(By Ogbonna Nwuke) – Prior to the court hearing which began a couple of days ago, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe had cause to reflect on what was to come. He told an audience which had gathered to talk about made in Aba products in the United States that Nnamdi Kanu had put those who dared to stick out their necks in his defence in trouble.
For the former deputy governor turned senator, it was indeed a moment of great reflection and I am certain, the advent of a new understanding that has equally come in the wake of circumstances that are gradually unfolding.
Abaribe had taken a chance. He had dared to invest in the integrity of the youngster whose antecedents are not well known. It would seem, from all indications that the senator of the Federal Republic who hails from Abia State probably believed Kanu.
Kanu was daring, tough – looking and fiery in speech, and it is possible Abaribe and others like him across Igboland may have seen a messiah in the young man.
It is equally possible that in an attempt to preserve their political relevance, given the nuisance value of Kanu and his followers, Abaribe and others like him were forced to play along.
Whatever it is, Kanu hasn’t turned out to be the kind of leader he projected himself to be.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo had been faced with an accusation of plotting against the sovereignty of the Nigerian nation. The charges against him were grave. I believe Kanu’s charges may not be too different from his.
Awolowo and his followers however faced that trial. The odds were obviously stacked against their lives. They were jailed for their belief.
Awo by that singular act proved beyond reasonable doubt that he was a man to look up to, a leader of great conviction and a figure to be trusted.
Ken Saro Wiwa was at the office of the Sunray Newspaper when word got to him that some Ogoni leaders referred to as the “Ogoni four” had been murdered by his supporters.
Saro Wiwa had the opportunity to go into hiding. He did not. He handed himself over to the authorities and even at the point of death pushed his Ogoni agenda into public consciousness for ever.
Asari Dokubo, a freedom fighter found himself in the trenches during the administration of Governor Peter Odili, with the State apparatus amassed against him. Asari received an invitation to meet with President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abuja. So did Ateke Tom. Asari and Ateke left for that presidential meeting without any thought about what would happen to their lives.
But what did Kanu who had IPOB registered as a business in the State of Carlifornia do? At the mere dance of the python, after he had allegedly led men to put their lives on the line, the man mysteriously vanished.
Strangely, he has not been seen although there are claims that he has resurfaced in the UK. He has similarly said nothing ever since he mysteriously dropped out of sight.
So much for this Ibo version of a freedom fighter! Odumegwu Ojukwu had noted that there were justifiable reasons for the first Biafran expedition. But he warned, before his death, that a second attempt would be misplaced. Somehow, Kanu and his hirelings turned deaf ears to wise counsel and ignited the worst kind of tension that Nigeria has faced since after the civil war.
With Kanu nowhere to be found, a hearing is underway. Men, true leaders who bore no weapons; who instigated no one to action detrimental to peace now find themselves at the crossroads.
On trial are the assets that they pledged when Kanu was to be granted bail. Should the courts make the pronouncement, Abaribe and others would forfeit same.
How I pity Abaribe. I have no intention to comment on the ongoing case, knowing the consequence for doing so. But I cannot but feel Abaribe’s pain at this time.
Under the law, Senator Abaribe and others who met the conditions for the bail of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Independent People of Biafra, IPOB, are expected to produce him in court when required.
Abaribe and others are in court, but the fiery young Ibo chap who cursed the hell out of any one who disagreed with him is nowhere to be found.
I do believe that if the law is to be followed strictly, Abaribe who is in no position to produce Kanu is apparently in trouble. And there is no indication, from my perspective, that Kanu would ever on his own step into that court room.
I ‘d be really glad if truly Kanu would do that; if truly he can speak up in defense of the ideals that he holds dear; and be truly in a position to justify his argument that Nigeria shouldn’t exist as it is now.
Afterall, in Spain where Catalonia is seeking to break away from the union the matter has been decided in court. The Cartalans, the courts say, cannot leave.
Like other Nigerians, I am however happy, that calm has been restored to the Southeast and indeed to the entire country.
For those who own property outside their geopolitical zones, the pressure they had and the fear that was bottled within have reduced. For those who believe in the unity of the country, it may not be uhuru yet. Somehow, there still exists hope in what are founding fathers aptly described as our unity in diversity, regardless of tribe and tongue.
It is doubtful that what the federal government sought to do was to stand against any ethnic group. Those who wanted a protest had a right to. But what perhaps, didn’t go down well in some circles was how the agitators went about it.
Take a look at what is happening in Spain and elsewhere, and it would be apparent to any discerning mind that no country would fold its hand in the face of growing tyranny.
I am satisfied that long after the court takes a principled position on the matter that is before it, the federal government would still continue with its quest to find a political solution to issues which lie underneath rising frustration among the people.
One of the things which helped to stabilise the country after the civil war was the doctrine of no victor, no vanquished which the Gowon administration adopted. The Buhari administration in dealing with the many problems of Nigeria, especially in the Southeast may have to borrow a leaf as it strives to heal the nation.
We have seen efforts to end the pains of the last civil war by this government. The payment of policemen who served in the Biafran enclave is just one example. Until now, no government since after that unfortunate war of unification has considered it worthwhile to bring succour to such casualties.
Yet dealing with voices of dissension requires more than that. It requires far reaching solutions, opening windows of opportunity, and demonstrating in truth that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Man is a product of reason and so at all times, should consider options that are reasonable in dealing with problems which may emanate.
This brings me to the kernel of this piece – what to do with Abaribe. Abaribe and his co-travellers should receive a reprimand and be forgiven. They need not lose their property on account of the senseless excursions of Kanu and his stormtroopers.
It would make sense to see the forgiveness of Abaribe and the restoration of the property he pledged while meeting the bail conditions set for Kanu’s release as the sacrifice that must be made to heal the wounds of a past that has rolled into history.
I admit again that if we are to look at issues from the point of law, Abaribe and others who are standing with him have no chance in a dozen. Socrates despite his good intentions for the Greek society and his resolve to spearhead freedom, drank of the hemlock when confronted by the harsh reality that the law at any given time represents. Tolstoy ended up in prison for standing up against the royals of Russia of whom he was related.
Such is the tide in the affairs of men that good deeds and bad deeds are divided by a thin line. But man must strive, within the dynamism of time to leave legacies which inspire change and create room for that which must shape humanity.
Long after the courts play their part in line with established legal precepts, let the federal government pursue a political solution. The right to pardon is vested in the President, and President Buhari can do it.