By Ike Abonyi
“I love Nnamdi Kanu’s courage, I love his dynamism but I have issues with his method”-Nnia Nwodo
This question has been on the lips of many Ndigbo and even other Nigerians for long since the leader of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu went awry after regaining his freedom from President Muhammadu Buhari regime via the court.
This freedom which deserves when it came was made possible due to enormous pressure from Ndigbo leaders and other lovers of civil and human rights across the country.
Kanu had emerged from the blues with his IPOB like a hurricane cashing in on the blatant neglect of the South East region by President Buhari’s administration.
It would have been hard to recognize his existence if not for President Buhari’s impatience and thin tolerance for anything Igbo that led him to needlessly arrest and incarcerate him. It was this action that shot Kanu to national and international limelight, an attention he earlier sought for long using his Biafra radio but could not get it.
Even though Biafra was in the heart of every true patriotic Igbo child, Kanu did not win the peoples heart with his radio because of the vulgar language associated with his broadcasts. For instance, even though many Ndigbo believe in Biafra as Nigeria is proving unworkable, they do not subscribe to calling Nigeria a zoo. They do not believe that if a particular regime at a time is so hysterical about Ndigbo that it would warrant calling the rest of the citizen’s animal which the implication of tagging the country a zoo is. After all there are very many non-Ndigbo who are sympathetic to the Biafra struggle from the point of their love for justice while agreeing in the axiom that injustice to one is injustice to all.
Having been brought to limelight with his incarceration, notable Igbo leaders and groups as well as human rights crusaders from other parts of the country joined forces to heap pressure on the Buhari regime. As a result, he was released via court bail with Igbo national legislators led by Senators Ike Ekweremadu and Enyinna Abaribe signing the bail bond.
In the euphoria of Kanu’s new fame, these legislators brought him out as a great Igbo man and gave him a deserving reception in Abuja leaving him with some advisories on how to maximize the gain of his new reputation. He was advised to return home and join forces with some other patriotic Igbos like the current President General of Ohanaeze, the umbrella Igbo body, Chief John Nnia Nwodo who by the rating of most discerning minds have done credibly well leading the race since January 2017.
Several Igbo leaders led by the octogenarian, iconic constitutional lawyer and Igbo irredentist, Prof Ben Nwabueze accorded Kanu all the honour and tried to draw up a template for his operation moving forward. Little did they know that they were dealing with an Eze onye agwanam, a know-it -all King who didn’t need any advisory or guide from anybody.
The leaders had thought that they were dealing with an angry crusader ready to die for his people, only for them to realize that in their hand was a man who loves authority and was not willing to share power with anybody. Rather than welcome these elders and leader’s counsel to him, he began seeing them as rivals who were trying to diminish his powers.
This was how he turned against anybody who was not willing and ready to subordinate themselves to his own authority. He turned his father’s abode into a shrine of sorts with a lot of Igbo youths ready and willing to worship and adore him. Not even his parents could hold him back and consequently the peace in his family before his IPOB project became a victim leading to the death of his parents who were to be buried the same day.
Igbo youths who were frustrated by goings on in the land on how Nigeria their country were unable to utilize their energy and vibrancy found Kanu a flattering option. The magic wand needed for him to raise followers in such large numbers was Biafra.
The post-war children of Igbo extraction following the glaring marginalization of the region by Buhari administration have all come to embrace Biafra as the only platform to realize and offload their anger. They were not ready to listen to any other voice on how this aspiration can be met except that from Kanu which although unrealistic was motivationally bringing Biafra to them as a bird already at hand.
In order to ensure that his cult status is not diminished but established in the minds of the people, Kanu declared his religion Judaism and made his perceived association with Israel a huge route to realizing the Biafra dream. This did not affect his follower-ship who were mostly Christians because their goal was getting Biafra which they believe could come through Israelis most of who are of that religion.
When the President who apparently was still leaving in the carryover of the civil war in which he fought on the side of Nigeria declared IPOB as a terrorist group and outlawed it, many Igbo leaders stood in defense of IPOB and condemned the action. The Ohanaeze President General Chief Nwodo till date still uses the slightest opportunity he has to berate the government for branding IPOB as outlaw, when the organization is a non-violent body while leaving out a known violent Fulani herdsman.
Nwodo even took the case to an international forum at Chatham House in London, United Kingdom. Nwodo’s sympathetic position on IPOB almost severed his relationship with South East Governors who saw Kanu early enough as too recalcitrant and intractable to work with for an Igbo project. In all these Kanu was not seeing Nwodo from his contributions to Igbo project but more as a rival who should be blackmailed.
As Kanu’s power and influence grew particularly among Ndigbo youths, he started over reaching himself and declared that the 2017 gubernatorial election in Anambra state must not hold.
This didn’t go down well with Ohanaeze and Igbo political leaders and Kanu felt it was an affront on his growing power. He began abusing Igbo leaders including Ohanaeze President and the governors. When the federal government saw that he was no longer jelling with those shielding him, they came for him and his supporters. By the military Python dance that was targeted at him, the government provided a lacuna for him to break his bail bond and ran away with his parents who never came back to their home alive.
While abroad in exile Kanu continued his attacks on Nigeria with Igbo leaders as key targets. The high point of his growing irresponsibility was the assault meted out to the former deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany. And recently he ordered the stoning of the Ohanaeze President, an action he is reported to have retracted.
It’s against these backdrops that came the question whether Kanu and his IPOB are still helping the Biafra struggle? How does he think Biafra can be realized without the critical segment of the populace, the elders and the political leaders? It’s an indisputable fact that IPOB has elevated the Biafra struggle reasonably to the level of hype and propaganda but nothing to take home in real terms given what the country’s constitution requires to achieve secession.
It would be difficult if not impossible to get the ear of any reasonable international body from a group that rubbishes everybody. No wonder IPOB was recently listed abroad among the group that attacks Christians in Nigeria. Bizarre as that allegation is, given what we know of IPOB in the country, it goes to show that Nnamdi Kanu’s ‘noise’ may have been going to the wrong ears and that his opponents are doing a better penetrating job silently.
Even his recent altercation with the leader of the Niger Delta militant leader Asari Dokubo the only strong voice supporting the body from the South-South did not help the project in any way.
If Kanu and his IPOB project fail, it’s not going to be blamed on want of advisory from necessary quarters but on his deafness to other superior views. Kanu’s attitude says a lot about people hijacking what is dear to their people’s heart and running smocks without minding how they feel.
A Kanu who did not see Biafra war wakes up from nowhere abuses Nwodo who fought the war and has given his all to the unity and growth of Ndigbo from the age of 33 years is clearly provocative and unacceptable. Let Kanu get it right that Biafra of his dream is dead on arrival because he squared the enormous goodwill he got from the people because of his narcissistic attitude.