In August 2017, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was in London. He was very ill. There were many who openly expressed doubt that the former army general who spent about a hundred days on the sick bed in the UK, would ever come back to Nigeria alive. Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose was in no doubt. He was sure and said it loud and clear that Buhari had become a vegetable and that a cabal was covering up his death.
In August 2017, one Nnamdi Kanu was practically the Emperor of Nigeria. He issued Decrees and threats left right and center and cursed whomsoever he wished. Women threw their wrappers on the bare floor for Kanu to walk on and young men lined up to kiss his feet. Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB were the ‘saviours’ of the Igbo cause. Their language was coarse and messianic. No one could appeal to Kanu, no one could appease him and anyone who called for caution in the way he went on would be termed a sell-out on the Igbo cause and ran the risk of being ostracized.
Citizens in Anambra State will today go to the polls to re-elect Willie Obiano or to elect someone else to replace him as their governor. Nnamdi Kanu said it would never happen. He issued a Decree that no Igbo man born of a woman would be seen anywhere near a polling booth in the Anambra election. His Decree was final; elections will not hold in Anambra today! Kanu and his IPOB crowd had become the de-facto government in some states in the South-East. They flew their Biafran flags openly, took over traffic control duties on major streets in the South-East and were not just above the law, they were the law.
On the other hand, Muhammed Buhari was responsible for everything wrong with the Igbos. If a man could not put his wife in the family way, Buhari was behind it. A lot of the young men who could not pay their bills long before Buhari became president, blamed Buhari for their situation. Rather than look for work to do, a lot of my young brothers were recruited as full- time praise singers in the Nnamdi Kanu Brass Band. While they praised ‘Ohamadike’, hate speech became the currency with which the Igbo man was supposed to buy his freedom from the 'zoo'. One important measure of your patriotism as an Igbo man became how much you hated Muhammadu Buhari who would be lynched if he stepped his foot on Igbo soil.
Before this real-life Nollywood movie, the Igbo man had succeeded under all kinds of situations, built businesses across the nation and reaped great harvest where others were too scared to go. And here was Kanu and his praise singers telling young Igbo men that they could not make progress except they developed great hatred for the rest of their country-men and walked away from the market of close to 200 million people that has created enormous wealth for many Igbos.
I do not know how some of my kit and kin from the land that brought forth intellectual giants like the great Chinua Achebe, the impeccable Emeka Anyoku, the incredibly smart Chike Obi, the brilliant Alex Ekwueme and the well-schooled Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu decided that this crude talking, hate spewing guy with almost no finesse was the guy to take the Igbos to the promised land and that we would build a great nation founded on hate. I did not buy it and said so loud and clear. Meanwhile, there are many Igbos I looked up to. I thought they would speak up against the unfolding madness. They hid their heads in the sand.
There were many who cursed me for my position and there were those who concluded that I had been bought. The good God of the Igbos knows that I did not take one cowrie shell from anyone. I was simply alarmed that that the otherwise smart Igbo man had been conned and that my people were being herded to the slaughter house by someone who clearly did not have the strategic disposition, the required resources nor the temperament to take such defining decisions on behalf of millions of people.
This week, the despised Muhammadu Buhari, the great enemy of the Igbos was in the Igbo heartland. He was received with great warmth and conferred with important titles like “Ochioha Ndigbo”, “Enyioma”, “Ogbuagu”, etc. No one threw a stone at Buhari and nowhere to be seen was the man who decreed that Buhari would not step on Igbo soil and that elections would not take place in Anambra. No one can say for sure where Kanu is. How three months can change so much! I hope that the elections in Anambra go on peacefully today and that we have learnt some lessons from the events of the last three months.
See you next week.