The country is still experiencing an upsurge in the activities of aggrieved civilian agitators clothed in various nomenclatures that are seemingly hampering security of life and property in many parts of the country. One of them is the resurrected agitation for a new “country” to be known as Biafra and the agitators call themselves the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), whose youthful leader is Nnamdi Kalu. His homecoming to spearhead the agitation for the actualisation of the Biafran dream has made him run foul of the law of the land.
No citizen should think himself or herself above the laws of the land, no matter the grievances. On the one hand, Kanu was mopping up human resources and training them as secret service and guards with similar military training standards, and the question on the lips of security watchers is, “what is the security training meant for?
Kanu moved about in convoys, which he is entitled to, but soon his followers started blocking roads, extorting money and creating pandemonium wherever he was, and security agencies looked the other way as if they had been compromised, while the agitators grew in might, intimidating innocent citizens. With time, they had to be told in clear terms that there is always a thin line between agitation and stepping on others’ freedom.
It is not always that a python shows up in the open and when it shows up there is always trepidation, commotion and it attracts attention because pythons are rarely seen, not to talk of seeing one dancing along the road. When a python is seen on the road wriggling, then it must have swallowed a big animal. The question is, was this ‘“python” programmed to swallow anyone? The python was only dancing along the streets of Umuahia. The Chief of Army Staff described the python dance as a “social dance.” Arguably, the IPOB leader, in his statement, said, he was “rudely woken up by the noise in front of his father’s house while he was observing his siesta.”
He further stated that the military show of force train was moving to and fro along his road when his boys “blocked them.”
Why would any group block the movement of a federal government security apparatus? Was Kanu attacked? No! If the soldiers had wanted to apprehend him, they would have shown it by their movement. Another question is, why would the soldiers want Kanu arrested when the police and the DSS are there? The truth is that the military was only flexing its muscles for the agitators to see. All that the military was doing was to show their capabilities, so why the blockade, which was tantamount to an open invitation for a clash?
Kanu has made many inciting statements that could have warranted the security agencies to go after him, yet they were not ready to heat up the system. No government would sit down and watch an individual, no matter what he is fighting for, use the instrumentality of intimidation on the people, recruiting youths, planting an ideology in them and turning them into militants.
The Boko Haram story is still fresh in our memory. Reading Kanu’s body language, there were indications of future armed, violent struggle in the pipeline.
In 1791, the United States of America witnessed a similar agitation during the “Whiskey Rebellion,” which happened in one of the states and later spread like wildfire. It was spearheaded by some civilians, and President George Washington did not send in police officers; instead, he brought in military tanks to quench the rebellion and the ring leaders were all rounded up for prosecution.
In the United States, when violence escalates, a governor, pursuant to Title 32 of the United States Code, can summon the Army and their tanks to the streets. One can cite the “Black Lives Matter” movement and some riots, which attracted numerous armoured personnel carriers to the streets of the U.S. before the agitations were quelled .
Looking back, the issues for the agitation could have been carefully nipped in the bud had government done the needful before now.
These agitators could be likened to a baby python that ought to have been put in the zoo but was left to mature and became a danger to the larger society, including government itself.
Truely, had the needful been done, the Army’s python dancing naked on the streets of the Abia State capital (God’s Own State) would have been uncalled for.
In every venture, wisdom is absolutely needed. No wonder God admonished us all to seek wisdom, if we know we lack it.
As the managing director of the police newspaper, The Dawn, I once engaged my official driver and office cleaner on why they needed wisdom in performing their duties, that being wise on their duty posts would help them function better.
However, the Nnamdi Kanu issue needs to be addressed distinctively, bearing in mind his antecedents, what he stood for and represented ab-initio. Why would any sane Nigerian who witnessed and experienced the three years Nigeria-Biafra war from 1967 to 1970, forget those heinous, painful and devastating years?
Many of the youths involved in armed agitation, struggles or those clamoring for restructuring or fighting against regional and ethnic injustice, are all pained because the system is not favorable to them. These youths were not privy to the three-year genocidal Nigeria-Biafra war that saw the devastation and killing of millions. Their parents may not have sat them down to reveal what caused the war, they may not have been told about the political mistakes that culminated in the war. Even if parents never did, how about government, what has government done over the years to enlighten our children on the history of the war?
Painfully, government has never made history a compulsory subject in our education curriculum. Such helps to educate youths on what prompted these wars and their evil consequences.
No country prays for war, because of the consequences, and society should keep isolate anyone with such mentality.
The state government was aware that Kanu moved about like an “emperor,” which he was entitled to, insofar as he did not contravene any law. However, Kanu flouted a high court ruling and he should not be seen as being above the law of the land, whether he is an agitator or not. After all, we have seen kings and public icons with great followership who contravened the law of their land and were shown the way to custody.
•To be continued.