How he shutdown South East May 30

By Willy Eya and tunde thomas

“Live the life of your dreams. Be brave enough to live the life of your dreams according to your vision and purpose instead of the expectations and opinion of others. Don’t let others tell you what you can’t do. Don’t let the limitations of others limit your vision. If you can remove your self-doubt and believe in yourself, you can achieve what you never thought possible.”

Enter Nnamdi Kenny Okwu Kanu, the new kid on the block. The above quote by a great thinker, Roy T. Benett captures the power of vision and self-belief, which the British-Nigerian political activist now represents. He is a man of the moment and hate or love him, his name has got stuck in the minds of the majority of Nigerians. And perhaps no name in the country today rings a bell like that of the prisoner of conscience.

Surprisingly, before now, Kanu who doubles as the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and director of a London-based radio station, Radio Biafra was literally unknown in Nigeria.  But out of the blues, the Abia State born activist became a household name when on October 14, 2015, he was arrested by the agents of the Federal Government, the Department of State Security (DSS) in his hotel room, Golden Tulip Essential Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos State on treason charges. He was thereafter detained in jail. His arrest and detention marked the beginning of the making of today’s Igbo hero. Many would agree that since his arrest on that fateful day, the popularity of the young man with a heart of steel has soared like an eagle.

 The man Nnamdi

Kanu was born in Isiama Afara, Abia State, Nigeria. His father is Eze Israel Okwu Kanu and his mother Ugoeze Nnenne Kanu. He attended Library Avenue Primary School (now part of Government House, Umuahia) and went to Government College Umuahia for his secondary education. The freedom fighter later gained admission to the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), where he could not finish due to incessant strikes before he left for London to complete his tertiary education. By 1987, Nnamdi was merely an innocent Geography major, resident at Akintola Hall of the UNN. Not given to half measures and as one of those gifted in the pursuit of their dreams, Nnamdi’s path would prove to be thorny, uncommon and epochal. It is little wonder that he did not have the patience to tarry along with other normal students before going abroad for his studies.

While in London, Kanu became an activist and freedom fighter with the sole aim of liberating the people of Biafra who he believes are being oppressed in Nigeria. One of the greatest instruments he deployed to achieve that dream was the Radio Biafra with which he continuously lampooned the Federal Government. A man of his conviction, he took his activities to the extreme and did not pretend that he could even pay the supreme price for the liberation of his people. The IPOB leader was once quoted to have said he is an Igbo Jew, part of a group who believe they are descendants of the lost tribe of Israel who settled in West Africa.

Speaking ahead of the 50th anniversary of Biafran war to Al-Jazeera despite being banned by the court not to grant interviews, Kanu had made it clear that the demand for the secession of Ndigbo from Nigeria is because the nation seems not to be functioning and can never function.

He decried the marginalisation of the Igbo in Nigeria, saying that they have been prevented from aspiring to assume important positions in the country. Kanu like in the words of Philip Brooks, believes that, “no man has come to true greatness who has not felt that his life belongs to his race, and that which God gives to him, He gives him for mankind”.

 Hero or villain

For Kanu, many believe that heroism was thrust on him by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration following his arrest, detention and eventual release on bail. The news of the arrest of Mr Kanu generated protests across parts of Delta, Enugu, Rivers, Cross River, Abia, Imo, and Anambra states.

The argument is that the activist has been operating long before the All Progressives Congress (APC) government came on board and many Nigerians hardly knew that any name like Nnamdi Kanu ever existed. The permutation is that the strategy adopted by the government through the Department of State Security (DSS) magnified IPOB, which Kanu leads and shot his popularity up to high heavens. His popularity rating was boosted when he was denied bail after orders to do so by several courts of competent jurisdiction. Kanu was arraigned by the DSS on November 23, 2015 in an Abuja Magistrate Court for the first time for charges of “criminal conspiracy, intimidation and membership of an illegal organisation.” The charges, they said violated “Section 97, 97B and 397” of Nigeria’s penal code.

On the date of the case, Kanu’s supporters stormed Abuja in luxury buses on a peaceful protest for their leader who was arraigned before the Wuse Zone 2 Magistrate Court with placards amid dancing and singing outside the court premises whilst hearing proceeded. Protesters wore T-shirts and caps with inscriptions like “Biafra Now or Never”, “Buhari Release Kanu For Us”, “On Biafra We Stand”.

The government ignored initial court orders calling for Kanu’s bail before bowing to the recent one, which eventually led to his release on bail, on April, 28, 2017. But the bail conditions were harsh as the IPOB leader was banned from public speaking, granting press interviews or being in a group of more than 10 people.

As a condition of that bail, Kanu was also asked to bring a prominent Igbo leader, a wealthy resident of Abuja and a senior Nigerian Jewish leader to provide N100m ($260,000; £200,000) each as surety to the court. So, from the government’s perspective, Kanu is an enemy of the state whose activities should be nipped in the bud. But for very many others, he is a hero and a prisoner of conscience.

While he was in prison, many prominent Nigerians including Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state, former governor of Abia State and eminent businessman, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Charles Soludo among others visited him and further made him a celebrity even while in detention.

Cult figure among Ndigbo

Among Ndigbo worldwide, particularly in the South East zone, Kanu has become a small god. In the social media, pictures of those who are short of worshipping him like a deity have often appeared in some platforms. His Abia State home has become a Mecca of some sorts. Going by the figures from Amnesty International, more than 150 Igbo youths were martyred in the struggle for his release.

Many still wonder why the leader of IPOB has overshadowed his counterpart and founder of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra(MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike. Not a few believe that the average Igbo youth sees Kanu as the new face of the Biafran struggle unlike Uwazuruike who had been around over the years with allegations of having compromised the spirit of the fight for liberation. The youth in the South East see him as the true son of Biafra having remained unbowed despite the intimidation and harassment in the hands of the state.

Kanu is worshipped and deified because in the eyes of many, he did what many Igbo leaders were either too afraid to do or unwilling to do because of their selfish interests. He dared to be different and spoke out against the powers that be whose project appears to have been to always put the Igbo at a disadvantage in the nation’s scheme of things. Many believe that Kanu has successfully taken up the gauntlet and waged a mind war against the establishment, hence his popularity among the Igbo masses.

Sit-At-Home Order

On Tuesday, May 30 , the entire South East was shut down following the sit-at-home order by the Kanu’s IPOB, to mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the defunct Republic of Biafra and to honour heroes and heroines of the struggle. Apart from the East, the directive was partly complied with in Port Harcourt, Asaba and Bayelsa but ignored in Uyo.

Most markets, banks and schools in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states, including those in the rural areas, were closed and the roads were totally deserted in the early hours of the morning. In Enugu, the order was also largely complied with as schools, banks, markets and other commercial activities were paralysed, with police helicopters hovering around the state capital. The shutdown of the states was in spite of the plea by South-East governors and massive police and security presence, who patrolled streets and carried out air surveillance with helicopters to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order.

Following the success of the sit-at-home directive, IPOB congratulated Ndigbo worldwide for showing total compliance with the order. IPOB, in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Mr Emma Powerful, said the compliance with the directive was an indication that Ndigbo all over the world were tired of the Nigerian federation and ready to leave the country. His words: “Our Supreme Leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu issued this order of sit-at-home when he was still in Kuje Prisons, Abuja and it has come to pass. All the people of Biafra both at home and abroad complied in totality without any compulsion, which has not happened in the history of the Biafran struggle.”

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  1. Kanu is not the one who shut down Biafraland on May 30. Biafrans did it under Republic Of Biafra. May 30 was neither Kanu’s day nor IPOB day, it was not Kanu’s individual decision or IPOB, it was unanimous decision of Biafrans under Republic Of Biafra- it was Biafran National Day, every May 30 is Biafran National Day.

    1. Sit-at-home in remembrace of our fallen heros has never taken place since the end of Biafran war. It was under the quality leadership of Kanu and the confidence that Biafrans have for their leader (Kanu) that they honored his call for sit-at-home. The trick you have employed to undo the good work of our leader Kanu is open secret understood by all. It will not work this time. We are aware of sabotours like you, you contributed negatively during the Biafran war and you are back again. We will keep an eye on sabotours like you and Uwazuruike.

  2. Republic Of Biafra does not depend on Kanu or IPOB group, it depends on Biafrans under Republic Of Biafra. Placing Kanu where he does not belong in this Republic Of Biafra project will misguide the project process and will place Kanu in dangers of even under pressure of fulfilling expectations he does not even have the capabilities etc.

  3. As I have long said, Ojukwu is the Biafran leader- dead or alive. Biafrans obligation is to defend his intellectual vision and legacy- which is Republic Of Biafra. What Republic Of Biafra need now is an elected interim president now and an elected president afterward. Kanu himself is coming to that understanding of all joining hands on one platform Republic Of Biafra. Authority over Biafraland is now in the hands of Biafrans and has to legitimize the authority now by Constituting Biafran Interim Government in which all pro-Biafra groups are represented for full operation of Republic Of Biafra. God Is With Us!!!

  4. Nnamdi Kanu Nwa Chineke eziokwu bụ ndụ. What ever you say is what we will obey. Where ever you go we the Biafran youths will follow you, even to the valley of death we will be with you. The civilized world has decided that self-determination is an inalienable right therefore we Biafran youth are ready to defend our right either by diplomacy or war. One thing is certain Biafra must be restored.

    1. Ezekiel, we do not need your gospel, God has a way of doing things. He uses Ojukwu during his time to do something which gave birth to Nnamdi Kanu. All of us can not be a leader at the same time. And God will definitely choose someone he desired to use for his work. Uwazurike was not chosen by God if he was, he would have accomplished a significant milestone but indeed, he was not chosen, and if God wanted Ojukwu to win that war, he would have won it completely, But God wanted to make history. Today he has put his spirit in Nnamdi Kanu, that is why the man was bold enough to hold the devil in the Nigeria government which it could not turn around despite all tries. Please do not jealous anyone, God knows why he did not choose you Ezekiel to liberate us or any other politicians but this young man. Nnamdi Kanu will remain perfect in the hands of God because he has never accorded himself any position other than leader and director of Radio Biafra other names given to him are from people who has cherished what he did that 69 million of Igbos cannot do. Support him and pray for him. He has not chosen to sell your interest by collecting money or contracts like other does. He remains on his word for you. He stands for you and went to die for you. Nobody in the history of Igbo has done it all because of evil the Nigeria government plotted against you and your generation to come. But today, you are having a new hope of good life. God almighty Chiukwu okike Abiama, Nna puru me ihe nile, biko chekwa nwa gi a Nnamdi Kanu, maka indi iro.

    2. Ezekiel, When Biafran Independent finally ensured and we need President, please come out and contest if you will win, you will be the president and presides according to principle and condition laid down for the progress of the people of Biafra, not in the way of Nigeria government. Biafra shall devoid of any sort of evil and corruption. We want a leader that will leader with quality like Nnamdi Kanu. And if the population says Nnamdi Kanu would be the leader or president or prime minister of Biafra then he will, and if not someone else will be. So no fighting now. Just go back to school and learn how to build economy of a nation that is void of fuduu or evil and corruption

  5. @Chris, Biafra is a political entity and project. Even Prof. Nwosu emphasized the same simple point I am saying, which is Legitimacy. Take it or leave it, it is all about legitimizing Biafrans authority over Biafraland. It is only by election now on interim basis. I am not a politician, will never be one. Republic Of Biafra is responsibility of every Igbo man and woman who is convinced about it. Everyone has a role to play, it does not depend on Kanu or IPOB, it depends on Biafrans, and the only thing needed now is Biafran Interim Government in which all pro-Biafra groups are represented for full operation of Republic Of Biafra.

  6. @lee, one funny thing is, people who talk this way are people who do not know the depth of what is involved about Biafra and what it takes. Another thing is about people who says they dont care that Republic Of Biafra is realized, all they care is a Republic Of Biafra Kanu and IPOB realized. Kanu was quoted as said he needed 100 persons to realize Republic Of Biafra but could only get four persons. Where are all the IPOB members who accuses everyone who do not have IPOB view etc. as Uwazuruike follower? I said it again, if realization of Republic Of Biafra depend on Kanu and IPOB, it wouldn’t have been realized even in hundred years.

  7. God has given us Republic Of Biafra, authority over Biafraland is now in the hands of Biafrans and has to legitimize it now by Constituting Interim Biafran Government in which all pro-Biafra groups are represented for full operation of Republic Of Biafra. There is no time to waste, it is foolishness to waste time on irrelevant things in the name of Kanu, IPOB, Biafran leadership, Igbo leadership etc. IPOB and MASSOB wasted their time on such nonsense instead to sit on one table, platform- which is Republic Of Biafra for one voice, strategies, operations etc. for full operation of Republic Of Biafra. Kanu is coming to that understanding and have responsibility to teach members of his IPOB group that understanding, and develop these groups- IPOB, MASSOB etc. as political parties in Republic Of Biafra. There are framework, structures that are involved in political entity, such framework, structures etc. are what must take place in Republic Of Biafra now for its full operations now.

  8. IPOB have not done ten per cent of what Catalonians of Spain have done, and Palestines have done but Republic is yet impossible, because of deep things involved. There are deep things involved- a fact IPOB etc. have to have in mind.

  9. In this Republic Of Biafra project, we must be faster and smarter than our enemy as Biafrans. Those insinuating what they call revoking bail, should know Kanu has no case to answer. He was falsely accused, held hostage for about two years, did not establish any crime against him and convict him, he left the hostage. Anyone talking about kidnapping him again is declaring war which Republic Of Biafra will fight to the full and crush the enemy.

  10. Kanu has to know it is no longer about shutting down a town with a mob, it is now about security and defence of Biafraland under Interim Biafran Government- a legitimate institution for full operations and international relations etc.

  11. @Nze, that is question of ignorance. The same ignorance made people like you accused us of hating Kanu and causing more harm to him when he was in the hands of the enemy, because of our position on the case base on law. Today, he is out, all the accusations of ignorance are forgotten. We are now talking about what Republic Of Biafra takes now, the only focus of people like you is Kanu, out of ignorance of what it takes now to have Republic Of Biafra and defend it. Can you Nze tell me what at this stage, Republic Of Biafra requires?

  12. If Tanko Yaksai thinks Biafra is all about MASSOB, IPOB, Kanu etc., he is ignorant and naive. Biafra is a project the process started in 1967. This is the climax. It is all about Biafrans, not any individual or group.

    1. We are not going to comprise with the new effort on the ground. The whole game against our people have been exposed by IPOB leader. The truth is that, Rome was not built in a day. It takes gradual process, and we are very grateful IPOB members are almost completing the process. We don’t need nuclear defense system and if we do, we will sell our oil blocks to Armstrong and oligarchy mass sender to defend your hatred on our people. We will use our resources to fund the IGBO le-fool-ni-fu-la ni defense system that will crush you all.

  13. IPOB that is saying Kanu is not afraid to go into the hands of the enemy again, should know it is a big insult if you allow your enemy to attack you that twice. It should not happen- it is an insult. It must be prevented now by building securities and defence of Biafraland under Republic Of Biafra by Constituting Biafran Interim Government now in which all pro-Biafra groups are represented for full operation of Republic Of Biafra, international diplomatic relations etc.

  14. Kanu visits Nwodo: Kanu is moving astray as far as majority Igbos that stood for Republic Of Biafra are concerned. When he Kanu is commending those that stood for Igbos existence in slavery within the poor northern fallen entity nickname Nigeria and associates with them, it raises question of his present position on Republic Of Biafra project and the majority Igbos that stood decisively for it. In the end, Republic Of Biafra existence does not depend on any individual or group, it only depend on God and Biafrans. God has given us Republic Of Biafra and will defend it with Diplomacy or War. God will never disappoint the majority Igbos that rightly decided and stood decisively for Republic Of Biafra.

  15. Security and Defence is guarantor of existence, any who do not build his or hers is a fool. Republic Of Biafra project is not celebrity or reality show, it is war. If Kanu falls into the hands of Biafran enemy again, Republic Of Biafra will not say a word or do anything about it. Constituting Biafran Interim Government now in which all pro-Biafra groups are represented, all present political office holders to remain in their respective positions till election, is what will guarantee his Security and Defence. If he loves it in the hands of Biafran enemy, let him enjoy it. Republic Of Biafra wait for nobody. God Is With Us!!!

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