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Nnamdi Kanu


It cannot but amaze me when I see straight forward matters are made to get complicated. We detour; scratch a matter on the surface and because of our love for force we shoot at it believing that it would go away. I am referring to Nnamdi Kanu and his dream Biafra. Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has told the nation that Biafra can never be defeated. When he said so in 1967, the nation lacked the depth to unravel the meaning and import of his pronouncement borne out of his great knowledge. Because of it he was incarcerated for 27 months, released only three months to the end of the civil war. It is relieving that his path and that of General Gowon later crossed and the chance meeting ended being chumming. You can trust Gowon for his charming and childlike carriage. And you can trust Soyinka for his banters.

Prof. Soyinka has made another deep pronouncement to which no one seems to be paying attention; and there we go again. He has said the only thing not negotiable in life is freedom of choice. He is not pressing for the dissolution of Nigeria, after all Nigeria must be proud that she has such a towering figure she can call her own. What he said in 1967 and repeated this year is that Biafra is an idea. You don’t begin to chase an idea with bayonets, tanks and all. You can only get a person to drop his idea through the clash of reason, not of emotions. The latter makes you to want to reach for your gun and tanks. Clash of reason is when you gather round a table.

The other name for it is dialogue. You can argue, you can debate. You argue and adjourn, to go and reflect on the other person’s point of view. The discussion may break down you meet again. It is the outcome of such meetings that endures. After all when the booming of the guns fall silent you come round the table to meet, what should have been done ab initio. Artistes are never known to be conformists, anywhere. When you draw attention of an artiste to the skyscraper, the artiste looks at the unwashed gutters. Artistes remain the hope for mankind to put us on our toes and force a rethinking of the path we may have chosen through the profoundity of their thoughts, drawings, paintings and more. When Soyinka said the only thing not negotiable is freedom of choice he was saying in effect that the basis of our oneness should be rediscussed and reaffirmed.

When you shoot at an idea, the most that can be achieved is driving it underground to arise some other time to hit the nation, perhaps harder. This column is convinced about the oneness of Nigeria, and the reasons go far beyond the mundane. However, the country must be restructured to engender peace and for her to be strong and make progress. Nnamdi Kanu is not convinced and we need to convince him. As the retired Col. Abubakar of Kaduna said the other day Nnamdi Kanu is the face of a wave. The government is therefore culpable for shunning any presidential contact with Kanu; something that could have been handled with tact and wisdom.

Of course, the way Kanu is going about the agitation is absolutely wrong. There is no enrapturing philosophical thought underpinning the agitation, nor does he possess the oratorical prowess of Ojukwu that could move mountains. There is no way his rowdiness and lawlessness would not attract heavy handedness from the authorities so that other people could go about their lives unmolested or harmed. He over-reached himself when he began to preach ethnic hate and molestation.

No responsible and legitimate authority would accept that. Did he think of the wider implications of other ethnic groups being hunted or harmed? It was also disrespectful of him to decline to be driven to Enugu by the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Omehia, who had elected to have him ride in his car driving from the airport from his trip from overseas. Kanu declined the offer for fear of him being assassinated. In the same car with the governor? His ways are also diverting from the serious security challenges the nation has been facing in the North East for the past eight years.

However, it was a misuse of power to deploy troops to silence the agitation. What are the mobile anti-riot policemen meant for? Was the situation beyond them? The Army is only hiding behind one finger when it said “The exercise is a normal routine Nigerian Army field training exercise meant to sharpen the skills of the participating troops in the conduct of Internal Security Operations (ISO).” Col. Sagir Musa, for the 82 Division, Enugu, also went on to say the exercise was being conducted to deal with the rising cases of kidnappings, farmers-herdsmen clashes, armed robbery, cultism, communal crisis, violent secessionists agitations among others.” The Army clampdown can easily be linked with President Buhari’s broadcast on his return from the UK.

Femi Falana SAN and Ebun Adegboruwa have said the institution charged with such crackdown is the police. Even if we were to excuse the essence of training, the timing was wrong because the appearance of soldiers only heightened the tension in which the state had been gripped. Why not, say Kwara or Oyo or Ondo for now and after the police have restored calm in Abia the Army goes in for their training which in any case should also be in the bush?


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Nnamdi Kanu

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