THERE is trouble in the land. From one zone or part of the country to the other, are ominous signals that things are not well. The North East problem, in spite of assurances that the army has total control of the area, is still restive. In the middle belt zone, it is the same, if herdsmen are not attacking communities, the zone is battling flood. This is also a period that most professional organizations and institutions in the country have decided to call out their members on strike.
But of major concern is the pro-Biafra agitation in the country. For Nigerians of good conscience who love the country at heart, the Biafran agitation is a worrisome development. Before I continue, I want to state that I am against the dismembering of the country, but this could become unavoidable if the ongoing development is not quickly arrested and I am not talking of the military action that has turned that part of the country into a war zone. It is not still too late to retrace our footsteps and take a look at the causes of these agitations with a view to assuring all those who believe that they have nothing to gain in the present union that unity could still be achieved in spite of our diversity. There is strength in our diversity, if only we take the necessary steps to wield the country into a nation.
With over 100 years as a country, one can say we have come along way, but we still have a long way to go. Times, it was when no one bothered about your ethnicity, but what value you could add to your present society. But that has changed. Nnamdi Kanu’s Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been in the news for some time now agitating for the parting of ways from the rest of the country. The agitation is borne out of the fact that the average south easterner believes he is being marginalized in the present arrangement. That he is treated as a second class citizen in his country.
Today, there is an overwhelming support for IPOB most especially from the masses in the zone. Presently, the old Biafran flag, currency are trending on the social media. The Biafran Security Services (BSS), made of able bodied, young men, has been constituted. In the present Nigerian constitution, all these are illegal. It is an affront on the sovereignty and direct challenge to the constituted authority, no doubt.
This must have informed President Mohammadu Buhari’s speech when he came back from abroad after his medical sojourn that the federal government would clamp down on agitators.
“We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood”, he had said then. We know who he is referring to here as he followed up that statement with his meeting with the late Biafran leader, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu where he said the two of them agreed that the unity of the country was non negotiable. As stated earlier, the constitution frowns on the creation of a sovereignty within a sovereign state. Thus Kanu could be said to have embarked on an illegal act which the federal government would not take kindly to as it constitutes a challenge to its authority. But we should ask ourselves what led to this present situation?
Would Kanu have embarked upon this journey if the political leadership had taken action on the strident and persistent cry from that zone since all these years. In Yorubaland, there is a saying that it is only a bastard that would see justification for anger and fold his arms. The south east has justification from several years of crying that has gone unheeded.
Let’s take a look at the most simplistic of their agitations. While most of the zones in the country have six states, the southeast zone has only five. Why has it been difficult to create an additional state in that zone, even if it is to pacify the people and give them the sense that someone is listening to their cries?
Is there a document somewhere on how the Igbos should be marginalized? If such a document exists, it is time to tear it. Why has it been difficult to ensure an Igbo presidency since after the civil war? I thought the slogan after the war was, ‘no victor, no vanquished’. If that’s the case, why are Igbos still being treated like conquered enemy?
The Southeast is one of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. The other two have produced the president for the country, this has equally been extended to the minority when former President Goodluck Jonathan became president. So why should we blame IPOB or MASSOB for their agitation.
The agitation is a cry, calling on the political leadership to listen to them, but no one is taking note. Let’s say your child wakes up everyday and as soon as he gets to a particular corner of your house, he or she gives a fearful cry, as parents, would you not want to find out why that child was always crying and pointing at that particular spot, everyday?
It is the same with the cry from the southeast. It is the inability to look at the cause of the case presented by the agitators that has led to the present development. Abia state as at yesterday was embroiled in violence. Suspected IPOB members are said to be on the rampage. The state government has imposed curfew.
The federal government has not done too well in the way the crisis has been handled, yes, IPOB probably crossed the redline with its action, but confronting the present situation with force is bound to escalate the situation. The Operation Python dance and other military actions in the south east is like adding fuel to a flaming fire. Someone sent a video of some people allegedly caught by the soldiers to me. It was a horrifying sight. It showed young boys being forced into a pool of muddy water up to their neck. A few feet away were some that had been shot.
For God’s sake, the army should realize they were not at war with another country. These are Nigerians and this should be a major consideration in the manner they are treated, or are they already considered as prisoners of war. As this video goes viral so would sympathy for the pro-Biafra agitators increase. No human being should be so treated.
For the present situation not to develop into a conflagration that would be difficult to put down, the federal government should re-examine its approach to resolving the crisis before it is too late. There have been several calls for the country to be restructured. I think this is the best way to go. It is not about the country breaking up, but allowing the country to be at peace with itself.