By Ochereome Nnanna
THERE is a madman in Finland who has wittingly or unwittingly joined the enemies of the Igbo nation to destabilise the South-East. Reputed to be a Finnish national and an ex-soldier, the 37-year-old wears costumes depicting himself as an Igbo traditional ruler (or native doctor, as some say).
He goes on You Tube and internet radio to spew messages he believes portray him as the placeholder for the incarcerated leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. Kanu’s movement is committed to the peaceful separation of indigenous people from Nigeria through referendums.
Kanu was a fringe element who was largely ignored as he operated his pirate internet radio, Radio Biafra, from the UK. But following Muhammadu Buhari’s assumption of power in May 2015 and the launch of his anti-Igbo nepotism, Kanu came back to Nigeria and started mobilising the Igbo youth to support his call for referendum.
The Federal Government cracked down and thousands were killed. Kanu was arrested and detained. IPOB was outlawed and declared a terrorist group even when they were totally unarmed. Later, Kanu was granted bail, and while he waited to continue his days in court, the Nigerian Army attacked his home in Afaraukwu, Umuahia.
Kanu was almost killed but he miraculously escaped abroad and continued his radio broadcasts for a peaceful separation from Nigeria. The Federal Government also pushed IPOB towards violent agitation. The extension of a “Fulanisation and Islamisation” agenda from the Middle Belt into Igboland led Kanu’s IPOB to form an armed vigilante known as the Eastern Security Network, ESN.
Its duty was to counter the armed Fulani herdsmen invaders that enjoyed a free hand to kill, rape, kidnap, destroy farmlands, burn down communities and occupy such deserted communities, while the Federal Government looked the other way. ESN was strictly a bush-based defensive outfit which never tampered with the lives and property of law abiding Northerners living in the South-East.
Before Kanu was extraordinarily renditioned from Kenya back to the claws of his enemies in Nigeria, he was able to keep his armed men in check. He often ordered actions against his members involved in criminalities such as killing or stealing of the merchandises of Northerners who plied their legitimate trade in the South-East.
When Kanu was abducted from Kenya, his authority as IPOB leader fell into the hands of the organisation’s Directorate of State, DOS, which continued to follow in the footsteps of their leader. It was this DOS that started giving “Sit-At-Home”, SAH, directives every Monday to keep South-Easterners focused on their commitment to ensure Kanu’s release. The SAH was widely criticised.
Personally, I wrote several articles outlining the unwholesomeness of it. I posited that the SAHs impacted negatively on the economic and educational lives of South-Easterners and residents. It prevented them from earning a living on Mondays, thus impoverishing them. It also prevented their children from going to school and taking their exams on Mondays which is an abomination.
We also went against IPOB’S “No election” stance, pointing out that forcing people to boycott elections was a deprivation of their political rights, which will lead to the emergence of leaders who will work for the enemies against the people’s interests. IPOB election boycotts would foolishly give a free rein to their enemies to occupy governments and oppress them and the populace.
The IPOB DOS, in obedience to good counsel and their leader’s directive from detention, wisely withdrew the Monday SAHs and restricted the order to days when Nnamdi Kanu appeared in court. Meanwhile, Igbo elders commenced their series of engagements with Buhari for diplomatic settlement. Buhari after initially seeming amenable, suddenly said the courts would decide Kanu’s fate.
The refusal of the Federal Government to release Kanu after the Court of Appeal discharged him of all counts handed a carte blanche to stray elements like Simon Ekpa. Ekpa had rejected the DOS’ moderate proengagement stance for Kanu’s freedom. He believes that by punishing people of the SouthEast, the FG will be forced to release Nnamdi Kanu. He believes that by starving them, reducing their children to almajiri status due to lack of education and preventing them from voting, the FG will release Kanu. How daft!
South-Easterners blame Buhari for his hostile policies towards them and for allowing his armed kinsmen to attack the people while the armed forces, police and security agencies protect them from the ESN and other selfdefence vigilante push-backs.
But Buhari has never prevented South-Easterners from earning a living, sending their children to school or voting for candidates of their choice! Buhari has even completed the Second Niger Bridge. What has Simon Ekpa done from his cozy hideout in Finland except to order hits and make brainless broadcasts? Between Simon Ekpa and his armed goons and Buhari and the Fulani militias, who is the greater enemy?
Simon Ekpa’s puerile deployment of armed enforcers has created an atmosphere of anarchy in the South-East. In a free-for-all atmosphere, anybody can do anything and blame IPOB and ESN. Indeed, they are already doing so. The offices and facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, are being attacked and burnt. Who gains? Who else if not the opponents of Peter Obi?
Simon Ekpa and his cohorts, by jeopardising the chances of Peter Obi in the South-East, are not just enemies of Nigeria, they are more so of Ndi Igbo. If Peter Obi’s chances of emerging as Nigeria’s president is destroyed from Igboland, when will another Igbo person be able to enjoy a nationwide acceptance as he does?
Perhaps, jobless individuals who have turned Biafrapreneurs would rather stay in business than give Ndi Igbo a chance to resolve their historic feud with other Nigerians through peaceful, consensual means? I pray Nnamdi Kanu comes out soonest to resume his intelligent, methodical engagement with Nigeria for a peaceful resolution of the Biafra question.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.