By Issa Itopa Lucky
The popular gist in town today is the assumption that every person from Southeast Nigeria is automatically a supporter of proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
That is of course untrue and unfounded. Howbeit, it is difficult to separate the Southeasterners from the sentiment of how IPOB as a group assumedly represents the view of the average person from Southeast Nigeria. Matter made worse is the loud silence of the Southeast leaders.
All these controversies can be traced to one man alone, a man named Nnamdi Kanu. Before 2015, little was known about Nnamdi Kanu but shortly after Buhari assumed power as President of Nigeria in 2015, news filtered the air about a man running Radio Biafra from United Kingdom.
The said Radio Biafra was said to be a tool by which Nnamdi Kanu was allegedly filtering the minds of Nigerians especially Southeasterners about the ills of the Nigerian union, even to encourage them to consider breaking away from Nigeria.
What started as a child’s play became a serious national issue of concern when the Buhari-led Federal Government declared IPOB a terrorist organisation, hence proscribing it. Shortly after, Nnamdi Kanu would later be arrested in Nigeria and put on trial for treason in Nigeria.
At this juncture, of course, Nnamdi Kanu was beginning to get more media attention than the Government and the people of Nigeria had earlier prepared itself to manage in terms of its case against citizen Nnamdi Kanu.
The controversy that would later set in is the fact that Nnamdi Kanu is as much a British citizen as he is a Nigerian citizen. Hence he was able to also via certain connections get even international media attention.
The next battle for the trial of citizen Nnamdi Kanu was for him to be granted bail. Eventually he was granted bail after a tedious process. This is where the twist came in. Nnamdi kanu would later “jump bail” and escape from Nigeria in 2017 during a certain raid of his home by the Nigerian Government.
The big issue now ahead of the 2023 presidential election relative to the Nnamdi Kanu factor is the fact that the Nnamdi Kanu influence is confusing the Nigerian populace as to the sincerity of the Southeasterners to the course of “One Nigeria” as it stands now. This is even regardless of the fact that at the moment Nnamdi Kanu is rearrested and now presently in the custody of the Nigerian Government as his treason trial continues after some years of it being stalled due to Nnamdi’s “escape from Nigeria” back in 2017.
Nigerians feel the Southeasterners who are dominantly Igbo by tribe, are Nnamdi Kanu’s followers and hence may be more interested in Nigeria’s disunity and Nigeria’s division than in being a part of Nigeria continually even to desire to provide leadership for it like any other region of Nigeria have and would if opportuned to lead the country in its multi-ethnic state of fact.
The average assumption is that the Southeasterners may have had their minds made up already and that asking Nigerians to consider them for presidency is just an afterthought, one that seems like the Southeasterners are blackmailing the Nigerian populace.
This is as the leaders of the region are rather hell-bent on insisting that Nigeria specifically zones the 2023 presidency contest to their own zone, being the southeast zone. In fact, they are of the stand that the major political parties in Nigeria must specifically zone their presidential ticket to them (the southeast region of the country), come 2023.
This development seem not to be going well with the Nigerian populace, some of whom though agree that power should move southward in 2023 but then are of the stand that Nigerians will not be blackmailed into giving in to the demands of the Southeasterners in as much as the quest for 2023 presidency is concerned.
If one is to make a case for the Southeasterners’ clamour for 2023 presidency, the truth is, all these controversies would have been less or non-existent if Nnamdi Kanu is not playing an inciting role that is rather confusing the good intentions of the Southeasterners toward Nigeria.
Therefore, it will help the course and clamour of the Southeasterners for Nigeria’s 2023 presidency if and if only Nnamdi Kanu will stop insulting the Federal Republic of Nigeria and if he can give up his clamour for “Biafra” secession.
Nnamdi Kanu is a Southeasterner who has unfortunately for the Southeasterners who mean well for Nigeria and even wish to contest for Nigeria’s leadership, been a recognised voice whose opinions are assumed to be the opinion of the average Southeasterner.
Therefore as it stands, much as the Southeast region of Nigeria parades a good number of eminently qualified presidential materials ahead of 2023, Nnamdi Kanu needs to “calm down” that his people may be worthy of Nigerians’ trust in the unity of Nigeria, even to let the Southeasterners lead Nigeria in fulfillment of a rather decent clamour that is popularly known now as “Igbo presidency”.