By Innocent Sunday Okeke
It is possible that the resolution to the persistent insecurity in the South East region of Nigeria lies within the purview of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Upon reflection of the root cause of the issue, it is difficult to overlook the arrest and detention of Nnamdi Kanu as a significant factor contributing to the current state of insecurity in the region. The young man has been held in captivity for nearly two years with deliberate delays in his trial, despite being discharged and acquitted of any wrongdoing by the court of law in Nigeria.
It is evident that since his incarceration, Nigeria has not made any substantial progress in achieving unity and security for its citizens. Therefore, it is imperative that the Nigerian government urgently releases Nnamdi Kanu. Failure to do so may embolden various criminal elements to exploit his continued detention as a pretext for inciting violence and perpetrating heinous crimes in the Southeast region.
A region experiencing marginalization should not be further suppressed. Nnamdi Kanu is a highly respected figure in Igbo land, and if he is released, he may be able to address the ongoing insecurity through his words alone. Continuing to hold him captive will only hinder Nigeria’s productivity in various sectors of the economy, as the economy suffers in the face of insecurity.
The late elder statesman, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, who was wheelchair-bound, personally approached the former President of Nigeria months before his passing on, pleading for the release of this young man as his final wish. However, President Buhari remained obstinate. In any reasonable and unbiased society, when an octogenarian like Chief Mbazulike Amaechi makes such a request, it is promptly granted. Knowing that Nnamdi Kanu committed no crime by seeking his freedom and the freedom of his people from wicked oppressors.
It could be argued that the detention of Nnamdi Kanu by the Nigerian State is indicative of their unreadiness to address the issues associated with the region he represents, driven by a deep-seated well documented animosity. If this continues, it has the potential to completely dismantle the nation, thus necessitating a reconsideration of his incarceration in order to preserve the unity and survival of Nigeria as a whole. Releasing Nnamdi Kanu would restore peace in the Southeast, which has historically been the most peaceful region in Nigeria since the end of the civil war.
It is evident that the Federal Government of Nigeria is seemingly enjoying from the insecurity resulting from Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest and the subsequent killings in the Southeast, as they have failed to demonstrate their presence or exhibit genuine concern thus far. The actions of the Federal Government give the impression that the Southeast is not considered a part of Nigeria’s territory.
The prevailing attitude in Nigeria remains one of indifference, as if to say “let them destroy themselves,” without considering that the Nigerian society is akin to a human body. Just as any part of the body that is afflicted causes pain throughout the whole body. Nigeria must cease to indirectly fighting against its own components. Instead, it should promote programs that encourage all individuals to contribute towards the recovery of the nation’s deteriorated economy, which would lead to a miraculous resurgence of life.
I humbly suggest that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should seek a political resolution in the release of Nnamdi Kanu, who is currently held as a political prisoner in Nigeria. By doing so, peace can swiftly be restored. Once he is released, any other individual instigating trouble will be singled out, allowing for a clear understanding of whom they are fighting for. Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu should seize this opportunity to accomplish what President Buhari failed to do, as he was hindered by his adherence to the old order, which prioritizes vengeance. By doing so, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu can establish a name for himself.
Numerous Igbo dignitaries have also appealed to the federal government on various platforms for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, in order to restore peace. This demand is supported by Igbo governors, senators, and businessmen, all of whom are in unison in this demand. Nigeria has the potential to regain its greatness if all segments of society are treated fairly and respectfully, with equal honor bestowed upon each other.
It is imperative to acknowledge the truth behind Nigeria’s current state of affairs. It seems that Nigeria harbors apprehension towards the Igbo people and has made a commitment to hinder their progress within the country. Other regions of Nigeria appear to be complicit in this conspiracy, yet they fail to provide any valid justification for their actions. This discriminatory mindset, as history documents was inherited from the British colonial era and elevated by subsequent generations of Northern oligarchs.
The Igbo people are a valuable contribution to Africa, particularly Nigeria. During the British colonial era, the egalitarian nature of the Igbo people was recognized, and it was believed that if they were given leadership positions or empowered, they would impede British exploration in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. To prevent this, the British instigated animosity towards the Igbo people among the northern oligarchs, in order to slow their progress and maintain their dominance and exploitative practices in Nigeria. This has resulted in the present-day tribal intolerance in Nigeria, which has hindered the achievement of unity among Nigerians. In contrast, Britain has a diverse population that is united without segregation.
Despite the lack of understanding behind the fear and hatred towards the Igbo people, Nigerians have become comfortable with the British and other colonial masters who only supported those who would serve their interests and amass wealth through inappropriate means. Since the marginalization and discrimination against the Igbo people, Nigeria has not improved, but rather has moved from bad to worse.
Innocent Sunday Okeke, a public affairs commentator, writes from Owerri, Imo State.