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LongRead: Why Biafra’s self-styled leader, Nnamdi Kanu, needs urgent help

Nnamdi-Kanu

“The catastrophe of the tragic hero thus becomes the catastrophe of the fifth-century man; all his furious energy and intellectual daring drive him on to this terrible discovery of his fundamental ignorance – he is not the measure of all things but the thing measured and found wanting.”

The above quote by Robert Fagles, the late American professor, poet, and academic, best known for his many translations of ancient Greek and Roman classics, and the author of Odyssey, succinctly captures the very essence of Nnamdi Kanu, the self-styled leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, who should have been a hero and the rallying point for Ndigbo in their quest for the actualization of Biafra Republic but is rather turning out to be an impediment in the struggle.

Born to fight?

Kanu had a privileged background while growing up. His father, Eze Israel Okwu Kanu (JP), was a wealthy man by all standards and gave his son the best in terms of education and upbringing. Nnamdi Kanu attended the elite Government College in Umuahia, for his secondary education and the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka, before he moved to the United Kingdom where he has lived in relative comfort, becoming a British citizen in the process.

Though most of his recruits appear not to be as privileged, yet they believe Kanu cares for them and is fighting their cause. His being a UK citizen has not spared the British from his attacks as he believes that they were the cause of all the problems Nigeria has faced since they colonized the nation.

“The greatest enemy of Nigeria is the British government and some if its nationals; they are the ones perpetrating, supporting and financing terrorism with the people occupying Aso Rock and deceiving Nigerians that they mean well for them.”

In the beginning

When Nnamdi Kanu came out a few years ago and declared himself the leader of IPOB, many believed he had come to pick up the struggle left by the likes of late Odumegwu Ojukwu and other Igbo leaders who had clamoured for Biafra. The youth, especially in the South-East, held him as a new ‘messiah’.

In no time, his followers grew in leaps and bounds trusting that he had a strategy that would make the struggle smooth sailing. That supposition appears to be evaporating.

For keen watchers of the man, his utterances, deeds and misdeeds seem to show that most of his claims to a genuine struggle may have been cooked to suit a selfish pursuit built deceptively on pitching the people against the government.

Going off the trail

Like a punch-drunk boxer who does not know when to extricate himself from a self-inflicted mess, Kanu has learnt to speak without moderation, choosing instead to rant like an uncontrolled juvenile. Far is he in temperament from the celebrated nationalist like the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, Akanu Ibiam, Sam Mbakwe and Ojukwu.

The thread of controversies that have trailed Nnamdi Kanu may not, and will not go away anytime soon.

His involvement in the Biafra struggle may gradually turn out to be a charade, as the larger Igbo nation begins to query his real intentions, exposed in the many faulty steps which has now made his compatriots vulnerable across many divides. Indeed, his notorious utterances is almost effectively turning the Igbos into a mistrusted people as his actions have been misconstrued by the Nigerian government and other stakeholders to be the stance of the ordinary Igbo man.

Fanning embers of hatred

His tirades against the Hausa/Fulani and other tribes are legendary as he keeps churning hate speeches against them.

“This is Fulani Janjaweed atrocity at its inglorious best against peaceful indigenous Hausa and other ethnic groups that make up Southern Kaduna,” Kanu had said in one of his interviews following a communal clash between the Fulanis and Hausas in Kaduna.

Continuing, he added:

“This is a lesson for all those, especially Yoruba and RUGA communities in Biafra, that think Fulani will ever stop slaughtering them. The same way Hausa peasants naively welcomed their Fulani visitors who later dominated and turned them into their slaves, is how it shall be in the south in the next 47 years.

“The Fulanis love killing people and they will never ever stop. Long-suffering Hausa people is a prime example. Only IPOB can save you from the Fulani. The Fulani has no home or land anywhere in the world, that’s why they see the ZOO as their only land, because they know that once you give money to our politicians and traditional leaders they will sell you right away.

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“The time has come to expel the bloodsucking Fulani Janjaweed from our lands. If you find anybody in your village asking after Radio Biafra, kill the baboon Awusa Foolani or Yoruba bastard. Let them keep searching as we keep tweeting for #Biafra.

“No Ibo man should attend any Church where the pastor is a Yoruba man, they are criminals and fools.”

Spoiling for war

On September 5, 2015, Nnamdi Kanu who was a guest speaker at the World Igbo Congress held in Los Angeles told his audience that “we need guns and we need bullets” to fight the Federal Government because, to him, the problem of the Igbos is the Nigerian government and to gain an independent Biafra, violence and bloodshed was what was needed.

Kanu’s hypnotic hold on his numerous followers appear founded on the many years of perceived marginalization of the Igbo nation, and concerns that the Nigerian government is out to annihilate the tribe. To his credit, calls for civil disobedience and rebellion has been swallowed by many of his gullible followers who worship, feed and dine on his words.

In one of his broadcasts on Radio Biafra, Kanu made it clear that IPOB is gearing for an all-out war against Nigeria and called on Igbos to wage war against the country, saying it is either Biafra or death.

“Nigeria should prepare for war, we are coming to annihilate you, my secret service are already studying the Zoo and strategising. Nigeria is a zoo and everybody living in that Godforsaken Zoo deserves to die. It’s either Biafra or death.

“When we speak, the Zoo trembles; that is what happens when a cattle rearing terrorist and paedophile is your ruler.

“By the time we finish dealing with the animals in the Zoo, there’ll be none left to tell the story. We are assembling weapons and we need some more money to thoroughly equip our military to enable us unleash mayhem on Nigeria.”

Waging war against the state

Kanu’s determined match against the Nigerian state found expression in his clandestine formation of secret armies called the Biafra Secret Service and the Biafra National Guard. It did not take long for an expected clash with the Nigerian military and the subsequent declaration of IPOB as a militant terrorist organisation. The tag remains etched in the memory of other stakeholders in the Nigerian project who now see Ndigbo from the IPOB prism.

Kanu’s many brushes with the law saw him arrested and charged to court on criminal conspiracy, intimidation and membership of an illegal organisation by the Department of State Services, DSS.

He was detained for several months but after he was released on bail with strict conditions, one of which was a travel ban, Kanu managed to escape the shores of the country, leaving his beleaguered comrades to their own peril.

Fugitive on the run

The separatist leader never ceases to paint himself a hero. One such instance was his fabled escape from Nigeria to Isreal, even while being under security watch.

“Nigerian Army came to my house to kill me,” Mr Kanu had said, while speaking with an Israeli based platform, of the military exercise carried out in Abia State just before his disappearance.

“They killed 28 people in the process,” he alleged.

“My people evacuated me before they could get to me and they smuggled me out of Nigeria. I would say, I ’m relieved that I managed to make it to the only place that I feel safe in the whole world.”

Kanu is a demagogue who would spare no strategy to whip his ardent followers in line. He understands the impact of religion and had found comfort in reminding his blind allies about their Jewish heritage and why Judaism is a preferred religion. Isreal, he constantly tells them, is the model state!

“Israel has to live up to their obligation to defend Judaism and Jewish faith all over the world,” he said. “We are being persecuted. We are suffering as a people and I believe it is the responsibility of Israel to make sure that Biafra stands as an independent entity in Africa.”

“Biafra has over 70 million people scattered all over the world . They have called us the wandering Jews of Africa. Those that identify themselves with their Jewish heritage are about 50 million people,” he further said in his interview with the Israeli platform.

Web of deceits

Such have been the web of deceits woven by Kanu to build a cult-like figure around himself.

Kanu, who was once a prominent One-Nigeria campaigner in the UK, now struts the political space as a freedom fighter eager to emancipate ‘his people.’

He was once quoted as saying: “If they (Nigerian Government) fail to give us Biafra, Somalia will look like a paradise compared to what will happen to that Zoo. It is a promise, it is a pledge and it is also a threat to them. If they do not give us Biafra, there will be nothing living in that very Zoo they call Nigeria; nothing will survive there, I can assure you.”

Kanu’s resort to bigotry and inclination towards violence in his demand for the ‘restoration of Biafra’ have been rather counter-productive, and remain the major reasons other stakeholders in the Nigerian project doubt his sincerity.

Without taking into account the facts of history, Kanu has gone ahead to claim several parts of Nigeria as integral of his Biafra, often ‘conscripting’ whole communities that do not have any affiliation whatsoever with the Igbos into his dream country. For Kanu, every inch of the southern and eastern parts of Nigeria belong to Biafra!

Flippant as ever, he once said, “Niger Deltans are cowards; we know what to do to them. Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Edo and Cross Rivers State are our territory and anybody who tries to oppose us will be crushed.”

Kanu’s can of worms

Lacking in legal and moral authority, Kanu’s claim to speak for genuine Biafra agitators has, on several occasions, been punctured with corruption charges leveled against him. Many people have accused him of using the Biafra struggle for his own personal gains just as his source of income has been debatable over the years.

Kanu’s well publicized altercation with Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, the founder of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, opened a Pandora box of accusations of fraudulent activities under the guise of fighting for the Biafran project.

Dokubo, a discredited militant himself, had accused Kanu of being a fraudster and a con man who was using the Biafra struggle for his personal gains. Dokubo had alleged that Kanu was not in any struggle for the restoration of Biafra but for his personal gains, and that he regretted ever associating with the IPOB leader.

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Dokubo said:

“With Nnamdi Kanu, there’s no hope for Biafra. It gives me regret that in my life, I ever associated with a person called Nnamdi Kanu. I regret that when he was in crisis, I came out to defend him. In fact, my greatest regret is associating with Nnamdi Kanu. I can’t make peace with somebody like him. He has nothing to offer other than to derail our struggle.”

He then rubbed it in by accusing Kanu of collecting millions of Dollars from Igbo businessmen in the Diaspora in the name of fighting for Biafra but ended up pocketing the money.

Living off fake news

In pitting Ndigbo against the Federal Government, Kanu has found home in the propaganda industry, constantly claiming that President Muhammadu Buhari is long dead and that a clone called Jubril of Sudan is the one in power.

Only recently, he fumbled yet again by saying the Jubril of Sudan was dead and had been replaced by someone from Niger Republic. This was in the wake of Nigerian government’s announcement of its intention to build a rail line that would connect parts of the North to Niger Republic.

Sadly, many of his followers seem to believe him and can swear on the credibility of the claims.

“Buhari is a shameless Paedophile and rapist. Buhari married his wife after raping her several times; the records are there. Buhari is a terrorist and should be killed,” he once said in a broadcast.

“The formidable IPOB family in Japan is hereby placed on direct order to ensure the impostor, Jubril Al-Sudani, masquerading as the late dictator, Mubammadu Buhari, is arrested and handed over to the authorities, when he sets foot on Japanese soil,” he said when Buhari was to visit Japan a few years ago.

“He is not only a fake president, but is also wanted for mass murder and crimes against humanity for his role in previous and ongoing genocide in Biafraland.

“Under Japanese law, an impostor is a common criminal and subject to citizen’s arrest. International diplomatic protocol as it relates to visiting heads of state is not applicable in this instance because whoever Abba Kyari is sending to Japan is not the real Buhari.

“Any legal fall-out emanating from any confrontation will end up in a Japanese court, where we will be able to establish before the world that Jubril is indeed a fake Buhari, “ he added.

When Buhari attended the Argungu International Agricultural Show and Cultural Festival, a young man who apparently wanted to get close to the President was stopped by security details. But for Kanu, the man’s mission was to arrest the President.

What followed was a concocted video posted on his Facebook wall where he said:
“The attempted citizen’s arrest of Jubril Al-Sudani is a welcome development. I am glad that some Hausa people are now waking up to the reality of Abba Kyari’s horror show that is Jubril Al-Sudani.

“I commend that young Hausa man in this video that tried to arrest the 45-year-old criminal impostor from Sudan. Look at the video again and tell me the young-looking boy being paraded by the evil cabal as the late Buhari is not Jubril Al-Sudani.

“At least, conscientious northerners can now see what we saw since 2017. Jubril’s days are numbered.”

Some other prominent Nigerians are not spared from Kanu’s acidic tongue. He once attacked former President Goodluck Jonathan, calling him an imbecile for handing power to a Hausa man.

“The imbecilic Goodluck Jonathan is a disgrace to humanity and deserves to be skinned alive for handing over to a Hausa goat.”

Pastor William Kumuyi was also one of Kanu’s targets as he once told his followers to stone the man of God in Aba whenever he went to the town for his church’s crusade.

“Kumuyi should be stoned and dealt with thoroughly if he comes to Aba for his planned crusade.”

‘Messiah’ in need of help

Kanu’s support base is fast diminishing, especially among the Igbo intelligentsia, a power bloc the separatist leader has chosen to ignore for too long. Ohaneze Ndigbo is one such powerful lobby group, and denouncing Kanu looks to be on the front burner if the Igbo nation is not to be mired in an unassailable crisis.

In the wake of the mayhem that engulfed Oyigbo in Rivers State a few weeks ago, Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, who is the Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, led a delegation of Ndigbo to Rivers State to seek a return to peace and stability.

While addressing host Governor Nyesom Wike, Umahi had accused Kanu and his IPOB followers of trying to incite another civil war in the country. He, thereafter, called on Indigbo to shun inciting statements credited to Kanu, as well as acts that could further plunge the region into another crisis with other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. He also warned them to be wary of forces bent on instigating a civil war.

Is Kanu perceptive enough to read the handwriting on the wall? Or, is he too blind to see?

In all, it would seem that Kanu has been so consumed by an ambition laid bare by the absence of a well thought goal and plan. Whether he and his IPOB cohorts can sustain a long-drawn struggle is not a matter of conjecture.

Success will only be determined by a humbling of character and an honest pre-disposition to reassess IPOB strategy that currently alienates a critical support base in the Igbo intelligentsia and arrogantly labels other stakeholders in the Nigerian project as visionless or spineless.

Kanu needs help urgently!

By Isaac Dachen…

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