Finally, A Word For Nnamdi Kanu!


Something remarkable occurred over the weekend and the latter half of last week. Leaders of the Igbo nation, in one form or the other, finally rediscovered their voices and spoke as one to confront the rampaging menace that is Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB. First, it was Chief Nnia  Nwodo, the leader of the apex Igbo socio-cultural group – the Ohanaeze.

The speech he delivered at a special sitting of the Anambra state legislature was not only emphatic for its rejection of Kanu’s pet project – Biafra- it also proved to be a trail-blazer for reminding the wannabe rebel that he was not the supreme leader of his tribe and cannot speak for the generality of the Igbo Nation. The Southeast Governors and other elected representatives of the region met a few days afterwards in Enugu to deliver a similar message to Kanu.

While they emphasized the theory that the Igbo were marginalized in the context of the existing geo-political arraignment of the nation, they ventured to add that a thorough restructuring of the nation, and not outright secession was the preferred roadmap to address their problems.

Both positions came as a mild surprise and relief to most observers of unfolding events in the Southeast and the rest of the nation. All along, the seeming passivity of leaders from the region gave many the impression that they feared to raise their voices against the excesses of Nnamdi Kanu because it was tantamount to committing political suicide. The large crowds he commanded in obvious defiance of his bail conditions created the impression that he was more popular than any Southeast politician.

Also, for any Nigerian remotely familiar with psyche of the average Igbo man, what the Igbo leaders did at the weekend was somewhat out of character. The late Chinua Achebe gave us a clue in one of his iconic novels. Remember the literary giant’s unforgettable line on the need to chase away the fox before admonishing the chicken for wandering foolishly into the path of its predator?

Using that as a metaphor, it seemed for almost an eternity that the ‘chicken’ in the context of this discourse is Nnamdi Kanu, while the ‘fox’ took the form of the rest of Nigeria which mercilessly and relentlessly marginalized the Igbo over the years. It is the same Nigeria which Kanu, in his fits of indiscretion, severally referred to as the zoo. The same mentality required that the Igbo leaders should have waited patiently for Kanu to put Nigeria firmly in its place, before questioning him on his methods. And so, the big question is:  why have they acted to isolate him at this point?

Could it be that in their shortsighted political gimmickry which was clearly  buoyed by the insatiable greed and ambition to wrestle a larger slice of the national cake, it has only just dawned on the South East cultural and political elite that they have inevitably played into Nnamdi Kanu's hands?

Could it be that they have only just realized that he was gradually pulling the carpet from underneath their feet while they were preoccupied with enjoying his crude insults against the rest of Nigerians?

Whatever may be the reason for their sudden volte-face, the Southeast leaders will struggle to dispel the widely held view that their belated recognition of the inherent danger posed by accelerated activities of Kanu and IPOB in recent times is self-serving.

With the daily pilgrimage to Kanu’s doorsteps by all manner of loafers and jobless street urchins, they may have come to the sensible conclusion that if the present campaign for the actualization of Biafra continues on the same trajectory, they could eventually lose their political clouts and relevance.

If they failed to react appropriately when Kanu successfully shutdown the Southeast a few weeks ago with his sit-at-home directive, his call for Igbos to boycott the upcoming elections in Anambra state may have finally removed the cobwebs from their eyes!  

Failure to conduct elections worth the name in the Southeast would mean no Governors or legislators from the region can partake in the looting orgy in the National Assembly and various government houses.  The worst case scenario could also be that a state of emergency could be declared on the entire region if the move results in the breakdown of law and order.

All these, along with all the other variables considered, must have motivated or compelled the Southeast leaders to take the decisive actions they took. Allowing a nutcase like Nnamdi Kanu to continue with his ruinous campaign for the actualization of Biafra was no longer an option to be pursued.

If the agitation was also choreographed by them or part of a grand strategy to achieve an Igbo presidency sooner, rather than later, as many have insinuated, it is doubtful if they succeeded in achieving anything. All Nnamdi Kanu has achieved was to create more enemies for the Ndigbo with his crude insults. The history of contemporary politics in Nigeria clearly indicates that no particular region of the country can insult its way to the presidency.

If anything, most Nigerians were perplexed that a character like Nnamdi Kanu could aspire to be referred to as leader of the intelligent and globally acclaimed resourceful Igbo race. The earliest election in Igbo land on the horizon is that of Anambra state in November. Now the Ohanaeze-Ndigbo and the entire southeast political leadership can only hope that they have not left it too late to isolate or confront Kanu! But we must commend their courage all the same even if it took the need for self-preservation to nudge them into action.