Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s release from custody has given rise to optimism, according to Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.

It will be because Kanu, the head of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, or IPOB, has been detained for a considerable amount of time, and the Supreme Court just ordered a new trial for him.

Many protests have been sparked by his detention, including the Monday sit-at-homes that are observed throughout the South-East.

However, speaking virtually on Tuesday’s “South East Political Roundtable,” a current affairs radio programme on FLO FM in Umuahia, Kalu stated that negotiations to release Kanu were still in progress.

Nonetheless, he cautioned the young people to make sure that sit-at-home days are no longer observed, pointing out that this is frightening many investors who wish to support the growth of the region.

In addition to discussing the benefits of the recently launched Peace In South East Project (PISE-P) in Bende Local Government Area, Abia State, Kalu urged those in possession of weapons to give them up and support the non-violent strategy being advocated to put an end to the security issues and other forms of public unrest.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government needs support to function as best it can, and Kalu said that the president cares about the South East’s development.

He said: “We can’t put all our programs and plans on social media. He’s my brother. Is he in the mix of what we are trying to do? Yes! It’s one of our agenda to ensure he’s released. Who wants their brother to be in jail?

“We are working underground. There’s a detailed strategy. It’s not by violence, you can’t coerce the government through violence. It has never worked and won’t work. Let’s be wiser. The wisdom is in peace. Let’s quench the violence.

“If it’s chaotic, it won’t work. Let’s cool down. Let the man see that you’ve recognised he didn’t contribute to locking him up and that he has not done anything to the South-East.

“We should support him and his government and not attack him. I’m standing firmly against the voice of violence, preaching peace. That is what I’m here for, this voice of peace will echo through the Villa and he will come out. Mr President was happy with what happened in Bende, that the whole country can gather together and support this project.

“Our strength does not lie in how many guns we carry, or how many people we threaten not to come out on Monday, that is not the display of the strength of an Igbo man.

“Igbo men are not lazy people who like sitting at home from Saturday to Sunday to Monday and go to work only Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, that is not us; we are hard working, we are rebuilders, we are never down and when we are down, we find a way to stand on our feet and raise our shoulders and rebuild again, that is my call to our people.

“We can bring you in to the rebuilding that we are doing. We can bring you in to the reconciliation. We can bring you in for rehabilitation and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is interested in the Igbos.

“Look at what he has done by giving us the Chief of Naval Staff which we never got in the last eight years. Did I just mention the Naval Chief, what about the minister of works, Senator Dave Umahi, my good friend?

“Mr President gave the minister of works to an Igbo son that proved himself in Ebonyi and he said, come and build what you did in Ebonyi in the entire Nigeria starting from the five states of the South-East and the only way we pay the president back is to say there will be no work on Monday?

“Look at what happened for the very first time, 15 billionaires of Igbo extraction gathered in Bende. That is to tell you that they are ready to bring their industry here, they are ready to build factories that will employ you, so why do you scare them away? Government cannot do everything for you. Our brothers who have money want to bring it back home. Some of them want to do it but you are scaring them away. How long are we going to sell fear to our people?

“This is a new year. This is a new era. This is a new dawn and I urge you, come and join hands with us. We will make you the leaders of this project. Don’t lead those carrying guns, let’s give you responsibility, let’s give you a task.

“And I call on all of you who are in support of the sit-at-home on Monday, it is time to stop. It is time to stop the sit-at-home on Mondays.

“If your agitation is about the release of Nnamdi Kanu; we love our Igbo land and we love our brother and he is my brother. That he is locked up does not make him less of my brother and that you are agitating does not make you less of my brother. But I am saying that there is a better way to get it done. There are many ways to kill a rat. Let us look for the other ways that we can kill this rat without destroying our home.

“Let us come together and unite and I can assure you that once we unite, there is nothing we ask this government that we cannot get, including the one you are asking for our brother, it is also achievable.”

Additionally, Kalu expressed gratitude to the governors of the five eastern states for their support of PISE-P.

The deputy speaker emphasised that the project was solely focused on community service and claimed that it had no connection to politics.

“The Governors of the various states of the South-East, you can’t do without them. I can assure you they all want peace for the South-East. None of them is against this. They are in full support.

“You don’t leave the job only for the governors. Let them play from the top, we play from the bottom, then we meet halfway. Then, solve our problems.

“The peace in South-East project is not politics, it’s about community project anchored on peace. That’s why members of the PISE-P are from different political parties.

“I can assure you, through this project the South-East will not remain the same. All the boys who are carrying guns, there’s hope for them, because we will get them gainfully employed, they won’t be wasted”.

Furthermore, according to Kalu, there is no conflict of interest between Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo and PISE-P.

He claims that Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the President-General of the highest Igbo sociocultural group, was initially informed about the initiative’s concept. He also states that he fully supports the idea.

“Which clash of interest? He’s in full support of this project. He’s passionate about the peace and unity of Igbo land. We are partnering with him”, Kalu said.

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