By Onyebuchi Onyegbule
First, the problem with the change-mantra which Nigerians voted for is the omission of ‘Direction’. To assume that a change will move forward and better may turn a daunter if it moves backwards and worse. That’s the reason for the present disenchantment. The other problem is the dichotomous play-out of the Niger Delta question. The people call it ‘freedom-fighting’; Buhari’s administration calls it, ‘criminality’. Both are carrying arms for an issue that squarely pivots on perception, invariably aiming to shoot ‘thought with a gun’.
What’s that thought? The people feel intractably deprived despite being the nation’s bread-makers; the government says,’ your deprivation is self-inflicted, we have pumped in so much money to pull you through, what did you do with it? But my simple question is, “if you tell someone to go buy you akara, after a reasonable time span of waiting, won’t you ask him, ‘where is my akara? If you didn’t ask, either you didn’t give him money or not enough money or you don’t want it. How come, from 1956 to 2016, 60 good years, the federal government has not asked the Niger Delta, ‘where is the akara for my money? Now in Gbaramatu and others, the soldiers are in kits to shoot THOUGHT and simulating provocation to purchase reason. But it has implications:
The moment it’s perceived as an invasion, emotion takes over reason. What follows?: the people who feel threatened together with their sympathisers may begin to question command. In an ethnically sensitive clime, this is very likely. Can one imagine the consequence for Nigeria if soldiers of Niger Delta extraction together with their sympathisers in the Southeast, Southwest and Northcentral begin to disobey commands? Reason is, a case of palpable injustice evokes emotion and the direction of that emotion is unpredictable.
Put this scenario in the template of persisting agitations, what’s the probable outcome? What portion do we have in David? To your tents O Israel.
Currently, there are people on the fringe and undecided. Immediately their loved ones get killed or homes and livelihood destroyed, they vacate the fringe for the extreme.If the invasion leads to a full blown war, who will be fighting who? When President Buhari recoiled the 1967 slogan of ’ To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done’ for 2016 issues, many mused. In 1967, we had Biafra, which is the whole of Eastern region fighting the rest of Nigeria.
There were clearly defined positions and adversaries rooted in their respective domains. Now, you wine and dine with your friend or fellow Nigerian only to be blown off the next day. Straightly, your enemy is with you.If you invade the Niger Delta and we add, ‘conquer them’ and they flee to the big cities with their grief, can one determine what they’ll do to the infrastructure having acquired a destructive mindset? Or take it differently, for each destruction done in the Niger Delta, a more deadly devastation is carried through in the big cities of Nigeria to bring heat unto everyone. Of what use then is the invasion or rather conquest?With the resulting anger, will there not be a temptation to engage in hands-on genocide grounded in ethnic cleansing?
Even without a full blown war, the economy’s ankle is broken plus Boko-Haram. What then will it be like in war added to the prevailing malnutrition in the Northeast and the presently covert hunger ravaging many families?Have we considered the massive proliferation of arms in wrong hands and the run-away insecurity it will bring with it?
Has the President toyed with the idea of how he is presently perceived as someone having a secret islamization and northernisation agendum and the weight his opponents will give this in the event of an escalated armed intervention? It is not going to war that matters, it is the interpretation thereof. The day you start, you know, the day you come out and the direction it will take, you don’t.
We know the military makes money in time of war and that is their time to so do. For that reason, hawks abound to press for action. But many things come into war, not just shooting and killing. If those extraneous factors come into play and redefine what was intended inversely, would President Buhari be pleased to go down in history as the one in whose hands the pot broke?
To better understand a problem, it’s sometimes best to approach it from its consequences. They remove the lid from the eye of a decision such that when you say I go, you know what you’re going into. We have taken the lid off, the deciders, decide.
*Onyegbule writes from the University of Ibadan