PMB, Kanu and the tsetse fly on the scrotum!

The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra Nnamdi Kanu / AFP PHOTO / STEFAN HEUNIS

MY last intervention (1967-2017: from police action to egwu eke) was on 30/9/17. I had recalled how an ordinary police action led to a gruesome 30 month civil war and prayed that the recent egwu-eke 2 did not lead us to another unfathomed scenario. I said so because most often, it is very innocuous events that lead to cataclysmic consequences. On 2/10/17, Father Kukah (we all know he is a Bishop), at the 2017 Platform spoke on the Weakness of power and after going through the circumstances that led to disastrous wars all over the world, he declared with a Bishopric finality that nobody knows what will trigger what!. I hope that the crocodiles smiling in the Delta will not go the way of the pythons that danced in Abia. Of course, I dare to say also that crocodiles do not smile. Anytime they open their jaws, it is to crush and devour!

Now, to the business of the day. Our people say that when a tsetse fly perches on a man’s scrotum, then the man is in serious trouble. Don’t ask me how the deadly insect gained access to a man’s holy of holies! This is because if you let it be, it will suck the man to death (of course, a man without his instrument of disfigurement is as good as dead). On the other hand, if you try to smash it, you will also destroy the same scrotum in the process, thereby destroying the man all the same. However, it does not mean that the man should gladly provide a furnished apartment for the tsetse fly in that delicate region of his body; he has to adopt a high dose of wisdom, tact and carefulness in the process of evicting the unwanted guest. A tsetse fly, or what PMB sees as a tsetse fly (Kanu/IPOB) has just perched on his scrotum (the non-negotiable Nigeria which he fought for) and unfortunately, in his usual haste, he failed the tsetse fly test. He not only used a hammer to kill the tsetse fly, he used an iron sponge to wash off the mess and used red-hot charcoal to dry the wetness that resulted from the scrubbing! There is no other way to interpret the deployment of 15 APCs and 20 lorries to Kanu’s compound, a fellow who despite his acerbic tongue, has not fired a shot. As if the first cut was not deep enough, they did an encore on 8/10/17 in which household and personal effects were allegedly confiscated. All appears calm now, but I wish to think aloud on the following.

As the Niger Delta Governors recently reminded us, the use of force is not an alternative to conflict resolution because force has never settled anything whether in Nigeria or outside Nigeria. It did not work with Isaac Borroh, Saro Wiwa and Niger Delta agitations; it did not work with the Shiit Moslems, it did not work with Boko haram and even after demolishing his Kingdom, Government Tompolo is still issuing statements here and there. We are all aware of what is happening in Spain and how the matter got offhand because of police highhandedness in which a few people were wounded (just a few people wounded!). Of course the authorities have apologised even when they are against the Catalonian independence agenda. Force is even more useless when it is targeted against an idea. Biafranism and IPOBism are ideas; you counter ideas with more compelling and convincing ideas, not with force. We should also bear in mind that peace is not the absence of conflict; it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means (Reagan); that peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding (Einstein) and that peace is the advancement of man, victory of a just cause the triumph of truth (unknown). Of course, an eye for an eye would soon make everybody blind. A situation in which the president is escalating, rather than de-escalating local tensions is simply unfortunate.

What happened in Abia also has legal dimensions. Our soldiers are constitutionally empowered to protect Nigeria against external aggression while the police is in charge of local matters. Our courts have severally rued that using the khaki boys for civil matters is illegal. Further, the FG has a case against Kanu in court and rather than allow the court to perform its duties, the Government resorted to self-help through an unnecessary show of force. This is a continuation of the several contempt of course in the Kanu affair, which started when PMD declared that the Government would not release Kanu from detention, irrespective of what the court says.

Almost two years ago, precisely on 21/2/16, I examined how our government treated the evangelists, militants, herdsmen and terrorists, all non-state actors operating in our social space. The list represented a continuum between the most harmless and the most harmful groups because while evangelists spread good news, herdsmen are deadly and ubiquitous, militants are in armed opposition to government policies while terrorists are at war against everybody. I argued that under normal circumstances, the state should be most concerned about the activities of terrorists, militants and herdsmen but it ended up losing a disproportionate level of sleep over the activities of the evangelists, represented by IPOB and Shiites. The recent state sponsored violence against IPOB and its leader is a continuation of the statusquo. This kind of situation may push such open organisations with known leaders, members and addresses, underground and may turn a harmless organisation into a vicious one. And as our experience in recent times has shown, our soldiers are powerful but that power has some limitations, especially when it is overextended. People are also turned into superstars without making any efforts and global sympathy and avoidable global outrage is aroused.

I started with our peoples’ saying that a tsetse fly that perched in the scrotum creates a dilemma for the man. The Senegalese put it more succinctly that the day a mosquitoe lands on your testicle, you will know (and learn by fire by force) that there are other ways of resolving issues without resorting to violence. We also say that you do not torch you house in pursuit of a rat, a mere irritant. The way the government responded to the Kanu/IPOB affair is like using a sledge hammer to kill an ant or attack the mosquito that perched on the testicle. One man said that his anguish was not just that a man was harvesting his wife’s holy of holies, but the kind of things they were saying in the process. The Presidents spoken language when he returned from medical exile, in his Al-Jazira interview and on October 1, shows that more pythons may well dance and that the one that danced was not accidental. It is also obvious that the PMB and or his government cannot differentiate between Biafraism, IPOBism and Ndi-Igbo and unfortunately he treats the three as the same. The terrorism tag first authored the army (and which Prof. Sagay is the only lawyer that found it normal) has created its own issues when the herdsmen were declared mere criminals and I am not aware that anything had happened to Adeyinka (jr.) who promised that he would use chemical weapon in pursuit of Oduduwa republic.

I agree wholly with Fisayo Soyombo that a million pythons cannot dance away the Biafra question neither can the proscription by fiat achieve the same purpose. After all, Bight of Biafra was proscribed decades ago! I also agree with Ayo Akintujoye that Buhari government must defeat IPOB, and any other of such groups across the country with real and measurable development (because) that is the only true way separationist ideas can be subdued and that PMB should decide whether to win the bigger war of peace and development, or relish in the victory of smaller battles against IPOB.

Abimbola Adelakun joined the fray, arguing that militarising the region or using a declaration of terrorism to criminalise the people who are disillusioned with the state of the nation, and have resorted to exhibiting civil dissent will not solve a thing.

There should be dialogue and the government must persuade Kanu or at least his followers that their course is fruitless and that non-negotiable one Nigeria is better for them and indeed, the Biblical land of milk and honey. But before then, PMB and his government, including the soldiers, must try to understand what all this is all about because as Charles Colton opined almost two centuries ago (1825), we hate some people because we do not know (understand) them and we will never know (understand) them because we hate them. The government must ask why Biafranism is still an issue years after the war and why there is deep-seated resentment against Nigeria (and not Nigerians) after all this while. Is 50 years not enough for a sincere healing process to yield results? An ordinary comedian, I-Go-Dye, has given an extraordinary advice to the government:“The real solution to the lingering IPOB crisis lies in giving every Nigerian that satisfaction that can only be obtained through good governance, providing justice as well as the equal distribution of our collective wealth to the citizenry. The Federal Government cannot continue to apply the same method towards solving this kind of agitations…. The government should consider an alternative dispute resolution method and take on a civil approach with reasonable compassion to all concerned. These are words of wisdom and I pray that the young man doesn’t die yet.

Dr. Muo lectures at, Department of Business Administration, Onabisi Onobanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State.



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