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Lessons from Nuremberg, by Femi Fani-Kayode

What happened to my friend and brother, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in Nuremberg, Germany at the hands of IPOB is an eye-opener and a clear signal to every political leader in southern Nigeria! The people of the South are getting angry and you either stand up and defend them or stand aside!

Ekweremadu
Ekweremadu

It takes courage to stand for those who have been unjustly killed in Nigeria. It takes courage to say “no” and to stand up against injustice in a jungle. It takes courage to identify and empathise with the enslaved, the oppressed, the poor, the vulnerable and the weak in a killing field and functional zoo.

Yet we must all do it or stop laying claim to being called leaders. When your people and kinsmen are being turned into worthless slaves with little hope for the future and when they are being slaughtered like flies and you say and do next to nothing, then somewhere along the line a price has to be paid.

What happened in Nuremberg marked the beginning of an awakening. Every southern politician, including yours truly, will be called to account to the people of the South on the state of the nation.

If anyone believes that it is only IPOB or the people of the South-East that feel so bitter, then he really does not know what is going on. The sons and daughters of the Niger Delta, the South-South and the South-West are equally aggrieved. The anger is palpable and spreading throughout the South.

As each day passes, those of us, like Ike Ekweremadu, that have called for patience and restraint are being seen as traitors.

Only God knows for how much longer those of us that are moderates and that believe in non-violent and passive resistance can hold the line.

I call on President Muhammadu Buhari to remove herdsmen from the South and the Middle Belt, proscribe herdsmen-militants and declare them as terrorists, and protect EVERY Nigerian from the evil that has tormented our people and torn us apart.

The fact that Ekweremadu wore a shirt, which was covered with the Nigerian Coat of Arms, and that it was torn to shreds by those who attacked him is instructive. It may also prove to be prophetic.

I say this because the assertion that Nigeria must and will remain one, regardless of the humiliation, persecution, marginalisation, subjugation, barbarity, wickedness and torment that the South has been subjected to over the last 59 years by those who believe they were born to rule, is, at best, misplaced and naive.

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How can Nigeria possibly remain one when every single one of the 17 security and intelligence agencies in the country and every arm of the Nigerian military except for the navy is headed by a northern Muslim?

How can Nigeria remain one when the three arms of government, namely the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, are headed by northern Muslims?

How can Nigeria remain one when there is only one southerner in the top four positions in the country, namely the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and he is also Muslim?

Worse still, his deputy and every single one of the four principal officers in the House of Representatives are northern Muslims.

How can Nigeria remain one when the substantive Minister of Petroleum over the last four years and every single key General Manager and Director at the nations state-owned petroleum corporation, the NNPC, are all northern Muslims?

How can Nigeria remain one when, for the better part of the last few years and up until one month ago, every single branch of the three tiers of the Federal Courts, namely the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court, were headed by northern Muslims?

For the record, one month ago, a Christian from the Middle Belt took over at the Federal High Court and that helped to balance the equation but the point remains valid.

How can Nigeria remain one when the first and fourth most deadly terrorist organisations in the world, namely Boko Haram, and herdsmen-militants, are wreaking havoc and committing the most heinous and barbaric atrocities all over Nigeria with the help of ISIS?

Worse still, the herdsmen-militants have made a sport of targeting and killing southerners and Middle Belters and occupying their land.

How can Nigeria remain one when groups which have not killed anyone and that do not carry arms, like IPOB and the IMN, have been proscribed and declared as terrorist organisations whilst their leaders are subjected to inhuman treatment and hounded?

How can Nigeria remain one when the Coalition of Northern Groups, with the backing and support of the Northern Elders Forum, openly and publicly threaten the lives of southerners that live in the North and give them ultimatums to leave and consistently threaten to target southerners if RUGA is not implemented in the South?

How can Nigeria remain one when Miyetti Allah appears to be above the law and herdsmen are allowed to carry arms and appear to be untouchable?

How can Nigeria remain one when our Vice President says that we must pray for herdsmen who kill us on a daily basis, take our land and rape and abduct our wives and children?

How can Nigeria remain one when more churches have been burnt and more priests and Christian clerics have been killed in the last four years than at any other time in our history?

How can Nigeria remain one when our people are more divided on religious, ethnic and regional lines than at any other time in our history?

How can Nigeria remain one when southerners and Middle Belters are treated like scum and are regarded as nothing but slaves and, at best, second class citizens in their own country?

How can Nigeria remain one when Mr. Omoyele Sowore is abducted from his home in the middle of the night like a common criminal, treated like a terrorist, detained for a minimum of 45 days and will be charged for treason or treasonable felony simply because he wanted to organise a peaceful demonstration?

How can Nigeria remain one when a courageous young lady by the name of Miss Leah Sharibu was not released and allowed to come home with other Dapchi girls simply because she refused to renounce her Christian faith?

How can Nigeria remain one when southerners and northerners regard one another with increasing suspicion and contempt and with growing disdain?

Given all these, it is not surprising that when those who attacked Ekweremadu saw him wearing a shirt with the Nigerian Coat of Arms emblazoned all over it at an Igbo yam festival in distant Germany, they simply lost control of themselves, allowed their fury to take over and tore it to shreds. I do not seek to justify or condone their behaviour and neither do I support it: I only seek to explain it.

They are in pain and that pain has turned into a palpable and dangerous rage.

Those of us who lay claim to being southern leaders would do well to recognise that fact, accept it and resolve to rise up to the challenges that our people are facing.

As unpleasant and distasteful as this may be and as difficult it is to accept, that is the bitter and plain truth and the ugly events at Nuremberg have proved it.

The biggest miscalculation that anyone could possibly make is to believe that this matter can be contained or that it will go away with time. The more the killings, the greater the build-up of anger.

We must do all we can to stop this and to restore love, peace, equity, justice, trust and mutual respect to our people and our land. That is the only way to ensure that what happened to Ekweremadu does not happen to other southern leaders.

We must all be ready to stick our necks out for our people and defend them as aggressively and vigorously as is necessary or, if we fail to do so, we must be ready to pass on the baton and step aside for those that will.

Leadership requires risk and sacrifice. We, as southern leaders, must be ready to take a courageous stand and resolve to do both. We must do whatever it takes and whatever is necessary to protect our people, defend their honor and dignity and safeguard their future.

This is a duty and obligation that we must pledge to uphold and a covenant that we must make before the Living God. I wish my friend and brother Senator Ike Ekweremadu a speedy recovery from the unfortunate events in Nuremberg, Germany.

  • Fani-Kayode served as Aviation Minister in the Obasanjo regime

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