Why IPOB chose referendum ahead of election – Kanu
By O’star Eze
Exiled leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu stirred the hornets’ nest over the weekend with a sensational claim that the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would have been a Cameroonian, if not for a referendum.
Kanu made the claim in a broadcast to his followers on Saturday while trying to explain the reason the outlawed Pro-Biafra group had chosen February 16 as date for its version for Biafra referendum instead of the presidential election.
The group blamed the 1999 constitution, calling for an election boycott, which they claimed gave one particular part of Nigeria undue advantage over another. He insisted that previous elections had not been of benefit to the people and neither would the proposed and said he is dedicated to seeing the elections fail.
The IPOB leader told his followers that Atiku’s Jada was once part of British Cameroon before Nigeria’s independence in 1960. Atiku was born in Jada, in Ganye local government of Adamawa state more than 72 years ago. Ganye, which incorporates Atiku’s birthplace of Jada was the headquarters of British Cameroon but following a plebiscite, it chose to stay with Nigeria, to be part of the Sardauna Province, while the other part, joined Cameroon.
However, reacting to the claim, Atiku’s media aide, Paul Ibe, urged the IPOB leader to provide proof that Atiku was from Cameroon. Ibe was quoted as saying, “You media should ask him to supply the proof. It is not the man that is being accused that you will ask. It is the person who made the allegations that you will ask to bring his proof of where he (Atiku) is from or where he is not from.”
Speaking on the forthcoming general elections in Nigeria, Kanu said, “Both must fall because they don’t represent freedom, they suppress it; they don’t promote progress, they retard it. And they are the source of much unhappiness in the land.
“It is time for our people to learn from the experiences of those amongst us who have slaved for Nigeria with nothing to show for it, especially in the present government. Participating in the previous elections has not benefitted us.
“So, what makes you think this very one on February 16 will? Can’t you see how trapped and unhappy Amaechi, Ogbonnaya Onu, Onnoghen, Emefiele, Kachikwu, etc. look at them to understand how impotent they appear in a system that continues to reel out injustices and humiliation to their own people while they feel powerless to even speak out against it,” he said.
Kanu cited the case of the Soweto uprising and Awolowo as historical proof that boycott of election and referendum yields good fruits. Citing the Soweto uprising, Kanu said that when the people got tired of being taught in class with a foreign language, they started boycotting school and from there elections. He also said that Awolowo used election boycott to achieve his aim.
“South African youths got tired of being taught and instructed in their schools in a language that wasn’t their mother tongue. A language of repression. They extended this Boycott of schools to boycott of elections.
Kanu claimed that persons of Igbo ancestry had been instrumental to cries for freedom in Haiti and the United States of America while enjoining the electorate of the geographical location that used to bear the name Biafra to eschew vote selling and buying and embrace the referendum.
It would be recalled that Nnamdi Kanu had earlier declared February 16th a referendum day. He insisted that it was the only way “Biafra” would “liberate them from the shackles of Fulani enslavement.”
Kanu also urged his followers to stay at home on 16 February for a so-called Biafran referendum, making the intervention days to the election a double header of a spoiler.