Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says President Muhammadu Buhari must meet with Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the secessionist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), before the ongoing crisis gets out of hand.
Obasanjo said: “I don’t see anything wrong in that [Buhari meeting with Kanu]. I would not object to that; if anything, I would encourage it.”
In an interview with Newsweek, Obasanjo, who as president met with Niger Delta militant leaders in 2006 to stop attacks on oil installations, said: “I would want to meet Kanu myself and talk to people like him, people of his age, [and ask:] ‘What are your worries?’ Not only from the southeast but from all parts of Nigeria.”
He said the army’s “heavy boot” response to pro-Biafra sentiment is “not the solution” but adds that the secession craved by IPOB is not the way forward either.
“We need to satisfy the youth in job creation, in wealth creation, in giving them a better, fulfilled life, in giving them hope for the future. There’s no easy way out,” he said.
The military has been accused of human rights abuses since it launched operations to curtail the agitation, although the authorities have denied any wrong doing.
On Friday, the military authorities declared IPOB as a “military terrorist group” — effectively classifying them along Boko Haram and Ansaru who are campaigning for the Islamisation of Nigeria.