Author: Buchi Obichie
Editor’s note: Nnamdi Kanu’s agitation for an independent Biafra state has seen an upsurge in thee support for secession but he seems to have gone mute since some northern youths gave a 90 day ultimatum to Igbos in the north to vacate.
In this opinion by Buchi Obichie, she describes Kanu as the kind of persons who stirs trouble but if yet to be found when disaster sets in.
We all have that one friend or family member who always ‘stirs the pot’. You know, that one who whispers things into people’s ears, but is usually nowhere to be found or just flat-out denies stuff when “ish gets real”. For me, that person was my cousin. When we were younger, a certain cousin of mine always had things to say about someone else. She knew what someone else had said about you, or what someone else had done in secret. In any case, if you got mad that someone else was talking about you, and confronted that someone else and then let it slip that the information was passed to you by so-and-so (my cousin), you would quickly find that my cousin suddenly developed a case of juvenile amnesia. She either would not recollect ever telling you about someone else, or she would flat-out tell you that she didn’t put the information that way. No, she merely made a light-hearted statement, and it was you who ‘embellished’ it! In any case, for all intents and purposes, we were often caught in my cousin’s trap, and quickly found that when the fight came, we were on our own!
My cousin reminds me of a certain Nnamdi Kanu; that radio broadcaster turned activist/ ‘Jewish’ spiritual leader and ‘healer’.
Now, I would say firstly, that I do believe the Igbos have genuine reasons to feel marginalized. It’s pretty obvious that Igbo people have been cheated quite a bit in this polity called Nigeria. I believe that the government has a responsibility to listen to the agitation of the Igbos, and then, a duty to rightfully and realistically address these agitations with concrete solutions. There is no reason why an Igbo man should not be president, or occupy a top-tier position in the affairs of the nation. There is no reason why Igbo-land should be so underdeveloped and its citizens treated like third class citizens in their own country, even though their business savvy has done a lot for the economic growth of the country.
Since the British arrived, the Igbos have had a genuine reason to be angry, and their concerns must be addressed. But I do not believe that secession is the answer (personally, as a Deltan, I do not identify as Biafran, even though I am of Ibo descent) nor do I believe that Nnamdi Kanu is the messiah Igbos seek.
Recently, some errant, cantankerous, mischief-making northern youths gave a very foolish and inflammatory order, evicting the Igbos out of the north. That particular action has set off a chain reaction; effects of which are still being felt at the present moment. Let me say here, that even though two northern youth leaders have admitted that the action was wrong and appealed for calm, I am appalled that none of the culprits have yet been arrested despite Governor El-Rufai’s order. People should not be able to publicly make such statements of anarchy, and allowed to roam about scot-free. They should be put in jail!
Now, back to Nnamdi Kanu.
For a man who is not at all shy about speaking out ‘in very colorful terms’ against the government in its treatment of Igbos, and inciting his followers to action, I am quite amazed that in this latest episode, he has remained silent- just like my cousin! One of the most telling attributes of a true leader is his/her willingness to walk through the fire with their people. Well, the fire has started burning and so far, Kanu has maintained a safe distance from the blaze.
One may argue that he does not want to be seen to be violating the terms of his bail, but you only have to read about the actions he has taken since his release to see that violations have already occurred on quite a few occasions. The foolish northern youths made a terrible decision by their proclamation, but it was based on what they perceived to be erratic and spiteful actions of the Igbos agitating for Biafra; an agitation that in recent times has grown more frequent, louder, often violent, and an agitation principally spear-headed by Kanu. But in the heat of the moment, Kanu seems to have recoiled into some shell. Not even a word of encouragement to affected Igbos has been given by him…at least something to let them know they are not alone. Is he afraid? I didn’t know he succumbs to the emotion of fear!
Igbos need to be wise. Nnamdi Kanu, in my opinion, is an ‘accidental phenomenon’ whose burst of fame came as a result of the federal government’s poor choices. A man who never really expected to be locked up- or locked up for so long- has become a ‘god’! What an irony! But he is no leader. ..certainly not one the Igbos need in their struggle. Like I have said before, I do not think secession is the answer; but I do believe whole-heartedly, that Igbos have legitimate grievances.
If the Igbo nation would rally together and come up with a realistic course of action, a way to reasonably and seriously tackle things with the government- not the tout-like activities of those who keep on causing mayhem under the cover of all too frequent sit-at-home orders which do not really have any serious effect on the government- then they may begin to see the sun.
The Igbos have always had an issue with (credible) leadership. It is to the detriment of these beautiful people that pride never seems to allow them rally behind a strong leader. The typical Igbo man does not have it in him to succumb to another man’s leadership, so everyone wants to be King! But then, a funny thing happens- when they finally pick someone to rally around, they pick a ‘show-man masquerading as a freedom-fighter’!
Nnamdi Kanu is no Nelson Mandela…he does not even strike me as being half the man Ojukwu was…and please, he is not a member of the ‘lost tribe of Jews’! He is no messiah…he is simply a creature of accident; a man who much like my mischievous cousin, stirs the pot, but is nowhere to be found when the ingredients spill over and a combustion erupts!
This opinion piece is written by Buchi Obichie
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Voice of Ndigbo.