By Chiedu Uche Okoye
The violent events happening in Nigeria now can be likened to the political conflicts, which engulfed Nigeria in the mid-1960s, and resulted in the Nigeria -Biafra civil war. At that time, the Igbo people, who were accused of trying to impose Igbo political hegemony on the peoples of Nigeria, were pitted against the rest of Nigeria. The Nigerian civil war was waged to keep Nigeria as one united country. But, sadly, today, we are witnessing an ugly re-play and reenactment of those things that sparked off the Nigeria-Biafra civil war.
Nigeria, today, is on the boil, again. Consequently, the country is perching precariously on the precipice. From the Sambisa forest in Borno state to the Niger delta’s marshy terrain, and from the greenery of Benue farmlands to the hubbub of the southeast, innocent Nigerians are being systematically and gruesomely killed by Boko Haram insurgents, bandits, Fulani cattle herdsmen, and the unknown gunmen for committing no crime other than being Nigerians at this critical juncture in our country’s political Odyssey. In peacetime, Nigeria has lost thousands of her citizens to the asymmetrical wars, which are being waged against her by terrorist and secessionist groups. Nigeria, which is tipped to become the giant of Africa, given her vast human and material resources, is a flowing river of blood, today.
However, it is inconceivable and incredible that President Muhammadu Buhari, who is reputed for his valiant deeds during his stint in the military, couldn’t solve Nigeria’s security challenges. President Buhari , as a young soldier, led troops to prevent the armies of other countries from overrunning Nigeria. But today, Nigeria under the leadership of President Buhari , has almost succumbed to the onslaught and assaults being waged against her by non-state actors. Nigeria, the giant of Africa with feet of clay, is lying prostrate while President Buhari has buried his head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich. He is busy fiddling with immaterial matters and wringing his hands helplessly while Nigeria is going to the dogs.
President Buhari’s tepid, half-hearted, and non-committal approach to issues, which have caused our security challenges, have compounded and worsened our niggling security problem. He hasn’t made public the names of the sponsors of terror deeds, not to talk of their being arrested and prosecuted for treasonous offences. And because he has kinship and filial bond with the itinerant Fulani cattle herders, he has continued to treat the issue of Fulani cattle herders’ menace with kid gloves.
Instead of ensuring that the so-called repentant bandits and Boko Haram Insurgents, whose hands are dripping with blood, are put on trial, he appears to be disposed to granting them amnesty. But he used extra-ordinary rendition to bring back the proscribed IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, to Nigeria, and hounded another secessionist, Sunday Adeyemo into Benin republic, where he is being detained for violating that country’s immigration laws.
So, it can be said that President Buhari’s clannish disposition and his use of double standards in handling vexed national issues such as banditry, insurgency, and the secession matter have contributed majorly to the escalation of violence and heightening of political tension in Nigeria.
But why is Nigeria now seized with bloody violence and revolts? What is happening in Nigeria now could be likened to the revenge of the dispossessed in our political polity. The marginalization of the Igbo people in Nigeria’s scheme of things is the reason why the Igbo people have started romanticizing the idea of having the sovereign state of Biafra. It is why the southeast is rumbling with bloody secessionist agitations, now. And, in the north, millions of out-of-school children, who are impressionable, are being recruited into the Boko Haram group. Uneducated and impressionable, they are receptive to the toxic knowledge which is imparted to them. They are indoctrinated with teachings that propel them to kill other people, who do not share their religious beliefs and ideologies.
But our political leaders, irrespective of the political parties to which they belong and the faiths which they profess, are egoistical people, who perceive their possession of political power as an ample opportunity to make good for themselves by looting our financial tills. They do not have pragmatic economic policies on how to lift millions of impoverished Nigerians out of the dungeon of poverty; neither are they keen on fixing the vexatious out-of-school children issue.
Rather, our political leaders, who are pachydermatous to our cries for help, have clannish dispositions and moral ineptitude. In addition to being corrupt political leaders, they are ethnic chauvinists and religious bigot, who do not have pan-Nigerian visions and dreams. At the state level, many state governors have failed to provide quality leadership to the people so as to better their lot in life and improve their living conditions. And, President Buhari is a quintessence of Fulani irredentism and religious bigotry.
A dispassionate assessment of President Buhari’s leadership of Nigeria so far will show that he has been marginalizing the Igbo people in the Nigerian scheme of things. His anti-Igbo is not in dispute.
So, there is a nexus between the upsurge in the violent secessionist agitations in the southeast and President Buhari’s enthronement of the Fulani hegemony in Nigeria. Are Igbo people who are eminently qualified to occupy top positions in national security organizations not sidelined when such organizations are recruiting security personnel? And our leaders’ insensitivity to the plight of the poor, their inability to solve the out-of-school children matter, and their failure to fix our problem of youth employment have left our youths with no alternative but to embrace violence and other anti-social behaviours. Consequently, we are experiencing and witnessing the unfurling of the spectacle, which can be rightly called the revenge of the dispossessed.
So, to douse the rising political tension in Nigeria, obliterate banditry and Boko Haram insurgency in the north, and reduce the tempo of the clamour for secession in our country, President Buhari should change tack, and his leadership style of Nigeria. He should have a pan-Nigerian vision and make Nigeria an egalitarian state, where everybody has equal rights and opportunities to realise his or her potential.
Okoye from Uruowulu-Obosi,