By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
The new chairman of NADECO, the major group that canvassed the actualisation of the June 12, 1993 mandate, Rear Admiral Ndubusi Kanu (rtd), a former Military Governor of Lagos and Imo States in an interview reviews the struggle. Excerpts:
ARE you satisfied with the present political situation in the country?
Let me state briefly here that when the June 12 election, a free and fair election was annulled; an election that Nigerians let off religious sentiment, left everything and voted their conscience, when you can say bribery and intimidation wasn’t the case, when young men and women counted votes one-by-one. I wish we could play back what happened in those days before the election was annulled.
What was your experience like in the struggle?
Many things have been spoken and narrated before about my experiences in that period. I want to appeal to you, let’s shift our attention from our experiences in NADECO, let’s shift to motivation; what really pushed us into the struggle and what is the position of those things in Nigeria today.
But Nigerians still want to know?
Anyway at the beginning, I was picked at home one morning by a group of policemen led by someone who later became DIG in this country and before he died in a crash we later became friends. Together with one retired ACP who was a CSP then. I was led to the Force Headquarters. While there, I was told I was carrying arms and ammunition and then, they brought a paper for me to write statement.
They also brought a paper allegedly prepared by me as NADECO’s Chairman of Action Committee where I had allegedly recommended massive arms and ammunition importation. I made it clear that if I prepared the paper brought to me, they won’t see it in the first place. They also made remarks about Dr. Beko Kuti and some other members of NADECO until the wee hours of the following day. Later, I learnt they were looking for cars and I asked what for?
They said we were travelling to my hometown. It was around 4am that early morning. I said ‘No, I am not travelling anywhere,’ and that whatever they want to do to me, they should do it there. I said ‘I am not going.’ I even told them that they take me back to my house because I won’t stay at the Force Headquarters. In the morning, they were all around. We took off to the airport. Four plain cloth policemen were with me. We flew to Port Harcourt, from there we drove to my hometown and to my house. While there, they said I should come inside and join them in searching but I declined.
One of them threatened me that what happens if they plant something capable of putting me in serious trouble, I said that will be between them and their conscience. I remained at my balcony while they conducted their search of the whole house. I overheard one of them saying this man has nothing to hide and that is where it ended and I was flown back to Lagos.
There was so much harassment meted out at me thereafter purposely to break me down. I don’t want to go into all that. But at a time, I decided to send message to Abacha. Admiral Akhigbe was by then the Naval Chief. The message I sent then was that I shouldn’t be subjected to unnecessary harassment after serving my country well defending her territorial integrity.
What motivated you to join NADECO when it was formed?
I don’t mind telling anybody who cares that I am a well trained Naval Officer. I don’t mind taking on any Admiral anywhere in the world, any day, any time. Where I was trained in India; there was an inscription on the dome there. It was, “Safety, Honour and Welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The Safety, Honour and Welfare of the men you command come next. Your own safety and welfare come last.”