By Maiwada Dammallam
I read with dismay the overly inconsiderate demand tabled before President Buhari by a delegation of Igbo leaders for the release of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu. According to reports, leader of the delegation and First Republic parliamentarian and Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, pleaded for a political, rather than military solution to the disruptive activities of Nnamdi Kanu which the elder statesman correctly described as painful and pathetic. However, much as I respect Chief Ameachi and appreciate the wisdom behind his call for political rather than military solution to the problem, I’m also not unconcerned about the possible consequences of President Buhari giving a waiver to as heavy proclivities as those brutally expressed by Kanu in recent times.
Actually it deserve probing why members of the delegation individually and collectively maintained sealed lips while Kanu was running amok challenging the patience and resolve of President Buhari to build and maintain a united Nigeria devoid of petty dichotomies that we could all agree were the main reason for Nigeria’s stagnation — something President Buhari promised to change in his numerous campaigns to be elected president.
Even more curious, Chief Ameachi made clear and even emphasized his relevance and respectability in Igboland and how, if Kanu is released to him, he could control and have him stop saying the things he had been saying. Given Chief Ameachi’s well earned attributes with which he could stop Kanu’s campaign of violence, one could only wonder why it has to take countless lives of innocents civilians and security officials and billions of Naira in government and private infrastructures before the Igbo leaders realize they could control Kanu and have him stop saying things he had been saying or more correctly, have stop wasting innocent lives and wrecking havoc on the economy of the South East while undermining constituted authorities and threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria?
And it’s uncharitable to describe President Buhari’s disposition as abandonment of political solution in favor of military solution in regard to Kanu’s debacle. The military option adopted by President Buhari was informed by the absence of sincere intervention by South East’s elders to exploit the political options ingrained in the Nigerian constitution and available for every region to put to use to address real or even imaginary imbalances. Forget the noise about the South East being marginalized, the truth is, they are ably being represented in the two chambers of the National Assembly and other high level forums where a civilized process of arbitration could be pursued without resorting to wasting innocent lives and vandalizing government properties in the manner Kanu did using IPOB as a tool.
In any case, the military solution was only to fill the gap created by the seeming inefficiency of the prepared option of President Buhari — the judicial option — which was largely hampered by a seeming gang-up by the South East elders who either remain conspiratorially silent while he’s unleashing terror on innocent Nigerians or actively displayed support to his reign of terror by attempting to scuttle government efforts to subject him to constitutionally approved judicial processes.
One could remember a senior Igbo citizen; a highly placed politician standing surety for Kanu to successfully achieve bail only to, expectedly, jump bail and bolt out of Nigeria to internationalize his campaign of calumny against Nigeria. Ditto, one could easily recall a serving Senator ranting in the media for being denied access to a recent court session in solidarity with Kanu during his last appearance in court. Are we to assume these highly placed representatives of the South East were not aware of the enormity of Kanu’s criminalities or are they simply unconcerned about the obvious conflicts between Kanu’s reign of terror and Nigeria’s quest for a civilized Nigeria?
Most importantly, what signal will President Buhari send into the system should he decide to step down approved options of dealing with issues like this in favor of improvised and clearly ill-designed options. Kanu’s case is purely criminal in nature. Why should it be dealt with using political rather than judicial options? Should he succumb to pressure and release Kanu to Chief Ameachi, who will stop other regions from encouraging their youths to carry arms against innocent citizens to negotiate political or economic relevances? Don’t we have laws designed to address all manners of conflicts? Are our laws meant to be applied only when it suits the kinsmen of offenders.
Majority of public analysts of North west origin are today at the forefront of frying Sheikh Gumi for his illogical amnesty campaign for bandits holding the North west by the jugular. They are doing this not because they are incapable of taking advantage of the problem to press home skewed demands that are not in tandem with the collective development and prosperity of Nigeria. They are doing so to upheld the supremacy of the government by highlighting the importance of the applicability of the law across board. Political solution to problems captured in our law books is nothing but a vote of no confidence for our judicial system even when we could generate for it the required confidence to operate in line with modern societies. Nigeria cannot afford administrative recklessness of giving waiver to any criminal simply because people could arm and declare themselves warlords at the any given provocation whether real or imaginary. Even more annoying, people toeing this retrogressive line of thinking are always the first to remind the president of his oath to protect lives and properties of Nigerians. How could he protect Nigerians from the excesses of some citizens if the laws he’s warehousing the powers to do so on his table are negotiable?
I would have been very happy if the Chief Ameachi’s delegation was in Aso Rock to ask President Buhari fundamental questions that could enhance the functionality of his office which Kanu spent eternity denigrating in Nigeria and beyond. Questions like how’s Kanu and other dangerous elements threatening the existence of Nigeria are getting the weapons they are ransacking security institutions and killing officials with the ease they doing in different parts of the country? These are questions which illusive answers every right thinking Nigerian is searching for.
And I would have taken them more serious if long before their “waiver mission” to Aso Rock, they have distanced themselves from and express anger with any of their senior citizens who expressed tacit or explicit support to the activities of Kanu. Not doing so long ago and running to the villa to seek amnesty for Kanu is nothing short of dancing on the sensibilities of other regions who are battling their own demons using the approved template and without begging the president for exclusive considerations.
To say the delegation was not fair to President Buhari is to say the least. Buhari did not earn the title of “Mai gaskiya” for which he’s loved by Nigerians by selecting when to apply the law and when to step it down for lesser considerations. He earned the title by his uncompromising disposition to always play the game by its rules. He’s not one to change the rules in the middle of the game just to make some players happy. This is a well known attribute of President Buhari and anybody who demand from him a waiver for a criminal who’s facing charges of enormous gravity is overly unkind to him. With representation in the two chambers of the National Assembly, the delegation should have asked their sons and daughters in the NASS to table their request on the floors of the chambers for Kanu to be given a waiver for his criminalities instead of putting the president in a “damn if I do, damn if I don’t” situation which, in my estimation, is the purpose of the demand.
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