- The Heart and Soul OF Nnamdi Kanu
In my essay titled “Head Bloodied But Not Bowed And The Ascension Of President-Elect Donald J. Trump” (Part 1) I wrote the following:
“When I went to visit the great and brilliant freedom fighter, Nnamdi Kanu, who is the leader of IPOB and easily the most courageous, powerful and credible Igbo leader in Nigeria today in his cell we had a very instructive and long discussion.
I had never met Nnamdi before and I was amazed at his depth of knowledge, his immense courage and his deep convictions.
There is no doubt in my mind that that man is going places and in him the Igbo have an Ojukwu and a Nnamdi Azikiwe all rolled into one. He is destined for greatness”.
Apparantly my words have created quite a stir amongst those who believe that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu cannot be mentioned in the same breath as Azikiwe or Ojukwu, both of whom, in my view, are also great men.
Yet despite their reservations I believe that we must give honor to whom it is due. Consequently I have no regrets for what I have said.
Those that are upset at the fact that I spoke highly of the IPOB leader are misguided and, worst still, they lack vision, foresight and insight.
They not only lack the ability to perceive individuals and events accurately but they also lack the gift of discermment. They may see the man but they cannot assess or recognise the spirit that is in him and that motivates him.
Worse of all they are suffering from good old fashioned envy and they have been afflicted with the worst form of ignorance.
Most of them have never even met Kanu let alone know him. I sat next to him for three solid hours in the most challenging and difficult circumstances.
We discussed our respective views about Nigeria, our collective history, the suffering and marginalisation of our respective people, the Nigerian civil war, the reptilian and violent nature of the Nigerian state, the present dispensation, the Buhari government and the way forward.
I have associated with, met and worked with many men of influence and power since I entered the combustible fray of politics thirty years ago but this one was different.
This was a man that had what I would describe as a Mahatma Ghandi-like quality. That is to say he is one that is prepared to sacrifice everything and anything for his beliefs, his people and his cause.
Like the great Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace I have no doubt that if he deemed it necessary he would go as far as to sacrifice his very life in the struggle for freedom and independence for his Igbo people from the Nigerian state and from our internal colonial masters and for the establishment of his beloved Biafra.
Not all may agree with him on that course but they must respect his determination, passion and courage.
Very few Nigerian leaders have that level of selflessness and commitment to any cause and, simply put, I admire it.
I looked deeply into his eyes as we spoke and I touched and weighed his soul.
I can tell you, without any fear of contradiction, that he is a profoundly good man who loves his Igbo people deeply.
He is also well-educated and widely-read and he is a formidable intellectual.
We may not have agreed on everything but I can tell you this much: we share an aversion to the spread of radical Islam and terror in Nigeria and indeed throughout the world.
We also share deep concerns about the oppression of our people by the state, the vicious persecution and desperate attempt to silence all the voices of the opposition in our country, the marginalisation and suppression of the good people and ethnic nationalities of the south and the Middle Belt, the implementation of a plainly racist and apartheid-like agenda by our government, the regular and consistent practice of genocide by our security forces, the rise in power and increasing callousness and brutality of the Fulani miltias and herdsmen in our midst, the not so hidden agenda to Islamise our nation and violate the secularity of our state, the violation of court orders, the brazen intimidation of the Judiciary and the resort to the most barbarous and hideous form of gestapo tactics, tyranny and human rights abuses by the Buhari administration.
I can also tell you that he feels and shares the pain of the Igbo and he yearns for their liberation and emanciption from an increasingly hostile and oppressive Nigerian state.
He is not a politician in the true sense of the word but rather a freedom fighter and a charissmatic leader who has managed to inspire millions of Igbo youth all over the world to once again have faith in themselves and their collective cause and aspirations. In my view that is a good thing.
I can also tell you this: he is a man of great faith and conviction and his rise to prominence is not ordinary but instead prophetic.
He cannot be destroyed or silenced by any government or man born of woman because the Lord is with him and He is using him. He is using him to say and do the things that many believe but that are too scared to say or do.
Other leaders have had their time in the past and now this is his. He is paying a very heavy price right now for what God will use him for in the future.
I recognise that fact and I sincerely hope and pray that his Igbo people will come to appreciate him and do so as well.
Very few leaders can or would be willing to take the pain and make the kind of sacrifice that this man is making today.
I am a very cautious and circumspect person and it takes me a while to warm to people or for them to win my confidence. Yet this case was different.
Nnamdi and I, rather like Che Guevera and Fidel Castro at the beginning of the Cuban revolution, connected immediately and he won my trust, respect and admiration.
If there is anyone that can truly build the much needed bridge between the south-west, the south-south and the south-east it is Nnamdi Kanu.
This is because he is pragmatic and sincere. It is because he is respectful and accomodating of alternative points of view and dissenting opinions and he speaks from a position of knowledge and strength. It ibecause he is very proud of his Igbo heritage and he would never betray his people or prostitute his principles.
The truth is that he is not just a combination of Owelle Nnamdi Azikwe and Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu: he is a combination of Azikwe, Ojukwu AND Major Kaduna Nzeogwu all rolled into one.
The fire of revolution and the yearning for fundamental and equitable change burns in his blood and resides in his bones.
He has spoken up for, defended and fought for the preservation and dignity of his people just as those other three leaders did in the past at different times in our history.
He also serves as a rallying point for Igbo nationalism, the fight for self-determination of the people of the east and the establishment of the sovereign state of Biafra.
His love, remarkable courage and sheer passion for his people and their cause is boundless and unfathomable.
The Igbo is blessed to have him as one of the most respected and reverred leaders in our entire history as a nation.
They would do well to appreciate him more, pray for him, stand up for him, line up behind him and insist that the government honors the numerous court orders that have granted him bail and release him from prison.
Why? Because he bleeds and suffers for their collective cause and he is sacrificing all to remove their shame and lift their pain.
What a man he is. What a mighty spirit. What a beautiful soul. What a braveheart.
Permit me to conclude this contribution with the following observations.
All over the world today the concept of political correctness has been discredited and rejected. Consequently right-wing nationalist and ultra-nationalist groups and political parties are rising up and regaining credibility and power.
In the United Kingdom we have the Nick Farage’s of this world and his UKIP whose magnificent efforts resulted in Brexit. In France we have the Marie Le Pen’s and her National Front. In Hungary we have the Viktor Orban’s and his Fidesz party.
In the United States of America we have the Donald Trump’s and his new and redefined Republican party.
We also have plain-speaking and honest men like Michael Flynn, who has just been appointed as Trump’s National Security Advisor.
Political parties with a similar ideology and that are led by equally strong-willed, focused and charissmatic figures are also making great waves and slowly gaining more power and relevance in Italy, Germany, Austria, Holland, Greece, Belgium, Hungary, Russia, the Phillipines, Israel and indeed all over the world.
Thankfully Nigeria has not been left out. We have men like Nnamdi Kanu in the east, Ganiyu Adams in the west, Asari Dokubo in the Niger Delta and others from elsewhere who believe passionately in the restructuring of the Federation, the redefinition of the Nigerian state, the right of self-determination for their respective people and the expression of power, pride, self-respect and dignity for their various ethnic nationalities.
Freedom beckons whilst the wind of change is blowing across the world and no-one can stop it.
I thank God for that and I also thank Him for the millions of men of courage, strength and vision that have joined the fray.
Whatever happens in Nigeria and whatever may come our way, one thing remains clear: an idea whose time has come cannot be successfully resisted. Today may belong to our oppressors but tomorrow belongs to us.
At the appointed time we shall rise up to where we belong as a people and we shall free ourselves from the demonic shackles and satanic chains that have have been placed upon us by our collective tormentors.
And when that time comes we shall stand shoulder to shoulder with men like Nnamdi Kanu and face down our collective enemies.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob shall rise to our defence and the Lord of Hosts, the Ancient of Days, the God of the Armies of Israel and He who holds the universe together by the power of His word shall lift us up to where we belong.
Oyo Begins Training of 3,300 Youths in Agribusiness
The Oyo State Government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the CSS Global Integrated Farms in Nasarawa State to train 3,300 youths from the state on agriculture and agribusiness.
The state governor, Seyi Makinde, made this disclosure at the Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on the 2022 Budget, noting that the move is part of measures being taken by his administration to address the challenges of youth unrest and youth unemployment.
He equally explained that the state government’s decision to reconstruct the Oyo-Iseyin federal road was borne out of the need to prevent the state’s investments in the Fashola Agribusiness Hub from becoming a waste as a result of lack of road access.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Taiwo Adisa, quoted him as explaining that the training will have 150 participants per batch and that the first batch is to begin training this week.
“I am happy to tell you that we just signed an MoU with CSS Farms in Nasarawa State to assist us in training 3,300 youths in agriculture and agribusiness.
“The training will last two weeks. The first set will start on August 1, and there will be 150 participants for every batch. By the end of August, we would have trained 600 of them.”
Governor Makinde, who stated that his administration will do everything to ensure that youths in the state are meaningfully engaged, said he has also instructed the local governments to set up Direct Labour Agencies, which would absorb the youths to engage in minor construction and other works.
He said: “Our youths have to be meaningfully engaged and we will continue to strive. What I asked them to do in each local government is to set up a Direct Labour Agency, in which a certain amount of money will be earmarked for them every month.
“They will be the ones to be doing culverts, fixing street lights, channelisation of drainages and we have an arrangement with the local government chairmen. As soon as we put the new cabinet in place, I assure you that whoever becomes the new Commissioner for local government matters will drive the process.”
The governor equally said that his administration has been investing heavily in sports development in order to take youths off the streets, saying the investments in the Lekan Salami Stadium and other sporting facilities will soon pay off.
“Some of us have talked about our troublesome youths who are disturbing the peace of our environments because they have nothing doing. This is why the Oyo State Government has committed resources of about N6bn to remodel the Lekan Salami Stadium, not only for football but for other sporting activities.
“We have to be patient with the government so that we don’t lose focus. What you are doing at the community level and what we are doing at the state level, what we need to do is to consolidate, which is the only way we can develop the talents in our communities. We should not relent.
“So, I also want to urge our local government chairmen and chairpersons to develop their programmes to ensure they utilise the sports facilities we have put in place.”
While stating that the state is set to flag off the Oyo-Iseyin Road once it obtains the written approval, Governor Makinde said: “I went to Abuja to meet with the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola. We are hell-bent on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Oyo-Iseyin road even though it is a federal road.
“This is because we are investing a lot of money in the Fashola farm estate there. If we don’t fix that road, all of that money will go to waste.
“I am happy to report that the Minister was gracious and has given his verbal go-ahead. He asked us to come with the document and it will be signed.”
US Congress Puts On Hold Proposed Arms Sales, Pressures Biden to Reassess US-Nigeria Relations Over Human Rights Record
United States lawmakers have begun to mount pressure on President Joe Biden over concerns about Nigeria’s human rights records.
Already, a proposed sale of 12 attack aircraft and 28 helicopter engines worth $857 million has been put on hold.
Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military, pausing a deal worth some $875 million, according to U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter.
In addition to the helicopters, the proposed sale included 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems—laser-guided rocket munitions, according to information sent by the State Department to Congress and reviewed by Foreign Policy, a US-based magazine.
It said the behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrated a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.
It said the hold on the sale also showcased how powerfully the US lawmakers wanted to push the Biden administration to rethink the country’s relations with Africa’s most populous nation amid overarching concerns that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was drifting towards authoritarianism as his government has been besieged by multiple security challenges, including a jihadist insurgency.
Foreign policy observed that Western governments and international human rights organisations had ramped up their criticisms of the Nigerian government, particularly, in the wake of its ban on Twitter, systemic corruption issues, and the Nigerian military’s role in deadly crackdowns on protesters after widespread demonstrations against police brutality last year.
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria during a Senate hearing with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June.
Both Menendez and Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have therefore placed a hold on the proposed arms sale, according to multiple U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter, who spoke to Foreign Policy on the condition of anonymity.
The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the US State Department to Congress in January before then former US Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to officials familiar with the matter.
Nigeria has relied on US arms sales in the past to help address multiple security challenges, including the 12-year insurgency by Boko Haram militants in the country’s northeast, a spate of high-profile kidnapping-for-ransom campaigns targeting schoolchildren in the country’s North-west, and deadly clashes between the country’s semi-nomadic herders and farmers fueled by climate change and environmental degradation of the country’s arable land.
The State Department, it was said, described the US-Nigeria relationship as “among the most important in sub-Saharan Africa” and had provided limited funding for various military training and education programmes.
Some experts said the United States should hit the pause button on major defence sales until it could make a broader assessment of the extent to which corruption and mismanagement hobble the Nigerian military and whether the military was doing enough to minimise civilian casualties in its campaign against Boko Haram and other violent insurrectionists.
“There doesn’t have to be a reason why we don’t provide weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military,” said Judd Devermont, Director of the Africa programme at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.
Continuing, he added, “But it has to be done with an assessment of how it will actually, one, change the direction of conflict in Nigeria, and, two, that they will use it consistent with our laws. In both cases, it’s either a question mark or a fail. There is a culture of impunity that exists around abuses by the military,” said Anietie Ewang, the Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Ewang cited the Nigerian military’s killing of unarmed protesters during the country’s massive #EndSARS demonstrations against police corruption and brutality last year as well as cases documented by human rights organisations of abuses in the military’s campaign against Boko Haram.
“I’m sure it’s a difficult situation. There are so many conflicts springing up across the country now. The authorities, I presume, are trying to do the best they can to save lives and properties. But this must be done in accordance with human rights standards. You can’t throw one out just to be able to achieve the other.”
Nigerian Embassy in Washington did not, however, return a request for comment, foreign policy claimed.
In the past, the Nigerian military had dismissed reports of human rights abuses by its soldiers as baseless and accused human rights groups of undermining the military’s resolve to combat terrorism.
But the United States had scrubbed proposed arms sales to Nigeria in the past on a case-by-case basis.
Former US President Barack Obama’s administration cut back arms sales to Nigeria over concerns about civilian casualties and human rights abuses, including blocking a 2014 sale of Cobra helicopters by Israel to Nigeria.
During that time, US officials reportedly voiced concerns that Boko Haram had infiltrated the Nigerian military—an accusation that provoked indignation from the Nigerian government.
These moves severely strained US-Nigeria relations, with Buhari accusing Obama of having unintentionally “aided and abetted” extremist groups by refusing to expand military cooperation and arms sales.
In late 2017, then US President Donald Trump’s administration agreed to sell the Nigerian government 12 A-29 Super Tucano warplanes, resurrecting a proposed sale the Obama administration froze after the Nigerian Air Force bombed a refugee camp that January.
Over 1M Nigerians Have Completed Online Voters Card Pre-Registration – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) affirmed that over 1 million additional voters have completed their online pre-registration for the ongoing nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) within the last four weeks across the country.
INEC’s national commissioner, and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said this through a statement released in Abuja on Monday.
Of the 1 million new eligible voters, 259,450 people have completed their registration in Osun State and it is currently been followed by Edo state with 98,286 new voters.
These two states were closely followed by Anambra state with 65,014, followed by Bayelsa with 63,250, and later Lagos State with 61,991, this came as Yobe with 1,893, followed by Sokoto State with 2,453, Jigawa 2,593, and Zamfara with 2,769 were some of the least stare registered.
The state’s distribution of the online fresh registration released by INEC in Abuja on Monday showed the weekly update provided by INEC for week four which also reveals that the commission received 1,135,395 applications.
The figure of the total applications received includes those for voter transfer, requests for replacement of Permanent Voter Cards, and update of voter information record, etc.
According to the commission, the distribution of the 1,135,395 total applications by age group showed that 740,063 of them were youths between the ages of 18 to 34 years.
The applications from the middle-aged of between 35 to 49 years old were 278,042; the elderly from 50 to 69 years were 102,578; while the old from 70 years and above were 14,712
The distribution by occupation indicated that artisan constituted 75,877 of the total applications; farming/fishing – 81,096; public servants -25,298; business -230,551; house wives -25,816; students 355,227; civil servants 44,093; traders 97,624; others/not specified 199,813.
Also, the distribution by gender showed that females constituted 492,449 of the received applications while males were 642,946 as well as showed that 12,274 of the applicants indicated to be persons living with disabilities.
Okoye, providing an update on the online pre-registration which started nationwide on June 28, disclosed that the commission, also on Monday, commenced physical registration at its 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.
According to the statement, “As of 7 am today, Monday, July 26, the number of new registrants has risen to 1,006,661. The detailed distribution of the registrants by age, State/FCT, gender, occupation, and disability for week four of the exercise has been uploaded on the commission’s website and social media platforms.
“However, the distribution by age still shows that 740,063 (or 73.5 percent) are young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 34. As earlier announced by the commission, physical or in-person registration begins today, Monday, July 26 at our 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.
“The exact locations of the designated centers have already been uploaded to our website and social media platforms. For further details, citizens are encouraged to contact our state offices through the dedicated telephone numbers provided in the uploaded publication.
“‘Nigerians who pre-registered online can now complete their registration at those centers based on scheduled appointments. In addition, other Nigerians who prefer to register physically/in person can now do so at those centers.
“Both online pre-registration and physical/in-person registration will continue simultaneously until the suspension of the CVR exercise on June 30, 2022, to enable the commission to clean up the data and compile the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election.”
Okoye appealed to all citizens who wished to register to approach any of INEC’s state or local government area offices nationwide to do so, as the commission entered the next phase of the CVR exercise.
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