I will start this report by drawing copious excerpts from Ohaneze President, Nnia Nwodo’s speech last week in Umuahia, Abia State. Hear Nwodo: “Some months ago, I invited Nnamdi Kanu to my house and we met for three hours, I told him clearly that both in my personal capacity and as President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, that though there are structural imbalances and lots of injustices in Nigeria, I will never support any action that will lead to the shedding of blood in Igboland. No nation in history has survived two civil wars.
“I saw the Biafran war with my two eyes. My father was Minister for Local Government in the Eastern Regional Government of Dr. Michael Okpara but I fought on the front lines. I was a full lieutenant in the Biafran army. I fought in Ore. I fought in Orlu. I fought in Enugu. I fought in the Biafran School of Infantry. I worked for several months at the Biafran Airport in Uli.
“I told Kanu that war is not an option. I made that point clearly to him. I also told him to tone down his language. He should stop abusing the President of the country and stop calling Nigeria a zoo. A zoo is where wild animals are kept. If you say Nigeria is a zoo, it then means all of us are animals. Even if you don’t like the President as a person, you must respect the office he occupies. I told him to stop abusing our governors. In particular, I told him to stop abusing the Imo State Governor by calling him Okoroawusa and questioning his paternity, except you have the result of DNA test which proved that his father didn’t give birth to him. By questioning his paternity, you are indirectly abusing our wives and mothers. That is unacceptable. I told him to stop calling the President a pedophile. That is wrong and I won’t condone that. My own mum had her first child at the age of 13. In the olden days, once a girl attains puberty in Igboland, forms a breast and starts menstruating, she is ripe for marriage. So you are indirectly abusing the culture of our people.
“Instead of talking tough and threatening fire and brimstone, let’s work together and push for a restructured Nigeria. Let’s sit down and talk with Abuja. If we form a common and united front, the Federal Government will listen to us.
“Abusing the President will not give us Biafra. Abusing other tribes and calling them names will not give us Biafra. Telling Igbos to stop attending churches with Yoruba pastors will not give us Biafra. It will rather widen the gaps between us and these other people who themselves are victims of the injustices in Nigeria. It will annoy them and they will abandon us. We can’t push this alone. We need the support of our neighbors. By busing and threatening others, you put the lives of our people who live there in danger (emphasis mine)”.
Beautiful, lovely, statesmanlike, you may say. Nobody can argue against the wisdom displayed here. No one can argue of the aptness of the positions Nwodo shared here. But then, why did it take him this long to speak out? Why did it take Nwodo this length of time to voice out? Why didn’t Nwodo avail the public of this wise counsel when the fire was raging and threatening to consume all? If Nwodo had spoken at the right time, would the Arewa youths have issued the irresponsible quit notice to Igbos in the north, which was a direct response to Kanu and IPOB’s consistent wild statements and actions? If Nwodo had been timely in issuing these counsels, would the unnecessary tensions the actions and reactions Kanu’s stupidity engendered, have degenerated to the extent it did? If Nwodo and his Ohaneze had intervened responsibly when the issue was hot, would a generation of Igbo youths be so brainwashed to the extent that they don’t contemplate life outside the utopia they were made to believe was possible if other Nigerians disappear and leave only them to inhabit the earth?
I intentionally let the revelation by Nnia Nwodo form the main body of my report because what he said he told Kanu was the plain truth but new to the ears of many Nigerians who were disappointed as Nwodo and his Ohaneze became the amplifiers of IPOB and Kanu’s irresponsible behaviors. All he said here were what some of us who saw the fault lines of Kanu and IPOB’s post-2015 dance of folly called Biafran agitation said and shouted on rooftops. When we were doing this, those trapped in that folly, those who invested political capital in the damned project, those who stood to harvest from the terrible outcome of that dance and those who were so simple-minded that they believed the moonlighting that enshrouded the Biafran utopia called us several names and issued violent threats and fatwa on us for cautioning against all Nwodo said he cautioned Kanu against.
Strangely, Nwodo and his Ohaneze never showed up on our side. They were cozy on the side of Kanu and merely magnified all the despicable and atrocious vituperations and conducts he unleashed en route his fancy utopia. We were like orphans and as the silly dance lasted, we watched as all those who should weigh in on the side of reason and caution, showed a worrying eagerness to join the dance train for the purpose of harvesting its ghoulish aftermaths.
Good that Nwodo said he cautioned Kanu on the folly of his obviously politically-tainted mission. Did Ben Nwabueze also caution him? Did Chukwuemeka Ezeife also caution him? Did all those senators that were lining so shamelessly for photo-ops with Kanu also caution him? Did all those displaced politicians still smarting from the loss of political placement in March 2015 and who patronized Kanu’s macabre dance, both in cash and kind, also caution him? Did those diasporan economic refugees and savages furiously fanning the embers of carnage and war in their country caution him? We won’t bother to ask if Kanu listened to them. Because both Nwodo and all these afore-mentioned interests fully subscribed to the awkward belief of a tail wagging the dog, they offered their secret pieces of advice and never bothered if their raging bull in china shop listened. The ignoring of their well-heeled advice would have made them to adopt more covert actions to stop Kanu before he and his brainwashed acolytes set the entire house on fire. But Nwodo and his Ohaneze never did that. They merely waited to amplify the next suicidal move Kanu made and threatened fire and brimstone against the Buhari government and their favorite sport, APC for stirring the peace of their demi-god even on the eve of Kanu’s inglorious flight.
Did Nwodo and Ohaneze ever believe that Kanu’s insidious conducts and utterances posed a grave danger to Ndigbo living outside Igboland? Apart from Nwodo’s confession that he told Kanu so, nothing gave the impression that Kanu and his prodders, including Ohaneze, ever considered the welfare, interest, and security of Igbo living outside the Igbo homeland as they openly surged on in that grave suicidal irresponsibility. We will, however, give it to Nwodo that he advised Kanu, on this but how did those other Nigerians who were subjected to Kanu’s hateful bile, know that Nwodo cautioned him when he never publicly called the enfant terrible to order? Of what use is it to secretly admonish a leviathan without making efforts for people to notice that you did so? I am not doubting Nwodo but did he realize that lots more Igbo would have added to his voice if they ever knew that he cautioned against the excesses of Kanu and not the barrage of public support he and his Ohaneze were known to have thrown to Kanu pursuant of his asinine project to dismantle the country?
I am not among those who have seen Nwodo’s as an after-thought. In fact, many have asked if he would have come out as he did if the Federal Government has not moved in decisively to stop a dangerous plot to plunge Igboland and Nigeria into an intractable theater of blood. What I believe prompted the Nwodos and all those that fanned the foolishness of Kanu and IPOB was not lack of knowledge of the disastrous predilection of that flight of idiocy but rather the fear of a bloody lynch mob that descends on any sane or cautionary voice with deadly threats and unmitigated insults. Many sane voices either cowered away in fear or joined the unruly mob out of fear. Yes, many were mischievously urging them on for political reasons while many others were trapped in the cage of ignorance to gobble the silly propaganda and illusionary claptrap of the utopian promises of Biafra. But most people who should know, gave in to fear. They gave in to threats. They gave in to insults and held back their voices of reason as Igboland veered to the paths of destruction. They hid behind their fingers in their belief that somehow, the dangers will fizzle out or pass them by if they stand behind the mob. They lost their voices so as to appear politically-correct to an unruly and ill-educated mob. It is a big shame!
All said Igboland is in dire need of direction. It is still achievable if those that claim to lead Igbo, like Nwodo are pro-active in their thoughts, words, and actions. If Igbo leaders would endeavor to strike the iron while it is hot, they will certainly pull the chestnut out of a raging fire and achieve loads of success in guiding the people, especially the youth, right. If the elders stop agreeing to be ruled by selfish interests, they will steer the race aright and not allow themselves to be ruled by transient but dubious considerations. The mob can never lead a race because it has very limited, indeed a narrow vision of the road and the ways to navigate it. The philosopher king leads because he sees afar what may take others considerable mileage to see. It is good that Nwodo concluded his advice to Kanu with this age-old Igbo aphorism; “What an elder sees sitting down, a young person cannot see standing up”. No better way to end a post-mortem which Nwodo did with his revelation of what transpired between him and Nnamdi Kanu.
Peter Claver Oparah
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