By Sunday Ani
Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu Uko is the founder of the Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), the Secretary, Eastern Consultative Assembly and the Deputy Secretary, Igbo Leaders of Thought, believes that there was more to the military operation in the South East. He also spoke on a number of other issues, particularly in the South East.
What is your take on the happenings in the South East in recent time, especially with particular reference to Operation Python Dance?
I’ve refrained from granting interviews for close to two years now. The reason I’m yielding to talk to you is because, if I fail to present the truth, for the record, falsehood may take over the space. What is going on is that the military rolled out tanks in the Eastern region in what they call Operation Python Dance, and then the centre could no longer hold. First, there were altercations in Abia State, both in Umuahia and in Aba. And then, there were attacks on Nnamdi Kanu’s residence. The talk between Nnamdi Kanu and the South East governors was deliberately scuttled by this military attack on Kanu. And then the army spokesman announced that IPOB is a terrorist organization, even though two days later the army, through Lt. Gen. Buratai himself, said that the army does not have the power to label any group a terrorist organisation.
Then, that was Friday; then the South East governors said they have proscribed IPOB. That’s where we are at the moment. I do not know of the whereabouts of Nnamdi Kanu, but I hear all kinds of rumours, though I can’t substantiate them. Some say he’s dead, some say he’s still alive. Others say that he was shot, that he bled, he lost a lot of blood, and others say that he’s unconscious. I don’t know which one is true and which one is not, so I do not like to comment on issues I do not have facts on.
What is going on has everything to do with the decision by the federal government to stop the agitation for Biafra, to crush the agitators, and also scuttle the peace meeting Prof. Ben Nwabueze initiated with the governors. What is going on is that the attempt by the military to scuttle the peace process is largely successful. Nnamdi Kanu became afraid and told me that rumours have it that he would be killed if he makes his way to the meeting in Enugu.
From all indications, I think he was probably right. I do not know why the military will scuttle the meeting between Nnamdi Kanu and the South East governors. They might have their reasons, but I do not know. Prof. Ben Nwabueze and Nnamdi Kanu and myself met with the governors on Friday, August 30, 2017 at the Government House, Enugu, and that meeting was largely successful. At that meeting, the South East governors made it clear to Nnamdi Kanu that they want him to tone down the agitation, tone down his language, allow the Anambra election to go on, and then look for peaceful ways to express the grievances of his people. Nnamdi Kanu agreed to all they said, but pleaded that they give him a week or two to consult with the leadership of IPOB, and that he would like to bring the leadership of IPOB to the next meeting, so that he would not look as if he has sold out the group and the governors agreed.
Nnamdi Kanu said that if, at this first meeting, he makes any concession, both his followers and the general public would believe he has been paid off, or that he has accepted some payment and sold away the struggle. That, it would be better if he goes back, consults with the IPOB leadership, and brings them to the next meeting, and collectively an agreement will be agreed. The governors agreed completely.
Prof. Ben Nwabueze who brokered the meeting pleaded with Nnamdi Kanu to, one, allow Anambra election to go on and, two, allow election to hold in the East in 2019, and accept restructuring as solution to the injustices in Nigeria, to which Nnamdi Kanu agreed, but said that he would make that pronouncement at the next meeting, with his leadership flanking him, so that he does not seem to be a dictator and give the impression that he took the decision all by himself.
Where is Nnamdi Kanu now?
I do not know. I have no idea. He tried to speak to me three days after but the line wasn’t clear, and I’ve tried the number since then, the number isn’t going through. I can’t speculate on his whereabouts until I have confirmation. Operation Python Dance came at a time the governors had embarked on the peace meeting with Nnamdi Kanu. Operation Python Dance was probably developed to scuttle that peace meeting. Some people do not want that peace meeting to go on. Maybe some people didn’t like the fact that Prof. Nwabueze was in charge. They believe they are superior to Nwabueze, more intelligent than him, have more stature than him, and that they ought to have been the ones to lead Nnamdi Kanu to the meeting.
But Kanu has implicit confidence in Nwabueze, that Nwabueze would not harm the interest of our people, and Kanu does not have that confidence in those people who are angry that they are not the ones leading him to the meeting. Therefore, they want the army to shoot and scatter everything. Confidence is very important in whatever thing you do in life. Nnamdi Kanu has confidence in Ben Nwabueze. He does not have that kind of confidence in those other people who are angry that they are not the ones leading the talks, and who will do anything in their power to scuttle the talks because they are not the ones in charge. What is going on is a struggle. Some people do not want Nigeria restructured. They believe that if Nigeria is restructured, they will lose their pre-eminent position, where they control the polity and determine the fate of 186 million Nigerians. They do not want Nigeria restructured because the unjust unitary structure favours them. Those people see Nnamdi Kanu as the greatest agent for change, as the greatest catalyst for change. They see Nnamdi Kanu as the man who has done more to make restructuring possible. Therefore, they want him to pay with his life, they want him dead.
Those people were frightened that the restructuring gain has caught everywhere, from the Middle Belt, from the oppressed peoples of North-East and North-West, to South-West.
So the enemies of restructuring believe Nnamdi Kanu is responsible for instigating the restructuring breeze which is blowing everywhere. So they concluded that he has to pay with his life. They will tell you, after all they killed Abiola and nothing happened. They will boast that if they kill Kanu, nothing will happen. But the truth of the matter is that this issue is not about Kanu. The issue is not about an individual. The issue is purely about the unjust structure of Nigeria, and the unhealthy state of affairs in Nigeria.
So, the problem is not Nnamdi Kanu. The people who are shooting in Aba and Umuahia in Operation Python Dance know that they are only causing distraction. They are trying to distract the population from the truth. The minute President Buhari announces the formation of a committee to advice government on how to restructure Nigeria, a committee of elders that will bring together all the past national conferences, every agitation will die down.