ENUGU—Leader of Igbo Leaders of Thought, ILT, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, has stated that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is not really demanding secession but agitating for self determination, which he said is an inalienable right of every individual.
This came as Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State denied the allegation by his political opponents that he was funding IPOB, including donating two SUVs and $50,000 to the IPOB leader, Mazi Kanu.
The foremost constitutional lawyer further described Kanu as a great Igbo man with utmost courage, exploring where others shy away from.
Nwabueze made the remarks when the IPOB leader visited him and other members of the Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA, in Enugu.
Also part of the visit were the deputy leader of ECA, Mrs. Maria Okwor; Secretary, Elliot Ukoh and Publicity Secretary, Rev. Fr. John Odey, among others.
Nwabueze said: “I must say, today is one of the greatest days in my life, meeting you. Whatever anybody may say, you are a great Igbo man. How many of us are prepared to fight for Ndigbo?
“You are sticking out your neck for Ndigbo. We are supposed to be one of the leading ethnic groups in Nigeria but today, we are in the minority; we have been so marginalized.
“The case of Nnamdi Kanu is a lesson in good governance and good leadership. Nnamdi Kanu’s case teaches that repression is seldom the right response to complaints and agitations for amelioration in the conditions of things in the society. Repression seldom settles grievances. If anything, it forces them underground.
“In this case, the long imprisonment of Nnamdi Kanu and his mates for demanding self-determination has caused the spirit of the agitation to come to live in countless number of people of Igbo extraction. It is a mistake to think of self-determination for which Nnamdi and others are agitating as meaning secession.
“Another lesson to learn from Nnamdi Kanu’s case is directed to him and the other agitators. This self-determination should be a graduated process. It should begin with regional autonomy.
“The country should be restructured into six more or less self-governing zones or regions, with the powers of the central government drastically reduced, so as to minimize the fierce contest for its control.”
Responding, Kanu said he had always hoped to meet Nwabueze, stressing that the elder statesman had shown “so much focus and determination towards championing the cause of Ndigbo.
Obiano denies car, cash gift to Kanu
Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Strategic Communications, Prince Oliver Okpala, Governor Willie Obiano described the allegation of car and cash gift to Kanu as untrue and a complete falsehood.
According to him, the allegation was most worrisome, satanic, ungodly and capable of creating unnecessary tension in the polity.
Okpala said that as a consummate financial expert, Governor Obiano has been managing the state’s scarce resources with prudence, emphasizing that all government expenditures were judiciously done and wondered what some people hoped to gain by peddling such rumours and lies, instead of engaging in meaningful ventures.
Also yesterday, IPOB dismissed as baseless and lacking in substance, the allegation that its leader, Mr Kanu, was offered $50,000 and two SUVs by Governor Obiano for yet to be disclosed favours.
IPOB in a statement issued through its Media and Publicity Secretary, Mr. Emma Powerful, said its leadership worldwide “condemns in its totality, the baseless, unsubstantiated and spurious allegation published by a group called Intersociety, to the effect that Willie Obiano offered financial inducement of $50,000 and two SUVs to our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu for a yet to be disclosed favours.
“It is on record that IPOB is a global organisation with presence in over a 100 countries and territories around the world and therefore, is more than capable of supporting itself financially. No politician of whatever persuasion can stand today to say he or she is a financier of IPOB because they are neither worthy nor capable of doing so.”
FG sponsoring rights groups to malign Kanu —IPOB
IPOB also alleged that the Nigerian government was sponsoring some human rights groups based in Onitsha, Anambra State, to malign its leader, Mazi Kanu, warning those involved to retrace their steps before it was too late.
IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Comrade Emma Powerful, said Kanu had promised never to respond to what he described as a distraction and gossip from government-sponsored individuals or groups operating without concrete evidence and facts.
According to him, rather than dissipating energy responding to such comments, Mazi Kanu was more concerned with embarking on a move to mobilise the people of Biafra on the need to support what he called the coming referendum by the United Nations and other relevant world organisations in no distant future on Biafra.
He said: “We have discovered that the government of Nigeria is sponsoring some unscrupulous individuals and groups in Biafra land, to gossip against the IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, without substantial evidence and facts.
“IPOB will not stoop so low to entertain or to reply such people who do not understand what IPOB stands for. Everyone knows that IPOB under the leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu means business, which is to restore Biafra and not to respond to gossip and distraction from faceless groups parading themselves as Non Governmental Organizations.
“The efforts by IPOB leader to unify our people from all clans and tribes in Biafra land mostly, the old Eastern Region, including their brothers and sisters in Delta, Edo, Kogi and Benue states with the people of Biafra, remain intact no matter the plans of the enemies to stop the movement.”