The dangerous pied piper in Igbo land

Kanu is funded by rich Igbo men who believe that their fate lies in his hands. He could do what Ojukwu could not do – and the Igbo would have their sweet revenge against the Nigerian state with a resurrected Biafra. AFP PHOTO / STEFAN HEUNIS

At last the governors of the Southeast woke up to the dangers posed by Nnamdi Kanu to the interests of their geo-political zone and the corporate existence of the Nigerian state. He is not just the newest irritating boil on the nose of the Nigerian state, but also a dangerous pied piper in Igbo land.

The governors knew this all long. But until their meeting in Enugu on September 15, they had been individually mealy-mouthed about the activities of Kanu who sees himself as the only Igbo man capable of doing what Ojukwu could not do – dismember our dear country.

The decision by the governors to ban IPOB was taken in desperation. They knew the ban would not put at end to IPOB and Kanu for two good reasons, namely, (a) their pronouncement does not have the force of law and (b) it is, therefore, patently unenforceable.

The governors, individually or collectively cannot enforce the ban. In effect, the ban amounts to nothing more than a calculated attempt by them to feebly reassure the rest of us that Kanu is on his own and does not represent the political interests of Ndi Igbo. I am afraid, it blows in the wind. It is weak, it is deceptive and it is even dishonest.

The governors are the chief security officers of their various states. IPOB activities are carried out in all the five Igbo states that make up the South-East geopolitical zone. I have seen no evidence of any by the governors taking determined steps to stamp out these activities, even when they can clearly see that they threaten peace in their political kingdoms.

Kanu does not need them or their approval to do what he is doing. Their disowning him cannot stop him. The painful fact is that the governors are fully aware that Kanu is not alone in his diabolical plans against the Nigerian state. He enjoys the tacit support and encouragement of well-placed and responsible Igbo men who believe that he is fighting the cause or causes of all Igbo people, whatever the cause or causes might be.

Ohaneze, the umbrella Igbo organisation, blows cold over the activities of Kanu. It supports him and defends him at every opportunity and drags across the path of our reasoning the tattered argument about the right of people guaranteed by our constitution to pursue their legitimate interests. Kanu is not pursuing the legitimate interests of Ndi Igbo, and therefore, what he is doing cannot be defended on that sacred ground.

Kanu was released on bail. Every bail granted by the courts has conditions attached to it. Kanu accepted the conditions attached to his bail. But he has violated every single one of them. And now he argues, and Ohaneze and other Igbo leaders agree with him, that there should have been no conditions attached to his bail. In violating the bail conditions, he treats our law and our court with absolute contempt. Yet the men who ought to appreciate this choose to make him untouchable. This encouraged him to magisterially say that if he is re-arrested, Nigeria would cease to exist. Such arrogance.

Kanu is funded by rich Igbo men who believe that their fate lies in his hands. He could do what Ojukwu could not do – and the Igbo would have their sweet revenge against the Nigerian state with a resurrected Biafra.

Kanu has hundreds of young Igbo men in uniform. What we do not see so far are the arms. But there is nothing secret about the fact that he has visited the U.S. and other Western nations for purposes of procuring arms. He has calculated that an armed conflict with the Nigerian state is inevitable in the pursuit of his cause or causes. Would the governors pretend that this is news to them?

Kanu is deified by young Igbo men who flock to worship him. They kiss his feet and he dresses like a respectable Eastern potentate. A Moses has arisen in Igbo land.

We are actually back in the dark days of Biafra propaganda. Kanu is following the same path and with crass tendentiousness, he is sensitising the rest of the world to the cause of IPOB. Last week I watched a video clip of an interview President Muhammadu Buhari had with a reporter from Al-Jazeera. The woman told the president of IPOB claims that allocation to the Southeast had been cut down by 50 per cent. This propaganda is to suggest that that zone is denied its legitimate share of the national cake and, therefore, it is a clear evidence that the Nigerian state thinks poorly of the rights of the Igbo.

Can anything be further from the truth? The sharing formula of the monthly allocation to the three tiers of government is governed by law. Under that law, it is not possible to marginalise a state or a group of states. But lies are sweet and the Western media are prepared to lap up whatever Kanu dishes out to them. Thanks to IPOB propaganda, the Western media are beginning to see and treat Kanu and his people as the under dogs taking on the behemoth called the Nigerian state. It was so with Biafra propaganda. The Nigerian state had no answer then; it has no answer now.

IPOB grew out of MASSOB championed by Uwazuruike. Neither Uwazuruike nor Kanu has articulated the grievances of the Igbo. But this has not stopped them from being seen as the new and authentic champions of the cause or causes of the Igbo people. The governors know this too well.

The two groups are exploiting two emotional feelings of the Igbo as a people. These are (a) a sense of entitlement and (b) a sense of injury. The first led to the January 15, 1966 coup that has forever changed the architecture of our national politics; the second led to the secessionist bid by Ojukwu. And this has scarred our national psyche for which we have for ever been in search of, a salve with endless political experiments and constitutional provisions to achieve an airy something called a sense of belonging.

Biafra was wiped off the map of the world in January 1970. But it has stuck in the throat of the Nigerian state like a fish bone. It can’t swallow it and it can’t spit it out. It is an effective weapon of dastardly blackmail against the Nigerian state. I do not see it as a passing phase. If MASSOB and IPOB get off the radar, another blip will be seen on the same radar. The sense of entitlement and the sense of injury among the Igbo would always be available for exploitation by ethnic champions and jingoists.

I just hope that Buhari would not make the same mistake that General Yakubu Gowon made with Ojukwu. He thought there was nothing to Ojukwu’s boast; and that was why his response to the secession was a police rather than a military action to quash it. He woke up to how prepared Ojukwu was only when his forces took over the Mid-West and threatened Lagos.

I need say no more.



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