Femi Fani-Kayode, a prominent thought leader in Nigeria, writes this piece as Nnamdi Kanu, a pro-Biafra secessionist leader plans to visit Lagos Nigeria to spread his message.
Permit me to begin this week’s contribution with a brief aside. My dear friend Major Hamza Al Mustapha, a was reported to have said the following a few days ago:
“Those who strive to keep Nigeria one find themselves as enemies of a certain category of Nigerians. I don’t see those who hate to see Nigeria as one as a group but a clique that exploits the country, a clique that mismanaged the future, a clique that invests in disintegration, a clique that invests in misinformation and creating division among Nigerians, a clique that promotes hatred, a clique that distorts our history, so that when Nigerians are divided and can no longer think together, they can make gains and continue to steal from Nigeria’s commonwealth. But the moment you realize what they are doing and resolve to fight them, they will stop at nothing to destroy you. Any call to divide Nigeria is unacceptable.”
One wonders whether these were the thoughts of Major Hamza Al-Mustapha when he was the chief security officer to General Sani Abacha and when Mrs. Kudirat Abiola, the courageous and outspoken wife of Chief MKO Abiola the acclaimed winner of the June 12th 1993 presidential election, was brutally murdered in cold blood by agents of the government that he served so diligently and with such ruthless precision.
One wonders whether she was murdered alongside many other gallant sons and daughters of the south west by the Abacha regime in the name of maintaining the national cohesion and unity that he claims to love so much. I will grant my brother Hamza the opportunity to answer this question before going any further but for now I will just say the following.
I rather think that it is the clique of those that kill with impunity, that suppress dissent, that demonise their perceived enemies, that believe that the rest of us are slaves and that believe that they were born to rule that present the greatest threat to peace and national unity in this country.
If they want peace and unity they must humble themselves and beg God and the Nigerian people for forgiveness for 103 years of cruelty, ruthless domination, arrogance, genocide and impunity.
They must get off their high horse, purge themselves of their notorious insolence and insufferable contempt and they must stop the historical distortions, the insults, the killings and the threats.
Whether Mustapha likes it or not the days when anyone will invoke the spirit of national unity and one NIgeria just to perpetuate injustice, bondage, slavery, subjugation, mass murder, genocide, ethnic and religious cleansing and core northern domination are long over.
All the insults and threats in the world cannot change that. I await his response.
Permit me to continue this contribution by stating loudly and clearly that those that have told Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB to steer clear of Lagos and Yorubaland and that have said that he must not go there for any rallies are talking bunkum.
Apart from the fact that millions of Igbos that reside in Lagos and many other parts of the south-west would welcome him with open arms and thunderous jubilation, millions of Yoruba youth would also rejoice at his coming simply because they have been inspired and stirred by his sheer courage and dedication.
To the Yoruba nationalists and believers in the right of self-determination Kanu is a hero and they not only admire him but they also revere him.
This is especially so given the fact that he has long since withdrawn and renounced many of the misconceptions and views that he once espoused and expressed about the Yoruba and their leaders before his incarceration.
Had this not been the case this writer would not and could not possibly have had as much respect and affection for him as I do.
As a matter of fact since his release he has not only stood by the Yoruba nation publicly but has also spoken up for a number of Yoruba leaders who are suffering persecution from the federal government and who have been issued with life-threatening and physical threats from the Arewa Youth.
Yours truly is one of those that both IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu has stood by and spoken up for consistently and I consider it to not only be an honor but also a gesture that I shall never forget and that I shall always endeavour to reciprocate.
Without any fear of contradiction, I can boldly say that this courageous young man has nothing but respect and affection for the Yoruba nation today.
He has renounced all his past comments about our people both privately and publicly and he will do so again in a big way when he comes to Lagos.
We spent a lot of time together in Kuje prison and we learnt a lot from each other whilst there. We are fighting the same cause against the same enemy.
Those that believe that he and IPOB have no friends amongst the Yoruba are misguided and misinformed. They have lost touch with reality and they are living in the past.
The truth is that IPOB has friends amongst both the elders and the youths in the south-west and, most importantly, millions of Yoruba sons and daughters share their vision of and belief in the right to exercise their God-given right of self-determination.
They crave for and believe in the establishment of Oduduwa Republic in much the same way and for the same reasons that Nnamdi and members of his IPOB crave for and believe in Biafra.
The bridge of commonality of purpose between the south west and the south east has been rebuilt and re-established and none shall ever break or burn it again. Whether anyone likes it or not, in this struggle, we are one.
I would also add this. Those in igboland and indeed throughout the south that have openly opposed, insulted and sought to chastise those gallant men and women that support the idea of restructuring our country or that consistently resist and denigrate the concept of establishing the sovereign state of Biafra are mischievous and disingenuous.
They are nothing but gutless traitors, blacklegs and turncoats that have no sense or knowledge of history and that have been contracted by the powers that be to shatter the dreams and aspirations of millions of young Igbos from within.
Worst still they are simply voicing the views and sentiments of the internal colonialists and our collective slavemasters.
These turncoats and traitors have fed fat on Nigeria and have consistently cornered the market of all that is due to the Igbo from the Federal Government for themselves over the last thirty years.
Such beneficiaries of a skewered, inequitable and unwholesome system who have no empathy for the suffering and humiliation of their own people and who cannot feel their pain forget that, with God, all things are possible.
If one million Igbo youths were slaughtered in the north or in the streets of the east by northern mobs or our security forces respectively these people would not voice a single word of protest but would instead try to defend and rationalise it.
This brings me to the meat of this essay. The Arewa Youths that demanded that the Igbo must leave the north by October 1st and that have now given the Federal Government an ultimatum to arrest Nnamdi Kanu in the next 10 days are stoking a fire that may end up consuming Nigeria.
They must be gagged, put in chains and spanked hard!
Nnamdi Kanu is a hero and his call for independence for the Igbo is legitimate and lawful. Any attempt to arrest him will have consequences.
For those that still do not believe that the Biafra phenomenon and message is here to stay and that are still guided by the erroneous notion that “all is well” in Nigeria I share the following.
Dr. John Danfulani, a cerebral and well-respected activist, human rights crusader, intellectual and academic from Southern Kaduna with a large following, has said that if Biafra is established the people of Southern Kaduna will leave Nigeria and go with them.
This unprecedented assertion and declaration has caused panic, consternation and alarm in many core northern conservative circles.
Again Professor Jerry Gana, a respected former Minister from Niger state and a reasonable, well-known and well-liked leader that has been deeply involved in politics and entrenched in the corridors of power for the last 32 years has said that if Nigeria were ever to break up the people of the Middle Belt would leave the north and go with the people of the south.
Again the Solomon Asemota SAN and T.Y. Danjuma-led Christian Elders Forum has warned the Federal Government and the Nigerian people about what they have described as a subtle and dangerous application of “stealth jihad” by the Federal Government in our country and what they see as an attempt to islamise Nigeria.
Again a well-organised and credible Yoruba group called the Yoruba Liberation Command (YOLICOM) has said that it was “too late for restructuring” and that they want Oduduwa Republic to be established. They also threw their weight behind the establishment of Biafra.
This is the sad and sorry impasse that the ailing President Muhammadu Buhari and his cult of ecstatic cheerleaders and super worshippers have taken Nigeria in just two years.
Whilst the dangerous ethnic, religious and regional divisions in our country are getting wider by the day His Royal Highness is busy holding court in London and desperately trying to prove to the world that he is not dead, that he is much better and that he can rule our nation from a distant foreign land indefinitely. What a country! What a people!
The truth is that the President and the Presidency is not meant to be a tourist attraction, a museum of old fossils or a mausoleum of decaying bodies to be viewed by curious dignitaries in a distant foreign land.
Despite the pretty group pictures with a handful of selected governors I believe that it is an act of cruelty to expect this poor and obviously very sick man to lead a nation of 180 million.
In spite of my views about his glaring incompetence and his many atrocities, weaknesses, eccentricities and shortcomings I believe that even he deserves far better than that.
My counsel, which is borne out of compassion and nothing else, still remains that he resigns and that he goes home and rests before he suffers yet another relapse and returns to nether nether land!
The truth is that the only thing that competes with our never-ending film show of “do you have a President or do you not have a President” in Nigeria today is the much-awaited and newly released ‘season 7’ of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” which I watch religiously and which I enjoy enormously.
That is what the serious business of governance has been reduced to in Nigeria. Is it any wonder that CNN’s Fareed Zakaria mocked us about our absentee President before hundreds of millions of viewers from all over the world just the other day?
The truth is that we deserve even worse. May God judge those that have brought us this unquantifiable and unbearable calamity and national shame.
Meanwhile I urge the wise and the discerning to pause and consider the following.
Those that dismiss the widening divisions and agitations in our country with disdain and contempt and that underestimate the resolve of those that are behind them are not only naive but they also do so at their own peril.
It is only a matter of time before something gives. I say this because national cohesion and unity can only be established, entrenched and sustained by the accommodation and toleration of dissenting views, the constant expression of love and the regular and consistent application of leadership by consensus.
It cannot be sustained by brutality, murder, injustice, lies, suppression, persecution, tyranny, manipulation, deceit, propaganda and coercion.
You cannot hold a people down by the usage of threats, the shedding of blood and the force of arms forever.
Even slaves rise up in bloody rebellion and resist tyranny when the time is right, when the wind of liberation blows and when the freedom bell tolls.
The south west, the south south and the south east yearn for that liberty and freedom and the Middle Belt craves for it.
The only thing that they are waiting for is the emergence of a set of bold, clear-thinking, inspirational and focused leaders that have the courage, the tenacity of purpose, the unrelenting fortitude and the purity of spirit to lead the struggle and to take them out of the bondage of Egypt and into the Promised Land.
The bottom line is as follows: I would rather live and die as a free man in an independent Oduduwa Republic than continue to live and die as a slave in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Femi Fani-Kayode is a lawyer, a Nigerian politician, an evangelical christian, an essayist, a poet and he was the Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to President Olusegun Obasanjo from July 2003 until June 2006. He was the minister of culture and tourism of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from June 22nd to Nov 7th 2006 and as the minister of Aviation from Nov 7th 2006 to May 29th 2007. He tweets from@realFFK.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.