Up until yesterday, 21st October, I was a sympathizer of Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB. I had considered them to be a group of sincere men and women committed to advancing the welfare of the people of South East and South South Nigeria albeit in a way many would consider crude.
I had also expressed real concerns about the group’s apparent disregard for human lives, condemning severally, their tendency to expose members- especially innocent youths- to avoidable deaths and injuries that happen each time they clash with members of the Nigeria security operatives.
I have also been concerned about the “Biafra or death” stance of Mr Kanu which his followers swallowed hook, line and sinker. Then the group’s vitriolic, abusive attacks on our elders and institutions- especially the Ohaneze Ndiigbo and her leadership also worried me.
I was also in disagreement with Kanu’s diagnosis of the crises of development in Igboland. Kanu made it his daily hymn to blame Hausa-Fulanis for every problem we face in Igboland from low-zero infrastructure to marginalization in appointment and spread of opportunities.
Most amusingly, Kanu sought to make mockery of the institution of the Church of Christ in Igboland, concocting all sorts of conspiracy theories to discredit Christianity and Christian leaders.
Why did I continue to hold some sympathy for Mr Kanu despite his error-ridden method and outlook?
Simple. I like the fact that the pains of our people meant something to him. I also like the fact that he volunteered to mobilize our people at a time some triumphalists were still living in what has now turned out to be pure delusion after the 2015 elections.
Importantly, I believe in leadership. It is better to be led by a bad leader than live with a leadership vacuum. Kanu’s leadership model, however flawed served its purpose.
I am of the view that his situation was badly managed by the political and cultural leadership in Igboland. Kanu should have been offered a place at the table and carried along in our negotiations with the Nigerian state. He demonstrated- through his management of Radio Biafra- his platform to fame- that he has something the Igbo race needs- boldness, fearlessness and a keen sense of history.
Kanu and his group were supposed to have provided us the leverage to earn better deal with the Nigerian state. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about some under-the-table deals and corrupt riches. I am looking at important matters like infrastructure, creation of economic opportunities and better deals for our youths.
Now you may also want to know why I believe Kanu’s diagnosis of the Igbo problem was wrong. One, blaming Hausa-Fulanis for our problems meant that we exonerated Igbo leaders who were supposed to negotiate with the Nigerian state on our behalf.
Igbo leaders and institutions have received over 30 trillion naira from various local and international revenue channels in the last 20 years. Pray, where are these funds going into? Why are our roads still decrepit, why is something as elementary as refuse disposal still a problem in Aba and Umuahia?
The Abia and Imo state governors receive the federal allocation between the 15th and 18th of every month- the same way the governor of Gombe receives his. How come Abia and Imo workers and pensioners being owed for a combined 60 months? Are they waiting for instruction from the Sultan before they pay workers in their states?
How about the hundreds of billions Igbo lawmakers receive every year as constituency allowance? Where does it go to? How many students do these senators and HoR members have on scholarships? How many schools are they building? What projects are they really executing?
80-90 percent of the funds that accrue to political office holders in Igboland are unaccounted for. A few days ago, Mr Okezie Ikpeazu, the Abia state governor bought 17 brand new Toyota jeeps valued at over 50 million naira per unit for the LGA chairmen in the state.
Yet this is a governor in a state where tens of thousands of families go to bed each night hungry owing to non-payment of salaries.
Talking about LGAs in Igboland, are you aware that every LGA in Igboland is paid over 100 million naira on the average every month. Where does this money go to considering that grasses have taken over the secretariat of several LGAs? Do we need the Emir of Kano to tell the Chairman of Umunneochi to clear the bush around his office?
You may also be aware that for several years, the contract for the rehabilitation of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway was given to Mr Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and his engineering firm. How much of the funds allocated for that project did Mr Iwuanyanwu channel to improving the state of the road? Ditto for several other roads that Igbo contractors are asked to rehabilitate or build.
So why would anyone overlook the criminal insensitivity of the political leadership in Igboland? Why do we have to go to Sokoto and Kano to find scapegoats for our home-grown leadership problems?
Kanu would often counter by telling you that elections in Igboland are rigged in favour of Hausa-Fulani candidates. He believes that when we get Biafra, we will wean off the influence of the Northern Oligarchs from our system.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. Rochas Okorocha was elected by popular votes in 2011. I saw how the average Imo man/woman was prepared to do anything and everything to remove Ohakim and bring in Okorocha. He won because he presented himself as a better man, how could anyone have known at the time that he was a fraudulent character?
Other horrible governors in Igbo land were enthroned by local godfathers who have no roots in Sokoto- (Okezie Ikpeazu was imposed by Theodore Orji. Chinweoke Mbadinuju was imposed by Mr Emeka Offor. Chimaroke Nnamani was sponsored by Mr Jim Nwobodo and family. Ikedi Ohakim was sponsored by Orji Kalu and Maurice Iwu, Theodore Orji himself was imposed by Orji Kalu).
I have made several efforts to find out one single governor that got the approval of the Kano Emirate Council before he was presented as our governor. There has been no success in that regard.
A part of me had believed that Mr Kanu was being sponsored by Igbo politicians to promote the Hausa-Fulani fib as a way of taking attention away from their criminal activities. I still hold that conviction. Since mid-September last year, no one has or heard from Kanu. He was believed to have been detained or killed by Nigerian soldiers acting on the instructions of Mr Buhari.
His sighting on Friday, 19th October 2018 and subsequent broadcast yesterday confirmed that he is very much alive and kicking. Most importantly, that he was never in detention.
So how did Kanu reward us for looking out for him and holding the Buhari government accountable for his disappearance?
With the usual arrogance and outlook of a man with an over-inflated sense of self-importance. Kanu threatened to return to our land very soon and will in his word, “bring hell with him.”
This man has lost it and we must now do to him what we do to idols that outlive their usefulness- “burn him” and I mean it. Kanu’s broadcast yesterday gave us a new enemy to watch out and we must be prepared to do the needful to preserve the peace of our land.
Kanu paid tribute to his dog “Jack” but could not pay any respect to the more than 50 people he deceived to die for nothing last year. Kanu values the lives of our youths less than that of a common dog- Nwa Nkita. I have alerted all those who still believe in Kanu and his IPOB to take me off their friends’ list on social media and I mean it.
Over 1, 000 youths have been killed by security agents acting on Mr Buhari’s instructions since Kanu came into the scene in 2015. Does IPOB have a database of their slain members? How are the families of these youths compensated?
We must be vigilant here. Through Mr Ralph Uwazurike and his MASSOB, we lost more than 20, 000 youths who were also murdered by security agencies in the name of fighting for Biafra between 2000 and 2010? Uwazurike meanwhile has continued to live large, building hotels and acquiring properties everywhere.
I will commit everything at my disposal to countering Mr Kanu and his delusions in the days ahead. We cannot continue to sacrifice the lives of our youths or business concerns on the altar of one man’s ego. It would be foolish if anyone still believes Kanu is fighting for Biafra.
What is Kanu’s blueprint for the actualization of Biafra? Where is his template for the economic survival of Biafra if actualized today? Where is his leadership model? What policy proposal has Kanu modelled for his fancied Biafra?
Biafra was a point of last resort in 1967. It was not the first option on the table. It also should not be this time. We must find intelligent ways of engaging the Nigerian establishment to advance our welfare within a reformed Nigeria.
Right now, the message must be loud and clear: we will vote in 2019 and we will vote massively for candidates who will reverse the decay and neglect of our land. Kanu should take his message of “hell” to hell.
By: Dodoh Okafor