‘Solomon Mahlangu was hanged on the 6th of April, 1979 for fighting for the freedom of his people. Before going to the gallows, he reportedly said: ‘Tell my people that I love them and that they must continue the fight. My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom.’
I don’t wish anyone to be in Mahlangu’s kind of situation. I don’t know what is going on in Kanu’s mind at the moment. I don’t know if he will get a fair trial or if the consequence of his trial will make him a free man or the sacrificial lamb slaughtered for the common good. I don’t know if his travails will water the road to freedom and Biafra? I don’t have the answers to these questions, just like I don’t have the best answers on how to resolve the now complicated Igbo question in Nigeria.
However, the things I am certain about is that Kanu is in a battle of his life. He needs our prayers and he needs support. He also needs unity in the IPOB family and Igbo in general. I also know for certain that Nigeria as we know it is coming to an end. The current National Assembly with the newly passed Electoral Act, which is not what the people want, has squarely placed Nigeria on death row. The actions of the lawmakers show they are focused on themselves and are more concerned with preserving and protecting their rights to cheat in future elections than on the stability of the country. Without a credible election, democracy dies.
I am terrified that the Nigeria fought for and founded by our founding fathers is ending, and the end is happening before us in real time and it’s moving so quickly. We just can’t identify the country as we knew it. How many of us would describe life today as being what Nnamdi Azikiwe, Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello intended? Nigeria is deeply challenged. The political order has collapsed. Bandits and criminals are now officially in charge.
I share in the frustration of the people, hence; I recognise and respect the rights of those who seek self determination to peaceably and responsibly express themselves. It’s their democratic right. If God determined that Nigeria will remain one indivisible country, no force can dissolve it. If God says that there will be a State of Biafra, no weapons of war can stop it, but we must not wilfully tear down the country or turn it into Syria, Libya or Somalia. We must not become Rwanda before we realise the horrors of killing one another. After the bitter experience of the civil war fought in the 60’s, we definitely don’t need a second civil war in half a century. We need peace, tolerance and accommodation.
On the 26thof July 2021, Nnamdi Kanu failed to make his much-expected scheduled court appearance. His custodians failed to produce him before the court and didn’t explain why. I fear for his health and for his safety. I pray he is in good health and that nothing untoward should happen to him. Expectedly the case was adjourned because a criminal trial cannot proceed in the absence of the accused.
The Attorney General of the Federation had earlier indicated that the charges will be amended. He had accused him of committing such heinous crimes that have not been recorded in this country. While not justifying whatever crimes Kanu may be accused of, I don’t think the AGF was right. Not many people will agree with him on that score because right before us, Boko Haram, Fulani bandits and militia herdsmen are committing much more heinous crimes than Kanu and his disciples are being framed for. Kanu and his enthusiasts are rather saints when compared with the atrocities of the bandits, Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram terrorists.
The irony is it that the extremely dangerous groups who have turned the country into a killing field are roaming free while the less dangerous ones are being harassed. Separatist agitators are lesser evil compared to criminal bandits with capacity to deploy surface to air missiles. If the bandits can shoot down our military jet, it’s a question of time before they will down a commercial passenger plane. God forbid!
It’s shameful that we are negotiating with mass murderers but can’t see eye to eye with freedom fighters. Why is it that our political leaders are posing selfies with killer bandits instead of putting them down? Why are we paying ransom to terrorists groups but can’t equip our police and armed forces? Why are we granting amnesty to terrorists that are killing thousands of people but can’t extend similar amnesty to repentant self-determination agitators?
Why are northern outlaws treated differently from Southern outlaws? Why is Turji, the self-proclaimed bogey bandit who confessed to killing soldiers and holding 150 persons captive still free despite the police and the military knowing his location? Why is Gumi the mouth peace and public relations manager of the bandits while Fr. Mbaka cannot do the same for Kanu and IPOB without the DSS knocking?
Why did we close our southern borders, but opened our northern borders for all Fulani from all over Africa to come into Nigeria and settle, knowing full well that no country can absorb uncontrollable migration? Why are we humiliating Southern women that hide few cups of rice under their bra and had the nerve to brand them as smugglers whereas thousands of bags of rice are smuggled daily across the Northern borders unchallenged? Why are we having separate rules for the North and different rules for the South? Why are we destroying our country by our own hands?
I don’t hold brief for Kanu. Hopefully, he will have his day in court. But, agreed that in his youthful exuberance, emotions might have run high, mistakes might have been made, people might have been injured and lives might have been lost. Yet I believe that his on-going trial is needless. If found guilty and sent to the hangman, Kanu will become a sacrificial lamb whose blood will forever haunt and torment Nigeria. Hence I advocate a political solution and out of court settlement. The government must look beyond Kanu and find creative solutions to the problems that gave rise to the agitation. The Igbo people have genuine complaints and must be heard out.
Free or caged, the problems that Kanu complained of are real and are still with us; the general insecurity is still there; the issue of marginalisation and brazen display of hubris, arrogance and lack of respect of the laws and constitution, including disrespect of the South by the North are still there; the dysfunctional federation, our broken politics are still with us; corruption, incompetence, mediocrity, nepotism and abuse of power that has held us down are all still there.
None of the challenges are going away except we begin to address them by doing the right things. I believe in my heart that the North and the South can still work together and build a virile federation if we try harder. I believe we can still find common grounds on common issues. The worse that can happen is our doing nothing. We just can’t hope that our problems will simply vanish or that the status quo will last forever. Like most things in life, nothing lasts forever and this too shall pass away.
I urge those with guns to put down their weapons and stop the killings. I urge those in the bushes to return home to their loved ones. I urge all those hurling abuses and talking tough to lower their rhetoric. All those with hates and anger should purge themselves. There are times for everything. This is a time for quiet diplomacy, a time to give space to our elders to hold meaningful conversations with the right people in the right places so that in the end our land will be strong, peaceful and glorious.