My brother Nnamdi, we thank God for your freedom even as we note that the wrongs that led to your incarceration are yet to be removed, instead it’s even getting worse as your people’s tormentors are still remorseless and inexorable.
This memo therefore is another way of appreciating you for the huge sacrifice and to proffer some way forward to help you to possibly achieve your ultimate desire of having a Republic of Biafra out of Nigeria. First, I want you to have it noted in your mind that the race is not a 100-meter dash, but a long distance one that requires all the tacts and endurance to finish well.
As a political journalist of over three decades I have not come across you and so are many others because your name never rang any bell until late. Till last year you were probably only known in your small village of Isiama in Abia State.
Only during your incarceration did people realise that you are even a Prince, your father being the traditional ruler of your town. But today you are a household name not just in Biafra land and Nigeria but all over the media space even beyond Nigeria. For inadvertently sprouting yourself into this limelight credit goes to President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari who declared you enemy and kept you away. But the essence of this memo is to help ensure that you manage this fame well so that the gains therein are not shattered on missteps and slipups.
When you got the calling to start this Biafra project you may never have envisaged the scope but by now you should have realised that the Nnamdi Kanu that established Biafra Radio about two years ago is not the same as the one that came out of Kuje Prison few weeks ago.
Prison is not just a detention camp but a school, and a special church where many have after sojourn turned prayer warriors and end up becoming an authority in the holy book depending on which religion they belong. We hear that you embraced Judaism in Prison hence the decision of Justice Binta Nyako to include in your bail conditions a Judaism worshipper ostensibly thinking that it would be difficult to get.
Nobody goes to prison and remains the same there after especially freedom fighters like you. Either your spirit is broken and you chicken out of the struggle or you are strengthened and are fired up. From all indications, yours is the later and understandably so because history is a witness that nobody fights for justice and turns back without result, either you are celebrating victory like Nelson Mandela or you are becoming political martyrs.
Even Mandela knew that those who survive to become President are fired up by the blood of martyrs who died in the struggle. This memo is primarily to warn you about politicians. They are group of people you must approach with your thinking cap permanently on.
As a prince who grew up in Obi Eze (King’s Palace), you must have been privy to the story of why the use of long spoon is recommended while dinning with the devil, it’s because when he comes for your hand he would only have the spoon to grab, but I tell you that for politicians even long spoon would not suffice so the best is to avoid totally any lure of dinning with them if you can.
I have watched some dancing around you by politicians claiming to identify and agree with your struggle, nothing can be farther from the truth. What you are seeing is just jostling to leverage on your current fame and once they get through, off they disappear.
Initially when you started the IPOB struggle none of them gave you any chance. Even as Biafra is in engraved in the hearts of every Igbo, they did not feel you are the right and appropriate person to bring it to this level of national and international attention.
President Buhari’s apparent snub of Ndigbo in his administration helped to build an army of distraught and disgruntled Igbo leaders. If Buhari had been tactical enough to accommodate some of them, they would not have been talking about you.
Again don’t make the mistake of thinking that your current popularity can be translated into electoral votes. Ndigbo have unique political behaviour that is very complex. In the Second Republic, the ruling defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) wanting to leverage on the popularity of the Biafra main hero Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu whom the government pardoned and brought home from exile coerced him into contesting for Senate in the old Anambra State.
Everybody predicted landslide victory for Ojukwu and NPN but a medical doctor, a former Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr. Edwin Onwudiwe of the defunct Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) roundly defeated him. Even with the defeat, Ojukwu’s popularity among Ndigbo remained but he could not translate it to electoral success. May be you have some lessons to pick here.
My advice to you is to try and have an intellectual arm of IPOB to up your struggle by drawing up an operating template. Biafra cannot be gotten without going through what the law says unless through a war which both Nigeria and Biafra cannot afford again.
Every step of IPOB struggle must keep in view what the law says and put pressure towards achieving that. If Federal Government is to surprise you and call for referendum on Biafra now, you would discover that you are not ready; you would be shocked to learn that most IPOB members have no voter’s card.
Some IPOB members are deceiving themselves that they would vote out politicians not supporting them but as voter’s card revalidation is currently on-going and even underaged people are being registered in some parts of the country, Ndigbo are indifferent pursuing their businesses. My thinking is that if you want to continue keeping your head on your shoulder on this Biafra project you are to avoid like a plague political parties.
Once you drag your group into partisan politics you lose the struggle.
Biafra dream is to be realised in Nigeria not in Biafra, the fight should be outside Biafra not within. Once you enter the fray of partisan politics you drag the fight back and that would be the end. If you call rally, concentrate on Biafra project, on the injustice against the people that makes the struggle inevitable.
If you enter into vote for Mr A or B or for C or D party, you would discover yourself enmeshed in partisan politics. You should position yourself in such a way that all the political parties should be identifying with you because of the risk of going against you.
If you drag yourself out in such a way that some Igbo politicians start seeing you as an obstacle to their ambition, they would want to hack you down; they would ensure that you lose your focus. Perhaps your best bet is to work closely with the Ndigbo umbrella organisation, the Ohanaeze particularly now that its leadership is displaying some purposefulness and appear courageously ready and willing to take Igbo to the next level.
Not a few believe that the Biafra dream if not now later but must be realised. Nigeria is not moving in the direction of a nation in hunt for unity and progress. That perhaps explains why it is ranked the 13th least stable country in the world on the Fragile States Index (FSI), released by the Washington DCbased think-tank, Fund for Peace. In Africa, Nigeria is in the group of Somali and Sudan.
Therefore, to properly harness the people’s strong emotions on this project, a purposeful leadership must be inaugurated. My brother as I conclude this memo, may I remind you that history is a witness that no one makes a sacrifice for a people and regrets it.
In some struggles sometimes the prize is not worth the costs but in this case every price is worth the cost. Know it as a fact that Biafra is at the heart of every reasonable Igbo person. The road to our victory therefore must be as important as victory itself. Wish you well and God bless.
By Ike Abonyi, a political journalist