By Fr George Adimike
The fact of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s extraordinary rendition and his subsequent incarceration in the DSS facility, which elicited anger that led to the sit-at-home order on Mondays in the East, cries for redress. The anger seconding the ill-treatment mobilised massive support for the sit-at-home order declared by IPOB. Though it came with dire consequences, especially on the socio-economic activities in the Southeast, the reality metamorphosed into a Monday Sabbath, transforming Monday into a day of rest. With wise counsel and negotiations, the leadership of IPOB abolished the sit-at-home order, but it persists. It does because of multiple factors, which include fear of the known and unknown, solidarity with Nnamdi Kanu and the struggle for Biafran liberation, demonstration of people’s power, provision of time for rest, leisure and family, insistence of Simon Ekpa’s faction of IPOB, protest against injustice and marginalisation, a reaction against the current leadership in the country and celebration of the people’s power. Gradually, the masses have discovered great value in this Monday sit-at-home that many have wholeheartedly embraced, offering its pain and suffering as the price to pay for freedom.
In the prevailing circumstance, one might ask: Is the Monday sit-at-home practice a destruction of the Monday economy or proof that for Ndigbo, life is beyond economy, or is it both? Indeed, Ndigbo love money, yet cherish their dignity beyond money. So, when their dignity is at stake, they elect to sacrifice money, following the path of alternative protest to avoid the massacre that follows peaceful demonstrations. Hence, the excruciating reality offers the opportunity to make a statement in favour of their freedom and to rest. Notwithstanding the attitude of making a virtue out of necessity adopted by the southeasterners relative to Nnamdi Kanu’s continued incarceration by sabbathalising Mondays, the situation calls for the urgent intervention of the Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria.
In the twilight of his administration, President Muhammadu Buhari should strive to be statesman-like and make his government stately. It is an opportunity to right the wrongs and make amends so that his last acts will try to give a positive hermeneutic for reading the entire administration. With positive and memorable good actions, he would argue that his obvious flaws were mistakes which could have bedevilled any other administration. President Buhari needs to plead to the masses that he meant well for Nigeria. Unfortunately, his handlers will likely dismiss some of these invitations to correct obvious blunders, at the peril of the man’s name. At present, this administration is fighting to snatch first place from the late Sani Abacha’s government as the most lawless. The reputation of a government with no respect for the rule of law pays President Buhari no dividend.
So, for posterity, the president should solve the Nnamdi Kanu question. While the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu might have given the establishment a feeling of reprieve, and the euphoria of relief, victory and tranquillity, it is not yet Uhuru. It should have elicited the highest form of sobriety, tact, wisdom and magnanimity from the government to resolve the issue, knowing full well that he is a megaphone resounding the actual situation of the country. The existence of Nnamdi Kanu would have been considered a blessing by any government ready to serve the common good. His broadcasts, agitations and denunciation of unjust structures, corruptions and systemic injustice of the Buhari-led Federal Government against Ndigbo were nothing short of free consultancy services. But, to the utter dismay of the suffering masses of Nigeria, the hope reposed in the administration of PMB was dashed beyond repair, for he worked hard to mainstream and institutionalise the malaise of the country.
During her history, Nigeria has produced many Nnamdis embodying the Nnamdi philosophy, such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, the welfarist and nationalist, and Nnamdi Kanu, the firebrand agitator. The third Nnamdi will be more dangerous. Before the curtain is drawn, let the government be stately and seize this opportunity to commence the much-needed dialogue for a Biafra of ideology, which stands for justice and fairness to all. Otherwise, the third Nnamdi might lead to the Biafra of territory. Nigeria has spent billions, both invested and embezzled, in the fight against Boko Haram because of the mismanagement of the Boko Haram crisis by the killing of their leader by the agents of the state. Now is the time for wisdom – nothing should happen to Nnamdi so that we will not have the emergence of deadly Nnamdi Kanus.
While this piece is not an advocacy for nominative determinism, it does not intend to avoid the ramifications of nomen est omen (name is destiny). Though it does not align with the idea of aptronym (name says it all), it does not negate the fact that names are signs. As the name indicates, Nnamdi is an affirmation of fatherhood and an expression of commitment to Abba relationships and responsibilities ― the presence, existence and struggle for the fatherland. There exists a noticeable influence and effluence from one’s name. Arguably, to both worlds, names are hermeneutical and epistemological. Nnamdi Kanu has assumed the full ramifications of his name, dedicating his life to the struggle for the liberation and emancipation of his people. Irrespective of the apparent imperfections of his person and flaws in his methods, he embraced a heroic task that needed the support of the people and the establishment so that by owning the project, we save it from Nnamdi Kanu, and that way, his heroism will be more adequately celebrated.
It is a reality that freedom is never served on a plate of gold; instead, it is a fruit of daily struggle, enormous personal inconveniences and sacrifices, and strategic diplomatic engagement. In that line, the people of the Southeast have contributed immensely to their emancipation through active non-violent resistance. In converting the order to a Sabbath experience, they turned a mess into a message, and it is high time the Federal Government revisited Nnamdi Kanu’s case and released him. It is perhaps the last great act of this administration before its light goes off. Release Nnamdi Kanu, and the time is now to bring our Mondays back with true freedom.
• Fr Adimike writes from Onitsha, Anambra State via [email protected]