Nnamdi Kanu Now A Prisoner Of Conscience - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Friday, July 2, 2021

Nnamdi Kanu Now A Prisoner Of Conscience


By Vitus Ozoke

Arresting Nnamdi Kanu is the easiest part of the challenge for the Nigerian government. Any government can arrest anybody. I'm even surprised it took them this long to arrest the guy, given that Nnamdi Kanu lacks discipline and was this whole time hiding in plain sight.

Now, the real challenge for Buhari and the Nigerian government is managing the fallout of the arrest. If you think for a single second that arresting Kanu is the end of the movement he has begun, then you are even more clueless than you are accused of. The one tragedy worse than a pack of wolves led by an angry alfa wolf is a pack of angry wolves led by no alfa wolf. 

If Nnamdi Kanu did not see this day coming, then he was hopelessly naive. I'm sure he knew it was just a matter of time before he was arrested. So, I will not judge or blame Kanu for being arrested. Rather, I will judge and blame him on the basis of the succession plan he put in place in the event of his arrest. A revolution is an idea, and a revolutionary is a conscientious idealist. You can't arrest an idea nor imprison a conscience.

So, Kanu's arrest is not a personal failure. He, in time, will be free. What will be a personal disaster, one Kanu cannot bounce back from, is a failure to have a viable and sustainable succession plan in place. Many of us who had taken serious exceptions to Nnamdi Kanu did that, not because we didn't believe in his cause. No, we believed in his fight for justice and equity for the Igbo. We were simply opposed to his style and strategy.

Kanu lacks discipline. It is all about him. It is his way or warfare. He sees himself as a god among the Igbo. He has no respect for anybody or anything. He demands total submission and uncritical worship. He is intolerant of alternative viewpoints. He sees himself as an intellectual with the monopoly of Igbo philosophy. Problem with that is that he is not. Not even close. 

In his quest to become the king, deity, and supreme leader of the Igbo, something that has no historical reference, Kanu alienated wise counsel, heard only his own voice, and smelled the whiff of his own scent. Those who bucked him, in authentic Igbo republican egalitarianism, were showered with invective and puerile threats.

Nnamdi Kanu mocked, ridiculed, and questioned the collective paternity of ndị Igbo from Enugu state because C.C Onoh's state was not in total lockdown as Kanu had commandeered. Kanu can be that petty. He burnt way too many bridges. But those are personal foibles. Kanu's cause and courage were never in doubt. His cause was sound, his courage was solid, but his strategy was flawed.

Nnamdi Kanu's cause must continue. A new leader must emerge. It remains to be seen whether Kanu's personal foibles carried over to his vision for the struggle. If a new leader does not emerge, consistent with a succession arrangement, then, Kanu has failed. Ndị Igbo do not rise or fall at the foot of any one man. We are ardents of ideas, but never adherents of ideologues. Justice for the Igbo is a matter of existential exigency, not a point of personal privilege. So, may the next Nnamdi Kanu please stand up.

If Nnamdi Kanu heartedly believes in the Biafran cause; if he truly sees justice for his beloved Igbo as a cause bigger than himself, as I'm sure he does, then, don't cry for him. Arresting Nnamdi Kanu, and bringing him back to the country and ground zero of his struggle, is an early Christmas gift by Buhari to the Biafran cause. In time, the Buhari government will come to the sad realization that it screwed up with Kanu's arrest - big time.

A free, but fugitive, Nnamdi Kanu, behind the microphone in his Radio Biafra station in the cold basement of a London apartment, is a lesser headache for the Nigerian government than a captured Nnamdi Kanu, behind bars and in the care and custody of the Nigerian government. For one, had some rogue gunman assassinated Nnamdi Kanu, God forbid, while he lived in London or while he traveled other parts of Europe and the world, the Nigerian government would have had a ready alibi and easy deniability.

But if anything happens to Kanu while he is in the care, custody, and control of the Nigerian government, responsibility will be squarely placed at the foot of the Nigerian government. So, in some ironic sense, Kanu is a safer man behind bars than he was behind the mic. Don't cry for him. If the lessons of history is any guide, General Sani Abacha's fallout with the international community occurred after he cowardly hanged Ken Saro Wiwa on that infamous November 10, 1995. From that November day, it was a quick and fast downward spiral for Abacha until his shameful, but celebrated death, in the hands of International prostitutes, two and a half years after Saro Wiwa. 

With his arrest, and pending imprisonment, Kanu has transitioned from a fugitive to a prisoner of conscience. Kanu has joined, not just the company of the late Ken Saro Wiwa, but also the league of Alexei Anatolievich Navalny, the currently jailed Russian dissident and pro-democracy activist. And those, my friends, are not bad companies. By that same token, Buhari has joined ranks with Sani Abacha and Vladimir Putin as jailers and holders of prisoners of conscience.

So, don't cry for Kanu, and don't weep for his cause. But if you must cry, cry for the sake of his wife and children who have been, temporarily, deprived the touch and tendering of their beloved husband and father. Cry for the sacrifice they are making for the greater cause of justice. But smile and celebrate because, with Kanu's arrest, the Igbo cause has advanced to a whole new level. The tragedy is not Kanu's arrest, it will be how those who believe in Igbo liberation cause within the context of a fair and just Nigeria manage the opportunity of his arrest. Until his arrest, Kanu was a General missing in action. There's a moral disconnect when you yell orders to troops in the jungles of Umuahia from the luxuries of London. 

Until now, making the case for the international community to pay attention to the historic structural and systemic injustice that the Igbo have suffered, and continue to suffer, in Nigeria often sounded academic and hollow. Now, it's real. We now have our own Alexei Navalny. Now, the international community must pay attention. They must pay attention because nothing commands international attention like the imprisonment of dissidents. They must pay attention because dark history must not be allowed a replay. They must pay attention because the ghost of Ken Saro Wiwa must not be untombed and the horror relived. They must now divide their attention between Alexei Navalny and Nnamdi Kanu. They must pay attention. And they will.

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