Following their meeting recently in detention, Femi Fani-Kayode writes that contrary to the warped perceptions about the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, he is a great patriot and a genuine freedom fighter
In my essay titled “Head Bloodied But Not Bowed and the Ascension of President-elect Donald J. Trump” (Part 1), I wrote the following: “When I went to visit the great and brilliant freedom fighter, Nnamdi Kanu, who is the leader of IPOB and easily the most courageous, powerful and credible Igbo leader in Nigeria today in his cell, we had a very instructive and long discussion.
“I had never met Nnamdi before and I was amazed at his depth of knowledge, his immense courage and his deep convictions. There is no doubt in my mind that that man is going places and in him, the Igbo have an Ojukwu and a Nnamdi Azikiwe all rolled into one. He is destined for greatness”.
Apparently, my words have created quite a stir amongst those who believe that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu cannot be mentioned in the same breath as Azikiwe or Ojukwu, both of whom, in my view, are also great men. Yet, despite their reservations, I believe that we must give honour to whom it is due. Consequently, I have no regrets for what I have said.
Those that are upset at the fact that I spoke highly of the IPOB leader are misguided and, worse still, lack vision, foresight and insight. They not only lack the ability to perceive individuals and events accurately but they also lack the gift of discernment. They may see the man but they cannot assess or recognise the spirit that is in him and motivates him.
Worse of all, they are suffering from good old fashioned envy and they have been afflicted with the worst form of ignorance. Most of them have never even met Kanu let alone know him. I sat next to him for three solid hours in the most challenging and difficult circumstances. We discussed our respective views about Nigeria, our collective history, the suffering and marginalisation of our respective people, the Nigerian civil war, the reptilian and violent nature of the Nigerian state, the present dispensation, the Buhari government and the way forward.
I have associated with, met and worked with many men of influence and power since I entered the combustible fray of politics thirty years ago, but this one was different. This was a man that had what I would describe as a Mahatma Ghandi-like quality. That is to say, he is one that is prepared to sacrifice everything and anything for his beliefs, his people and his cause.
Like the great Scottish freedom fighter, William Wallace, I have no doubt that if he deemed it necessary, he would go as far as to sacrifice his very life in the struggle for freedom and independence for his Igbo people from the Nigerian state and from our internal colonial masters and for the establishment of his beloved Biafra. Not all may agree with him on that course but they must respect his determination, passion and courage.
Very few Nigerian leaders have that level of selflessness and commitment to any cause and, simply put, I admire it. I looked deeply into his eyes as we spoke and I touched and weighed his soul. I can tell you, without any fear of contradiction that he is a profoundly good man, who loves his Igbo people deeply. He is also well-educated and widely-read and he is a formidable intellectual. We may not have agreed on everything but I can tell you this much: we share an aversion to the spread of radical Islam and terror in Nigeria and indeed throughout the world.
We also share deep concerns about the oppression of our people by the state, the vicious persecution and desperate attempt to silence all the voices of the opposition in our country, the marginalisation and suppression of the good people and ethnic nationalities of the south and the Middle Belt, the implementation of a plainly racist and apartheid-like agenda by our government, the regular and consistent practice of genocide by our security forces.
Also, the rise in power and increasing callousness and brutality of the Fulani militias and herdsmen in our midst, the not-so-hidden agenda to Islamise our nation and violate the secularity of our state, the violation of court orders, the brazen intimidation of the judiciary and the resort to the most barbarous and hideous form of gestapo tactics, tyranny and human rights abuses by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
I can also tell you that he feels and shares the pain of the Igbo and he yearns for their liberation and emancipation from an increasingly hostile and oppressive Nigerian state. He is not a politician in the true sense of the word but rather a freedom fighter and a charismatic leader, who has managed to inspire millions of Igbo youth all over the world to once again have faith in themselves and their collective cause and aspirations. In my view, that is a good thing.
I can also tell you this: he is a man of great faith and conviction and his rise to prominence is not ordinary but prophetic. He cannot be destroyed or silenced by any government or man born of woman because the Lord is with him and He is using him. He is using him to say and do the things that many believe but are too scared to say or do.Other leaders have had their time in the past and now this is his. He is paying a very heavy price right now for what God will use him for in the future.
I recognise that fact and I sincerely hope and pray that his Igbo people will come to appreciate him and do so as well. Very few leaders can or would be willing to take the pain and make the kind of sacrifice that this man is making today. I am a very cautious and circumspect person and it takes me a while to warm to people or for them to win my confidence. Yet, this case was different.
Nnamdi and I, rather like Che Guevera and Fidel Castro at the beginning of the Cuban revolution, connected immediately and he won my trust, respect and admiration. If there is anyone that can truly build the much needed bridge between the South-west, the South-south and the South-east, it is Nnamdi Kanu.
This is because he is pragmatic and sincere. It is because he is respectful and accommodating of alternative points of view and dissenting opinions and he speaks from a position of knowledge and strength. It is because he is very proud of his Igbo heritage and he would never betray his people or prostitute his principles. The truth is that he is not just a combination of Owelle Nnamdi Azikwe and Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu: he is a combination of Azikwe, Ojukwu and Major Kaduna Nzeogwu all rolled into one.
The fire of revolution and the yearning for fundamental and equitable change burns in his blood and resides in his bones. He has spoken up for, defended and fought for the preservation and dignity of his people just as those other three leaders did in the past at different times in our history. He also serves as a rallying point for Igbo nationalism, the fight for self-determination of the people of the east and the establishment of the sovereign state of Biafra.
His love, remarkable courage and sheer passion for his people and their cause are boundless and unfathomable. The Igbo is blessed to have him as one of the most respected and revered leaders in our entire history as a nation. They would do well to appreciate him more, pray for him, stand up for him, line up behind him and insist that the government honors the numerous court orders that have granted him bail and release him from prison. Why? Because he bleeds and suffers for their collective cause and he is sacrificing all to remove their shame and lift their pain.
What a man he is! What a mighty spirit! What a beautiful soul! What a brave heart! Permit me to conclude this contribution with the following observations.
All over the world, today, the concept of political correctness has been discredited and rejected. Consequently, right-wing nationalist and ultra-nationalist groups and political parties are rising up and regaining credibility and power.
In the United Kingdom we have the Nigel Farages of this world and his UKIP, whose magnificent efforts resulted in Brexit. In France, we have the Marie Le Pens and her National Front. In Hungary, we have the Viktor Orbans and his Fidesz party. In the United States of America, we have the Donald Trumps and his new and redefined Republican party. We also have plain-speaking and honest men like Michael Flynn, who has just been appointed Trump’s National Security Advisor.
Political parties with a similar ideology that are led by equally strong-willed, focused and charismatic figures are also making great waves and slowly gaining more power and relevance in Italy, Germany, Austria, Holland, Greece, Belgium, Hungary, Russia, the Philippines, Israel and indeed all over the world.
Thankfully, Nigeria has not been left out. We have men like Nnamdi Kanu in the east, Ganiyu Adams in the west, Asari Dokubo in the Niger Delta and others from elsewhere, who believe passionately in the restructuring of the federation, the redefinition of the Nigerian state, the right of self-determination for their respective people and the expression of power, pride, self-respect and dignity for their various ethnic nationalities.
Freedom beckons whilst the wind of change is blowing across the world and no one can stop it. I thank God for that and I also thank Him for the millions of men of courage, strength and vision that have joined the fray. Whatever happens in Nigeria and whatever may come our way, one thing remains clear: an idea whose time has come cannot be successfully resisted. Today may belong to our oppressors but tomorrow belongs to us.
At the appointed time, we shall rise up to where we belong as a people and we shall free ourselves from the demonic shackles and satanic chains that have been placed upon us by our collective tormentors. And when that time comes, we shall stand shoulder-to-shoulder with men like Nnamdi Kanu and face down our collective enemies.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob shall rise to our defence and the Lord of Hosts, the Ancient of Days, the God of the Armies of Israel and He who holds the universe together by the power of His word shall lift us up to where we belong.
-Fani-Kayode is a former Minister of Aviation
I have associated with, met and worked with many men of influence and power since I entered the combustible fray of politics thirty years ago, but this one was different. This was a man that had what I would describe as a Mahatma Ghandi-like quality. That is to say, he is one that is prepared to sacrifice everything and anything for his beliefs, his people and his cause