Can We Please Let Nnamdi Kanu Be?

By Tai Emeka Obasi

Let me say it for the umpteenth time – I have huge respect for the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu. He has COURAGE and plenty of it. He also loves Biafra and his fights to actualise it are genuine. I have diligently followed and studied him to be this authoritative.

And I say to those presently attacking him – stop! Rather Think, Think and Think again.

I may not agree with some of his methods that are really extremist to my reckoning, one of which was the call for election boycott. Somehow, I believed he was going to call off the boycott and waited. Even though I was hating him as February 16 got closer, I restrained myself from writing any word against him.

I restrained myself because I know the problems leaders face. When it’s freedom fighters it gets even more complicated. Kanu and IPOB made a decision – vowing never to participate in elections in Nigeria until a referendum is done. If you’re an Igbo man and old enough, you shouldn’t really blame them for this extremist stance. The ‘enemy’ fought and shed millions of Igbo blood to keep them in ‘one’ Nigeria. For over 50 years the Igbos have not seen signs of that oneness. Why blame Kanu and his group for agitating?

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They were non violent and pursued their goal with visible signs of maturity until President Muhammadu Buhari went gaga – proscribing them as terrorists and sending pythons after them. In a democratic setting! If there was any act of terrorism involved in the relationship between IPOB and Buhari, the President actually was the terrorist.

The South East governors then followed in acts I will never forgive them – proscribing IPOB, therefore agreeing with Buhari they were terrorists! I shed silent tears.

Kanu was incarcerated for 18 months in maximum security prison. He luckily escaped assassination in his home, losing 28 close comrades in the struggle. Losing his well-trained security dog in the operation showed how close to whiskers he was to assassination. He was smuggled away via all inconveniencing ways involved with such clandestine moves to evade a well-armed army. Today, people open their mouths without caution to berate this courageous young man. So so sad.

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Yes, the call for election boycott was a wrong call, especially after a man like HE Atiku Abubakar emerged as a very good choice to send Buhari home… and more so when Atiku picked HE Peter Obi as running mate. Any reasonable Nigerian expected Kanu and IPOB to call off the boycott.

But believe me, such call offs are never done in a hurry. Kanu was put in a serious fix – he has unprecedented followership and any good leader must consider his followers in such delicate situations. If he acted too fast his followers could accuse him of sell out. I perfectly understood his dilemma and prayed for him.

Yes, the call off came pretty late as it were but I was hugely relieved… for Kanu and for myself. I truly never wanted to write a word against such courageous man and he saved me the agony.

For those who claim most IPOB members don’t have PVCs, how uninformed you are! For those who don’t understand the danger of IPOB boycott of elections in the South East, be educated thus. Most people in IPOB strongholds wouldn’t have gone out to vote for fear of IPOB! My rough calculation placed loss of at least a million votes for AtikuObi if the boycott was not called off. Exactly the reason APC were so much at home with the boycott. The threat to deal with IPOB by Gen Bruttai was a ploy to put fear into people to stay away from the polls.

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Now that Kanu and IPOB called off the boycott and the election postponement afforded the chance to talk about it… I honestly call that we cease attacking Kanu. That Buhari called him a terrorist and tried severally to dehumanise him are painful enough… getting all the flaks from his own people could truly be heart breaking.

That young man is a hero. You didn’t command such followership if you weren’t. But he is human too and prone to mistakes . He made one by insisting on the boycott. He corrected it just in time. We should show him brotherly love and urge his members to vote in the right ballot space – PDP.


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