• An Idea Whose Time Has Come (1) – Independent Newspaper Nigeria

    An idea whose time has come 1 independent newspaper nigeria - nigeria newspapers online
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     In my column of July 14, 2017, titled, ‘Bi­afra. From Monologue To Dialogue’,

    I had a tinge of optimism that the in­carceration of Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB lead­er, facing sedition charges from the Federal Government of Nigeria was about to end.

    The optimism was informed by the fact that the National Assembly and the presiden­cy had waded into the matter especially when Arewa youths issued Igbos a so-called quit notice from the north and all other members of the Nigerian union started threatening to expel members of other ethnic groups in their domain.


    In that 2017 media intervention, which is seven years ago, I made the case below:

    “As the cry for partitioning of Nigeria along ethnic, cultural and religious lines, which mimics the partitioning of Africa amongst European countries during the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, grows loud­er, it is pertinent to note that the conflict is being fueled by policies steeped in politics, as opposed to equity and justice.

    “This is why allowing the Igbo agitation in particular and similar self-determination struggles amongst the multifarious ethnic nationalities in Nigeria to remain a mono­logue rather than a dialogue, has been dan­gerous, if not reckless.

    “And it is therefore very heartening that both the presidency and the National Assem­bly, NASS, are now weighing in to resolve the conflict as evidenced by recent consultations and media comments from both acting pres­ident, Yemi Osinbajo, and Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

    “I’m pretty convinced that like the duo, it has dawned on most Nigerians that disputes related to ethnic nationalism can no longer be attended to via the surfeit of window dress­ing measures that have been the attitude of authorities in Nigeria.”

    My prognosis in 2017, which is seven years ago, was wrong as evidenced by the fact that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indige­nous People of Biafra, IPOB, was re-arrested in 2021 and has remained under detention.

    So, my optimism that the presidency and National Assembly had finally found the courage and formula to heal the old wounds in the ‘easterners’ and northerners’ relation­ship which has been fractured since the un­fortunate civil war ended some 54 years ago, was a misjudgment.

    Perhaps that is principally because it was not an idea whose time had come, but today it appears to me as idea whose time has come.

    The quote, ‘Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come’, is often attributed to Victor Hugo, a renowned French writer.

    It encapsulates the notion that when the conditions are ripe and the world is ready for a particular concept or change, the impact of that idea can be immense and transfor­mative. According to the proponents of the thought process, the power of an idea lies not just in its intrinsic qualities but also in the context in which it emerges.

    They argue further that a groundbreaking idea that resonates with the needs, values, and aspirations of a society can spark sig­nificant change and progress. And concluded that when an idea aligns with the prevailing sentiments, challenges, or opportunities of a given time, it can gain momentum and cata­lyze action on a large scale.

    The current efforts and activities sur­rounding the renewed call to free Nnamdi Kanu ticks all the boxes highlighted above.

    In fact, for the devotees of the concept of an idea whose time has come, the imminent release of IPOB leader Kanu is an example of a zeitgeist or a time spirit. One would argue that it is a historical moment, where the idea or concept (a “spirit” if you will) is perfectly received by a cultural movement that sur­renders to its utility as dictated by historical necessity.

    In fact, the scenario described above aligns with the current dynamics of political change in our country which has brought a progressive president, Bola Tinubu, to be at the helms of affairs at Aso Rock Villa pres­idential seat of power. Thus it can be said that he has become the one put in a position to resolve the over half a century years old agitation by the Igbos in a most beneficial manner by integrating them into one united Nigeria which they have been craving.


    That is because being a neo-liberal free market economy adherent, President Tinu­bu understands the economics of scale and appreciates the benefits of a large population being enjoyed by the likes of China and India which have the largest and second largest populations in the world and have leveraged the population advantage to also be the first and second fastest growing economies in worldwide.

    So, the president recognizing that we are stronger together as a huge market would be keen to do all he could to heal the old wounds by addressing the reasonable grievances of the aggrieved parties and helping the Igbos blend with the society as opposed to nursing grudges and expressing animosity.

    Hopefully, if President Tinubu helps to build the bridge by allowing a political solu­tion that would enable Kanu regain his free­dom, peace would return to the otherwise very industrially productive region currently rendered comatose due to insecurity chal­lenges such as the sit-at-home order on a certain days imposed by IPOB in protest of Igbos exclusion from mainstream Nigerian politics after the Biafra war ended in 1970.

    By last month June, it had been three years since Nnamdi Kanu has been and con­tinues to be the ‘guest’ of the Federal Gov­ernment of Nigeria, FGN, which has applied all manners of legal weapons to abridge his freedom following a charge of treasonable felony against him.

    Remarkably, multiple Nigerian and even ECOWAS courts had ruled that he should be freed from detention until the Supreme Court of Nigeria, on appeal from the FGN lawyers, over-ruled the decision of the lower courts in December of 2023.

    As part of a more recent effort to help Kanu regain freedom through a political rather than legal process, 50 members of the House of Representatives from different parts of Nigeria and political parties, which branded themselves Concerned Federal Law­makers for Peace and Security in the South East, had written to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to activate Section 174 of the con­stitution of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 107(1) of the Administration of Crim­inal Justice Act, 2015, for the release of the detained IPOB leader.

    One thing that is significant to note with the initiative is that never in the past had a coalition of lawmakers that are not of Igbo stock formed a bipartisan force to solicit for the release of the IPOB leader from deten­tion. That it just happened is a pointer to the expectation that it is an idea whose time has come.

    So, given the current renewed and broad efforts involving non-Igbos, it seems to me now that it is a question of when, not if Kanu will be released from detention which wil­ly-nilly will be sooner than later.

    The assertion above is underscored by the fact that it has become clear to all involved that diplomacy rather than the nzogbu nzog­bu (forceful) approach hitherto adopted by the hard-liners in IPOB leadership would be the key to Kanu’s freedom.

    When that happens it would be a classic case of the triumph of diplomacy over the nzogbu-nzogbu (forceful) approach to conflict resolution.

    As at the last count, the former demo­cratically elected president of Nigeria/for­mer military head of state of our country, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former secretary general of the Commonwealth of Nations, covering all the countries formerly under the British Em­pire including Canada, Australia and India to mention a few, had just finished rubbing minds with the governors of the five eastern states on the need to and how to secure Nnam­di Kanu’s release from detention.

    It was initially hoped that the involvement of eminent personalities such as the pair of Obasanjo and Anyaoku, who are juggernauts in the art of diplomacy and leadership not only Nigeria (Anyaoku was also minister of foreign affairs in the 2nd republic) but the world (Obasanjo was a member of Em­inent Persons Group with ex-prime minis­ters of UK and Australia, amongst others) Mazi Kanu was on track to be liberated from the gaol for lack of a better terminology to describe his incarceration since June 2021 when he was allegedly renditioned from Ken­ya to answer to treasonable felony charges brought against him by the Federal Govern­ment of Nigeria.

    But the optimism about Kanu’s immediate freedom through the efforts of the former president and former Commonwealth sec­retary general was dampened by the sub­sequent rebuttal of the news that the elder statesmen would be leading the delegation of eastern states governors to plead with President Tinubu.

    But hope is not lost because although the corrigendum by former President Obasanjo that his meeting with the governors from the five South-East states in Enugu on the 3rd of July did not have the freedom for Kanu on the agenda looks like a setback, my hunch is that it is a tactical move by former President Obasanjo.

    After all, negotiations for political set­tlements of matters of that nature are not supposed to be made public until the Ts have been crossed and the ls dotted.

    In other words, there may still be some on­going backroom negotiations, which makes it premature to go public with the freedom for Kanu initiative.

    Whatever the case may be, while the IPOB members see Kanu as a leader of the strug­gle to emancipate Igbo people through seces­sion, some sons and daughters of Igbo land at home and in the diaspora consider him their kit and kin who is fighting for the common good of the Igbos, but perhaps in a nasty and abhorrent way which they detest and have denounced.

    Without a doubt, it is the rhetorics of de­fining Nigeria as a zoo and using expletives that do not bear repeating in this space to characterize leaders of Nigeria during feats of anger by Kanu that has, to put it mildly, bruised the egos of those he has been mock­ing as his vituperations bordered not just on disagreements with government apparatchik but treating with disrespect other tribes.

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