What happened to my friend and brother Senator Ike Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany at the hands of IPOB is an eye-opener and a clear signal to every political leader in southern Nigeria! The people of the south are getting angry and you either stand up and defend them or stand aside!
It takes courage to stand for those that have been unjustly killed in Nigeria. It takes courage to say "no" and to stand up against injustice in a jungle. It takes courage to identify and empathise with the enslaved, the oppressed, the poor, the vulnerable and the weak in a killing field and functional zoo.
Yet we must all do it or stop laying claim to being called leaders. When your people and kinsmen are being turned into worthless slaves with little hope for the future and when they are being slaughtered like flies simply because they are southerners and Middle Belters or because of their faith and you say and do next to nothing then somewhere along the line a price has to be paid.
What happened in Nuremberg yesterday marks the beginning of an awakening. Every southern politician, including yours truly, will be called to account to the people of the south about what he or she did to stop the genocide and ethnic cleansing of southerners in Buhari's Nigeria.
If anyone believes that it is only IPOB or the people of the South-East that feel so bitter then they really do not know what is going on. The sons and daughters of the Niger Delta, the South-South and the South-West are equally aggrieved. The anger is palpable and it is spreading throughout the south.
As each day passes those of us, like Ike Ekweremadu, that have called for patience and restraint are being seen as traitors and sell-outs by our own people who demand a far more candid, courageous, proactive, dynamic, honest, protective and inspirational form of leadership.
Only God knows for how much longer those of us that are moderates and that believe in non-violent and passive resistance can hold the line. Our people are boiling and they are about to kindle a fire that may consumme us all if something is not done to appease them and give them hope.
I call on President Muhammadu Buhari to shed his cloak of partiality, to put Nigeria before his Fulani tribe, to stop the genocide, mass murder and ethnic cleansing, to remove the Fulani herdsmen from the south and the Middle Belt, to proscribe Miyetti Allah and the Fulani mlitants, to declare them as terrorists and enemies of the Nigerian state and to protect the lives of EVERY Nigerian from this great evil that has tormented our people and torn us apart.
The fact that Ekweremadu wore a shirt which was covered with the Nigerian coat of arms and that it was torn to shreds by those that attacked him is instructive. It may also prove to be prophetic.
The assertion that Nigeris must and will remain one regardless of the humiliation, persecution, marginalisation, subjugation, barbarity, wickedness and torment that the south has been subjected to over the last 59 years and particulatly over the last four years is, at best, misplaced and naive and, at worse, shallow and asinine.
How can Nigeria possibly remain one when every single one of the 17 security and intelligence agencies and every arm of the military except for the Navy is headed by a northern Muslim?
How can Nigeria remain one when the three arms of Government, namely the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary are all headed by northern Muslims?
How can Nigeria remain one when there is only one southerner in the top four positions in the country, namely the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and when even he is a Muslim. Worse still his Deputy and every single one of the four principal officers in the House of Represenatives are also Muslims.
How can Nigeria remain one when the substantive Minister of Petroleum and Gas over the last four years and every single key manager and Director at NNPC is a norhern Muslim?
How can Nigeria remain one when, for the last few years and up until a few weeks ago, every single branch of the Federal courts, namely the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court, were headed by northern Muslims.
How can Nigeria remain one when, on top of all this, the first and fourth most deadly terrorist organisations in the world, namely Boko Haram and the Fulani militants, are wreaking havoc all over Nigeria.
Worse still the latter have made a sport of targetting and killing southeners and Middle Belters and occupying their land with the tacit support of the Government who have refused to call them terrorists or to arrest and prosecute them.
How can Nigeria remain one when it is clear that a Fulanisation and Islamisation policy is being implemented by the Buhari administration before our very eyes.
How can Nigeria remain one when groups that have not killed anyone and that do not carry arms like IPOB and the IMN have been proscribed and declared as terrorist organisations?
Given all this, it is not surprising that when those that attacked Ekweremadu saw him wearing a shirt with the Nigerian coat of arms emblazzoned all over it at an Igbo yam festival in distant Germany they simply lost control of themselves, allowed their fury to take over and tore it to shreds. I do not seek to justify or condone their behaviour and neither do I support it: I only seek to explain it.
They are in pain and that pain has now turned into palpable anger. Those of us that lay claim to being southern leaders would do well to recognise that fact, accept it and resolve to rise up to the challenges that our people are facing.
The bitter truth is that the Nigerian Coat of Arms and the Nigerian flag itself, to many from the South, has now become a symbol of tyranny, terror, subjugation and oppression.
The biggest miscalculation that the President could possibly make is to believe that this matter can be contained or that it will go away with time. The more the killings, the greater the build-up of anger and the greater the chance that things will soon explode.
We must do all we can to stop this and to restore love, peace, equity, justice, trust and mutual respect to our people and our land. That is the only way to ensure that what happened to Senator Ike Ekweremadu does not happen to other southern leaders some time in the not too distant future.
We must all be ready to stick our necks out for our people and defend them as aggressively and vigorously as is necessary or, if we fail to do so, we must be ready to pass on the baton and step aside for those that will.
Leadership requires risk and sacrifice. We, as southern leaders, must be ready to take a courageous stand and resolve to do both. We must do whatever it takes and whatever is necessary to protect the lives and property of our people, to defend their honor and dignity and to safeguard their future.
This is a duty and obligation that we must pledge to uphold and a covenant that we must make before the Living God. I wish my friend and brother Senator Ike Ekweremadu a speedy recovery from the unfortunate events in Nuremberg, Germany.
(Femi Fani-Kayode, 17th August, 2019)