By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has said that he does not know the whereabouts of the “missing” leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.
The governor said he has never had any kind of affinity, whatsoever with Kanu and as such wouldn’t provide answers to the IPOB’s leader’s itinerary.
It will be recalled that Kanu’s whereabouts had been unknown for weeks after soldiers invaded his hometown in Umuahia, the State capital.
Kanu, who is incidentally standing trial at a Federal High Court in Abuja is due to appear in court for a resumed hearing of his treason charges preferred against him by the Federal government.
Asked during an interview in Abuja on Thursday of Kanu’s movement, Governor Ikpeazu said that it would be unfair for anyone to pose such a question to him.
He said: “I don’t think that is a fair question. I don’t have the capacity to determine where Kanu is. I have never visited him. I have never called him on phone and he has never taken me into confidence as to what he does, where he goes.
“So, those who are close to him would answer. I don’t have the capacity to monitor him and know where he is, maybe Journalists through investigative journalism will know.”
The governor however gave an explicit, possible reason of what led to the recent restiveness in the State.
He said that in the light of the oath he swore as governor, he was left with no other choice than to take some drastic measures to save the lives and property of the people living and doing business in Abia.
Reacting to the agitation about secession, Ikpeazu said that the people of south east had more faith in the Nigerian project than any other geopolitical zone of the country.
He said: “Fundamentally speaking, I think that if the question we ask in this country today about whether there are inequalities, whether there are gaps or there are people who don’t feel that they have been fairly treated either as an individual or as a family or as a geopolitical zone, the answer is yes.
There is agitation in the north east, there is a agitation in the south west, of course there is agitation in the south east but I dare say that there is no other ethnic group in this country that has as much faith in the Nigeria as a country, one united country than the people of the south east, that is why they are in Sambisa.
“You can count how many big businesses belonging to the south westerners that are in Aba. You can count how many big businesses belonging to the people from the north east, north west, north central that you can find in Owerri. You cannot find a four storey building belonging to somebody from the north east anywhere in the south east.
“But if you go to Kano, you don’t count three hotels before you count that of somebody from the south east. What it means is that we are the people that have demonstrated faith in the united Nigeria.
“Post war experience is that everybody started receding and then we started moving everywhere and then at the end of the day, our people are beginning to feel that we are not being trusted enough with certain strategic positions despite the fact that we have demonstrated in particular times that we love Nigeria more than anybody. We have faith in this country more than anybody. That couple with the fact that there is huge potential energy within the youth community in Nigeria that is unused because the problem of unemployment in Nigeria, for me, as a biochemist, I look at it as mismanagement of energy; people have too much energy but can’t use it anywhere.
“If you have a 2year old child in this house today and that child doesn’t go to school, he doesn’t go anywhere, before you go out and come back, you will discover that somebody with a lot of energy is residing with you here.
So, the idea is that all these agitations bottled up and all that created what you call IPOB.
“And then the federal government over time started watching from the sideline because IPOB was getting money from elsewhere, setting up radio stations, indoctrinating people, all that went on. But while that was going on, at a point, the leadership of the south east through Ohaneze, through the governors started engaging Nnamdi to say we know that there are issues. Can we find alternative channels to discuss them. Can we make a studied and intellectual presentations and confront the federal government with these arguments? But he felt that his own strategy was better and all that.
“So, I think it got to a point when the federal government began to feel that the red line was threatened and unfortunately some of us as governors were not taken into confidence as to the details and plans and intentions of the federal government and it is the irony of this thing they governors chief security officers; chief security officer but you are not controlling the CP, the soldiers around you, the navy around you, you cannot tell them to stop, you cannot tell them where to go and all that.
“So, that clash came up on us in Abia state and I was confronted as a leader to make a choice between the oath I swore, what was politically expedient and what was right and I think what was right was for me to do everything to protect the lives and properties of Abians and those that are doing business in Abia.
“So, all that I did, the press releases, my actions, all that I did was geared towards fulfilling my mandate which was to protect lives and properties of not only Abians but of everybody that was within Abia doing business. I did not wish for one soul to die, whether IPOB or a Fulani man or a Kogi man. I didn’t want anybody to lose his life or for us to begin to spill blood in my state.
“Like I told some people, my mother told me that everybody should do everything to make sure that war does not ensue in his mother’s kitchen because the pots will break, the plates will break and after the war, with what are you going to eat?
“So, I do not want a war in my kitchen. If there must be war, let the war go elsewhere not in my kitchen. And then I thank God and I give him all the glory that he gave us the wisdom to take the steps we took.”