Don’t arrest Kanu, Onyema Air Peace CEO warns BY LOUIS IBAH Chairman/CEO of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema has cautioned the Federal Government against arresting the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu saying the secessionist advocate was open to peaceful negotiations with the Federal Government. Onyema, spoke in Lagos…
In TIME past, Nnamdi Kanu, an Umuahia, Abia State prince, was just popular among those who listened to Radio Biafra, in which he was director. His voice was unmistakable on the radio station, as he talked about the marginalisation of the Igbo and the neglect of the South East by successive governments, both federal and state. He was acerbic in the delivery of his message, hitting government officials and prominent people in the Federal Government and South East below the belt. He talked about Biafra and amplified the agitation for a sovereign state for the Igbo.
Today, Kanu has become became a national tendency and phenomenon, a folk hero, leader of the mass of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) members and a man with some authority. Like the man in the Bible who told Jesus Christ that he was “a man under authority,” who could command subordinates to do something and it would be done, Kanu could make his followers behave or misbehave. He has become a champion by the accident of being arrested by the President Muhammadu Buhari government.
Now Kanu issues directives and makes declaration, even on things he has no bearing. Recently, Kanu and IPOB pronounced a “death sentence” on the Anambra State governorship election scheduled for November 18, 2017. The IPOB leader and his group have decreed that there would be no election in Anambra, except the Federal Government conducts a referendum on Biafra. Funny enough, there was no time Igbo, who are going to vote in Anambra, sat down to decide that election would not hold in Anambra and appointed Kanu to make an announcement. This means that Kanu has arrogated to himself the power he does not have. Saying that elections would not hold in Anambra or any state in the South East, until the conduct of a referendum, smacks of arrogance and an attempt to take away the agency of the electorate, who only could decide whether to vote or not. It is a joke taken too far.
If election does not hold in Anambra, in whose interest will this be? Certainly, such a mistake will not benefit Kanu or IPOB. It will not also be in the interest of Anambra people. If the election does not hold, it will not translate to no government in Anambra. The President has the right to declare a state of emergency and appoint a sole administrator, who could come from anywhere. This is what Kanu, by his action, is unknowingly setting up.
I have been wondering if those in IPOB are really thinking. They are talking about Biafra and forget that projects require those who would drive them. Has Kanu and IPOB ever pondered about this: Were the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu not in government or the military governor of the Eastern Nigeria, would the first Biafra have been possible? It was partly because Ojukwu was in a position of authority that Biafra happened. However, he did not go it alone. He consulted and met with influential people in Igboland, who eventually gave him the mandate to proclaim Biafra. Now, Kanu and IPOB are not in government. They are not consulting Igbo people, in the true sense of it. They do not have the mandate of the Igbo to do some of the things being done. And they want to stop an election that would put an Igbo man in power, an office that would be of benefit to the Igbo people. Where does such thing happen?
Kanu and IPOB have put themselves on the spot. He and his group have indirectly set themselves up for downfall. They have not learnt from history and, therefore, are committing the same error of some other Biafra agitators and groups before them. A time was when the leader of the Movement for Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra/Biafra Independent Movement (MASSOB/BIM), Chief Ralph Uwazurike, was so popular that he decided to declare “Biafra.” At the time Uwazurike nursed the idea of declaring “Biafra” and hoisting the flag, he did not reckon with the consequences when no Republic of Biafra came into existence by his declaration. He did declare “Biafra” in Aba, raised the “rising sun” flag, but all these were of no consequence. Biafra was not born. He remained a Nigerian and in Nigeria. By his action, whatever joker he had was lost. The government and others who took him seriously saw that everything as grandstanding. He played his “last card” too early in the game.
Uwazurike may not believe this, but that was the beginning of the fall of the fire in Biafra agitation, as carried out by MASSOB. When the Anambra election holds, what happened to Uwazurike is likely befall Kanu. And it will be nunc dimitis for this Umuahia boy’s dream of being a prime mover. However, it is not too late for him to make an amend and remove himslef from the Anambra election brouhaha.
Actions that will do the Igbo in are not good for anybody. The South East lost out in the last census because of senseless directives by agitators of Biafra some years ago. For the avoidance of doubt, when the Federal Government conducted a census, MASSOB declared that the Igbo would not participate and called for a boycott. Owing to this, many Igbo did not participate in the census. The census enumerators, out of fear, did not go to every parts of the South East. The consequence is that many Igbo were not counted. And the figures eventually recorded for each of the South East states do not reflect the population. Kanu and IPOB’s position on the Anambra election is tantamount to what MASSOB did about the census.
A time has come for Kanu and IPOB to draw a line between Biafra agitation and doing things that would hurt the Igbo. This is why Igbo leaders have to engage Kanu, Uwazurike, IPOB, MASSOB and other pro-Biafra groups. The Igbo leaders have to draw these agitators closer, with the view to moderating their conduct, to avoid actions that would be inimical to the development of the South East. Ignoring them and leaving them on their way own would certainly turn out to be much more disastrous than engaging them. I do not see anything wrong with the South East Governors Forum or Ohanaeze Ndigbo, for instance, inviting the Kanus and Uwazurikes of this world to their meetings. This is not to glorify them, as some people may think. It will be to guide them and curtail their excesses, in the interest of all Igbo.