Posted by George on Tue 17th Sep, 2019 –
Nnamdi Kanu is a man of theatrics and he never fails to entertain. My problem is that his jokes are becoming too expensive and they have been taken too far.
Let me start this article with a very short story about a personal experience. One day, I was at a bar at the Festac Town area of Lagos State in 2016 watching a football match when a potbellied full-figured man passionately unloading some empty bottles of alcohol started analyzing politics with his friends in a very distracting tone. His voice was so reverberating, and he reiterated his views with so much confidence. Gradually, he started to win over the attention of everybody including me. The latest way of winning or dominating arguments in such places is to shout on top of your voice and remain defiant even if you are not making sense. It works like magic.
“The solution to the problems of Nigeria is to gather all our leaders and set them on fire, burn them to ashes!” he echoed.
His friends whose eyes and brains must have been failing them gradually due to alcohol intake cheered him. As I walked home from the bar after the match that night, I thought about his extreme ‘revolutionary solution’ and disagreed fundamentally. For every corrupt politician that dies in Nigeria, there is a competent replacement amongst us, in fact, we have a clone or a replica. The Nigerian State is a reflection of its people. My usual prayer is that God should save Nigeria from Nigerians. A perfect example of such a cantankerous figure masquerading around as a freedom fighter, history maker and game-changer is Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. The South-easterners are very religious people; predominantly Christians and I believe they are special in the sight of God. Confirmation of my view is the failure of the secession cause of Nnamdi Kanu under the banner of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. If Biafra had worked, Nnamdi Kanu in the bid to reap the ‘fruit of his labour’ would have forced his way to the driver’s seat and a fatal accident would have been the case. Biafra and South Sudan would have been competing for the best case study for why secession is never the solution to the challenges of a minority group in a country. I trust my colleagues in academia to jump on it and win awards with the research.
Nnamdi Kanu is a man of theatrics and he never fails to entertain. My problem is that his jokes are becoming too expensive and they have been taken too far. The world has seen ‘good comedians’ in politics. While some have failed, others have gone to achieve great things. The 41-year old president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelensky was a comedian and actor who brought his role in a movie to reality, beating a sitting president at the polls this year to gain power. He is presently reforming his country and commendably secured the release of some Ukrainian sailors detained by Russia. Others with clownish antics are President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and maybe President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. The 51-year old Nnamdi Kanu who has secured himself with a British passport is far below the class of these world leaders. He seems to be reading the playbook of a former Iraqi diplomat and politician, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf nicknamed Comical Ali who came to worldwide prominence around the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He successfully did a ‘Lai Mohammed-like job’ while he was the Iraqi Information Minister under Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, acting as a spokesperson for the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party and Saddam’s government.
Nnamdi Kanu is quite smart but I must say he isn’t smart enough. He understands how fragmented the Nigerian society is due to identity crisis. He knows how much we all play the victim card; every Nigeria feels cheated and has a justification for every unscrupulous act. He also knows trust in government is considerably low due to corruption over the years. He understands that there is always an information gap coupled with a high level of illiteracy and ineffective educational system. The loopholes are well exploited by him and he has been feeding fat on them making money from his sympathizers. Using the power of the new media, Kanu smartly leveraged on the secrecy of the medical treatment of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017 at a London hospital to announce that he was dead. As his proclamation started to gather momentum, Buhari surfaced although looking like he just rose from the grave. Nnamdi Kanu must have felt disappointed but accepting defeat was not an option. He later went on to announce that Buhari was actually dead and the man that is the leader of Nigeria is one Jubril Al Sudani from Sudan, a body double in simple terms.
Kanu went on to make a series of YouTube videos buttressing his views and the blogs gave him the needed audience. The media system in Nigeria is so flawed and you have everybody competing for traffic and advertising revenue at all costs. Nobody really pays attention to credibility anymore and Kanu became an instant beneficiary. He pushed that Jubril narrative until it gained not only national attention but became a global issue.
The Vice President Atiku Abubakar must have been enjoying the hit on Buhari when Kanu attacked him and claimed he is a Cameroonian who isn’t constitutionally qualified to be the president of Nigeria. That joke of a claim later ended in court with Buhari’s lawyers alluding to that view probably as delay tactics.
Nnamdi Kanu urged IPOB supporters never to participate in the electoral process but in the last minute made a U-turn. Rumours have it that some political stakeholders cut a moneyed deal with him. According to analysts, Kanu’s initial campaign for the boycott of elections accounted largely for the low turnout of voters during the 2018 presidential election in the South-east. He threatened most South-eastern governors with political annihilation but all that failed and his morale dropped. Kanu faded and started to feel irrelevant but later gained resurgence in a more dramatic and daring fashion.
His present charade is taking ‘Biafra to the world’. He announced recently that he spoke to the European Union parliament in Brussels, Belgium and circulated his speech among mainstream media platforms. The Punch, Vanguard and The Guardian brazenly published it without due diligence. Till date, there is no video of Kanu meeting with the EU leaders, no photo-ops, no details of the event on the EU website and no information about the proceedings of such a gathering. In fact, the EU parliament never convened on the 10th of September which is the said date he allegedly delivered his speech. One wonders when the EU whose scope is largely economical with a focus on Europe has now developed an interest in local politics in Nigeria.
When questions were asked, his supporters photoshopped a picture of him purportedly delivering a speech at the EU parliament. The quack job that can’t even convince a blind fool looked him he was making a rap song presentation on the floor of the parliament. Kanu’s camp went on to further mock his audience by releasing a video of him delivering an informal speech outside the EU headquarters. Isn’t that loopy?
The latest move is that he will be visiting the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland. As usual, the details are very unclear. The UN whose body language hasn’t favoured reasonable secessionists like the Catalonians has maintained a deafening silence while Kanu’s team continues the lap of honour over a phantom achievement that could be better imagined than actually realized. IPOB’s reasons for the unclear details is to deter any form of sabotage by the Nigerian government. One might be forced to think Kanu might be going to pay a personal visit to his friend who works at the UN and is using that avenue to hoodwink the public.
My only concern is that some people actually buy these works of fiction and they might be contributing their hard-earned money to fund it as Kanu has admitted. Kanu is really blessed with such an easy life!
All of a sudden, Nnamdi Kanu’s father rumoured to be missing and probably dead has returned quietly to his palace two years after it was invaded by the military. One wonders when all these lies will end. Will Kanu ever run out of lies? When will his supporters realize that he is just a ‘political entrepreneur’ exploiting the system ridden with despondency?
Kanu’s jokes are actually not funny anymore. He needs to be stopped through proactive measures to protect his followers from him. With someone of Kanu’s nature on the prowl, nobody will take Nigeria seriously. An intelligent and vigilant foreigner who encounters him will see more danger looming through his deceitful eyes.
Osayimwen Osahon George is a journalist and a PhD student at the University of Ibadan. He can be reached via email@example.com