The proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu, said that Sen. Ike Ekweremadu’s Nuremberg attack days ago was in retaliation for his role in instigating, financing and defending a full-scale military invasion of Biafraland, Operation Python Dance, which, according them, led to the torture and, untimely, death of over 600 Biafrans. Nnamdi Kanu accused South East leaders, including Ekweremadu, of plotting to assassinate him and kill the IPOB dream of actualising a sovereign Biafra.
Since facts do not support these wild claims, instigation and funding of Python Dance is more likely an afterthought borne out of the need to give the people some reasons to feast on as a justification of the ignoble act.
Kanu knows Ekweremadu did not instigate any python or crocodile dances. In fact, Kanu knows that Ekweremadu wrote a letter, as Deputy Senate President, to President Muhammadu Buhari protesting Operation Python Dance, and prescribing dialogue as the preferred pathway to the resolution of such conflicts.
Kanu also knows that Ekweremadu played a pivotal role in helping him meet his bail conditions. Without Ekweremadu, perhaps, the men who eventually signed his bail papers may not have been so forthcoming. Ekweremadu reined such men and stayed the course. In fact, according to Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe’s press statement, Ekweremadu even deployed his personal means. Before then, Ekweremadu had led South East senators to meet with Buhari in 2016 to find a political solution to his incarceration. And Kanu is aware.
Come to think of it, who really instigated Operation Python Dance? Kanu, Ekweremadu or Igbo governors? Kanu designed an elaborate plan to escape justice and never to return to Kuje Prison by deliberately violating every of the bail conditions. Kanu also knows that, at a point in 2017, Ekweremadu delegated Abaribe to hold meetings with him (Kanu) to let him know he was not only breaching his bail conditions, but was crossing the red line. But Kanu would not listen, since he desperately wanted Operation Python Dance and strategically brought it on, only to turn around to blame the likes of Ekweremadu.
One of the bail conditions was that Kanu was not to be seen in the midst of more than 10 persons. He should not address the press, foreign or local. But Kanu, daily, addressed rallies and huge gatherings at his father’s house at Afaraukwu. He held street processions with large crowds, whose followership of Kanu were fired by Buhari’s institutionalied bigotry that treated Igbo as less than Nigerians. He spoke to the media a good number of times, foreign and local. He spoke to Channels TV even on the day the pythons danced into the family house.
While these flagrant and deliberate violations of his bail conditions lasted, the men who stood sureties for Kanu kept warning him about consequences. Kanu’s belligerence over his bail conditions made Abaribe a shadow of himself. But fact is: what Kanu was after was staging a big showdown that would offer him the perfect excuse to vanish from Nigeria.
He then landed the big idea, Biafra Security Service (BSS). He sewed paramilitary gear for thousands of his unknowing supporters and they commenced paramilitary training, openly. The BSS soon launched itself into existence and Kanu proclaimed himself the commander-in- chief of the nonexistent Biafra Armed Forces.
The Nigeria military moved in to nip the madness in the bud. You cannot have another army in Nigeria to create another Boko Haram situation in the South East. Operation Python Dance was thus born, instigated by the agent provocateur, Nnamdi Kanu, himself.
Before the pythons’ dance commenced, the men who made his release from Kuje prison possible were sending Kanu frantic messages that he had since crossed the red line and that feelers were that the federal government would soon respond in a high-handed manner. The more they spoke to him, the farther he went into the danger zone.
By this time, the Northern Youths had issued their quit notice to the Igbo in the North, and the President had returned to Nigeria from medical leave, and read the riot act. Kanu pushed on with his BSS, inspecting guard of honour and proclaiming the arrival of the phantom Biafra Republic. Then the military rolled out their tanks southeastward. Operate Python Dance landed in Umuahia to test Kanu’s resolve of BSS on his express invitation.
The stage was fully set for Kanu to disappear himself. Kanu got the wind and vanished into thin air. After provoking military response for forming a military organisation within Nigeria, all Kanu could offer was a clean pair of heels, putting thousands of Igbo youths squarely in harm’s way.
The proscription of IPOB was by the Federal Government. Formation of the BSS and proclamation of Kanu as commander-in-chief were enough to wake up any sleeping government and its army. The Federal Government went to court to obtain an order, following Kanu’s formation of BSS. IPOB challenged their proscription up to the Appeal Court and lost. If only Kanu had listened then. But he had his reasons: creating a smokescreen and disappearing behind it. That was also why he refused to honour the invitation to a meeting with South East governors and leaders in Enugu before the harmer fell.
Like Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his famous letter from Birmingham jail: nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. No statement captures the stupefied fixation of Kanu’s core followers more than that one. They failed to see the lies and propaganda dished out to them by Kanu, as they anxiously await Biafra. His supporters sincerely, but erroneously, believe Biafra is the silver bullet to cure their stranded existence.
Unknown to the misguided ones swarming around him, Kanu was quite on target. He plotted the Operation Python Dance and the Nigerian government and the military fell for it, thinking that Kanu was really up to something serious. Kanu rode the crest of the ensuing confusion and spirited himself out of Nigeria. He remained underground for one whole year and resurfaced in Israel. Within the period, lie after lie followed to cover his tracks. Nigerians were told he was held and killed in a naval ship somewhere in the creeks. Then President Muhammadu Buhari also became “Jubrin from Sudan,” and his supporters only hooted. Till today, that brazen lie and piece of propaganda of Buhari being fake Jubrin from Sudan still holds sway in IPOB circles and even beyond.
One recalls that Ekweremadu’s official guest house was raided and turned upside-down by a battalion of security men in May 2017 on the suspicion he was piling arms for IPOB. Of course, such suspicions were rife only with a security system bereft of intel. Ekweremadu is too decent and too patriotic to join forces to torpedo the nation. Ekweremadu has only sought for amicable resolution of the conflict and removing the youth from harm’s way, knowing how vicious this government can be. Ekweremadu, like most Igbos, strongly believes that restructuring and, ultimately, returning the nation to the federal system agreed between Britain and Nigeria’s founding fathers, but truncated by the nation’s military, is a better option than dismembering the nation.
I recall Ekweremadu’s position paper during the meeting of South East leaders in Enugu in July 2017 to decide on the issue of Biafra. In that paper, “Biafra: The Political, Social, Economic Implications,” he catalogued the tortuous journey to independence by any seceding part of a country. He gave examples of Catalonia, where referendum even succeeded, and repeated failures of Scotland in the United Kingdom to achieve independence. It became an eye-opener to those who had ears. Ekweremadu insisted and still insists that an independent Biafra, unless by default, was not the main option before Ndigbo and their neighbours, as Nigeria is not even big enough to accommodate Igbo potential and ingenuity. And, true to fact, self-determination sought by Biafra agitators can be achieved within a sovereign Nigeria through true federalism. The regions of the First Republic were all self-deterministic enough, and California, the sixth largest economy in the world, is only a state in the United States.
Though Ekweremadu does not want Biafra, he never quite disliked Kanu or at any time worked against him. When pythons danced, Ekweremadu was still the one that got the government to pull the military from the East. So, setting up ignorant, brainwashed IPOB members in Nuremberg to attack him was illogical, given the fact that Ekweremadu had been sympathetic to his cause (justice for Ndigbo), though opposed to both his goal and style.
Why then did Kanu stab a strategic friend in the back? There is only one reason: 2023 general election. It is hard to believe, but here it is. Kanu is already working to deflect attention of the nation from the South East zone. The idea is to discredit all the presidential material from the South East. The reason for this high-speed game will unravel with time.
•Dr. Mefor is an Abuja-based forensic and social psychologist; e-mail: [email protected]; Twitter: @LawMefor1.I