The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Benjamin Kalu, says the South-East must achieve peace and security before demanding the release of the Leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
The deputy speaker said this during an interactive session with newsmen in his Bende country home on Sunday.
He spoke on how best the region could approach its demand for Kanu’s release from detention.
According to him, the region could only realise its objective through peaceful negotiations and not by armtwisting the Federal Government.
He said that although the leadership of the South-East had made several efforts for Kanu’s release, the effort of some amounted to playing to the gallery.
Kalu countered the widely held belief in the South-East that once Kanu is released peace would automatically return to the region.
“To get Kanu released is not about how much you talk about it in the pages of the newspapers or television, it needs strategic thinking and strategic steps to get it done.
“Many thought that by armtwisting the Federal Government through sit-at-home every Monday, through violence and destruction that the Federal Government can immediately release Kanu.
“You can never armtwist the Federal Government, but you can dialogue,” Kalu said.
He said that the threat to burn down the region, if the Federal Government refused to listen to its request, was equal to shooting oneself in the foot.
“The houses you are shooting are in the South-East.
“When you say, if you don’t release Kanu, the people will sit at home and not go to work, people are going to work in Lagos, Kano, Sokoto and other parts of the country.
“So, who are you shooting? It’s like a man shooting his own leg and taking accolade for it, and this is the greatest level of folly,” he said.
The deputy speaker also said it would amount to daring the Federal Government to say “its fire-for-fire and violence for violence.
“So, critically thinking, the best approach is to reduce the violence in the region and create a platform for negotiation,” he said.
Kalu further contended that the president had not committed any sin against the South-East.
He said that the president, on the contrary, had shown love to the region “by giving us the No. Six citizen (deputy speakership), Chief of Naval Staff and Minister for Works”.
He, therefore, said that what the South-East should do in the present circumstance was to join his advocacy for peace, through the Peace in the South-East Project, unveiled on December 29.
“That event, which brought the president, represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, Emir of Bichi, Nasiru Ado Bayero, to Bende is significant and symbolic because Kanu is from Bende,” he said.
He said that the fact that Abuja emptied into Bende on that day showed the commitment of the Federal Government to peace in the South-East.
“So, I urge the South-East to cool temper. South-East coolu, coolu, coolu temper.
“When you cool your temper, then the father of the nation would say, yes, they are ready to talk now,” Kalu said.
The deputy speaker, therefore, admonished the gunmen fomenting violence in the region to surrender their arms to the security agencies.
He expressed the hope that they would be granted amnesty by the Federal Government, once they dropped their arms for peace to reign in the region.
He said: “Sit-at-home is an affront to the Federal Government.
“You cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time.”
He disclosed that genuine moves were ongoing behind the curtain to have Kanu released, adding that “once there is peace, our brother would come out. “
The deputy speaker further spoke on the need for Federal Government’s economic policies to be tailored toward reducing poverty in the country.
He said that the National Assembly (NASS) should also lean toward legislations that would help to reduce poverty, diversify and grow the economy to create jobs for the teeming unemployed.
He further said that the 10th NASS was committed to ensuring that good governance would be guaranteed because of its huge impact on the people through transparency and accountability. (NAN)