Events after events have shown that the continued detention of the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, by the Federal Government of Nigeria needs a serious rethink. The matter is not only plaguing the country socially and politically, but its toll on the national economy is not difficult to fathom. The unfortunate irony yet is that while the two principal actors, Buhari and Kanu, may have good intentions, they are fighting the wrong enemies.
Please hold your thoughts till the later part of this essay on the flaming issue of secession for which Nnamdi Kanu is now better known. For it may not occur to many that before Kanu became a recurring decimal of Buhari’s presidency, a major aim of Radio Biafra, in Kanu’s own words, was to uproot “all looters, embezzlers, kidnappers, sponsors of terrorism, child traffickers, corrupt judges, crooked university lecturers, murderous Nigerian security forces and all thieving individuals masquerading as public officials who steal public funds thereby preventing developmental projects from impacting positively on the lives of the ordinary people.”
Any read of the statement above readily shows that such aspect of Kanu’s advocacy is in tandem with Buhari’s standing vow for a corrupt-free Nigeria. If the rationale is inadequate, then consider that just about every group or leader who has pleaded for Kanu’s release suggested that lack of development provoked his advocacy. This goes without saying that the president and Kanu have common foes in the corrupt leaders who plundered our commonwealth the last 16 years.
Therefore, in case President Buhari and Mazi Kanu are yet to get it, which appears to be the case, their real enemies in this context ought to be the corrupt leaders from the South-East (SE) and South-South (SS) zones of Nigeria, who combined to hinder the provision of efficient public amenities, as well as job opportunities in the Biafra land, that drew the ire of Kanu in the first place.
More specifically, the enemies are the very politicians and contractors that connived to embezzle the funds budgeted for projects vital to the region, some of which include but are not limited to: The 2nd River Niger Bridge; East-West Highway; Enugu-Onitsha/Enugu-Port Harcourt expressways; Akanu Ibiam and Port Harcourt International Airports; Calabar and Port Harcourt seaports; the dredging of River Niger; Eastern Gas Pipeline network (CAP); Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC); and legislative constituency projects.
A simple scan of these projects and their attendant ministries reveal that politicians from the South-East and South-South played one dubious role or the other in sabotaging the desired implementation or development.
In a normal clime, this sort of exposé would be sufficient to unmask the culprits linked with the money-spinners cited herein. But in event more specific details are needed, my identity has always been an open book. Moreover, this case will not require the state to dole out from its meagre purse to fulfill the new policy on whistle-blowing. For quid pro quo is beneath my personal code of ethics in matters of public interest.
Change does not come easy, understood, but containing the situation in the East must not be rocket science. Make no mistake about it; President Buhari deserves commendation for quietly undertaking some of the projects in the region that were funded but looted during previous administrations. Yet, to continue to punish the primary whistle-blower in Nnamdi Kanu, while condoning the corrupt politicians – who return a portion of their loot – is sadly an oxymoron.
Any call for the release of Nnamdi Kanu easily stirs emotions, and that is understandable. The style of his advocacy alone is jarringly hostile and can constitute a problem in itself. But the manner of the man’s detention, including the state’s refusal to obey court orders, does not serve any good purpose. The only beneficiaries are the real enemies, the corrupt vortex of the opposition, who have nothing concrete to show for their time in office, but who are today having a field day, grandstanding as the champion for the oppressed, claiming the passionate desire to liberate Kanu, while stoking a view of General Buhari as an unrepentant dictator determined to abridge freedom of speech in the land.
Fifth columnists are sure to hide behind the urgency of Kanu’s threat of secession to continue to sidetrack Buhari from the right path to justice. But fighting the right causes through the wrong courses usually creates more problems than solutions. Moreover, the president does not need to be reminded that, similar to other multi-ethnic nations, for example, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom, there has always been, and will always be, threats of secession in Nigeria, regardless of who is in power. The manner of the approach is where leadership begins and ends.
Ogbonnia writes from Houston, Texas.