Nnamdi Kanu and his macabre Surugede dance by Osmund Agbo
Any student of Igbo folklore knows too well not to dance to the spooky tunes of Surugede. It never ends well. In fact, the unmitigated calamity that is sure to follow is a sad reminder that the high-pitched eerie note belongs in the realm of the spirit and the dead. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the self-described Supreme Leader of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) regrettably dipped out on this crucial life lesson and like the one whom the gods wanted to destroy, was first made mad.
Trending in the news lately is the effort led by the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo and endorsed by southeast Governors to create what is now called Alaigbo Stabilization Fund. In pursuant of that initiative, a 50-man steering committee made up of experts and professionals in various spheres of life was constituted. Their mandate is to come up with a blueprint on how to jump-start the economic engine of the region and make Alaigbo a favored destination of new capital. It’s the latest attempt by a people known for their legendary entrepreneurial spirit but hitherto have continued to sail on a rudderless ship with devastating consequences.
For someone who just few months ago wrote a long open letter addressed to the southeast Governors and made a passionate plea on the subject, it brought yours truly so much joy. In fact, almost all the people I have encountered thus far view the move as not just positive but strategic to the economic empowerment of the region. The only exception is Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. The leader of IPOB allegedly declared a fatwa on the Ohaneze leader and was reported to have encouraged his millions of followers to stone Nnia Nwodo to death whenever he comes within sight.
On the surface it seems like the issue between Mazi Kanu and Ohaneze leadership bothers on a perceived difference in strategy. While Kanu and his IPOB wants nothing but Biafra, Ohaneze on the other hand does not foreclose the prospect of a Biafra but views secession from the Nigerian state as a last resort. The apex Igbo socio-political body’s position aligns with the bulk of Igbo intelligentsia and favour a restructured Nigeria, not just as a matter of political pragmatism but also as a more viable economic option.
With this rift, Kanu has gone on an over-drive to launch a barrage of ad hominem attack against the person of Nwodo and his team, calling him a Fulani stooge. Kanu went on to make some hefty but ridiculous allegations that the Ohaneze leader is behind all herdsmen atrocities and Operation Python Dance in the southeast. Today he has gone even further as to make a serious threat on the life of a fellow Igbo. It’s just hard to imagine how Mazi Kanu’s latest posturing is helping with realizing the Igbo agenda or fostering unity among Ndigbo. I have a feeling that this move is a naked Machiavellian approach to power grab. A last ditch effort to crush whoever is on his path to achieving an imperial dream.
John Nnia Nwodo was elected the 9th President-General of Ohaneze in 2017, when he won by a landslide in an election where he polled 242 against 13 to defeat his opponent, Prof. Chinweyete Ejike, a university don and the former Vice Chancellor of ASUTECH. Prior to that, Nwodo a lawyer and an alumnus of the London School of Economics had had a distinguished career both in the private and public sectors . He cut his political teeth as the first Igbo president of the Students Union Government at the University of Ibadan. He would later serve as a minister under President Shehu Shagari and also General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
Ike Ukehe is a blue blood from a long line with rich family pedigree; a rare mix of cultural and political royalty. His late father, Chief John Nwodo l, was a two-time minister that served under Azikiwe and Okpara and the older Nwodo was also reputed to be one of the biggest financiers of the short-lived Republic of Biafra. The family maintained a close personal relationship with the Ikemba up untill his demise in November 2011. Nnia Nwodo himself, as a young man fought in the Nigeria civil war on the Biafran side and stayed in the trenches till the very end. Such is the profile of the man Nnamdi Kanu has condemned as a stooge in the hands of Fulani oligarch and now wants him dead. Disturbing is the fact that he is yet to provide an iota of proof. How dangerous !
In my last essay marking the 50th anniversary of the end of the Biafran war, I took time to eulogized Kanu and his IPOB for their solid contribution to the struggle for justice for Ndigbo. That still holds. I believe that Nnamdi Kanu will forever remain an important historical figure in that context. In that same piece, I also did encourage him to close ranks with Ohaneze and work together for the common good.
It is so troubling that today, the IPOB leader continues to thread on a very dangerous terrain. He is relying heavily on his army of dimwits within the ranks of a fanatical following to visit mayhem on anyone who dare to question his modus operandi or stand in the way to his totalitarian rule.
Nnamdi Kanu should be reminded that silencing opposing voices is totally against the republican nature of the very people whose affairs he plans to superintendent. This illustrious son of Chukwuokikeabiama surely needs our prayers.
Dr.Agbo is the President and CEO of African Center for Transparency and writes from the United States.