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Ekweremadu attack: Between separatism and patriotism

Since the arrival of Nnamdi Kanu on stage, he has not leave any one in doubt that his dream is to carve out an independent…

Since the arrival of Nnamdi Kanu on stage, he has not leave any one in doubt that his dream is to carve out an independent Biafran state comprising of 11 states of the South-South and South East where he would be the maximum ruler.

When Nnamdi Kanu broke away from the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, he knew that whereas Biafra was defeated by a coalition of world powers, it lives in the minds of N’digbo. He tapped into the nostalgia and exploited the feelings of alienation, subjugation and natural republicanism of the Igbo man and advocated for mass revolt against Igbo mainstream leadership and establishment. He rejects their constructive engagements with the Nigeria establishment and prefers confrontation and crudity.

Nigeria has, since the civil war, apparently transformed into a coalition of tribes of Igbo haters. This feeling of alienation and marginalisation is so deep with N’digbo that they dream of a country of their own. The anger arising from the wickedness of unreconstructed and unreconciled civil war crimes, such as the gruesome Asaba massacre, fortified this dream and brazen policies of exclusion, rejection and containment against Igbo people by post-war Nigeria leadership heightened the frustrations of the average Igbo man.

To the rank and file of N’digbo, Nigeria is not their country. They believe that Nigeria belongs to the North and the Yoruba. This watered the ground for Nnamdi Kanu’s rabble rousing to thrive. But it was the President Muhammadu Buhari administration that won Igbo sympathies for Kanu and IPOB’s cause by effectively sidelining N’digbo and the extrajudicial detention of Kanu.

Cashing in on these sentiments, Kanu, with the aid of Radio Biafra, which he hijacked from the leader of MASSOB, Raph Uwazuluike, abuses, rambles, and demonises Igbo leaders with the sole aim of bringing them to the mud so that he becomes the only man standing.

In his vitriolic attacks, he castigates South East governors, National Assembly members, Ohanaeze N’digbo leadership, and the political elite as saboteurs of Biafra for not backing his secessionist agenda. He did not spare other tribes and their leadership in his hate speech, calling them all sorts of names. He insults, bruises, and molests their ego. He has abused and insulted the Nigerian president to the high heavens and casts the Nigerian state as a zoo with Nigerians as animals. He calls Nigeria a huge joke, a contraption arranged by Britain and gifted to the Hausa-Fulani oligarchy to dominate other tribes.

Ekweremadu, on the other hand, is widely acknowledged as a vocal, consummate, national politician of Igbo extraction. Ekweremadu emerged on the national stage as a matrix of the best of Azikiwe and Ojukwu. His  intellectual depth and national outlook has put him on very high pedestal to the discomfort of the IPOB leadership.

Whereas Kanu speaks from the position of a riot, Ekweremadu speaks as a constitutional lawyer and lawmaker to address the plight of N’digbo. When Nnamdi Kanu is talking about territorial Biafra for N’digbo, Senator Ekweremadu is talking about a restructured Nigeria that works for everybody. He is talking about social justice for the Igbo within the Nigerian state.

The mainstream Igbo leadership represented by Ekweremadu and Ohanaeze demand national concert on how we can coexist without constantly killing one another. Igbo leaders insist that Nigeria as it is currently constituted, is fundamentally flawed. It is also the reason for the hatred among brothers and sisters. It is the reason for the suffering of the populace occasioned by flawed fiscal relations that can only create poverty. Ekweremadu, on his part, summed up the current dependence of states on the centre for survival as “feeding bottle federalism”. He believes that our flawed federalism gave birth to endemic corruption in the country and should be renegotiated instead of throwing the baby and bath water away.

They fail to understand that Biafra is a way of life and principles of nationhood. Biafra is an idea to build a society that is anchored on true democracy, freedom, equality, rule of law, and a nation in which life should be richer and better and fuller for all citizens, irrespective of sex, tribe, or creed, with equal opportunities for all according to their strengths and abilities. These are what N’digbo want. And, these were the core principles espoused at the Ahiara Declaration by Dim. Odumegwu Ojukwu, as basis of the Biafra revolution.

Ekweremadu and many Igbo leaders rightly believe that N’digbo can achieve Biafra in Nigeria for a stronger and all-inclusive and prosperous nation. But, it has to be through negotiation in a national concert. At the Awka Declaration, the Ohaneze reaffirmed these principles thus: “The position of N’digbo is to seek a transformed Nigeria that works for every Nigerian citizen, a level playing field for all Nigerians to enjoy freedom, liberty, fairness, equity and justice to maximise their fullest potential. We do not seek any preferential or differential treatment from Nigeria. N’digbo want a Nigeria that works to maximize their security, prosperity, and happiness. Igbo also want a Nigeria that allows every part of Nigeria the latitude and opportunity to develop at their own pace. We want to create a new and better Nigeria for all Nigerians.”

It is, therefore, unfortunate that Nnamdi Kanu and his group have degraded the lofty goals of Biafranism to a mere territorial carve-out from the Nigerian state, where he will rule as the supreme leader. Videos abound where he allowed his IPOB members to worship and kiss his feet. The senseless confrontations with the Nigerian Army, which left many IPOB members dead and hundreds, brutalised could have been avoided if Nnamdi Kanu had toed the path of wisdom. Since, after the civil war, Nigerian security agencies have not hidden their acts as occupation forces to oppress and malign N’digbo. However, barehanded confrontation of such kill-minded security forces is, to say the least, tactless. And to think that this megalomaniac scampered out of the country once he heard gunshots at close range, abandoning his “troops” to their fates, tells who he is.

Also, Kanu’s vitriol against everyone and order of attack against not only Igbo leaders, but also a seating president, is a clear signal that we have a psychopath on the loose in Igboland. Even if an independent state of Biafra is the only answer, Kanu, by his ingratitude, cowardly disappearance, insults on other Nigerians, burning bridges of strategic partnerships, and ordering attacks on Igbo leaders, has only shown himself as lacking the slightest capacity to lead the struggle – whether through armed struggle or referendum.

On the other hand, far from letting N’digbo down, as Kanu and IPOB would have us believe, Ekweremadu has been pursuing a better deal for N’digbo through a renegotiated federation in line with the master plan bequeathed by our founding fathers. The senator has been unrelenting on issues of restructuring, true federalism and devolution of powers to geo-political regions as these will go a long way in creating the egalitarian society of the Igbo dream. He has arduously pursued a reform of the entire nepotistic and self-limiting super structure of Nigeria through national dialogue, constructive engagements, persuasions, advocacy, legislation and conviction. He has been a vocal, consummate, national politician of Igbo extraction and his intellectual depth and national outlook has put him on very high pedestal to the discomfort of IPOB leadership.

Again, as facts have shown, Ekweremadu was very instrumental to Kanu’s release from prison. We saw him speak up so much against the extrajudicial killings of unnamed IPOB protesters, python dance, etc. such that until the Germany attack, many had thought he was a chief sponsor of IPOB. But he was more interested in ensuring that Igbo land was not reduced to a theatre of war and to stop the undue sacrificing of our youth.

Majeed Dahiru, a columnist, sums Ekweremadu’s ‘sin’: ”The grouse of IPOB against Ekweremadu is his unalloyed loyalty to the Nigerian state, without any iota of succumbing to a poorly thought-through Biafran separatist agenda. As far as these IPOB extremists are concerned, you cannot be Igbo and Nigerian at the same time”. To even think that they tore Ekweremadu’s Igbo traditional attire for the weird reason that it had some designs of coat of arms makes IPOB and Kanu more disgusting. N’digbo must stand up to this power-crazy businessman before it is too late.

Aneke writes from Enugu

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