Paul Obi in Abuja
Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, has urged the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to release the leader of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, as a matter of urgency to save the situation.
Soludo spoke at the lunch of a book, ‘The Politics of Biafra and the Future of Nigeria’ written by Hon. Chudi Offodeli, a former member of the House of Representatives. He argued that the continued detention of Kanu will escalate the agitation and also amount disservice to the country.
According to Soludo, “the new Biafranism; let me say that wittingly or unwittingly Nigeria has brought the Biafran issue from the periphery into the mainstream discussions. Nnamdi Kanu threw a bait and Nigeria took it. Today, it is the most popular political phrase and he will end up as a hero or a matyr but to his credit he has forced Nigeria and the world to discuss Biafra.
“I believe that keeping him there doesn’t do Nigeria any good. I believe this young man should be released and released by yesterday. I will not be surprised if he becomes a subject of the next political campaign.
“Just like Awolowo who was convicted and imprisoned for treason or like Gowon charged with treason or even Ojukwu himself who was forgiven and so on and so forth. I don’t want to make any predictions but I believe we need to solve this, because the lesson to be learned if anyone cares to listen is that the detention of Nnamdi Kanu no matter how long will not stop the agitation of Biafra.”
He further cited the fact that the detention of Bakassi leader Ralph Uwazuruike between 2005 and 2007 helped to radicalised his followers.
Soludo who also reviewed the book and contributed to its appendix highlighted that “the same thing happened when the leader of Boko Karam was killed, his followers became more radicalised. The detention of Nnamdi Kanu; I never heard of him before the case to be quite honest and you now realize globally it will become an issue and has become mainstream.
“The idea of a customary government under the supreme council of elders in accordance with customary law enjoys the support among the section of the Igbo but it is the Biafra or death philosophy of Nnamdi Kanu that found resonance across the length and breath of the Igbo nation. Therefore there cannot be a resolution of the Biafran dilemma without the wholesome engagement of Nnamdi Kanu/Uche faction of.
“So if I were President Buhari quite honestly, I would be very suspicious of anyone who advices me to ignore the Biafran issue. Anybody who says that is very ignorant, mischievous or quite blatantly doesn’t mean well for the government itself. Probably, such wants the same government to repeat the mistakes of the past so that it will lead it down the drain.
“We must start learning in this country. Let’s stop Biafra. Where are the Igbo elite and intelligencia in all of these especially those in Nigeria? It seems as this book points out this is being driven mostly by the Igbo intelligencia in diaspora,” Soludo observed.
Also speaking, former Political Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Senator Ben Obi harped on the need for dialogue regarding the Biafra agitation.
According to him, “dialogue is the way to go: that it’s why I joined what is known whole over the world today as Abuja Peace Accord. I knew before the elections that if we fail to come to the table and agree, we will land this country into great trouble.”
Obi maintained that “dialogue must be the number issue” for the country to resolve the Biafran struggle among other regional agitations.
Former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidioka, on his part called on Igbo intelligencia to unite to put up a common front.
Chidioka who commended the author’s discreetness in drafting the book, stressed that the book highlight critical issues and narrative surrounding the Biafra debate.
The author, Offodeli queried the pattern of contemporary Igbo leadership, stating that, “there cannot be an excuse for the leadership we have in Igboland today.”
Offodeli contended that beyond the marginalization of the South East geopolitical zone in the configuration of Nigeria, Igbo still has the leadership challenge to confront.
Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Hassan Kukah charged the Igbos to devolve means where they will consolidate on their comparative advantage of ‘power without office.’
Elaborating on the concept of ‘power without office’ Kukah urged the l Igbos to consider their strategic power position though without office and leverage on its many advantages.
Kukah however stated that “Kanu’s predicament is part and parcel of the process of development of our country. Freedom comes with responsibility.”
Former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, Prof. A.B.C. Nwosu former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ghali Na’Abba, former Governor of Abia State, former Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha Orji Uzo Kalu, Chief Victor Umeh, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, Chief Okey Nwosu, Chairman of Capital Oil, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah among other great Igbo leaders and dignitaries.