By Femi Fani-Kayode
Let me make this abundantly clear right from the outset. I love and respect Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the supreme leader of the Biafran movement, the founder and convener of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) and the man that I have appropiately dubbed as the Lion of the East.
I do not however agree with him on EVERYTHING and neither do I share his views about President Goodluck Jonathan.
I do not believe that Jonathan was weak or that he was incompetent. As a matter of fact I believe that the contrary is the case.
I believe that he exhibited immense strength and courage by letting go of power even though he did NOT lose the 2015 presidential election but was rather rigged out of it and even though he did NOT need to do so.
If Jonathan had been a lesser man and if he had wanted to do so he could have knuckled down, called the bluff of the then opposition and held on to power even if it meant that the bloodthirsty sociopath that threatened to soak the nation in the “blood of dogs and baboons” if he was not declared winner of that election went ahead and carried out his threat.
Instead of calling the bullying beasts bluff and thereby endanger the lives of millions of Nigerian people, Jonathan said “my being President is not worth the drop of blood of one Nigerian” and he let go.
Only a strong and disciplined man who is not in the grip and under the power of satan and who is not driven by a primitive, bestial and compelling lust for power can do that.
Jonathan was not weak: he was strong.
Secondly I believe that his record of infrastructural development throughout the nation is second to none.
Most importantly in this context I believe that Jonathan, more than ANY other President in the history of Nigeria, did more to rehabilitate and empower the Igbo whilst he was President.
Having said this I must confess that, other than his past remarks about the Yoruba people which he made a number of years ago and which he has told me privately and said publicly that he no longer holds, I am on all fours with Nnamdi Kanu on virtually everything else.
The truth is that I have a soft spot for him and no matter what he says or does I will always love him like a brother because he has managed to do, in a very short space of time, what most cannot do in a lifetime: he has won my respect and rekindled my hope in Africa and African leaders.
I believe that he is a courageous, strong and dynamic young man and indeed the greatest thing that has happened to the Igbos in the last 103 years.
As I alluded to in an earlier essay which I wrote after meeting him for the first time in Kuje prison in 2016, he is an Ojukwu, an Nzeogwu and an Azikiwe all rolled into one.
Despite the contrived and sponsored disinformation and rubbish that his many detractors are saying and writing about him, today he remains focused on his objectives and clear about his mission: nothing appears to move him and or distract him from his calling.
He has a date with history and destiny and no matter what his enemies do to him or say about him he shall keep that date.
Most important of all is the fact that I understand what drives him and kindles his extreeme passion for the cause that he serves.
I understand his burning yet clearly repressed anger at the shoddy and inexcusable plight of his Igbo people in the contraption called Nigeria.
I can feel his pain and when you sit with him for a long period of time, to the discerning and the sensitive in the spirit, that pain is not only contagious but also literally tangible.
Rarely have I met a man that has so much genuine love and concern for his people. My admiration and respect for him remains intact and it cannot easily be diminished.
And frankly if I had been born an Igbo person, given the history and what they have been through in the hands of Nigeria over the last 57 years, I would have been far more radical and uncompromising than even he is.
The truth is that Nigeria should count herself lucky that he is a pacifist who has not called for and neither is he interested in an armed struggle.
If that had been the case and if he had made his battle-cry “blood for blood”, things would have been very different today and our country would have been in the terrible vice-like grip of another civil war.
Yet despite his pacifist and non-violent approach in this struggle there are still so many that simply hate this rising young star for no just cause.
And there are thousands within the intelligensia and ranks of the Nigerian ruling elite both from the north and the south who oppose what he stands for and despise the very idea of the establishment a new, sovereign and independent Biafran nation.
As a matter of fact they find such an idea and notion deeply offensive. They believe in freedom, the rule of law, the right of self-determination, the concept of restructuring and the cause of freedom for themselves and their own but they do not believe that the Igbo people deserve the right to have such freedoms or to make such choices.
What a contradiction and what a tragedy. You are comfortable in your chains but when your Igbo brothers say they wish to break theirs and become free you seek to deny them that right and you join forces with the slave-masters and tell them that you will help them to keep the igbo in chains by force.
Can this be considered as being fair and just? Can it be right before God? Can it be sustained? Can it be justified and defended?
Is it not an intellectually dishonest, spiritually jaundiced and utterly flawed position?
Should we not bow our heads in shame when we think and talk like this? Are the Igbo not human beings too? Do they not share the same rights that we do and that we cherish?
You believe that the people of Scotland have the right of self-determination but you don’t believe that the people of Biafra have that right as well.
You believe that the people of Hong Kong have the right of self-determination but you don’t believe that the Biafrans have that right as well.
You believe that the Palestinians have the right of self-determination but you don’t believe that the Biafrans have that right as well.
You believe that the people of Northern Ireland have the right of self-determination but you don’t believe the Biafrans have that right as well.
You believe that the Basques and the people of Catalan in Spain have the right of self-determination but you don’t believe the Biafrans have that right as well.
You believe that the people of the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Israel, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Australia, Ghana, Kenya, Benin, East Timor, Ireland, Europe, the former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union, the former Czechoslovakia, the former Malaya, Taiwan, the Sudan, the countries of South America and South East Asia and hundreds of other nation states throughout the world and over the years have the right of self-determination but you don’t believe that the people of Biafra have that right as well.
O Nigerians, who has bewitched you? And who, like Apostle Paul’s Galatians in the Holy Bible, has put you under a spell?
You scream “restructuring” when you know very well that the owners of your nation and the “born to rule” will never allow it and that it is an idea and concept that ought to have been accepted, established and implemented many years ago.
What burns in the hearts and souls of most young Nigerians today, and this is especially and understanderbly so with the young people of the east, is total liberation and independence from Nigeria. That is what they want and not just restructuring.