but for the sake of national unity, vehemently discountenanced and denounced the notice. Other groups within the north also dissociated themselves from the quit notice. For the first time, it appeared as if ethnic consciousness reigned supreme. And, like the proverbial keg of gunpowder, the nation waited uneasily to explode. Finally, the Arewa youth, with candour, maturity, and equanimity, withdrew the quit notice.
In the midst of this, Nnamdi Kanu trudged on, marching for conquest. He trudged on. Challengingly he matched on. Confrontationally he moved. Conscientiously he pushed on. Committedly he braced forward, and completely, he seemed to be in control of the situation.
He gradually gained a supposedly moral and psychological advantage, and went ahead to maximally put it into use. Other pro-Biafra groups, reportedly about 11 of them, like in the days of the proverbial five fingers of Abacha, when the five political parties he midwifed adopted him as the sole Presidential candidate, (these pro-Biafra groups) allegedly adopted Kanu as their leader. Supreme leader. Was it an ideologically informed decision or intimidation? Was it a case of opportunism, sychophancy, or helplessness? But it did happen, and Kanu was christened ‘messiah.’ And that, was tantamount to going too far, and crossing the boundary. His father’s palace became a hallowed ground for a pilgrimage of some sort.
Eminent personalities, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly identified with Kanu. Not for secession, not for self-determination, not for dismembering the country, but as a ploy, pressure and strategy to get the more popular clamour for restructuring attended to. However, none can dismiss with a wave of the hand, the fact that the ‘thickerness’ of the blood would always justify any sense of shared sentiments, not method or approach, though.
Dr Ikedife, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Prof. Nwala, and others in the persons of Chiefs Asari Dokubo, Femi Fani Kayode, former Governor Ayodele Fayose, and many others showed sympathy with Nnamdi Kanu, and also used their wisdom to try to direct him on the path of a more responsible and peaceful approach.
However, on the 14th of September, 2017, an intervening period of ‘dark ages’ came into the annals of IPOB, following a military incursion, or is it invasion, as some call it, during the much controversial Operation Python Dance exercise, and Nnamdi Kanu went underground, or rather, was allegedly forced to go underground, and subsequently was declared either missing or killed.
And, for 13 months, he remained either missing or killed. For 13 months Nnamdi Kanu was not seen. For 13 months Nnamdi Kanu kept sealed lips. For 13 months Nnamdi Kanu remained a question unanswered, a puzzle unsolved, a doubt uncleared, a confusion unsettled, a knot untied, and a mystery unravelled for many.
Today, Nnamdi Kanu is partly a mystery solved, but still remains a phenomenon unexplained. An event yet to happen? He said he will be ‘back.’ Bringing hell with him.
Following his reappearance and revelation, still shrouded in uncertainty and confusion, many today call him a coward. But, is he? Really? Many call him a fraud. We are yet to know. Many call him a criminal. The court, hopefully will one day decide. Many call him a betrayer. His end will prove that. Many call him a syndicate fronting for the government in power. A house divided against itself. Can it stand? Many say he is out to frustrate even the very vision and project he claims to be fighting and dying for. I ask again, is it possible? Many say he is out of steam and zeal and cannot do anything more.
It is when we fail to painstakingly analyse a situation and assess the methods and antecedents of people, that we make the wrong conclusions.
There are issues to be examined. There are questions to be answered.
Did Nnamdi Kanu suffer in prison and publicly abuse the President of a country, thereby undermining the exalted number 1 position and citizen just for this? Personal gain? Without a conviction and purpose?
Did Nnamdi Kanu open his mouth to call the President of a nation a cloned man, and not the real man, just for this? No vision and ambition?
Did Nnamdi Kanu gather all the crowds he did, and even formed a military wing just for this? Personal fun?
Did Nnamdi Kanu start asking for arms even while in Nigeria for what he called self-defense, with full knowledge of the implications of such action against a state, just for this? A pastime game? Waiting for an opportune time to escape with his kill?
Can we be sure that Nnamdi Kanu almost practically divided this country, by making, for the first time, other tribes to be conscious of self- determination more than ever before, just to play games for personal aggrandizement? Remember the vision, the blindfolding determination, the risk, etc.
Is it possible that Nnamdi Kanu would lead a crusade in which many would lose their lives, and many did lose their lives, just for this? To mindlessly feed on the blood of the dead? To gather for personal gain? If you do not take him seriously, the military did, and still do.
Did Nnamdi Kanu get eminent personalities like Prof Ben Nwabueze, Prof Nwala and others involved in one way or the other, just for him to toy with, and castrate their intellectual virility and universally acclaimed erudition at the end? (Prof Ben Nwabueze has just spoken, calling for full participation in the 2019 election).
Is Nnamdi Kanu, who created fear and anxiety, and who was almost on the verge of causing the ‘repatriation’ and feared extermination of the Igbo in the north over his campaign, to be believed or concluded to turn round to betray his chosen cause and course?
Did Nnamdi Kanu openely challenge legitimate and duly constituted governments both at the state and federal levels, and even dared the nation’s formidable military, just for fun and for playing a script written by the same government he is undermining?
Let us not conclude.
I have one worry here. Since Nnamdi Kanu was never in the custody of the military, why did he wait for 13 months before showing up and speaking out? What had he been doing for 13 months? Where and where had he been going to for 13 months? Who had he been meeting for 13 months? What programmes and plans had he been hatching and executing that have all made him to remain under, and ‘missing’ or ‘dead’ for these 13 months?
Now that he has spoken, how prepared is he with the help of 13 month planning, unknown partnerships, uncertain mobilization, and reinforcements, to continue his crusade.
Let no one call him a coward. No one can be sure of that. But do not make emphatic conclusion. Remember the saying, that he who fights and runs, lives to fight another day.
It is this ‘fighting another day’ that we can’t afford. Let’s not take things for granted. Let’s not undermine any individual or group.
As a patriotic Nigerian, my position, having, to the best of my ability analysed and x-rayed Kanu’s activities, is to call on all and sundry to work without hypocrisy and selfish interest to salvage this nation.
Let all of us put our hands on deck to build a stronger nation, where peace and justice shall reign, and where the need and clamour for self-determination and agitations such as this would hold the least attraction and followership in Nigeria.
Just yesterday, the DSS, through its Spokesman, Peter Afunanya, released an official statement debunking the rumour that certain individuals in the security outfit helped Nnamdi Kanu leave the country.
This official statement provides two possibilities. The first is that Nnamdi Kanu could have people within and outside the country who could help him get to anywhere . Kanu himself revealed that his IPOB Intelligence network helped to evacuate him.
The second is, even if some officials helped him, which has been debunked, it means Nnamdi Kanu could have sympathizers and willing helpers even in the corridors of power without the knowledge and authorization of the outfit and the establishment. This however remains a bogus claim which lacks substance.
Fellow Nigerians, the best and only way to defeat present and future agitations is good governance, equity, fairness, justice, accountability, probity, and true inclusive governance.
Arise, O Compatriots, the task of nation building and unity beckons.
Let ugly history remain with the ugly past. May you and I not play any part that may directly or indirectly contribute or result in the avoidable repeat of the ugly history of the ugly past.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.