By Mohammed Adamu
Dear Mohammed Adamu,Please find below my rejoinder to your article titled, Kanu: A Parody. It aptly captures the view of many Northerners on the issue, and I will appreciate, for the sake of balance, that you give my reply, which captures the opinion of many in the East, ‘equal’ prominence.
—Emeka Ukpabi, National Coordinator, President Goodluck Jonathan Political Philosophy and Ideology Initiative.
Still on ‘Kanu: A parody
A thousand horrid Prodigies foretold it.
A feeble government, eluded Laws,
A factious Populace, luxurious Nobles,And all the maladies of stinking states—Samuel Johnson
THIS is my response to columnist, Mohammed Adamu’s view on the raging controversy over Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB’s clash with army troops on Operation Python dance II, in eastern Nigeria. In this brilliant essay titled, ‘Kanu: A Parody’, published on Thursday, September 21, 2017, I found a subjective news article worthy of a rejoinder. The prose was flowery and extravagant, but all its poetry could not hide the flaws in its underpinning premise.
Comparing Nnamdi Kanu to Adolf Hitler was an error, which called to question the veritas of the entire thesis. Hitler was a genocidal maniac, who secretly plotted war and worldwide domination, while sitting down to agree treaties and non-aggression pacts with the powers of Europe. He clandestinely re-armed and expanded his military, while pretending to abide to the ‘treaty of Versailles’, which sought to curb Germany’s armed forces after world war one.
On the contrary, Kanu has worn his intention on his sleeves, the actualisation of a sovereign state of Biafra. He has neither sought pacifist agreements with the South-East cultural or political leadership nor entertained any breathing space overtures from the Nigerian state. His struggle has been devoid of any subterfuge as to its true design, though such trickery may have served him better. In this, he has shown less Hitlerite tendency than the Nigerian Armed Forces, which since 1966 has been adept at disguised posturing to cloak murderous and genocidal intent.
You only have to study General Buratai’s announcement of ‘Operation Python dance II’ to see this stratagem in all its devious glory: house searches, raids, checkpoints, roadblocks, cordon and search operations, show of force etc. are not regular military drills to combat even the most violent of criminals, rather they are tools for reigning in a full blown terrorist insurgency that is embedded within a civilian population, as seen in Iraq’s Fallujah.
This is the creed of dictators and mad generals down through history, which paved the road to such notorious sites as Stalin’s Katyn forest where thousands of imprisoned Polish intelligentsia and military officers were led to the slaughter, believing they had been assembled for work detail and Hitler’s Auschwitz where millions of Jews were exterminated in death camps disguised as labour camps. Like Operation Python dance II, the surviving structures at Auschwitz still bear the infamously deceptive legend, ‘work will set you free’.
And they compared Nnamdi Kanu to Adolf Hitler?
A paraphrase of a quote often used to describe such aberration is, ‘they made themselves beasts because they could not bear the burden of being men’. Humanity’s burden essentially includes restraint in the face of provocation, patience in the face of agitation, peace in the face of war, etc. But in the language of the beast, provocation requires ferocity, agitation requires force, and war requires genocide. The very reason Mohammed Adamu equates Kanu’s ‘verbal violence’ to the carnage of the ‘beguiling snake’ and his “catapult” and “pebble” to the bullets and bombs of the ‘dancing python’. But this is not surprising from a ‘man’ who professes the ‘hobbesian philosophy’ of “As equality is not the hallmark of nature, so is ‘equity’ not always judged by how equally resources are shared. Things must not always be ‘equal’ before they can be ‘just”. But they can be ‘unequal’ and still be ‘equitable”. Life has indeed become “nasty, brutish and short” in the land of men, led by beasts. Little wonder Lion Kings snarl, hyenas and jackals cavort, pythons dance, and crocodiles smile and cry at the same time. To confirm this “call of the wild”, Mohammed Adamu adds the “panther, tiger, leopard, cougher, puma, jaguar, anaconda and Boa (nicknamed the constrictor)”, to the cynical mix, eulogising their virtues to include “ambuscade and suffocation”, “beguiling and camouflage”.
But men have led Nigeria before! President Obasanjo ignored the ‘sharia’ trap set for him, post-1999; President Yar’Ádua made peace in the Niger Delta, despite his kitchen cabinet urging war; and President Jonathan tolerated renegade militant subscribers to the amnesty programme (the Orkar faction of MEND) and this very same Nnamdi Kanu (radio Biafra), though he constantly railed at his government. These were men of courage, unlike he ‘who got rid of the pain of being a man, by making himself a beast’. “If truth be told”, those who forcibly circumvented the judicial process by attempting to arrest (or abducting) Nnamdi Kanu, a few days to his date in court, are real cowards.
And they called Kanu the coward?
Apparently, the loss of humanity also lends itself to arrogance, as Mohammed Adamu writes; “What do the Igbos seek? Or what do biafrans want for the Igbos? Equity or equality? Is this not the tiny little ‘territory’ fit just for a ‘State’ that ‘equity’ has allowed to pass for a ‘zone’? Or Are these not the five ‘local councils’ that are allowed to stand as glorified ‘states’? They have ‘equity’ already”. “In his rage and in his fury; in his wrath, and in his madness, it is the elders of the East that have allowed Kanu’s little fires to grow into a conflagration”. “The East is in dire need of leadership – culturally and politically. This Biafra madness has to stop once and for all!”
However, I remember that while Boko Haram attacks were yet limited to Christian churches and military/police formations, many ‘elders of the north’ rationalised a lack of ‘equity’ and ‘justice’ for their violent campaign. One of them even went as far as saying that “an attack on Boko Haram is an attack on the north”.
Those few elders who saw Boko Haram for what they really were urged an end to the madness, but Boko Haram’s new leadership would “hear” none of it. Instead, these discerning few were added to the first line targets of the group.
By the time the dissenting elders realised that Boko Haram had become a rapacious monster that preferred a diet of its “kith and kin” and children, it was too late. Still, they lobbied the Western powers not to include Boko Haram on their list of terrorist organisations, thinking to not give the Islamists reason to cross the ‘Rubicon’.
But the genie was already out of the bottle. A hundred thousand deaths later, not another word of justification has been heard from them, except from their pre-eminent elder who during a media chat, to mark his first year anniversary, blamed the army’s brutal mishandling of a traffic infraction, by members of the then ‘Yusufiyya’ sect, for the rise of Boko Haram. Yet he orchestrates the very same heavy handed treatment for members of IPOB.
And they called the elders of the East ‘wise fools’.
Although it is said, “Of all the griefs that harass the distrest, sure the most bitter is a scornful jest,” let Mohammed Adamu think not that his writings cause anyone anguish, leave only to set the tone for the ‘I told you so’s’, for like Boko Haram before, he will come to regret his ‘gloating praise’ of the Nigerian Army, when ‘cause soon avails’ a ravening appetite for ‘them own’.
Despite above prediction, for the East and Nigeria, ‘it is morning yet on creation day’. While it is not true that if ‘you scratch every Biafran you will find an IPOB man, it may be true that if ‘you scratch every Igbo man you will find a Biafran’. The reason for this emotional and psychological attachment is not far-fetched.
As the ‘treaty of Versailles’ did not conciliate Germany, after world war I, and the conditions of the peace made rehabilitation and reconstruction extremely difficult, Nigeria’s three Rs has failed the Igbo nation woefully. For Europe, it caused the rise of Adolf Hitler and another war, within 20 years. This need not be our comparative history.
While Mohammed Adamu is right that the east lacks ‘political leadership’, its ‘cultural leadership’ has done quite well. They have only asked the questions –which, for a certainty, he will ask if roles reversed – that their youth are now spiritedly asking: how did a coup d’état that had a few core Igbo in its leadership rank and was foiled by Igbo officers become an ‘Igbo coup’; how was the murder of over 100 Igbo military officers equal sacrifice for the death of a handful of northern officers, or the mass murder of over 30, 000 innocent civilians for the death of a handful of political leaders, or the death and starvation of a million more just to keep Nigeria one; how is it that their region has five states while others have six and seven, how is it that a ‘curb’ is placed on their rise to political or military authority, or that their infrastructure is neglected, or that economic policy is skewed to their disfavour; how is it that they are treated with so much impunity, albeit it took almost four years for Boko Haram to be declared a terrorist group, but all of one week to legislate IPOB one, how is it that there has never been a military operation against the world identified terrorist Fulani herdsmen, while that against IPOB is in its second edition, or that Igbo’s are attacked for the slightest (or no) reason in northern Nigeria etc?
There is urgent need for the reconciliation, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of the Igbo nation, starting from the convening of a ‘National Truth and Reconciliation Commission’, where these questions would be answered to the satisfaction of all Nigerians. With full immunity from prosecution, all the actors, past and present, their heirs or assigns, can come and tell their own side of the story, by way of accepting responsibility for their actions or inactions, and seeking forgiveness.
This has worked well in many countries of the world and is ideal for beginning the process to preserve Nigeria’s unity; not by sweeping it all under the carpet and pretending it never happened, or by stopping the study of history in schools, and definitely not by the brutal suppression of agitators.
This is where Mohammed Adamu’s considerable writing and opinion making skills are needed. So are those of his predecessor at Vanguard newspaper (now at NBC), and his namesake at the ‘Nation’ newspaper (now at INEC), whose careers I have so keenly followed and admired for their passion.
It is now time to put this passion in service of all our fatherland, for as the African proverb says, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.