USAfrica: Biafra movement and Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest, Nigeria should respect right to peaceful expression, self-determination. By Femi Fani-Kayode

file photo: pro-Biafra-rally-at-Aba

On new Biafra movement and Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest, Nigeria should respect right to peaceful expression, self-determination.

By Femi Fani-Kayode, Nigeria’s former minister of Aviation

Special to,  and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston. Follow USAfrica at , and


I am not a Biafran and neither am I Igbo. I do, however, believe that it is the inalienable right of any human being or ethnic nationality to aspire to be free and to be able to determine their own destiny. The right of self-determination is enshrined in international law and it is guaranteed by every moral stricture known to man.

It is a right that has been exercised successfully over and over again in world history and it has led to the creation of new nations which were carved out of older ones. The denial of that right and the suppression and persecution of those who attempt to exercise it leads to nothing but defiance, dissent and resistance and, if not properly managed, it eventually spills over into war and carnage.

This has been the primary cause of most of history’s most brutal civil wars, including the American, Russian, French, English, Indian, Sri Lankan, Sudanese, Nigerian, Angolan, Congolese, Zimbabwean, Yugoslavian, Ukrainian, Nicaraguan, Cuban, Irish, Syrian, Libyan, Indonesian, Korean, Vietnamese, Spanish, Iraqi, Italian, Lebanese ones and countless others. I do not believe in violent change and neither do I believe in war, revolution, terror or the use of arms in the pursuance of even the most noble causes.

I do however believe in the power of ideas and the right of any man, woman or people to yearn to be free from bondage and to peacefully and freely express that yearning. It is in this context that I situate my belief in and support for those that view the Nigerian Federation as an oppressive entity which has effectively enslaved its people in an

Femi Fani-Kayode
Femi Fani-Kayode

attempt to create what is essentially an artificial and unworkable state.

Those that believe in Nigeria have every right to continue to do so and to voice their resolve to keep Nigeria one. What they do not have the right to do is to refuse to offer the same degree of freedom of expression to those that do not believe in a united Nigeria and who instead believe in the peaceful dissolution of our nation to speak their minds and voice their views. What is good for the goose is surely good for the gander. You cannot grant one side of the divide freedom of expression whilst you deny it to the other.

This is all the more so because freedom of expression is the lifeblood of any democracy. It must be accorded in equal measure to those that believe in Nigeria and to those that do not. It is in this light that we must consider the plight of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, the director of Radio Biafra and the man that has been described by the Igbo World Assembly as ”Buhari’s first political prisoner”.

We may not like his style, we may not like his radio station, we may not share his views or approve of his methods but one thing that we cannot take from Mr. Kanu is his right to hold such views and to express them in a peaceful and lawful manner no matter how distasteful those views may be to some. To deny him this most basic human right is not only an act of intellectual terrorism but it is also the most grave and barbaric manifestation of what is essentially an evolving police state where different or contrary views cannot be accommodated by those in power.

When Mr. Alex Salmon and his Scottish Nationalist Party began the agitation for the dissolution of the United Kingdom and for the establishment of Scottish independence many years ago they were not charged to court, locked up indefinitely or murdered by the British authorities but instead they were eventually given the opportunity to participate in a referendum and test their ideas. The same thing happened in the Catalan region of Spain where the agitation for the establishment of a new nation is compelling and very popular.

The same thing happened a number of years ago in the Quebec region of Canada. It also happened in a region called East Timor which opted to leave Indonesia and in Singapore which opted to leave Malaysia. The same process was adopted when Georgia, the Ukraine and all the other former Soviet states opted to leave Russia and when the Czech Republic opted to break off from Slovakia. The utility and importance of conducting a referendum on such matters in order to determine the true will of the people and to honor the findings of that referendum cannot be underestimated and it remains the only path for peace.

Sadly President Buhari who, like most in his generation, are still stuck in the mindset of a civil war general, has refused to learn from this. The biggest mistake and miscalculation of his administration so far is not the ruthless implementation of its patently and monstrously unapologetic northern and Islamic agenda but rather its absurd resolve to lock up Mr. Kanu indefinitely and to effectively throw the key away simply because he dared to call for the establishment of Biafra.

As far as I am aware,


Mr. Kanu has not used or advocated the use of violence whilst expressing himself and neither have any of his supporters. One therefore wonders what has panicked the Federal Government to such a point that they not only have to lock him up but that they also have to violate the law of the land by not allowing him to see his lawyer and by not presenting him before a court of law and charging him within the constitutionally-prescribed three days.

State-sponsored violence and intimidation, the violation of human rights, illegal incarceration, the murder of innocents and the vicious suppression of legitimate ideas leads to nothing but hardened hearts, greater defiance and the spread of anger and dissent. The principle is simple and clear: the more you fan the flame of tyranny and repression the more the passion and fire of liberty spreads.

It follows that the biggest favor that President Buhari’s security agencies could have done for the Biafran cause was to lock up Mr. Kanu and thereby transform him from being a little-known secessionist into the living symbol of the Biafran struggle, a respected freedom fighter, a champion of the Igbo people and an internationally-acclaimed political prisoner.

It is no wonder that leading politicians from all over the world, including the former Home Secretary and former Leader of the Labor Party in the United Kingdom, Mrs. Harriet Harman QC, have called for his release. The Russian and Israeli governments have also expressed concern and done the same.

Their call was the right and proper thing to do and I add my voice to that call. I have never met or spoken to Mr. Kanu but I am moved by his passion and courage. I am also persuaded by the logic and force of his public assertions. He has made a compelling case for the establishment of Biafra and millions of young Igbos from all over the world have bought into it.

It is left for those that do not agree with him to make a better case and to stem the Biafran tide. That is the monumental challenge that those that do not agree with Mr. Kanu’s views or his methods have.

I have not always been on the same page with our Igbo brothers; yet despite that one thing is clear: only the callous would deny the fact that they have suffered immeasurably in the Nigerian Federation over the last 50 years.

Only the uninformed would deny the fact that they [Igbo] have been butchered, murdered, persecuted, broken, humiliated, insulted, cheated and treated with contempt and disdain more than any other ethnic group in the country since July 1966.

What the Nigerian state is confronted with in the new generation of Igbos who refuse to be cowed is a time-bomb. Unlike their fathers they cannot be appeased or intimidated. They are not fearful of the prospect of a second civil war. They are not prepared to settle for crumbs and neither do they fear death, conflict, defeat, incarceration, butchery or persecution.

They are imbued with a spirit that cannot be suppressed and the more they cry ”Biafra”, the more the spirits of the millions that were slaughtered on the Biafran side during the civil war are invoked. The more they cry ”Biafra”, the more the souls of the hundreds of thousands of their people that were butchered during the barbaric pogroms in the north in the mid-60’s and thereafter are remembered. The more they cry ”Biafra”, the more they remember how their fathers were stripped of everything after the civil war and how they have been denied the opportunity to rise to the highest office in the land. The more they cry ”Biafra”, the more they acknowledge and recognise the bitter fact that the Buhari administration regard their kith and kin as nothing more than third class citizens and pitiable prisoners of war.

The worst thing that the Nigerian authorities can do is to treat them with levity or contempt.

They are angry, they are fed up, they refuse to be enslaved, they want a brighter future and they have come to realise that they have nothing to lose. The most inappropriate thing that President Buhari can do is to continue to underestimate the power of their resolve or the clarity of their intent. The worst thing that they can do is to begin to jail them, to shed their blood and to take their lives.

The more you lock up the Biafrans, the more they will rise up. The more you mock them, the more they will shout. The more you kill them, the more their anger will be kindled. The more you deny them, the more they will wax stronger. The more you treat them with disdain, the more they will defy you. The more you treat them like slaves the more they will aspire to break off and take their destiny into their own hands. You cannot resist an idea whose time has come.

This is a fact that we must all accept and it is with this in mind that I urge President Buhari and the Federal Government to not only release Mr. Nnamdi Kanu but also to tread with the utmost restraint and caution when dealing with those that are agitating for Biafra.



Boko Haram: SkyNews London interview wt USAfrica Publisher Dr. Chido Nwangwu on BOKO HARAM vs BUHARI (Nigeria’s President inaugurated May 29, 2015). Interview on May 30 (Houston) May 31 (London) 2015


VIDEO #CNN special #CHIBOK Girls n #BokoHaram Live intvw wt the Founder of USAfrica multimedia and public POLICY networks Chido Nwangwu. CNN anchors John Berman n Michaela Pereira.  

Forthcoming 2016 BOOK: In this engaging, uniquely insightful and first PERSON reportage book, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Footprints of Greatness, about two GLOBAL icons and towering PERSONS of African descent whose exemplary lives

Mandela-n-Achebe-by-Chido-book-frontcover-Lrs and friendship HOLD lessons for humanity and Africans, USAfrica Founder Chido Nwangwu takes a measure of their works and CONSEQUENCE to write that Mandela and Achebe have left “footprints of greatness.”
He chronicles, movingly, his 1998 reporting from the Robben Island jail room in South Africa where Mandela was held for decades through his 20 years of being CLOSE to Achebe. He moderated the 2012 Achebe Colloquium at Brown UNIVERSITY in Providence, Rhode Island.“I’ll forever remember having walked inside and peeped through that HISTORIC Mandela jail cell (where he was held for most of his 27 years in unjust imprisonment) at the dreaded Robben Island, on March 27, 1998, alongside then Editor-in-chief of TIME magazine and later news chief EXECUTIVE of the CNN, Walter Isaacson (and others) when PRESIDENT BILL Clinton made his first official trip to South Africa and CAME to Robben Island. Come to this island of scourge and you will understand, in part, the simple greatness and towering grace of Nelson Mandela”, notes  Chido Nwangwu, award-winning writer, multimedia 
specialist and founder of, the first African-owned U.S-based newspaper published on the INTERNET, in his first book; he writes movingly from his 1998 reporting from South Africa on Mandela.

  Dr. Chido Nwangwu, moderator of the Achebe Colloquium (GOVERNANCESECURITY, and PEACE in Africa) December 7-8, 2012 at Brown UNIVERSITY in Rhode Island and former ADVISER on Africa business/issues to the Mayor of Houston, is the Founder & Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks since 1992, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the INTERNET; CLASSmagazine,, the USAfrica-powered e-groups of AfricanChristians, Nigeria360 and the largest pictorial events megasite on the African diaspora www.PhotoWorks.TV . He was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans.   E-MAIL:



  1. ….Fani Kayode is an intellectual who is from a privileged Yoruba elite family, with parents that gave him the best of education obtainable around the world. I have also noticed that he is an articulate consistent social commentator and critic. However, as a concerned Igbo, I will be doing my people a disservice if I failed to bring to attention what I see to be not only a hypocritical pattern of behavior, but also a deliberate attempt by Kayode to speak through both sides of his mouth in a failed attempt at luring the Igbos into falling victim to yet another ethnic genocide as was experienced during the civil war…….and this has nothing to do with the aesthetic appeal of the article…..

  2. Why are we bent on figuring out who is luring the Igbos? Do we have our own mind and can Igbos truly figure out what they want and stand by it without dividing and separating… The article at hand is well written and it does not mean he likes the Igbos but he stated good points.

  3. ……the one million dollar question for Fani Kayode is: why the negative obsession with Ndi Igbo…..from tales of how he dated Bianca Ojukwu back in their days as students in UK to “the bitter truth about the Igbos”, and now this (Nnamdi Kanu and Biafra)….????

  4. I think the problem, Mr Eze is the disconnect between the aspirations of grassroot Igbos and their political leadership as presently constituted. What we are in dire need of is a Bola Tinubu that harness the present anger in Igboland and galvanised into a well articulated platform. Their silence and poverty of vision and courage are the problem not the ordinary Igbos.

  5. Titus Kolade Siwoku, “Igbos play the fool all the time. But they think they are smart.” I agree with you completely on this. It is time we told ourselves the truth. It is almost clear that our “smartness” as a group of people perpetually threatened with extinction, is a cruel farce! Let it be said for once. Until we begin to react like any endangered species would; apply rigour to a serious process of self-evaluation, begin to silently organise ourselves, begin to map out a future for our ethnicity and begin to build brick upon passionate brick of sincere brotherhood, our famed “smartness” remains a fancy thought.

    • i think you are very confused. what brotherhood. the current resolve and protest for Biafra is not enough brotherhood. If you dont want to be igbo. fucking ask a yoruba or hausa guy to give you a name. the igbo is tired of igbo bashers.we already have enough enemies in nigeria. In Biafra we stand. Achebe, Ojukwu, all these people supported Biafra to their death

  6. If you are loosing your fights as a boxer, you do not quit to form your own boxing federation. You will stay in the association, re train and rekindle a resolve to win and become a champion one day. Igbos play the fool all the time. But they think they are smart.

    • we are not intereted in fighting any more. we want out of nigeria. how hard is that. but yes you are the smart one and then entire igbo are foolish. Achebe whose last book advicated biafra is foolish, dr ikedife is foolish. we are all foollish and you the wise one

  7. Just sharing this post I read and agree completely with…..,,I want us to compare the current Biafran related op-ed by Femi Kayode and his op-ed last year when the Igbos reacted to the mass deportation of some Igbo indigents from Lagos by Lagos state government. He titled that op-ed, “the bitter truth about the Igbos”. After we have read both articles by Kayode, comparing and contrasting, then we can come to a conclusion whether we are dealing with an individual who is bent on luring us (Ndi Igbo) into yet another massacre or ………

    See below:

  8. Oga Chido, I want us to compare the current Biafran related op-ed by Femi Kayode and his op-ed last year when the Igbos reacted to the mass deportation of some Igbo indigents from Lagos by Lagos state government. He titled that op-ed, “the bitter truth about the Igbos”. After we have read both articles by Kayode, comparing and contrasting, then we can come to a conclusion whether we are dealing with an individual who is bent on luring us (Ndi Igbo) into yet another massacre or ………

    See below: