Igbo Republicanism and the struggle of a people to present a unified response to the current Nnamdị Kanụ abduction Saga
By Val Frakas Mo’Fire Amadi.
Nigeria’s Easterners and indeed Ndị Igbo are a People of wide ranging opinions that never shy away from expressing them, sometimes forcefully and it goes further to buttress the famous Igbo saying that “Igbo Enweghị Eze” – Igbos have no kings. Igbos have had and practice, perhaps, the oldest form of democracy and Republicanism in the world. They never had any prominent and dominant kings from the past as did most other ethnic groups in Nigeria. The idea of a domineering Kingship is foreign to the Igbo understanding. Most Igbo groups were governed through Consultative Assemblies at the top and family heads of family units at the bottom with a collective understanding and association/congregation/congregating of Family heads, village heads, Elders in council, Ndị Ọha, Ndị Nze Na Ọzọ and High Priests. The system is structured to be that with a pure consultative approach that ensures that the voices of all concerned is heard. It is noteworthy that this near-perfect form of Democracy as introduced and practiced by the Igbos is sadly now a thing of the past as the advent of colonialism basically eroded destabilized it. All that’s left of that system now is a loose understanding amongst the Igbos but this loose understanding is just about wholesomely controled by the government of the day as introduced by the “white man”.
It is also widely believed that the same Igbos who were believed to have introduced the earliest known form of democracy and Republicanism also introduced and practised alongside it, the earliest and perhaps the purest form of a Capitalism-Socialism Hybrid that promoted individualism, self strive within a free market economy and at the same time, through a network of family and community based measures and initiatives, ensured that the weak, the needy, the sick and elderly amongst them were properly catered for. That is real “Compassionate Conservatism”.
Given the Republican nature of the Igbo society, one shouldn’t be surprised at the plethora of opinions surrounding the abduction and re-arrest of Mazị Nnamdị Kanụ. The people should all welcome the various opinions and respect them and also respect the rights of the various individuals to possess and express them. People should only advise that those various opinions be taken as learning tools and used in negotiating the future of the average Easterner in better ways. It would be good to learn from the opinions and historical antecedents as a better and stronger society is forged.
Some Igbos who support the idea of a Biafran Nation but are not necessarily supportive of the manner and approach Nnamdi Kanu and the IPOB are employing to achieve Biafra often complain about being cyber-bullied by the supporters of Nnamdi Kanu. Many of them feel that MNK is too coarse and insulting in his utterances to make a good Biafran Leader. MNK on his own part, has quite often made it clear that he isn’t interested in leading a Biafran Nation and that his work is done when he helps achieve Biafra. That isn’t satisfactory, however, to his critics who think he’s too domineering to sort of “magically” adopt a hands-off approach at the ushering in of a new Bịafra. MNK’s supporters have often responded to the Igbo critics of his style by saying they should feel free to start their own movement in the agitation and feel free also to run it the way they deem fit and quit worrying about MNK and IPOB. Many of MNK’s critics often respond to this by saying that MNK has dominated the agitation space with his brand of agitation that these critics think is counterproductive in many respects and that his dominance has dwarfed many of what they often refer to as “better voices” in the pursuit of Biafra. Simply put, they believe MNK and IPOB have grown too big to be displaced and that their presence and occupation of a considerably large chunk of the agitation space is a major hindrance to the nurturing and growth of new movements with different, fresher, better ideas. This is Igbo republicanism in motion and the sooner that these various divergent voices somehow manage to eventually marry and converge their different stategies, the sooner the realization of an independent state of Biafra. The name calling and infighting can only delay the delivery of what both groups see as a much better alternative to the Nigerian setting.
It’s been revealed that Mazi Nnamdi Kanụ was abducted on the 19th of June 2021 at a Kenyan International Airport in Nairobi and was handed over on the 27th of June 2021 to the Nigerian Authorities who brought him back to Nigeria to continue the case against him that was discontinued in 2017 when he didn’t show up in court in October 2017. His house was attacked in September 2017 by the Nigerian Military and it is widely understood that he fled for his life. He was re-arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako on the 29th of June 2021. Freedom loving people worldwide are enraged by what is perceived as a diplomatic breach by the Kenyan government who is believed to have illegally handed over Nnamdi Kanu, a United Kingdom citizen, to Nigerian authorities without following due process bothering around international extradition treaties and understandings.
Some Easterners who are okay with the idea of “Bịafra” believe in Bịafra under different conditions, some loosely and some strongly held.
1) Bịafra By way of Nnamdị Kanụ’s style of Agitation – Bịafra or Nothing
2) Bịafra by any means necessary while giving limited support to Mazi Nnamdi Kanụ and the IPOB
3) Bịafra By Political means and mostly by referendum and political negotiations.
4) Bịafra if and only if no atom of political unrest or war would arise from it.
For the Easterners who are into the “One Nigeria” approach, they fall in various categories.
1) Those that want to remain in Nigeria as presently constituted.
2) Those that want to remain in Nigeria if and only if it’s “RE-STRUCTURED” into a confederacy.
3) Those that would be in Nigeria if restructured “better” but not necessarily into a confederacy.
The political and elite class have also largely been criticised and accused of being okay with the way Nigeria is today because they are seen as having enjoyed or are currently or hoping to soon be enjoying the dividends of a United Nigeria.
The emergence of Mazi Nnamdi Kanụ sort of gave a point of convergence not only for the average voiceless, oppressed and marginalized individual in the South East and South- South (Former Eastern Region of Nigeria) but also for some fair minded political and elite classed individuals who all see the great injustices and marginalization being exposed by Mazi Nnamdi Kanụ. In him, they also see a fearless “prophet” who foresaw some of the events unfolding in Nigeria and who spoke truth to power without fear nor favor of any powers and authorities. To many, Mazị Nnamdị Kanụ is the “cleanest” leader they “Never” had in the political setting. He leads the I.P.O.B (Indigenous People Of Biafra), a group that many believe is the “Largest Mass Movement on the planet Earth” and a group that has even more sympathizers than members. Of late, his supporters and sympathizers base has grown beyond the former Eastern Region (South East and South South) to include some individuals and groups from other ethnic groups and regions of Nigeria.
The ushering in of the Buhari administration saw the marginalization complaints by various ethnic groups (except for his native Fulani) in Nigeria go sky high and many Eastern, middle Belt and Yoruba groups increase the tempo of agitation for self determination. The Fulani Herdsmen, lead my Myetti Allah, ranked 4th deadliest terror group according to World’s Terrorism Index, has been on a rampage, killing, kidnapping, raping women and sacking communities in the Middle Belt and the South of Nigeria and the Federal government is seen as being unable to clamp down on them and reluctant to label them as terrorists. Peaceful groups like I.P.O.B, however, have been proscribed by the same Federal Government.
The infiltration of the Fulani Herdsmen Militia into the South East and the seeming inability of the South East Governors to engage the pillaging herders roused up public opinion in the South and broadened that call for “someone” to lead the mission to save the lives and properties of Southerners in the hands of the Herders who were kidnapping, killing and sacking farm communities and raping women, amongst other forms of criminality. Most people believe that the Eastern Governors were largely mute on the attacks because they wouldn’t want to upset their Northern allies by going after Fulani Herdsmen. It is largely understood that the next president of Nigeria should come from the South East of Nigeria to help douse the current tension and that the Northern elites that support Fulani herdsmen also hold a strong sway on who becomes the next Nigerian President.
Mazi Nnamdị Kanụ and his IPOB group introduced the E.S.N (Eastern Security Network) and they took on and drove away the killer Herdsmen. The Governor of Ebonyi, Dave Ụmahị even confessed that there were no more killer Herders in his state. Even some Igbos that never liked MMK and his approach on the agitation applauded and supported the way the E.S.N took on the killer Fulani Herders to get them off their farms and forests. At various points, indigenous people could hardly farm on their farmlands because of the invading killer herders. Young and elderly Women were often raped as they went the farm and their crops were often destroyed by the herders and their cows. To many, it is safe the to say that the birth of E.S.N by Kanụ and the IPOB is as a result of the inability or unwillingness of the South East Governors to tackle the insecurity problems bothering around the ravaging killer Fulani herders. It is believed in many quarters that the average Igbo politician is emasculated by the powerful Fulani political class. They believe that most of them have sold their souls away and can never act in the best interest of the people, hence the broader support given by the masses to Nnamdi Kanu.
Nnamdi Kanụ, in recent years have made some inroads with people and had gained more supporters and sympathizers across the length and breath of Nigeria. The likes of Sunday Igboho and other Yoruba Nation agitators have recently found their voices and are making some collaborative push with Kanu and their Biafran Counterparts. Sadly, the DSS had recently raided Sunday Igboho’s home, killing 2 and injuring many. Igboho has also been declared wanted by the Federal Government. Many believe the recent raid was to discourage a pre-planned mega rally to support the Yoruba Nation in Lagos. The Yoruba Nation’s rally was held on the 3rd of June 2021 in Lagos and 2 or more people were reportedly killed by the police.
The call for a referendum to help Biafra Nation and Yoruba Nation Agitators self-determine their future has also gained huge traction of late, with the Yoruba Nation agitators following the lead of their Biafran counterparts and experiencing a huge surge in the recent months. The Referendum would help give a good Barometric guage or measure of the people’s actual yearnings. The Federal Government has also been advised to stop clamping down heavily on people seeking for self determination as it isn’t a crime and infact it is provided for under various U.N and African Union charters.
It seems that more Yorubas are openly expressing their support for Sunday Igboho than the Igbos are doing for Nnamdi Kanu. Is the Igbo Republicanism a major factor in the creation of this disparity or is there more to it than that?
Some observers point out the fact that the recent Kanụ bashing by fellow Easterners makes it apparent that the people hardly seem to learn from their past and historical events. They say it appears that the current attitude of the so called “educated”, political and elite class Igbos on his current abduction saga isn’t too far from their same exhibition when MNk was detained in 2015 – they applauded. When his house was attacked and over 60 people killed, they applauded and even still choose to state that he “jumped bail” in their usual anti-MNK rhetorics.
It’s not a secret that MNK is very critical of and even insults the so called Igbo elite and politicians. That same approach is believed to have earned him the love and affection of many politically and economically dissatisfied Igbos who see him as fearless in the face of a group or class of their own people who they view as not positively contributing to the collective development, progress and even survival of the people. Contrary to the views of many within the elite and political class, Nnamdi Kanụ’s support base goes beyond the so called poorly educated and low income earning base and infact extends deeply into the elite and political class. Many current politicians and elite do infact support MNK and IPOB in various ways. Nigerians in the diaspora also constitute a large chunk of the IPOB support base.
There’s nothing wrong with some Igbos believing in “ONE NIGERIA”, although even they agree also that it hasn’t been sustainable and is mostly untenable. Many believe the “One Nigeria” experiment is all marred by marginalization and Exclusion of the Easterners by the Federal Government.
Some people in Nigeria wanted Nnamdi Kanu killed or didn’t mind if he got killed in the raid on his house in 2017 yet they cry foul when bandits or unknown gunmen attack a politician, an elite or a military personnel. Why the selective outrage? We must care about the life of an average person on the street the same way we care about the lives of political operatives and military personnel.
We must learn to feel one another’s pain for us to move our society forward. Selective outrage or choosing not to hold some of our politicians and elite to accounts only futher divides us and delays the necessary delivery of the goodies of good governance to all.
The life of an average street protester protesting for good governance, good schools, clean drinking water, electricity, food, etc who gets killed by the military should matter the same way the life of a politician serving his nation or an elite who is killed by an “unknown Gunman” should matter to us all.
This same Nnamdị Kanụ and his agitation is widely believed to be the reason why the so called “restructuring” demands is getting any listening ears from the FG of Nigeria.
Some people feel that even if they’re anti-Biafra or anti-Nnamdị, that they should all respect and appreciate the much galvanization and attention that MNK and his group have brought to the pursuit of “restructuring” as a condition to remaining in “one Nigeria”. They feel that without him and his push, most “One Nigeria” pursuers, especially those from the South would still be scrambling around for an articulated push and voice and would still be paid no mind by the powers that be. One protester put it this way, “they would remain stooges of and second class Citizens to the ruling class”. Right after the recent “denunciation” of IPOB by the S.E governors, Gen. Buhari was quoted as saying he “sees Nothing to restructure about Nigeria”. It seems apparent that when you assist in killing off your major support system (s), the powers that be automatically relegate you to the back burner, if not eliminate you. A more collective and unified effort is needed to push for a better society for all.
Val Frakas Amadị
Val Frakas Mo’Fire Amadi is the Publisher of We4WeREPORTS.com, a music & Film Producer, a Biochemist, BioMedical Researcher, a Social consciousness crusader and an Activist for Social Justice, freedom & Equality. He leads the #DemMustWaka & #TheyAllGottaGo Movement.
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