Elder Statesman, Tanko Yakassai has described IPOB Leader, Nnamdi Kanu and his members as noise makers who are out to recreate Biafra.
Yakassai who spoke with Sunday Sun yesterday on the desirability of sustaining the unity and cohesion among the constituent units attributed the current crisis rocking Nigeria to the failure of leadership at various levels. He said: “What I found out is that leaders of all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria; be they Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba, have been intimidated by the youth to the point that they allow them to dictate the agenda.
If prominent Igbo leaders had spoken against the utterances of Kanu all along right from the beginning, the situation would not have reached the stage it reached today. But they kept quiet.”
He particularly berated Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Prof Charles Soludo for giving tacit support to the IPOB.
“I cannot see why Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, former governor of Central Bank, Prof Charles Soludo, and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, would go on a solidarity visit to Nnamdi Kanu when his case was being heard in the court. To me, it looks they are being intimidated by their youths. For these three gentlemen who had attained the eminent positions of responsibility in Nigeria through the support of all Nigerians to lend support to Kanu who is all out to recreate Biafara is really unfortunate. It means they have no courage to say the right thing. These are men who are eminently qualified to be president of Nigeria. That such persons could condescend so low to support secessionist movement in Nigeria really disappointed me,” he fumed.
Yakassai further debunked the complaint by the Igbo that they were being treated as second class citizen as untrue. “Anywhere you go in Nigeria, there are Igbo and they go about their legitimate businesses without any hindrance. So, the perception of some Igbo that they are being treated like second class citizen is not correct. It is false. No Nigerian enjoys the patronage of Nigerians like the Igbo people. Igbo are more dominant in all centres of commercial activities in Nigeria than any other tribe. How can such people wake up one day and say they want to break away,” he queried.
“If an Ibo man who is popular enough contests governorship election in Lagos, there is every possibility that he can win because of the sheer number of Igbo living in Lagos for ages. During the First Republic, there was an Ibo man who contested the election of Lagos Town Council against a Yoruba candidate and defeated him.
He became the Chairman of Lagos Town Council some 60 years ago. That was a time when the number of Igbo in Lagos can be described as negligible compared to what it is today”, he declared.
Yakassai, therefore, stressed the need for the government to be more proactive in dealing with any crisis situation by noting the early warning signals. His words: “I don’t want to criticize the government, but I want to appeal to them that in a situation like this, they should promptly react when things of this nature are happening before they get worse. What is happening today is the consequence of the lukewarm attitude of the government towards the activities of Nnamdi Kanu and his group.
While the constitution of Nigeria guarantees the right of every citizen to freedom of expression, such expression must be within the confines of the law.
Since Kanu came out with anti-national agenda and all the while that he and his accomplices have been making their noise, the reaction of the government has been very mild in my opinion. And this has given opportunity to others who are like him to also begin to make their own type of noise, thereby jeopardizing the unity of the country,” he posited.
“I appeal to Nigerian leaders generally not to allow their young ones to dictate agenda for them. They should be courageous enough to say you are wrong when they are wrong,” he added.
Also lending his voice to the debate, Prof G. G Darah, said a genuine restructuring of the country in a way that would reduce the power at the centre in favour of the federating units would end the current agitations. In line with the principle of federalism, he insisted, states should be given autonomy over the control of resources within their domain. This, he said, would put an end to desperation for power at the centre.