Each time Nigerian State is faced with the challenge of all that is wrong with the country, as the on-going #EndSARS Protest by young Nigerians against police brutality and bad government in the country, has revealed to all and sundry to see, one begins to see some underground attempts by the powers that be, who hire some individuals, to help them change the narrative, lay the blame of the mess in the country, on the heads of their perceived common “enemy.” Some individuals have taken attacking Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB members as a mission of their life. And an occasion such as the on-going #EndSARS protests provides them with a favourable atmosphere to intensify it. This is very unfortunate!
Often it seems better not to waste one’s precious time responding or commenting on a thing of this kind. Mind you, I do not know Nnamdi Kanu in person, nor have I ever met him in life or even spoken with him in any form at all. I write on this matter as a concerned citizen, since I do not believe it is right for anybody, no matter your position in the society, to malign the other because you hate him or because you do not share in his political ideology and rhetoric. Tell me, is there anything wrong for one to dedicate his life, seeking the freedom, independence and self-determination of his people, as Nnamdi Kanu is doing with his Biafra agitation?
Was it not through such agitations and struggles in the past that all the independent nation-states in the world over have emerged? Or are you telling me that there are not enough reasons, judging what people of Eastern Nigeria have been subjected to all these years by the successive Nigerian governments, especially since after Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1970) that warrants what Nnamdi Kanu is doing? That is, seeking independence of Biafra, requesting that his people be allowed to go their separate way from Nigeria through the legal means of the referendum for self-determination? His IPOB pro-Biafra group, which is pursuing this goal is a non-violent movement. Nigerian government’s countless attempts to brand Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB pro-Biafra independence movement a terrorist organization or push them to act as one has failed to resonate acceptance outside the shores of Nigeria. The group, till date, remains non-violent in its pursuit of Biafra self-determination and independence.
Where then, has Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB group offended these individuals attacking them? This is the one billion Naira question! Moreover, self-determination of indigenous peoples is recognized in the UN conventions, African Union Charter, all the known international laws and laws of the civilized world. Why then have some individuals made it a mission of their life, to be maligning Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB pro-Biafra independence group, for doing that which is recognized and allowed in all the known international laws and countries of the civilized world?
At first, I thought of ignoring such individuals, their comments or write-ups in a matter of this kind. But in order not to allow peddlers of such treacherous tendencies and motives, continue to distract or confuse anybody at this critical time in the history of Nigeria and the common people’s struggle for freedom and justice, I have deemed it necessary to make the following modest submissions:
1) In the first place, I think that it is high time we address this issue that is gradually transforming itself into pathological attacks and castigating of Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB pro-Biafra youth group movement by some individuals, not excluding highly placed politicians, religious, cultural and traditional rulers. All those, one had thought, should have known better. They recruit errand-boys, e-warriors and journalists to do this job for them. If they do not use the usual ethnic-card of divide-and-rule, neo-colonial style, they would immediately shift to a frontal attack on the person and philosophy of Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB pro-Biafra independence movement.
What baffles one is how such individuals use every opportunity to unleash their usual avalanche of verbal attacks on Nnamdi Kanu and members of his pro-Biafra youth movement IPOB. That is, instead of these individuals channelling their energy to addressing those main issues at hand in the country today, that have pushed Nigerian Youths of all ethnic and religious groups to unite among themselves, and move massively to the streets of Nigerian major cities, to protest against police brutality and bad government in Nigeria, with the hashtag #EndSARS?
Nnamdi Kanu is NOT the Problem with Nigeria
The renewed attacks on Nnamdi Kanu by those who should have known better, I must say, is part of the deceit of the devil to derail the effort of setting free the Nigerian people from long years of military brutality and bad leadership of the present crop of self-serving, corrupt politicians. That some individuals, who claim to be leaders and elders, instead of channelling their criticisms to where it should be, chose attacking someone who has done nothing to deserve such attacks, whose only offence in their estimation, is why should he be telling the poor masses of Nigeria the truth about the source of what is responsible for Nigeria’s backwardness and reign of corrupt politicians and tyranny in the land, is very regrettable! They are not happy that someone of Nnamdi Kanu stature could ever rise up and venture to challenge the status quo and their “satanic” alliance with those forces responsible for the mess in Nigeria today! This is the bone of contention. The offence of Nnamdi Kanu in the eyes of the Nigerian ruling class and their cronies!
This is the offence for which Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB pro-Biafra youth movement are on the constant verbal attacks of some individuals since this current struggle started. But the question remains:
- Is Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB pro-Biafra youth movement, the problem with Nigeria?
- Is Nnamdi Kanu, the reasons Nigerian Youths have taken to the streets of all the major cities in the country to protest against police brutality and bad government in the country?
- Is Nnamdi Kanu, the person that ordered the military and police to fire live bullets and kill the peaceful unarmed protesting Nigerian Youths of the #EndSARS?
- Is Nnamdi Kanu responsible for the international rage against the Nigerian military and police shooting and killing of peaceful unarmed the #EndSARS protesters?
- Is Nnamdi Kanu responsible for the anger of Nigerian Youths of #EndSARS against the corrupt politicians or State Governors’ insensitivity, as well as against Nigerian central government for ordering the military to massacre the young Nigerian Protesters at Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020?
- Is Nnamdi Kanu the person that sent the military who shoot at the protesters at Lekki tollgates on October 20, 2020?
- Is Nnamdi Kanu the person that sent those engineers who removed the surveillance camera at Lekki tollgate prior to the military shooting of the young people gathered for the EndSARs protest?
- Is Nnamdi Kanu the one that hired the thugs that set ablaze cars and property of ordinary Nigerian citizens attacked at Abuja arena of #EndSARS Protests?
Tell me, why have these individuals chosen to make Nnamdi Kanu the target of their verbal attacks and gossips? Why have they chosen to divert attention from the real problem and issues confronting Nigerian State and the common man in the country, to attacking someone who has given his life to fighting for the freedom and liberation of the oppressed and aggrieved Nigerian masses? Love or hate him, Nnamdi Kanu has transformed himself into the global leader of all the discerning young Nigerians protesting against police brutality and bad government in the country.
The question is: Why attack Nnamdi Kanu, and not those corrupt politicians, the ruling-class responsible for the failure of the Nigerian state and the suffering of the masses? Is Nnamdi Kanu responsible for the failure of the Nigerian state to cater to its citizens, provide security of lives and property, and enabling environment to promote people’s development and progress? Is Nnamdi Kanu the reasons why youths are angry and protesting?
When the SARS police officers were killing these our youths in our land, what did you do? Did you even go to the hospital to visit any of the wounded young people? Did you remember any of the people that were killed in any way at all? Did you build any cenotaph to remember our people who have been killed since the Nigeria-BiafraWar to date? Could you now see why these young people are angry and rage?
The youths have all these years calling your attention to their plights and yet you never cared an inch to listen to them. And each time they come out to protest peacefully, you will send Nigerian Army and Police to go and kill them. Now, the same youths come out these days for the #EndSARS Protest against police brutality and bad government. Again, you sent your army to go and kill the unarmed protesting youths? And you claim you do not know why the young people are raged and protesting? What hypocrisy?
Furthermore, when Biafra pogroms took place in Northern Nigeria in the 1960s, was Nnamdi Kanu there? When Maitama Islamic riots happened in Kano and other parts of Northern Nigeria and Igbos were killed in hundreds, was Nnamdi Kanu there? When the Jos religious-ethnic uprising and killings, and other series of ethnoreligious uprisings and killings of Igbos in Kano, Maiduguri, and other Northern cities happened in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, was Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB pro-Biafra youth movement there?
My advice to all those who are bent on seeing Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB pro-Biafra youth movement as the problem with Nigeria is that if they don’t have any positive contribution to make, they should please, shut up their mouth! You do not know how angry these young people are? These young people are not prepared to tolerate any nonsense from anybody, until this battle for the liberation of their people and fatherland, is won! They are not violent, but Nigerian State and government’s constant clampdown and killings of these young people, are calculated at forcing them to be violent, which they have been resisting all along!
So, please, if you have nothing positive to contribute to the struggle of these young Nigerians, leave them alone. Because you and your masters will be disappointed with what will be the outcome of this struggle. But that time it will be too late. Please, leave the young people alone. In the same way, leave Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB pro-Biafra youth movement alone?
Ask yourself, when Nnamdi Kanu was in Kuje Prisons for nearly three years because of this struggle, did you go to visit him? When the Nigerian State mobilized all the security operatives – army, air force, navy, police and DSS, and invaded his father’s house to kill him, did you call or visit to commiserate with him, his family and IPOB members? Did you visit any of the families of his IPOB members killed during the Python Dance II Killings in Umuahia and other parts of the Southeast in September 2017? Did you visit any of the families of the IPOB members killed at the Church compound in Nkpor during the May 30th 2016 Biafra Remembrance Day of the 3.5 million Biafrans killed during the Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1970)?
Again, is Nnamdi Kanu the person responsible for why you have no constant electricity supply, no portable drinking water, no functional pipe-borne water in your house and city, where you reside in Nigeria? Is Nnamdi Kanu responsible for the bad roads we have today all over the place in Igboland and other parts of Nigeria? Is Nnamdi Kanu responsible for the Fulani killer-herdsmen invasion of Igboland and killings of our farmers, Catholic Priests, and other innocent people, and their raping of our women across the Southeast and other southern parts of the country and the Middle Belt?
Is Nnamdi Kanu the reason why there are no functional Airports, Seaports and even Railway lines of international standards in the Southeast? Is Nnamdi Kanu responsible for police and SARS’ brutality against young Nigerians? Is Nnamdi Kanu responsible for the present federal government’s notorious lopsided federal appointments and side-lining of Ndigbo in the federal government appointments and developmental infrastructural allocations? Is Nnamdi Kanu responsible for why the Southeast is never included to benefit from all the developmental loans and budget plans of Buhari administration since 2015?
Which are we to mention or leave out? These are enough to convince whoever cares to know, that Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB) is not the problem with Nigeria? Please try to locate your problem where it is? Nnamdi Kanu is not your problem! Period!
Tell me, where have these young people offended anybody, including politicians and the security operatives in Nigeria, that warrant unleashing military terror on them, or that has made some individuals see it as a mission of their life to be criticizing and castigating them? Tell me, what is the offence of these young people to the Nigerian State and political ruling class and elites that the government should order the military to go after them, kill the unarmed protesting youths of #EndSARS?
What is it that Nnamdi Kanu is saying today in his Radio Biafra Broadcast, which he has not said before and Nigerians are not aware of? In fact, I never knew that these individuals in high places and their cronies criticizing Nnamdi Kanu every day nowadays, actually, follow his Radio Biafra Broadcasts? Wonders never end! That means, Nnamdi Kanu has transformed himself into the voice of the country, and especially, the voice of the voiceless! A break-through, which none of those individuals criticizing him will dream of achieving all their lifetime. That means those criticizing Nnamdi Kanu do so out of jealousy, envy and hatred?
But as history has shown, such people will always fail, while Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB pro-Biafra youth movement as well as the #EndSARS young Nigerian Protesters, are on the right track. Victory belongs to the young people, Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB Biafra youths’ movement, who are protesting against the reign of tyranny, terror, brutality and bad government in Nigeria.
Again, if all these young people, protesters of the #EndSARS have decided to listen to the Radio Biafra Broadcasts of Nnamdi Kanu, it is because they know he is telling the truth, something which none of all those attacking him cannot claim to have! This is another proof that all those self-serving, corrupt politicians and their cronies criticizing and attacking Nnamdi Kanu today, at any available opportunity, are doing so out of envy, jealousy, hatred and frustration! Theirs can be compared to that kind of envy and jealousy of the brothers of Joseph in the Old Testament that made them want to kill him in the first place before they decided to sell him into slavery in Egypt!
But as we say in Igbo — “Onye na alo onye kaya anya, na ekiri ya ekiri.” Today, Nigerian Youths are saying, enough is enough! That is the message of IPOB and the young Nigerian #EndSARS protesters. These young people are not your problem! Try to locate who and where your problem, really is! This is because, continued attacks on the pro-Biafra youth movement (IPOB) and their leader Nnamdi Kanu, by any sensible individual at this critical time of our history as a nation-state, cannot lead us anywhere. The earlier those attacking him stop it, the better for us all. Continued attacks on Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB is a great distraction to the main thrust of the struggle of these our young people for a better society!
Secondly, one finds out that each time these individuals unleash their usual avalanche of verbal attacks on Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB pro-Biafra youth movement, they would accuse him of being a “fugitive”, who ran away to a foreign land to evade justice in Nigeria? They would say, if he is a brave man, let him return to Nigeria, why is he staying in a foreign land, dishing out “his utterances, brainwashing and putting the lives of the young people in danger.” That, if he wants to fight the government, let him come back to Nigeria and face the music?” Hmmm!
Well, we have been hearing these things over and over again from the same individuals. The fact that they are coming up with the same narrative this time of national and international outrage against the military massacre of the young Nigerian Protester of #EndSARS, means these individuals attacking Nnamdi Kanu have run out of new ideas. Whatever is the case, however, there is a need to remind them that there is no true freedom fighter of his people who were not forced into exile by the oppressive regime in their homeland. As is said, there are three places you find the true freedom fighters of their people: 1) in prison, 2) in exile, and 3) in their graves. There is no genuine freedom fighter or liberator of his people who have not passed through either one, two or even three of these cups of sacrifices of freedom fighters.
In the case of Nnamdi Kanu, has he not passed the first two tests of true freedom fighters, which are, imprisonment and exile? He had spent almost three years of imprisonment, torture and deprivation at the hands of the bloodsucking regime of Major General Muhammadu. And on top of that, the Southeast ruling class, and serving states governors, collaborated among themselves to proscribe his IPOB movement, thereby paving the way for Buhari administration to declare the pro-Biafra non-violent movement, a terrorist organization, something that world powers and other nations have till date, not bought into. They went even further, inviting the Nigerian military, police and DSS, who invaded his father’s house and Igboland in general, in a bid to kill him. In the process, they killed many of his IPOB members, and his parents died out of the trauma of that Python Dance II military invasion and attempt on the life on Nnamdi Kanu by the Nigerian military at Umuahia in September 2017?
Tell me, was it not in the midst of this wickedness of the Nigerian government and their Southeast governors and ruling class, their attempt through the military, to kill Nnamdi Kanu that he (Nnamdi Kanu) had no other alternative than to save his life, and therefore, was forced to go on exile, to continue the struggle from there until Biafra freedom is achieved? The most interesting thing is that none of those individuals attacking Nnamdi Kanu ever expressed outrage against the Python Dance II military carnage in Kanu’s father’s house, or the Nigerian State attempt on his life, and massacre of IPOB members in Abia State in 2017.
I am yet to hear any of these individuals attacking Nnamdi Kanu today, speak against the recent massacre of over 26 IPOB members at Emene Enugu by the combined forces of Nigerian military, police and DSS? Is it only when the young people, victims of all these man’s inhumanity to fellow man, react against military and police brutality and bad government in Nigeria, that these individuals would see reason or rather an occasion to speak up, attack Nnamdi Kanu, and begin to condemn the victims themselves, instead of the perpetrators of the violence and their sponsors? Why is it that only the victims of oppression are singled out for condemnation and castigating by these individuals and not the perpetrators of violence and their sponsors? This is what I am yet unable to understand from these individuals attacking Nnamdi Kanu, some of them are even clergymen?
I know that when someone has accepted material or monetary gifts stolen from the public treasury, and he is on the pay-roll of the corrupt politicians, this type of treacherous attacks on an innocent individual is what you would expect from such an individual. His conscience will never be at peace until those who remind him of the evil deeds of his financial sponsors are eliminated. So, this is what is playing out in this case. Otherwise, who doesn’t know that going on exile is part of the life experience of any true freedom fighter and liberator of the people?
There abounds, examples of great leaders, freedom fighters and liberators of their people who went on exile and from there strategized for their God given-mission:
A) In the Bible, Joseph was sent on exile to Egypt by his own brothers out of jealousy. But it was the same Joseph that later saved his people during the time of famine! In the Exodus, Pharaoh’s tyrannical rule and persecution of the people of Israel in Egypt forced Moses to go on exile. Was it not while Moses was in exile that God appeared to him, revealed His Holy Name to Moses, charging him with the mission to go to Pharaoh in Egypt and liberate his people Israel!
The time one spends in exile is like a moment of retreat and strategizing for a true freedom fighter and liberator of the people! Great prophets like Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, among others, all went on exile in the course of their prophetic mission.
In the New Testament, it suffices to remind ourselves that even the Child-Jesus lived in exile in Egypt, where he was taken to by his mother Mary and foster father Joseph, to escape from King Herod who was after his life. And that the Apostles of Jesus, and many other early Christian Evangelists of the Early Church, lived and operated from their places of exile. They were forced to leave Jerusalem and Israel. They scattered to other towns and neighbourhood, to escape from persecutions and the killings of Christians by the ruling class and establishments of the era, which ensued immediately after the Pentecost in Jerusalem. In our time also, in some countries, great Church leaders, Bishops, Priests and theologians have been forced to go on exile by the tyrannical governments in those countries.
B) Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), founder of Islamic religion, went on exile from his country home Mecca to Medina, to escape from being killed by the tyrannical government at the time in his home country. His disciples also went on exile to Ethiopia for the same reason and were provided with shelter and succour by the Ethiopians. This is why the Holy Quran forbade Jihad against Ethiopians, calling them “a humble people of priests and monks.” Therefore, exile is also recognized in Islam!
C) In our day, Nelson Mandela was on exile in Nigeria and then in Tanzania, and other African countries when he was strategizing to liberate his people from the Racist Apartheid regime in South Africa. The founding father of NLC, Oliver Tombo and other principal officers of the movement went on exile in London and other European countries, and from there they fought the Apartheid regime in South Africa to a standstill and freed Mandela from the prison after he had spent 27 years there.
D) In Nigeria, Dim Chukwuemeka Odimmegwu Ojukwu went on exile in Ivory Coast for 13 years, to save the lives of his people of war-torn Igboland, and to keep the Biafra struggle alive. Wole Soyinka went on exile to escape from Abacha’s tyrannical regime. M.K.O Abiola was on exile for the same reason. Even, Bola Ahmed Tinubu went on self-exile, also during the Abacha regime because of his role in the NADECO, Civil Society Organization for Democracy political activities at the time in Nigeria! There were many other examples. But these are sufficient to prove our point!
Therefore, if Nnamdi Kanu has been forced to go on exile by the oppressive regime in Nigeria today, he is neither the first person nor shall he be the last to do so. It is therefore ingenious for anybody to castigate Nnamdi Kanu for being on exile, because of his Biafran liberation struggle and agitation! Exile, as the saying goes, “is a bandage of honour” of all true freedom fighters and liberators of their people. You can’t be winning and dinning with the government officials, and at the same time, you say you are fighting them to liberate your people from the same oppressive regime you eat and dine with their officials and apologists every day? That sounds hypocritical.
Finally, I usually hear from most of those individuals criticizing and attacking Nnamdi Kanu, speak against some of our people who reside in Diasporas. They call those living in the Diasporas all sorts of names, that they are ignorant of the Nigerian reality, and that they are not qualified to comment or say anything about what is happening in Nigeria.
This has remained constant line of argument and attacks on Nigerian Diasporans by most of those individuals who don’t see any reason why people should be protesting or speaking the truth concerning the reasons for the continued bad regime and ineptitude government in Nigeria. They want us all to shut up our mouth and not speak up on what is happening in Nigeria today, simply because we live in foreign countries. However, they forget that those Diasporans are bonafide citizens of Nigeria like everyone else. They forget also that those in the Diasporas are the reasons why many members of their immediate and extended families in Nigeria, still have reasons to live and hope for better tomorrow. If not for the financial assistance coming from Nigerian DIASPORAN COMMUNITY, it is obvious that a good number of the poor masses in that country, won’t be alive today, and many would have given up the hope for better tomorrow. Because, members of the ruling class and their cronies, as the on-going #EndSARS Protest, has revealed, have caged and impoverished the masses so long, that Nigeria has been declared the poverty capital of the world by the UN.
This most wicked situation of impoverishment and poverty in Nigeria by the ruling class and their cronies is what those who eat from the corrupt system doesn’t want those living in the Diasporas to be worried about. Because, for them, the Diasporan Nigerians are ignorant people, who have no knowledge of the Nigerian reality? Hmmm. Really?
But it is through the social media posts, writings and other public conscientization efforts of the Diasporan Nigerians, about the happenings in the country that often, most of these individuals at home attacking Diasporans and Nnamdi Kanu, come to know about the daily happenings in Nigeria. Most of the information and news they have about the daily happenings in Nigeria today is thanks to posts shared on social media outlets by the Diasporan Nigerians. I can’t recall having ever received any new news or information of valuable importance about the happenings in Nigeria from any of these individuals accusing Diasporan Nigerians of being ignorant of the Nigerian reality. What most of them know today about the happenings in Nigeria is that information that was shared by our Diasporan “ignorant” Nigerians in their irrespective WhatsApp groups’ platforms and other social media outlets. Yet, these critics have the gut to say that Nigerian Diasporans are not qualified to speak about the happenings in the country, because, according to them, they do not live in Nigeria?
Again, people who think in that way, often forget that the on-going #EndSARS protests of Nigerian youths against police brutality and bad government in the country, could not have been possible, if not for encouragement and awareness created by Nigerians living abroad. Similarly, all those arch-critics of Nnamdi Kanu, and other Diasporan Nigerians, often forget that the awareness Nigerians have today about the rotten nature of the Nigerian state, the endemic corruption, and the cancerous oppressive political system, the tyrannical nature of the present lopsided government in power in the country, came to the consciousness of many Nigerians as a result of Nnamdi Kanu’s Radio Biafra Broadcasts, and also the efforts of some other Diasporan Nigerians. If not for the Diasporan Nigerians, tell me, could have any of these individuals attacking Nnamdi Kanu and Diasporan Nigerians themselves, ever believed that time will come when these protesting young people of #EndSARS will ever rise up against the corrupt system and police brutality in the country?
Who had ever believed that time will come when Nigerian masses will summon the courage and audacity to challenge police brutality and bad government in the country? With many years of subjugation under a feudal kind of Sharia driven-democracy, and years of military dictatorship, that had subdued many Nigerians to live in constant fear of their government and security agents, could anybody have dreamt that a time of mass revolt against the system will ever come in our lifetime? Accept or reject it, this is made possible today, thanks to Nnamdi Kanu’s Radio Biafra Broadcasts and also conscientization efforts of some other Nigerians in the Diasporas and at home as well.
Another interesting thing is the language of a traitor these individuals always apply each time they come up with their comments against Nnamdi Kanu. They will tell you that the Nigerian situation is terrible, that they are not fans of the present administration, that they are not against the agitation for Biafra independence, and bla-bl-abla. …! “But what?”
Their “but” is where the problem lies. They will tell you that they do not support violence (as if there is anybody that likes violence.) That the youths should have looked for another way of protesting. And that Nnamdi Kanu is this or that, misleading the young people who follow him, and so on and so forth? This is exactly how you know the language of someone who is jealous and envious of the achievement of his neighbour!
It is exactly how you know the voice of a traitor, an enemy of his people? Those who make this kind of “but” comments, each time a discussion of this kind comes up. Otherwise, how can you say you are not a fan of the corrupt system and leaders responsible for bad government in the country, and at the same, you attack those who criticize the system and the regime? Similarly, how can you say you are not against Biafra freedom, that you are in support of the on-going youths’ #EndSARS Protests, but at the same time, engaged in a deadly destructive campaign against the leader of the Biafra agitation, and also against the young people protesting to end police brutality and bad government in the country? I can’t make out anything from such line of argument!
It is hypocrisy driven to its highest level!
Anyhow, my advice is that, if one has nothing to contribute to the struggle at hand, it is better to keep silence and continue to pray for better tomorrow for everyone in the country. This is my candid advice.
Fr. Francis Anekwe Oborji is a Roman Catholic Priest, is Professor Ordinarius of contextual theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome.
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