Prof. Ben Nwabueze, leader of pan-Igbo group, known as ‘Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT), has described Nnamdi Kanu as a ‘great Igbo man’.
Nwabueze declared this when Kanu visited him at his Enugu residence yesterday.
The IPOB leader visited Nwabueze with other leaders of a pan-Igbo group, the Eastern Consultative Assembly, including Chief Mrs. Maria Okwor, Evang. Elliot Ukoh and Rev. Fr. John Odey.
Speaking during the courtesy visit, Nwabueze said he was happy to meet Kanu. He noted that the occasion was one of the ‘greatest days’ of his life.
“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,” said Nwabueze and commended Kanu for ‘fighting’ for the Igbo.
“How many of us are prepared to fight for Ndigbo? You are sticking out your neck for Ndigbo.
“We (Igbo) are supposed to be one of the leading ethnic groups in Nigeria, but today, we are in the minority; we have been so marginalised,” Nwabueze added.
“The case of Kanu is a lesson in good governance and good leadership.
“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,” he said.
Nwabueze, a renowned constitutional lawyer, observed that Kanu’s arrest, and long incarceration, escalated the agitation for Biafra, contrary to the expectations of the Federal Government.
“In this case, the long imprisonment of 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 Kanu and others are agitating as meaning secession,” he pointed out.
But, the elder statesman also admonished Kanu, and other pro-Biafra activists to see restructuring as the beginning of their quest for self-determination.
Nwabueze said: “Another lesson to learn from Kanu’s case is directed to him and other agitators.
“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 minimise the fierce contest for its control.”
Meanwhile, Kanu, in his response, said he had always hoped to meet Nwabueze.
According to him, Nwabueze has, over the years displayed “so much focus and determination towards championing the cause of Ndigbo.”
The IPOB leader said he would always consult the elder statesman.
“I will continue to consult you. I plead that you make your words of wisdom available to us at all times.
“We shall do everything possible to uphold the honour and dignity of our people,” Kanu told Nwabueze.
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