Nnamdi Kanu: a Hero, Coward or Villian? | Nigeria Newspaper- Nigeria News| Naija News

9.10.17

Nnamdi Kanu: a Hero, Coward or Villian?

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Nnamdi Kanu: a Hero, Coward or Villian?
IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu
 
Following his clash with the government, IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu has become many things to different people. 
Love or loathe him, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the indigenous people of Biafra has gained himself a considerable political mileage in the south-eastern part of the country since his grandiose release from prison.
 
Since resurrecting the Biafra spirit, Kanu and his separatist agitators have been a thorn in the flesh of the government who strongly opposed ideas capable of causing the balkanization of Nigeria. Obviously, his separatist adventures gave impetus to the renewed call for restructuring after the move was unceremoniously thrown out of the National Assembly by lawmakers who are not in sync with the needs and aspirations of the masses.
 
Prior to October 14 2015, the name Kanu had an unfamiliar tone many people did not recognise and cared less about. But, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari through a combination of political immaturity and overzealous desire to gag him inadvertently thrust him into political limelight by incarcerating him for 2 years, thus giving him an undeserving political relevance and national prominence.
 
Many from his ethnic group saw his arrest as a continuation of Buhari’s personal vendetta against south-easterners especially after the President had immaturely exposed his divisive mindset during a speech at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on July 22nd when he openly said he would treat those who voted him into power differently  from those who didn't vote for him.
 
“I hope you have a copy of the election results. The constituents, for example, gave me 97% [of the vote] cannot in all honesty be treated on some issues with constituencies that gave me 5%.
 
“I think these are political reality,” Buhari goofed.
 
As a result, Kanu's arrest on the 14th of October 2015, instead of being seen as a positive step taken by the government to tackle a loose canon, his arrest was perceived as a political fight against the Igbos, thus heightening tension in the country with thousands of his followers demonstrating for nearly two years forcing the government to release him.
 
The once unknown Kanu before our very before metamorphosed into a regional leader so powerful that his words were followed religiously. Many of his followers kowtowed in reverence before their hero - the man who resurrected the spirit of Biafra like never before since the days of Odumegwu Ojukwu.
 
To the government of Buhari, Kanu was an unrepentant villian desperately horny for attention. He was seen as a loud mouth, a propagator of hate speech and nothing from his mouth was worth listening to as far as it would mean dividing the country. The All Progressives Congress-led government did not for once stop to consider what could have renewed the call for Biafra.
 
While passing Kanu off as another divisive tool by the opposition to derail its government, the APC-led government failed to see how its policies and failure to run an all-inclusive government brought division among the ethnic groups in the country - and not to talk of its failure to keep to its campaign promises. Buhari unlike any other Nigerian President was insensitive to Nigeria's diversity and constitution when he unwittingly filled his cabinet with his northern kinsmen to the disadvantage of other ethnic groups especially the south-east.
 
Not just that, he did far worse things.
 
The three presidents before Buhari (Olusegun Obasanjo, Musa Yar'Adua and Goodluck Jonathan) ran an all-inclusive government where the ethnic groups were represented well in government. Buhari touted as an ethnic bigot did the opposite. For instance, the country's six service chiefs are made up of four northerners, then one each from west and south-south respectively. Conspicuously, no military man of igbo extraction (south-east) was worthy to be given a relevant position by Buhari.
 
The  names of the service chiefs are: Major-General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin as Chief of Defence Staff (west); Major-General T.Y. Buratai as Chief of Army Staff (north); Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas as Chief of Naval Staff (south-south); Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff (north); Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Saliu Usman as Chief of Defence Intelligence (north) and Retired Major-General Babagana Monguno as National Security Adviser (north).
 
The north holds the leadership positions of the National Security Adviser, Inspector-General of Police, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Defence Intelligence, National security adviser, Director-General of State Security Services, Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service, Comptroller-General of Nigerian Immigration Service, Chairmanship of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission etc.
 
By this act, President Buhari showed himself not just as a nepotic fellow but ranks number one as Nigeria's most divisive president who flagrantly neglected the constitution's federal character principle in section 14 (3) of the 1999 constitution to pursue his own ethnic agenda. His policies instead of uniting Nigerians have become tools sparking separatist agitations.
 
Buhari's ministerial and non-ministerial list set the tone for his nepotic overtures with northerners in clear majority leaving people from other ethnic groups to wonder if they are still part of the country. People from other ethnic groups were considered 'not-good-enough' as Buhari continued his nepotic agenda.
 
Just some weeks back, there was an uproar when it was discovered that recent appointments into top management positions at the country-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was dominated by northerners.
 
Out of the 15 new directors, 10 (67 percent) came from the mostly Hausa-Fulani North; three Yorubas; two from the South-South. But none from the South-East.
 
Many wondered why the north should have 10 top directors out of 15 newly appointed directors when they contribute not even a drop of oil at the detriment of the people from whose region the oil is gotten. The divisive nature of Buhari’s appointments have shown his inability to comprehend the dynamics of nation-building. Sadly,  Buhari is the only President I know in Nigeria's regrettable history who is desperately convinced in his mind that people from his own region are superior to others from the other ethnic groups considering the manner he is going with his appointments. The reason for such shallow thinking is unknown.
 
The government's inability and excuses not to tackle the horror and nightmare visited upon Nigerians by dreaded Fulani herdsmen who invade villages raping, maiming and killing innocent people is a betray too many.
 
While the herdsmen are given preferential treatment and all manner of excuses made up for them, victims of the massacre are left to count their loss. The sluggish approach by government to tackle these herdsmen who go about with AK47 machine guns and other dangerous weapons is a serious indictment on Buhari who many believe is afraid to call his Fulani brothers to order. The slaughter of innocent villagers in Agatu, Ekiti, Imo, Enugu, Anambra and other states in the country with the government staring aimlessly at the bereaved families is totally regrettable.
 
How do you expect to have a united country when laws are applied to a particular group while another group can flout it without consequences simply because they are the President's kinsmen?
 
Recently, a video showing soldiers forcing IPOB members to swim in dirty mud water - something clearly against the rules of engagement - has since been thrown into the archives with the military busy issuing irrelevant statements like a radio station. The conduct of the government, its arms and agencies have reflected negatively in drumming home the idea of a united Nigeria.
 
Frankly, the methods adopted by Kanu (hate speech, violence and blocking of roads) to drive home his points are faulty. There is need to restrategize to avoid loss of innocent lives. It is true that Biafra is a spirit and no matter how many Kanus are killed, a million of him will emerge so far as the people are marginalized as has been the case with Buhari’s administration. It is very important that the agitation follow constitutional means via a referendum.
 
The government must know that trying to force Igbos to be a part of Nigeria by FORCE and the senseless use of the army to shed innocent blood will only fill the hearts of the people from the region with deep hatred that will one day bring the nation to its knees. You do not kill a people agitating for their right, label them terrorists in a bid to commit wanton atrocities and expect them to keep shut. One day, the victims will rise against the oppressor in a far more brutal way. That is why dialogue and not force is the best formula used in settling political differences. Unlike the latter, the former does not drink unnecessary blood.
 
No matter what you make of Kanu and his IPOB members, Nigerians must tell themselves the truth: the agitation in the different parts of Nigeria is because of a systematic failure of governance. The political elite since independence have profited from the country's resources at the detriment of the masses. From North, West to the East and South, it has been the same shameful story of corruption,  maladministration and massive looting of our resources. The uprising we see today happen because of disenchantment from the masses, lack of infrastructural development, bad leadership and abuse of power. The people are tired of being used as pawns.
 
In fact, the political elite have so divided Nigerians with their inefficiency, corrupt mind and harebrained policies that for the past 57 years, it has been disaster all through.
 
For 57 sad years now, Nigerians have never had the privilege of enjoying steady power supply for straight 3 days. Never! While the political class buy the latest generating set for uninterrupted power supply, the masses sleep in mosquito-infested rooms dying of heat. After seeing all these, why will people not agitate? Nigeria is a mess and we all are drowning in it. A rubbish country dominated by a shameless political class. A country where most political office holders are indicted and even found guilty of stealing money meant for infrastructural development, yet such idiotic individuals have the guts to front themselves in public spaces looking for political relevance.
 
The call by Buhari that Nigeria's unity is sacrosanct is not out of love but because of the oil from the south which has sustained states in the country for years. If Nigeria must remain as one, then the government must as a matter of urgency consider calls for restructuring of the country which has gained positive momentum. The backwardness of the country cannot be detached from this pseudo-federalism we are practicing. There is need for economic empowerment of states to control their own resources and use it in providing the much needed dividends for the people. The time to restructure the country is now to avoid terrible consequences in the future.
 
The government must be made to understand that by sending armed soldiers to kill IPOB members after labeling them terrorists, it is preparing the ground for a more rebellious agitation that might not be peaceful. That could be a precursor to more damning consequences to come should peace and dialogue not be followed.
 
To the average south-easterner, Nnamdi Kanu is a hero - the man who could not watch while the cowardly leaders of the region sat akimbo while the south is marginalized by a nepotic President. Even though the tactics he employed are crude, Kanu has resurrected the consciousness of his people to the fact that they are also stakeholders in the country called Nigeria.
 
Alexander Thandi Ubani
He writes from Lagos.
thandiubani@yahoo.com

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