Thursday, 9 November 2017

Financial Times says Mazi Nnamdi Kanu "has since been in hiding"

In an article written by Mathew Green, The Financial Times has declared that secessionist leader, Nnamdi Kanu "has since remained in hiding"

Read the article below.

 

Echoes of Biafra war as Nigeria looks to poll

The optimism that greeted President Buhari’s election has dimmed as time runs out to drive reforms


By 





Soon after President Muhammadu Buhari returned home from three months in the care of doctors in London, he made a five-minute speech on live television to reassure Nigerians he was still up to the job. Comedian Okey Bakassi captured the popular mood when he quipped on his satirical show The Other News that the August broadcast left “a lot of people like a bride on her wedding night: very unsatisfied”. It seems like a long time since March 2015, when Mr Buhari, a stern former military ruler, marked a defining moment in Nigeria’s journey by becoming the first opposition candidate to unseat an incumbent party democratically since independence. The optimism that greeted what seemed an auspicious moment for Africa has since curdled into unease over the administration’s capacity to drive reform as the country lurches towards the next poll in 2019. “I don’t see anything of major significance happening in terms of reform,” says Adedayo Ademuwagun, an analyst at business intelligence consultancy Songhai Advisory. “The focus is going to be on putting out fires.” The most pressing questions are about the state of the 74-year-old president’s health, his response to secessionist agitation and the level of likely disruption as party grandees vie for position in the next presidential race. The challenge causing greatest anxiety is the demand for the creation of a breakaway state of Biafra in the south-east by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the separatist organisation Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob). Mr Kanu’s provocative rhetoric has revived memories of the civil war of 1967-70, when an attempt by Igbo separatists to create an independent Biafra homeland led to the deaths of an estimated 1m people. Mr Buhari owed his 2015 victory in large part to an alignment between his fellow northern Muslims and the Yorubas in the south-west, who identified with Yemi Osinbajo, his technocratic vice-president and a Christian pastor. Notably, Mr Buhari’s All Progressives Congress coalition fared poorly in the south-east — the heartland of the Igbo community where talk of an independent Biafra has never gone away.



"The president’s broadcast left a lot of people like a bride on her wedding night: very unsatisfied"

Okey Bakassi, comedian





While it is difficult to tell genuine secessionist sentiment from pre-election troublemaking that would benefit Mr Buhari’s opponents, last year’s recession and the feeling of disenfranchisement in the area have given greater resonance to calls for self-determination. It is a scenario that could easily spin out of control, particularly if more militant members of other ethnic groups start to whip up popular resentment against Igbos, who can be found living all over Nigeria. In June, youth leaders in the north retaliated against the separatists by pledging to expel all Igbos from their region if they did not leave by October. The ultimatum was rescinded in August under pressure from officials, who feared massacres. A former general who fought for the government during the civil war, Mr Buhari has taken a tough line with the separatists. In 2015, Mr Kanu was jailed for treason. Released on bail in April, he has since been in hiding. Mr Buhari, emboldened by the apparent success of a crackdown on the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east, made a show of force by deploying troops into five south-eastern states in September. The government also designated Ipob a terrorist organisation. Some say the president is too tough, comparing his approach to the more conciliatory one used by Mr Osinbajo who dealt with a flare-up in the Niger Delta — the centre of Nigeria’s oil industry — while Mr Buhari was receiving medical care in the UK. “The administration itself has a share of blame in terms of creating a conducive environment for the separatist movement to take root,” says Manji Cheto, senior vice-president at Teneo Intelligence, a political risk consultancy. While there is tentative consensus in Abuja that Mr Buhari’s integrity has ended the carnival of corruption that flourished under previous president Goodluck Jonathan, the window for further reform is all but shut. “Effectively, from December 1 this year, Nigeria will be in full campaign and political mode across the country,” says Bismarck Rewane, chief executive of the Financial Derivatives consultancy in Lagos. In September, Nigerians caught a glimpse of the machinations in the current cabinet in a video that went viral on social media. The footage showed Aisha Alhassan, minister for women’s affairs, pledging allegiance to Atiku Abubakar, a former vice-president who is likely to make another presidential bid. As the APC and its main rival, the People’s Democratic Party, look ahead to primary season, a familiar cast of political barons is ready for battle. The question that even Mr Buhari may not yet be in a position to answer is whether he will be willing — or able — to run again.

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