Just a few days ago, the president issued yet another order, urging our security agencies to ‘ Fight and defeat the bandits’ .
Many no longer take the president seriously when it comes to putting down bandits and militia herdsmen. I don’ t even think his security chiefs take him seriously hence the ping pong continues.
Right on the heels of the president’ s order, our so- called intelligent community, which by the way is not very intelligent, declared that the major tracking equipment deployed by them to go after kidnappers, bandits and terrorists had shut down.
This is surprising given that a few weeks back, the same government intelligence community announced the interception and repatriation back to Nigeria of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The government had announced that the re- arrest of Kanu was made possible by the collaborative intelligence effort of both the Nigeria intelligence community and sister intelligence agencies outside the country.
Thus far, it would appear that the key intelligence tracking equipment only gets active when the issue is about intercepting and dismantling IPOB but shuts down when it’ s about disrupting the ‘ business’ activities of bandits, Boko Haram, ISWAP and militia herdsmen, all of whom are predominantly Northern based with a tilt to Islam.
If you know, you know! For some time now we are faced with high- level suppression and wars in our land. We have faced increased subjugation and oppression in our land. We have blood flowing without restraint in all parts of the country.
We never envisaged we would live in such a time where killers will arise overnight to attack and wipe out a whole community, including women and children, while our security forces pose weak.
We never contemplated living in a time when our mothers and daughters will suffer unspeakable harm, and killed for no crime other than that they went to the forest to fetch woods or went to the farms to either plant or harvest crops for the season.
The killers are not shielding their identity because in some cases they publicly owned up to their atrocities. A group called Miyetti Allah (MACBAN) had addressed press conferences where they owned up to the killings for whatever reasons. Some governors on record paid protection money to the killers rather than put them down.
They further empowered them with hundreds of utility vehicles and motorcycles. A state governor posed for selfies with armed bandits. An influential cleric was on camera sharing money with outlaws. This particular cleric was caught on mic inciting the bandits against Christians.
He told them that its Christian soldiers attacking them, in other- words, our Muslims soldiers are bodies with the terrorists, chummiest with the bandits and in bed with the killer herdsmen. Yet, no one is arrested and no one is prosecuted. The killings go on without fear of consequences. One thing will settle the crisis going on in our land, one thing will settle the mistake of this regime, and that is in a number, 2023.
The regime has squandered every opportunity to unite the people when unity mattered most. The failure of the government to protect citizens created heroes like Mazi Kanu. He established ESN to keep the South East forests safe from the menace of militia herdsmen.
By doing so he made powerful enemies from within his people and outside. He viewed the political class with extreme prejudice and made no pretence about his loathness for their lethargy, corruption, incompetence and ineptitude. He calls them out as sell outs, saboteurs, Fulani slaves, ‘ ottelectuals’ and all sorts.
The elites held him in contempt and lived in fear of him. Just like they dread him, he dreads them too. Kanu was also Buhari’ s biggest night mare and chief tormentor. He promoted the conspiracy theory that ‘ Buhari was dead’ , that ‘ the person occupying the presidential villa is not Buhari but an impostor, a certain Jubril from Sudan’ .
He indeed put the president in a very awkward position. In fact, President Buhari became the first and only President to declare to his country and to the outside world that he is not a clone, that he is very much alive, and that he was not a Jubril from Sudan.
Of- course Kanu can be fouled, mouthed and vulgar in his use and choice of words. He could be condescending by the way he talks. Many people who didn’ t like him for his manners nevertheless agree in the cause he was pursuing.
Nigeria has become a living hell and a frustrating nightmare for the Igbos who have been disrespected and subjugated to second class citizenship in a country built with their sweat and blood. Even as Kanu is caged and the mic from his mouth, we are still not out of the woods. We still have a country bedevilled with a crisis of confidence.
The question is; ‘ will the Igbo continue to live through the Nigeria crisis the way it is or find a better way to deal with it? ‘ Where people lead, where people fight against injustice, where people fight against inequality and marginalization; where people fight for peace, security and freedom, you will find people cheering them and that’ s why Kanu is popular, and that’ s why the youths are solidly behind him.
To them, he is their leader, their priest and their prophet. As he sits in his solitary cell, unsure of what the future holds for him, he must not be abandoned because of his minor transgressions.
As a people we must spare some thoughts and prayers for him. As a freedom fighter, I am sure when he decided not to be at peace with the oppressors; he understood that the path he chose was a rough path that may mean life in prison, life in exile or death inside a lonely grave.
Kanu has played his part and will be out of the way for a pretty long time. New workmen are needed at this phase of the job. If anyone or group wants to lead the Igbo or chart a better narrative than Kanu did, now is the time.
The horse can now run as fast as it could. It’ s my view that Kanu’ s mission for Biafra is accomplished. Rightly or wrongly his job is done. He fought the best way he understood; he put the Igbo question in Nigeria on the front burner and made Biafra once more a global issue.
He awakened the consciousness of other ethnic nationalities and stood shoulder to shoulder with all the oppressed people from Nigeria to Ambazonia. He was fearless, courageous and uncompromising in his fight for self- determination. He is a revolutionary and I salute him. Those that view him differently should stand up now and lead differently.
The political class, elites and leaders of thought who felt he was wrong in his method should stop criticizing him; they should stop kicking him while he is down; they should stop questioning his character or derogate his lifestyle; they should show us the right way, moving forward.
Rather than criticize him endlessly, his critics should stand up and start leading; they should start fighting the cause in the best possible way; those that derogate him should become that change agents and that forward- thinking progressives and incrementalists that we are waiting for.
It will be a shame if we lose on all sides as we are about to do; It will be a shame if we lose on Biafra, lose on restructuring, lose on good governance, lose on wealth repatriation, lose on the Nigerian president of Igbo extraction and lose on peace and stability of the South East. It will be a big shame if we do nothing to restore hope, law and order. I will urge the government to look at the root cause of the agitation. Kanu wasn’ t born hating Nigeria.
He was once a proud Nigerian before he became a radicalized agitator for the Republic of Biafra. Political solutions remain a viable way out of this crisis of confidence.
Locking Kanu away in prison for a long time or killing him will not end the agitation for self- determination but will rather create a martyr out of him and further amplify the notion that the president has profound hatred for the Igbo.