•Ike Ekweremadu and Nnamdi Kanu
Nuremberg was the city where Nazi officers and sympathisers were tried for the genocide they commited against the Jews. It might be a coincidence that the unity of the Igbo ethnic group, victims of genocide by the Nigerian government, was put on trial at the same city, or it might not.
I am yet to imagine any one person who is more convulsed than me at the pelting of eggs and physical handling of the distinguished Senator representing Enugu West Senatorial District, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, by members of the Indegnious People of Biafra, otherwise known as the IPOB.
Chief Ike Ekweremadu is my bosom friend. We have come a long way from our days as the 1986 Class, Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria. My use of the word ‘bosom” underscores the fact that, even after graduation, we have woken up in the same house, had conversations before brushing our teeth, and dipped our hands inside the same plate to eat food prepared by our wives. I always address Ikeoha as my leader.
Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the Leader of Indegenous People of Biafra, is someone I regard as my political son. My respect for him, like then Colonel Ojukwu’s respect for Major Nzeogwu, is borne from the fact that he does most of what I would have loved, but lack the courage to do so, in pursuit of my desire to disengage Igbo people from Nigeria. Nnamdi Kanu is also my friend. He has spent days under my roof, and just like my leader Ikeoha, we have shared meals from the same plate. As Igbo, I consider dipping hands to eat from the same plate highly symbolic.
Since the day of Igbo Unity trial at Nuremberg, I have received more than 500 messages of inquiry from families and friends seeking to know my position. These inquiries were mostly genuine concerns for me as an individual, considering my relationship with Chief Ike Ekweremadu and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. I don’t know anyone who was in Chief Ike Ekweremadu’s house in Enugu and country home at Mpu in May, 2019, and was with Mazi Nnamdi Kanu three weeks later. I have always seen myself as a bridge between these two most illustrious Igbo sons, and I remain optimistic that one day both will join forces to respond to the desires of the majority of Igbo people.
Let me digress.
I have spent the past 15 years studying Igbo history and anthropology. I have from strange archives dug out and read books on Igbos written between 1700 and 1960. I have read anthropological reports, slave biographies, narratives, historical works, and most importantly, field works done by renowned British and American anthropologists – Charles K. Meek, H. F. Matthew, Mervyn David W. Jeffreys, Margery Perham, Sylvia Leith-Ross, Mary Green, Richard Henderson (The King in Every Man), Gwilliam Iwan Jones (G. I. Jones) – after the Aba Women’s War of 1929. My studies have made me come to the conclusion that what is acceptable to other Nigerians may actually be poisonous to Igbo people.
I watched available video clips of the treatment Chief Ike Ekweremadu received in the hands of Biafran agitators. These videos were excruciatingly painful to watch for the simple reason that Chief Ike Ekweremadu is my friend. He is a good man who loves Igbo people and is proud of his heritage. I also have read many of the comments and opinions expressed by Nigerians regarding the Igbo Unity trial at Nuremberg. Most of the comments and opinions were downright ignorant. The worst were those who wrote that Nigeria’s local proscription of IPOB as a terrorist organisation will now be affirmed globally. Arrant Nonsense!
Let me quickly summarise some points:
Pelting of eggs on a politician in a democratic society is an acceptable expression of anger by anyone who is dissatisfied with the actions of the politician. Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany holds the record as the politician pelted with the highest number of eggs. Remember it was Chancellor Kohl that united Germany, but those from East Germany felt he was not responding to their economic woes. When former president Bill Clinton was egged by a 19-year-old protester in Warsaw, Poland, Clinton took off his stained jacket and shrugged it off, quipping that “it’s good for young people to be angry about something nowadays.” The long list of egged politicians would make a book.
Germany will not deport those IPOBians for this action. They will not even investigate it. If they were asylum seekers, it will even help to consolidate their asylum application. In fact, it would be strange for an asylum seeker to publicly fraternise with any government official of the country he is running away from even if the official was a member of his immediate family.
Many Igbos claiming MASSOB or IPOB membership have been granted asylum by governments of various nations. The treatment of members of these groups by the Nigeria government forms part of the report their Ambassadors submit to their home governments. Such applications are mostly generally investigated using internet sources, including Amnesty International reports, without subjecting the applicant to rigorous questioning.
There is that tendency to point at the biological age or elderhood when condemning the actions of the young against the old. We tend to forget that Nigeria is a constitutional democratic society not a tribal government. People are elected or appointed in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. Nigerian politicians hold offices according to written laws, not tribal traditions or age. We should stop citing age as a shield when the youth are provoked to anger. We have to accept democracy with all its rights, privileges, obligations and expression of anger like other democratic societies.
Let me quickly touch on those injecting statism into the incident at Nuremberg. It amuses me when those who claim to be fighting for Igbo emancipation scamper back to defend their state whenever the matter is Igbo-centered. I have learnt not to take those people serious no matter their position on any issue. These are straw men and women that have nothing to contribute to the welfare of Ndigbo.
Back to the Nuremberg trial, a critical examination of will reveal that so much could be achieved by this high-handed but acceptable expression of political dissatisfaction. Anyone who does not recognise that the game has changed should wake up. Chief Ike Ekweremadu acknowledged this much in his second public statement regarding the incident.
The South East governors and Chief Nnia Nwodo seem to not understand that the game has changed at every level, including the federal. Their responses have been emotional outbursts from people who seem to be scared of their lives. Irrespective of ethnicity, how safe are federal officials when they step outside Nigeria? The South East governors are very far removed from the majority of the people they claim to serve. They are insensitive to the hunger and suffering in the land. Suicide is an abomination in Igboland but Igbo kids are now routinly comitting suicide. The hungry are angry and the day will soon arrive when these politicians will face the “hangry” at home.
Also, for any governor to suggest that IPOB has neither the numerical strength, nor the geographical spread, to pelt Nigerian politicians with eggs or to publicly display their displeasure with the state of affairs in Nigeria within the confines of the law in their nations of refuge, is myopic. IPOB is counting on other Nigerians in the diaspora to start holding the legs of these politicians to the fire. It was Nigeria that drove them out. Now the stage is set for the dogs and baboons to be covered with eggs in foreign lands.
My friend Chief Ekweremadu should take this as that proverbial stone an angel threw on someone’s car to draw his attention to a dire situation. The time has come for all stakeholders in the British corporation known as Nigeria to sit down and discuss on the least painful way to liquidate. I expect Chief Ekweremadu, not Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, to build the team and to lead the Igbo delegation. My leader understands that Nigeria will not even grant the South East a local government based on the status quo. Any honest Igbo should know that restructuring is dead on arrival unless secession is on the table.
Being Igbo and knowing the Igbo from personal interactions with other Igbos and my rigorous studies of the Igbo people, I strongly opine here that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s position represents what the Igbos want. What Igbos want does not include Nigeria’s presidency. It is left for Chief Ekweremadu to work with Nnamdi Kanu and the IPOB on how to present our hearts desire to the Nigerian government and how to successfully accomplish the same. Any other step will cause more harm to everyone.
Finally, why Chief Ike Ekweremadu? It was Ikeoha because any other Igbo politician being the first recipient of this baptism of eggs, would have been seen as well-deserved. It would have been a comedy, laughed at, joked about, forgotten by effusion of time, with no lessons learned. But Ikeoha is not just any other Igbo politician. The public reaction to the Igbo trial at Nuremberg has shown the level of esteem he is held by his own people who, while condemning the treatment to him as a person, go on to mention that the development is welcome.
Nuremberg is personal to me. Nuremberg was the fire Moses saw, the fire that burned without the tree being consumed. Igbo Unity won at Nuremberg.