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Their Leader Is Missing, but Nigeria’s Biafran Separatists Aren’t Backing Down

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Eromo Egbejule Tuesday, March 6, 2018

UMUAHIA, Nigeria—Six months after the raid, the house still lies in shambles. Its walls are pocked with bullet holes, clothes are strewn about the grounds, and the windshields of the cars on the property are shattered.

Located in the city of Umuahia, the capital of Abia state in southeast Nigeria, the house belongs to the family of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, or IPOB, a group that wants this corner of the country to form a breakaway nation dominated by members of the Igbo ethnic group. On the morning of Sept. 14, Kanu and other members of his family were sitting at home, witnesses say, when a detachment of Nigerian soldiers stormed the compound, shooting automatic weapons indiscriminately into the air. The IPOB says more than 20 of its members either were killed during the attack or disappeared after it. Kanu himself has not been seen or heard from since.

Despite extensive evidence to the contrary, the army maintains that the incident never occurred. “The military did not raid Nnamdi Kanu’s residence,” says John Enenche, a military spokesman. “Nnamdi Kanu is not in the custody of the military.”

Such statements only further enrage Kanu’s family and associates, who call them brazen lies. “You can see the gunshots on the director’s bedroom window,” says Darlington Obisiki, Kanu’s driver and one of his bodyguards, referring to his boss. Even the family dog, Jack, was gunned down, he adds. “Everyone had to run for their lives.”

Foreign governments and human rights organizations seem similarly skeptical of Nigerian officials’ denials. Kanu holds British citizenship, and the U.K. High Commission in Nigeria has said it is pressing the state for information about him.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, has said it is investigating the reported deaths of IPOB members while cautioning soldiers against the use of brute force on unarmed civilians. The organization’s past reporting suggests it would hardly be out of character for Nigerian security forces to have killed Kanu. In November 2016, Amnesty documented a “chilling crackdown” in the southeast that included the killing of more than 150 pro-Biafra activists—allegations that were also disputed by the military and police.

Whatever the various ongoing investigations reveal, the incident in Umuahia and its fallout are a grim display of the growing acrimony between the central government in Abuja and separatists in the southeast. Though such tensions go at least as far back as the devastating Nigerian Civil War, which lasted from 1967 to 1970 and resulted in more than 1 million deaths, they have escalated sharply since 2013, when Kanu ramped up calls for the establishment of an independent Republic of Biafra and security forces retaliated with heavy-handed, and frequently brutal, tactics.

The most immediate question for many residents of Umuahia is what happened to Kanu: Is he dead, detained or in hiding? Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location, his brother, Emmanuel Kanu, says soldiers carted the IPOB leader away during the Sept. 14 raid, and he has no idea what happened to him. “Nothing can be ruled out,” Emmanuel Kanu says. “We have told the government to produce him, dead or alive. He was the last person in the house, and he has not communicated with us, neither my father nor mother.”

The state’s handling of the Biafra crisis continues a long tradition in which Nigerian authorities aggravate, rather than ease, the grievances of marginalized groups.
If it turns out that Nnamdi Kanu was in fact killed, large-scale protests would be virtually guaranteed, along with future election boycotts and, potentially, reprisal violence. But even if he turns up alive, the government’s problems in the region would be far from over. Its handling of the Biafra crisis continues a long tradition in which the state has aggravated rather than eased the grievances of marginalized Nigerians.

More broadly, as Kanu’s disappearance shows, there is a widening gulf between the government’s claims about nationwide security gains and the reality on the ground. From the Boko Haram insurgency in the north to clashes between herders and farmers in the Middle Belt region to separatist tensions in the southeast, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari seems to be bouncing from one flashpoint to the next. The picture ahead of general elections scheduled for February 2019 is bleak, especially given Nigeria’s past track record of election-related violence.

A History of Rebellion

The name Biafra is believed to derive from two Igbo words: bia, meaning come, and fara, meaning live. The town of Umuahia has long played an important role in efforts to bring the Republic of Biafra into existence.

Fifty years before the raid on the Kanu family home, in September 1967, the town was declared the capital of the breakaway state. The civil war, commonly known as the Biafran War, had begun several months earlier, and rebels made Umuahia their seat of power after government troops overran the first Biafran capital, Enugu.

The independence movement caught fire around the middle of the decade, led by Igbo leaders angered by a perceived pattern of abuses against the Igbo population in the north. In January 1966, a military coup spearheaded by two Igbo officers toppled the government of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafaw Balewa. The putsch led to the assassination of several of the country’s prominent leaders—though not Nnamdi Azikiwe, the ethnic Igbo who served as the first president of Nigeria, as he was conveniently out of the country at the time.

Six months later, an ill-advised decree by Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo who became head of state after the coup, did away with the existing system of regional autonomy. In response to that as well as the seeming lack of will to prosecute the coup-plotters, a group of officers from northern Nigeria carried out another coup to counter what they suspected was a power-grabbing conspiracy by Igbos, who are concentrated in the southeast. This deepened tribal tensions, resulting in the killing of thousands of Igbos living in the north; many put the estimated fatalities at 30,000.

Separatist sentiments in southeast Nigeria escalated considerably in the wake of that bloodshed. They were further exacerbated by disagreements over the implementation of the Aburi Accord, which was signed in 1967 by representatives of the federal government and Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the eastern military governor. Again, the disagreements centered on questions about the devolution of power to regional leaders.

In May 1967, Ojukwu announced the creation of the Republic of Biafra, sparking the official beginning of the civil war. The territory he spoke for encompassed more than 77,000 square miles and about 13 million people.

The war, which lasted for 30 months, led to the deaths of thousands of soldiers on both sides, but it is even more notorious for the civilian toll. More than 1 million Igbos died of starvation caused by a military blockade imposed by the government. Images of starving children and disease-ridden bodies sparked intense international media coverage and concern.
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Outgunned, outmanned and starving, the Biafran side ultimately could not hold off the offensives by the better equipped Nigerian troops, who successfully took over the region’s towns. In January 1970, the rebels surrendered and the war ended, seemingly extinguishing the vision of an independent Biafran state.

In the war’s immediate aftermath, the federal government, then headed by Yakubu Gowon, declared a policy of “No Victor, No Vanquished,” ostensibly to foster reconciliation and reconstruction. However, in the eyes of many Igbos, this policy was undermined by the decision of Finance Minister Obafemi Awolowo to grant Igbos only 20 Nigerian pounds each in financial assistance, regardless of what they might have lost during the conflict.

Many Igbos say their home region and people have continued to suffer from chronic neglect in the decades that followed. Apart from Alex Ekwueme, who served as vice president for a four-year period ending in 1983, no Igbos have held either of the country’s top two governing positions. Infrastructure in Nigeria’s southeast remains dilapidated and deficient, falling short of what Igbos enjoyed during the days of greater regional autonomy, when local officials allocated more resources to development projects.

In Umuahia, the main attraction testifying to the town’s pivotal role in the conflict is a poorly maintained museum located in a bunker used by Ojukwu during the war. It houses a few scattered relics of the conflict years, including warships, old planes and artillery. Unimpressive though this collection may be, the period looms large in the public consciousness of the region, even if it is rarely discussed by Nigerian officials or broached in Nigerian classrooms.

A New Separatist Leader

The son of the traditional ruler of a local autonomous ethnic community, Kanu was raised as an Igbo prince and studied in various distinguished institutions across Nigeria. He dropped out of the University of Nigeria in Enugu state to move abroad, enrolling at London Metropolitan University. During his time in the United Kingdom, he acquired British citizenship, a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics and an obsession with the Liverpool soccer club.

Many Igbos say their home region has continued to suffer from chronic neglect since Nigeria’s civil war.

In 2012, Kanu took over Radio Biafra, a community station based in the Peckham district of London. This came after a falling-out with his mentor and fellow secessionist, Ralph Uwazuruike, over funding and control of the secessionist machinery the men had started organizing three years earlier. Working out of his apartment, Kanu was able to reach diaspora Nigerians from Guangzhou to Houston as well as listeners in his home country.

His strongly worded speeches on air and at pro-Igbo forums rattled the government. This concern increased following the World Igbo Congress in September 2015 in Los Angeles, at which Kanu issued a call to arms. “We need guns and we need bullets. We now know that the best way to defend yourself is to be armed, because Boko Haram is everywhere,” he said.

Abuja repeatedly tried to block the frequencies of Radio Biafra, but the IPOB kept finding ways to get through. “Our technology is superior to that of the zoo,” Kanu wrote at one point on Facebook, mocking the administration of then-President Goodluck Jonathan.

In October 2015, Kanu decided to travel back to Nigeria, where he had not lived for at least half a decade, to try to make his dream of an independent Biafran state a reality. Upon his arrival in Lagos, however, Nigerian authorities immediately apprehended him, and he was held in custody for nearly two years on charges including treason

By locking Kanu up, the government transformed him into a political prisoner, inflating his influence. In April 2017, he was finally granted bail; a Nigerian senator, a businessman and a Jewish clergyman—all Igbos—came up with the payment of 100 million naira, or roughly $277,000.

The bail conditions included a ban on political speech, media interviews and speeches before crowds of more than 10 people. But Kanu, whose treason case was still active, flouted them, drawing crowds of hundreds to the family compound in Umuahia and reaching thousands more via radio and social media across the region.

By this point, concerns about Kanu’s activities had risen to the highest levels of Nigeria’s government. Last June, Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s vice president, met with traditional rulers and other leaders from the southeast region, who visited him at the presidential complex of Aso Rock in Abuja. During this meeting, Osinbajo indicated that the government intended to deal forcefully with those who delivered divisive speeches. “There is no doubt on the resolve of government not to allow anyone to get away with hate speeches and divisive words,” he said. “Our emotion should not be allowed to run wild so as to threaten the existence of anyone anywhere in Nigeria. We will do everything within our power to protect the lives of every citizen anywhere and in any part of the country.”

At the time, Osinbajo was serving as acting president; an illness, the details of which still have not been disclosed, had kept Nigeria’s current president, Muhammadu Buhari, in London for months on end receiving medical treatment. When Buhari finally returned in August 2017, he gave a five-minute address to the nation that expanded on Osinbajo’s earlier references to separatist agitation in the southeast. “I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially on social media, have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation,” he said. “This is a step too far.”

The president added: “Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood.”

Subsequently, Buhari met with his military chiefs, and Operation Python Dance II, a military campaign to reduce violent crime and secessionist agitations in the southeast, was conceived. It followed Operation Python Dance I, which unfolded in late 2016. Within weeks, soldiers armed with rifles were deployed to the southeast, and stories of civilians being whipped in public by troops became common in Umuahia.

Then, in early September, a video emerged of Kanu telling IPOB members that it was not, in fact, Buhari who had returned from London. “The man you are looking at on the television is not Buhari. He is from Sudan,” Kanu bellowed. “His name is Jubril, he is from Sudan. After extensive plastic surgery, they brought him back. [They] taught him Buhari’s mannerisms, and he came and is deceiving all of you. You cannot deceive Nnamdi Kanu, you cannot deceive IPOB.” The claim gained significant traction, even beyond the southeast.

Ten days later, Kanu’s family home was raided.

‘We Pray He Comes Out Alive’

Since the launch of Operation Python Dance II, the southeast has effectively become a police state. Igbos who live elsewhere in the country and who returned for Christmas celebrations last year reported being detained and harassed for hours by Nigerian soldiers conducting stop-and-search operations.

If the goal of recent military operations in the southeast is to extinguish pro-Biafra sentiment, this approach does not appear to be working.
Yet if the goal is to extinguish pro-Biafra sentiment, the operation does not appear to be working. On Feb. 27, IPOB members released a statement to mark the recent death of Joe Achuzia, the Biafran general who scored a major victory against federal troops in the small town of Abagana during the war. The statement praised Achuzia as someone who “most represented the spirit of bravery and patriotism” embodied by Biafran war leaders.

Radio Biafra continues to broadcast, and in early 2017 it launched a channel with programming in Hausa, the mostly widely spoken language of the north. Emmanuel Kanu explains that this is intended to reach Christians living in the mostly Muslim north and anyone else who feels “marginalized.”

Though Operation Python Dance II ended in October, tension in the area is still high and Kanu’s disappearance remains a point of fascination for residents of Umuahia. Rumors of his whereabouts abound. There have been reported sightings in neighboring Ghana as well as in London, prompting claims by government officials and others that Kanu abandoned the cause of Biafra to save his own skin.

Emmanuel Kanu insists his brother would never have left Nigeria of his own volition. “It is very ridiculous for anyone to say that he has run away to London,” Emmanuel Kanu says. “How can he do that when the federal government still holds both his Nigerian and British passports?”

Ahead of the 2019 polls, many in Umuahia are hoping the government, in the interests of peace, will lighten the security presence in the southeast and disclose more information about Kanu’s fate. “Maybe God will touch the hearts of these government people so there will be peace,” says Kalu Ogbonnaya, who runs a roadside tire-repair stand. “They better release Kanu for us. He did not kill anybody or steal Nigerian money like those politicians. We pray he comes out alive because now nobody is fighting but there is tension in the air.”

Regardless of whether this happens, it is clear that many Igbos, convinced that their interests will never be effectively represented by Nigeria’s, will continue to clamor for a nation of their own.

Making matters worse, there is little reason to expect Buhari’s administration can effectively defuse anti-government sentiment. To the contrary, Nigerian authorities have, over the years, perfected the art of ignoring or crushing, rather than appeasing, angry constituencies.

If the past offers any clues, this approach could yield devastating consequences in the southeast. In the most glaring example, military abuses against Boko Haram’s leaders in the late 2000s, including the killing of Mohammed Yusuf, are widely blamed for fanning the flames of an insurgency that has now killed more than 20,000 people.

In the best-case scenario, lessons from that experience would inform the actions of the government and military in the southeast going forward. The worst-case scenario is a return to the violence of the 1960s, and another black mark for a president who came to power promising to restore peace in Nigeria.

Eromo Egbejule is a journalist covering conflict, culture, politics and their intersections with history, technology and everyday life across West Africa. He is currently based in Lagos, Nigeria. His work has been published by outlets including The Washington Post, The Guardian and Reuters. Follow him on Twitter: @EromoEgbejule.

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IPOB attack: Address issues causing agitations among Nigerians, PDP tells Buhari

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the attack on Ike Ekweremadu, ex-senate president, by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Ekweremadu was attacked by some members of IPOB on Saturday in Nuremberg, Germany.

In a statement by Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP spokesperson, the party said the attack on the former senate president was unprovoked and cannot be justified.

It added that the “assault” does not portray Nigeria in a good way.

The opposition party, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address issues causing agitations among Nigeria.

“The PDP amply notes that the former deputy senate president was attending the 2nd Igbo Annual Festival in Germany where he was duly scheduled as a speaker and a special guest of honour when he was attacked,” the statement said.

“The party insists that the attack on Senator Ekweremadu was uncalled for, unprovoked and cannot be justified under any guise whatsoever.

“Such assault on a leader is completely unacceptable and does not portray our nation in proper light.

“The PDP therefore charges the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany as well as the German government to take appropriate decisive action on the matter.

“The party also urges the Federal Government, particularly, the National Assembly, to take urgent comprehensive step to address issues leading to acts of resentment and agitations by Nigerians within and outside the country in the last four years, under President Muhammadu Buhari’s misrule.”

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Before the end of Buhari’s ‘next level’, Nigeria will become five countries — Fani Kayode

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It’s not the best of times for Nigeria’s unity and it takes no gimmick to understand this. The country is completely polarized, and the Buhari administration is not doing enough to improve the mood in the country

The Buhari administration has been accused of acting as though the country is under military rule. There’s also the policy aspect that clearly shows the Buhari administration is not in tune with the yearnings of the masses.

Protests are already being held as a sign that Nigerians are beginning take their fates into their own hands. And should the Buhari administration fail to listen to the voices of the masses, Fani Kayode says Nigeria may end up splitting into two or more pieces.

He says, the things that I am hearing about Buhari’s plans leaves me with only one conclusion: by the time this dance is over Nigeria is likely to have broken into between two to five pieces.

He then concluded his tweet by saying, “Thanks to our President, a few years from now we may not have a Nigeria left!”

Whether or not Fani Kayode is exaggerating remains to be seen, but the current state of the nation seem to be pointing toward what the elites especially from the north, have been fighting very hard to avoid. And that is the eventual disintegration of the country.

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Ekweremadu’s attack is un-Igbo – Abaribe

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The senator representing Abia-South senatorial district, Enyinnaya Abaribe has condemned the attack on the former deputy senate president, Dr Ike Ekweremadu by members identified as the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.

Abaribe, who along with two other sureties bailed Nnamdi kanu, frowned at the incident that happened yesterday at Nuremberg, Germany, noting that it was un-Igbo for IPOB members in Germany to treat Ekweremadu that way.

His words, “Obviously this is not how to repay a man, an outstanding leader of men, an unpretentious Igbo leader. “He has given his all even going as far as deploying his means to arrange for the bail of Nnamdi Kanu, not minding the repercussions to his illustrious political career. “It is unfortunate. The perpetrators of the attack should know that as the Igbo, we respect elders and reverence our leaders. “The unwarranted attack is not the character of the Igbo. This is un-Igbo. “It is most worrisome and even inconceivable that the attackers will choose an auspicious occasion where our people are celebrating and showcasing our rich culture to exhibit such unbecoming and condemnable conduct in the name of agitation. “No, that was not agitation, no right thinking human will identify with such behaviour.

to. “Resorting to mob mentality and venting the spleen on our leaders rather creates a vacuum that will leave our people helpless and confused in the circumstance”, he said.

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LESSONS FROM NUREMBERG, by Fani-Kayode

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What happened to my friend and brother Senator Ike Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany at the hands of IPOB is an eye-opener and a clear signal to every political leader in southern Nigeria! The people of the south are getting angry and you either stand up and defend them or stand aside!

It takes courage to stand for those that have been unjustly killed in Nigeria. It takes courage to say “no” and to stand up against injustice in a jungle. It takes courage to identify and empathise with the enslaved, the oppressed, the poor, the vulnerable and the weak in a killing field and functional zoo.

Yet we must all do it or stop laying claim to being called leaders. When your people and kinsmen are being turned into worthless slaves with little hope for the future and when they are being slaughtered like flies simply because they are southerners and Middle Belters or because of their faith and you say and do next to nothing then somewhere along the line a price has to be paid.

What happened in Nuremberg yesterday marks the beginning of an awakening. Every southern politician, including yours truly, will be called to account to the people of the south about what he or she did to stop the genocide and ethnic cleansing of southerners in Buhari’s Nigeria.

If anyone believes that it is only IPOB or the people of the South-East that feel so bitter then they really do not know what is going on. The sons and daughters of the Niger Delta, the South-South and the South-West are equally aggrieved. The anger is palpable and it is spreading throughout the south.

As each day passes those of us, like Ike Ekweremadu, that have called for patience and restraint are being seen as traitors and sell-outs by our own people who demand a far more candid, courageous, proactive, dynamic, honest, protective and inspirational form of leadership.

Only God knows for how much longer those of us that are moderates and that believe in non-violent and passive resistance can hold the line. Our people are boiling and they are about to kindle a fire that may consume us all if something is not done to appease them and give them hope.

I call on President Muhammadu Buhari to shed his cloak of partiality, to put Nigeria before his Fulani tribe, to stop the genocide, mass murder and ethnic cleansing, to remove the Fulani herdsmen from the south and the Middle Belt, to proscribe Miyetti Allah and the Fulani militants, to declare them as terrorists and enemies of the Nigerian state and to protect the lives of EVERY Nigerian from this great evil that has tormented our people and torn us apart.

The fact that Ekweremadu wore a shirt which was covered with the Nigerian Coat of Arms and that it was torn to shreds by those that attacked him is instructive. It may also prove to be prophetic.

I say this because the assertion that Nigeria must and will remain one regardless of the humiliation, persecution, marginalisation, subjugation, barbarity, wickedness and torment that the south has been subjected to over the last 59 years and particularly over the last four years by those that believe that they were born to rule is, at best, misplaced and naive and, at worse, shallow and asinine.

How can Nigeria possibly remain one when every single one of the 17 security and intelligence agencies in the country and every arm of the Nigerian military except for the Navy is headed by a northern Muslim?

How can Nigeria remain one when the three arms of Government, namely the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary is headed by a northern Muslim?

How can Nigeria remain one when there is only one southerner in the top four positions in the country, namely the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and he is also Muslim?

Worse still his Deputy and every single one of the four principal officers in the House of Representatives are northern Muslims.

How can Nigeria remain one when the substantive Minister of Petroleum and Gas over the last four years and every single key General Manager and Director at the nations state-owned petroleum corporation, the NNPC, are all northern Muslims?

How can Nigeria remain one when, for the better part of the last few years and up until one month ago, every single branch of the three tiers of the Federal Courts, namely the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court, were headed by northern Muslims?

For the record, one month ago a Christian from the Middle Belt took over at the Federal High Court and that helped to balance the equation but the point remains valid.

How can Nigeria remain one when the first and fourth most deadly terrorist organisations in the world, namely Boko Haram and the Fulani militants, are wreaking havoc and committing the most heinous and barbaric atrocities all over Nigeria with the help and support of ISIS?

Worse still the Fulani militants have made a sport of targeting and killing southerners and Middle Belters and occupying their land with the tacit support of the Government who have refused to call them terrorists or to arrest, prosecute and bring them to justice?

How can Nigeria remain one when it is clear that a Fulanisation and Islamisation policy is being implemented by the Buhari administration before our very eyes?

How can Nigeria remain one when groups that have not killed anyone and that do not carry arms like IPOB and the IMN have been proscribed and declared as terrorist organisations whilst their leaders are subjected to inhuman treatment and hounded?

How can Nigeria remain one when the Coalition of Northern Groups, with the backing and support of the Northern Elders Forum, openly and publicly threaten the lives of southerners that live in the north and give them ultimatums to leave and consistently threatening to target southerners if RUGA is not implemented in the south?

How can Nigeria remain one when Miyetti Allah appears to be above the law and when the Fulani herdsmen are allowed to carry arms and appear to be untouchable?

How can Nigeria remain one when the most senior Presidential spokesman says we must either give up our land to the murderous Fulani terrorist herdsmen or give up our lives?

How can Nigeria remain one when our quisling Vice President says that we must pray for the Fulani herdsmen that kill us on a daily basis, that take our land and that rape and abduct our wives and children?

How can Nigeria remain one when the Vice President also says that the number of killings are “exaggerated”?

How can Nigeria remain one when Christian leaders and clerics are being singled out and targetted for slaughter all over the country?

How can Nigeria remain one when more Churches have been burnt and more priests and Christian clerics have been killed in the last four years than at any other time in our history?

How can Nigeria remain one when more Nigerians have been killed in the last four years than at any other time other than during the civil war?

How can Nigeria remain one when over 3,500 MASS murders and MASS killings have taken place in Nigeria this year alone?

How can Nigeria remain one when our people are more divided on religious, ethnic and regional lines than at any other time in our history?

How can Nigeria remain one when southerners and Middle Belters are treated like scum and are regarded as nothing but slaves and, at best, second class citizens in their own country?

How can Nigeria remain one when Mr. Omoyele Sowore is abducted from his home in the middle of the night like a common criminal, dumped in a DSS cell, treated like a terrorist, detained for a minimum of 45 days and will be charged for treason or treasonable felony simply because he wanted to organise a peaceful demonstration against the reckless, inept, incompetent and dangerous policies of the Buhari Government?

How can Nigeria remain one when a courageous young lady by the name of Miss Leah Sharibu was not released and allowed to come home with the other Dapchi girls simply because she refused to renounce her Christian faith?

How can Nigeria remain one when southerners and northerners regard one another with increasing suspicion and contempt and with growing disdain?

How can Nigeria remain one when Fulani nationalism and supremacy is engendered and encouraged by the Buhari administration whilst the ethnic nationalism of the Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Tiv and other indigenous tribes from the South and the Middle Belt are frowned upon, outlawed and treated as a crime?

Given all this, it is not surprising that when those that attacked Ekweremadu saw him wearing a shirt with the Nigerian coat of arms emblazzoned all over it at an Igbo yam festival in distant Germany they simply lost control of themselves, allowed their fury to take over and tore it to shreds. I do not seek to justify or condone their behaviour and neither do I support it: I only seek to explain it.
They are in pain and that pain has turned into a palpable and dangerous rage.

Those of us that lay claim to being southern leaders would do well to recognise that fact, accept it and resolve to rise up to the challenges that our people are facing.

The bitter truth is that the Nigerian Coat of Arms and the Nigerian flag itself, to a sizeable number of people from the South, has now become a symbol of tyranny, terror, subjugation and oppression.

As unpleasant and distasteful as this may be and as difficult it is to accept, that is the bitter and plain truth and the ugly events at Nuremberg have proved it.

The biggest miscalculation that the President could possibly make is to believe that this matter can be contained or that it will go away with time. The more the killings, the greater the build-up of anger and the greater the chance that things will soon explode.

We must do all we can to stop this and to restore love, peace, equity, justice, trust and mutual respect to our people and our land. That is the only way to ensure that what happened to Senator Ike Ekweremadu does not happen to other southern leaders some time in the not too distant future.

We must all be ready to stick our necks out for our people and defend them as aggressively and vigorously as is necessary or, if we fail to do so, we must be ready to pass on the baton and step aside for those that will.

Leadership requires risk and sacrifice. We, as southern leaders, must be ready to take a courageous stand and resolve to do both. We must do whatever it takes and whatever is necessary to protect the lives and property of our people, to defend their honor and dignity and to safeguard their future.

This is a duty and obligation that we must pledge to uphold and a covenant that we must make before the Living God. I wish my friend and brother Senator Ike Ekweremadu a speedy recovery from the unfortunate events in Nuremberg, Germany.

(Femi Fani-Kayode, 17th August, 2019)

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Forex ban on food importation is the right thing done at the wrong time — Sani

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President Muhammadu Buhari has yesterday Tuesday 13th of August, issued a directive to the nation’s apex Bank to stop issuance of Forex for the importation of food products into the country.

While opinions as expected remains divided on whether or not the directive is a wise move by the presidency, Senator Shehu Sani sides with the president, but says the other issues affecting agriculture in the country must be addressed to avoid food shortages, a situation the president obviously would want to avoid.

He said, “The President directive to the CBN to stop issuance of Forex for food importation is the right step forward. It will boost food production at home. Next is to hand over Agric financing to the Bank of Agriculture and not CBN & protect farmers from Kidnappers.”

The growing insecurity in the country is something the Buhari administration has struggled to address since it came to power in 2015. It can be argued that the president focuses on addressing this particular issue and ensuring farmers are safe from the activities of armed herdsmen and kidnappers.

Failure to address these issues will subject Nigerians to more hardship to food scarcity and spike in food prices. In other words, more hunger in the country.

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We Are Fast Heading Towards The Threshold Of A State Collapse – Ezekwesili

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A former Minister of Education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, has warned that Nigeria is edging closer to collapse and the leaders must act to prevent that from happening.

“Initially, I kept saying that we were a fragile country. Now, we are fast-heading towards the threshold where you have a state collapse and we can’t stand watching while that happens,” she warned during an appearance on Channels TV’s Sunday Politics.

For her, the signs captured in the definition of state collapse are now present in the country. This, she explained, involves looking at the security situation, the economy, social cohesion and political stability.

“When these four things are in the negative then you are fast-heading towards what is known as state collapse,” she said.
Not In A Good Place’

Dr Ezekwesili, who is also a former Vice President of the World Bank for Africa, added, “Everything seems to have fallen apart. We practically have no institutions that are standing in their credibility at this time.”

She believes a first step towards reversing the situation in the country is for those in government to accept the signs.

“I think it is critical for people in government to accept that the country is certainly not in a good place at all,” she said.

“That ownership of your situation is an important and critical step towards solving a problem. If the government pretends that all is well with Nigeria, then it shows how absolutely isolated from the issues and challenges of the people that they lead.”

Should that critical step be taken by those in power, she then expects the President and the leadership at the National Assembly to come together to convene “a state of the union conversation”.

That conversation would have to be a very honest one about “what we do with Nigeria”, she said, stressing that “Nigeria is not in a good place at all”.

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Buhari is a completely out-of-touch leader, says Ezekwesili

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Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, has described President Muhammadu Buhari as a “completely out-of-touch leader.”

Ezekwesili, a former presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, made the remark while rubbishing Buhari’s warning to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country.

Buhari had on Tuesday while hosting the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors at his country home in Daura, Katsina State, said the foreign reserve will be conserved and utilized strictly for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.

Reacting, Ezekwesili maintained that the President’s directive was a ‘blunder.”

In a series of tweets, the former presidential candidate wrote: “A completely out-of-touch ‘leader’. He is cocooned away in the grandeur of @AsoRock where they serve him delicatessen and praise-sing to him: “Ranka dede Sir, your Agriculture Policy is working wonderfully. All farmers in Nigeria are now Billionaires & exporting to the US”

“We all know that @NGRPresident @MBuhari has absolute contempt for Data but we shall go ahead and put out here some of the Knowledge he should have had before making this latest blunder of ‘Directing’ what should be an independent @cenbank to “not give a cent for food import”.

“I will share the latest information on Nigeria from FEWS NET, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which provides information and analysis on food insecurity around the world. That our @NGRPresident thinks we have achieved Food Security says a lot about his Policy-Making.

“FEWS Net is Famine Early Warning Systems Network. It “uses an integrated approach that considers climate, agriculture production, prices, trade, nutrition, and other factors, together with an understanding of local livelihoods.” Knowledge that helps Evidence-Based Policies.

“In the next few tweets, I’ll share highlights of FEWS Net June 2018 to January 2019 Report on Food Insecurity in Nigeria for many reasons that any reasonable person will easily understand.

Humanitarian actors have provided sustained food assistance delivery in 2018, reaching 2.5 million people in April 2018 across the 3 northeast states. In May, food assistance deliveries reached 15 percent fewer households, meeting targets closer to what was seen in March 2017”

“With the continuing military offensive, new arrivals continue to be identified in the northeast. As of May, IOM identified 1.8 million people displaced by conflict in northeast Nigeria. Between late Nov2017 &April 2018 an estimated 100,000 new arrivals across Borno & Adamawa…”

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It’s time to apologize to Goodluck Jonathan for Nigeria to move forward — Frank tells Nigerians

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Comrade Timi Frank, a political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has called on Nigerians who worked against the re-election of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 to publicly apologized to him and seek for forgiveness for the country to move forward.

Frank said it is time for Nigerians to do the needful and stop living in pretence.

He noted that the era of former President Goodluck Jonathan managed the challenges of insecurity well compared to what the country has now under president Buhari.

In a statement he released to newsmen in Abuja on Saturday, Timi Frank called on religious leaders, traditional rulers and all Nigerians who directly or indirectly worked against Jonathan’s government to ask for forgiveness before it is too late.

Frank acknowledged that there were things Jonathan’s government should have done better but in all Nigerians made a wrong choice of electing the current administration.

“I call on Nigerians that we should beg former President Goodluck Jonathan for wrongly voting him out and sabotaging his government. I must confess that as an APC figure in 2015, we fabricated many lies against Jonathan, though I have publicly apologised to him, other Nigerians, especially the pastors, Imams, traditional rulers and other opinion leaders should beg for forgiveness too.

“It is obvious now that insecurity in our Nation has gone out of hand. The challenge was limited to a zone under Goodluck Jonathan but presently no state, including General Buhari’s home state is secured.

“Under Jonathan, Fulani herdsmen were using stick but they now carry AK 47. Under Jonathan, lives of Nigerians were more important despite the challenges but under Buhari, cows are more important than lives.

“There was democracy and rule of law under Jonathan but its now rule of force and impunity. Under Jonathan, National Assembly was active and working but its now a rubber stamp.

“Under Jonathan, Nigerians abroad were relocating back home but under Buhari, Nigerians are running away. Under Jonathan, Nigerians are respected all over the world but that has since gone under Buhari.

“Under Jonathan, Nigerians were crying in tears but now Nigerians are crying in blood

“Under Jonathan, there was freedom of speech but that has long gone under the APC administration.

“Under Jonathan, poverty, hunger and unemployment were not as bad as it is today. Under Jonathan, Nigeria was a united Nation but sentiments have taken over now.

“As it is now, all the institutions of government that were working well under Jonathan have all been blackmailed and politicised.

“So, I call on others who betrayed Jonathan to come out publicly and apologise to him. I also use this opportunity to appeal to former President Jonathan to forgive Nigerians and bless the Nation against the evils that have pervaded the land.”

Frank said Nigerians should ask the APC administration what happened to the $1 Billion ECA money removed to fight insecurity in Nigeria.

He called on Nigerians to support a peaceful revolution to take back Nigeria to the good old days from the hands “evil men in power.”

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