By Muhammad Ajah:
At the time there is stern condemnation of the activities of Boko Haram in the north east and the Kaduna killings in the northwest of Nigeria, the Southeast has swallowed the bait set for it by its enemies. O how impatient is this set of people who are dexterously creative but full of acclaimed ‘common sense’! How have the Ibo allowed themselves to undermine the political scheming that has almost given them the presidency of Nigeria – which is actually all they clamour for – come 2023. Why should the Ibo be like the proverbial tortoise who took the challenge of living in the sewage pit (tempting condition) for seven days, only to give up after the sixth and half days? Must we continue bargain for political compensation or relevance through violence in this modern age?
No one, I repeat that no one amongst the Nigerian politicians of today can stick to his words and hand over the presidency to the Ibo except President Muhammadu Buhari because he is a man of integrity and a man to trust worldwide. But that must be through an acceptable national election. With this ugly development that the Ibo have allowed themselves into, who will trust them? They are creating more uncertainties over this goal they have been striking to score for nearly 50 years.
I must say this without fear; it is only President Buhari who can tolerate all these distractions. The history holds is clear that if these were to be during the era of former President Obasanjo, the story would have been different. I rate Obasanjo very high in the area of ensuring unity of Nigeria, the supremacy of national constituted authority and the ability of the national security apparatuses. Though that was the new democratic era, who dared Obasanjo’s democracy? Odi, Zaki Biam and the untouchable members of the National Assembly – the saints – had no guts to dare Obasanjo who only applied the ‘stick and carrot’ measure in dealing with the Niger Delta militants because of national huge investments and interests.
Have we forgotten the plots – even attacks on his personal car in Kaduna – to kill Buhari before the 2015 elections? Have we forgotten the highly staged hate speech and campaign of calumny against Buhari by the power that was throughout the electioneering campaign period? The Igbo declared him ‘persona non granta’ in Igboland ever since he indicated interest to run for the presidency, not because of Buhari’s insincerity, untrustworthiness or incapability. It was because of the old and reverberating innuendo that “a Muslim President of Nigeria will Islamize Nigeria”. Buhari won the election and believe me, all his defiant enemies are freely moving within Nigeria and abroad.
Recall that many Nigerian pessimists had planned mass exodus to seek exile in different countries. The Nigerian security operatives had made moves to restrict external movements of this set of people. But surprisingly, President Buhari ordered free movement of any citizen, irrespective of backgrounds. So, why the Ibo have remained with this feeling against Buhari is inexplicable in the modern age where freedom of religion is a global phenomenon.
There are still speculations that the Boko Haram is a creation of both Nigerian and non-Nigerian hands. The byword that a thief does not operation in an area without an insider is relevant. Some critics have claimed that Boko Haram was primarily staged to destroy the north by reducing the population its prides over and destabilizing its rising economy. It was also claimed that the past government wanted to use it to stage-manage the past general reelections in its favour.
No wonder, up till today, despite the revelations by the past government that Boko Haram are in the government, no single person has been convicted for the death and destruction of lives of innocent Nigerian citizens and their properties in the northeast. I think only the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Engr. David Lawal Babashair received the hammer as he was deposed for allegedly using over N200 million to cut grass at IDP camps in Yobe. I think that Yobe farmers who clear hectares of farmlands every farming season must have been shocked by this, not to talk of the displaced citizens who were supposed to be resettled with the huge amount. His sacking may, however like ever, be his only punishment.
And in Kaduna, like in other parts of the north where the killings of Nigerians were recorded, the primary claim was that the Christians were targeted. Just like the political Boko Haram started with the burning of Churches in the north, it turned out to be that more Muslims and their Mosques were destroyed. University of Maiduguri and its Mosque are case study of recent Boko Haram carnage. Interestingly, some of the arrested Boko Haram members, in the past, had the Christian cross on them and some confessed to have been hired by yet undisclosed entities. Now, the political gangsters in Igboland have started burning Mosques and conducting door-to-door and vehicle-to-vehicle manhunt of Muslims for killing, an indication that the IPOB has more religious instinct than political. That the IPOB members are killing only Muslims, not the northern Christians living in the Southeast, is a disturbing revelation. It may not be far from the truth also that some Muslims may have been hired by the IPOB for their interest. That is by the way.
The Ibo saw all these. They heard all these. I feel the Ibo have not learnt their lessons. Before the 1967 civil war that crushed the economic powers of the Ibo in Nigeria, the Ibo were lords in all the major cities of Nigeria: Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and more. They excelled and still excel without the political leadership they claim is their problem. The progress of a people invariably attracts the envy of others who would plot dangerously for the fall of the prosperous people. Take an instance in a family or a community or any given place; the prosperous have the greatest enemies. Do not mind the fake smile on the faces of human beings. With all these progress and dominance, the Ibo with the ‘common sense’ that is difficult to understand by other humans coexisting with them cheapishly allowed themselves to swallow the first bait. They lost everything by that mistake. But being very hard working people, they regained some of their lost economic strength and relevance within the shortest time.
Now Nnamdi Kanu came to the scene. The Kanu’s IPOB said Nigeria is a zoo and must be destroyed. This is a bad qualification that can be given to a sovereign nation. They declared anybody an enemy who stood against their demand to breakup Nigeria. Kanu began to set up Biafra security agencies. Kanu declared that election will not hold in the Southeast zone starting from Anambra state because it belonged to Biafra. These actions were absolutely tantamount to crossing the boundary. There was no limit for Kanu. He disregarded all persuasions from the Ibo leaders: the political, the religious and the traditional alike. He condemned and called them cowards and infidels. Even Kanu’s father and family members were proud of him. Haba! Where are our parental civility and upbringings? Proud of a son who disrespects and insults elders! The whole world saw it all. And Nigeria allowed him to fill his cup by himself. Video clips are there as evidences of the evil plots and activities by Kanu.
Many people do not understand what IPOB really represents. Unlike the Niger Delta militants who, though were not agitating for secession, had a cause and properly utilized the media through one Cynthia Whyte to be heard, the IPOB dangled from agitation for restructuring to the call for referendum to secede from Nigeria. There are several groups countering themselves without distinct direct and clear demand. IPOB claims to be a peaceful movement but it recruited the youngsters by force into its fold like the Boko Haram did. Can the Nigerian youth learn anything from these events?
What is the cause of IPOB? Claiming marginalization is what every ethnic group in Nigeria is claiming and that is no more a valid point. Former President Goodluck Azikiwe Jonathan gave the Ibo all the powers to turn Igbland into a haven for development and competitive economy. Claiming Islamization of Nigeria is a tale of the yore which appeals to very insignificant interests. I think it is the only claim the Ibo have found so dear to their hearts. It was the strong base upon which late Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu declared war against Nigeria, that is to say, declared secession. That has remained the problem of the Ibo that a global religion – Islam – cannot stay in Igboland. Claiming political alienation is close to an understandable cause but what have the Ibo done to sell their dream to other existing nationalities in Nigeria. They have proved to sell one another at every given political alignment?
That has been the Ibo’s quagmire. They work for other groups to clinch the presidency and allow the selfish politicians amongst them to destroy their future by unwittingly causing chaos if the position will elude them. Instead of coming together – remember that the Ibo have no king or leader – they allow others to play the tune for them to dance naked in the public. Instead of blaming themselves for their own political woes, they remain unchanged each time a political dispensation comes.
The Ibo have allowed themselves to be stained once again; this time in the hand of Nnamdi Kanu who preached peace and unity of Nigeria during the past administration of Dr. Jonathan just to suddenly turnover to preach hatred, rancour and violence in the “zoo” that he called Nigeria. Kanu, from the onset, did not hide his hatred against Islam and Muslims. He totally professed Judaism, not the Christianity that the Southeast prides itself of. But so far it is not Islam, they accepted him because any religion including paganism can be tolerated in the zone except Islam. It is still in memory that a Jewish priest was required to perfect his bail conditions.
Kanu spread hate speeches without boundaries. “When we speak, the zoo trembles, that is what happens when a cattle rearing terrorist and paedophile is your ruler,” he repeated in many occasions. “Nigeria is a zoo and everybody living in that Godforsaken zoo deserves to die…by the time we finish dealing with the animals in the zoo, there will be none left to tell the story.” These are the mildest statements from the IPOB self acclaimed hero. For God sake, are these supposed to be words from a same human being whose people have made great fortunes from across the ‘zoo’?
Kanu was charged to court on treasonable accusations. He was released on bail with pressure and pleadings from Southeast governors and political leaders who made a commitment that he would not abuse his bail conditions. He violated all his bail conditions and turned himself into a small Igbo god – maybe amadioha – worshipped by the less-privileged of the Igbo and secretly supported by a handful of the privileged with alleged foreign links. Now that the chips are down, the Igbo god hitherto abruptly could not save himself. Heroes do not go underground at the advent of a confrontation with the powers they face. He has left his followers who were earlier warned on the consequence to suffer. It is clear that his bail sureties should be called to account for him.
Nonetheless, there is no immediate uncontrollable cause for an emergency declaration in Abia state. The state governor, though belated, has shown ability to subdue the situation by cooperating with the Nigerian troops. And until the area is back to full normalcy, withdrawal of soldiers from the state and its neighbourhoods will be immature because the IPOB has taken advantage of the situation to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens. The governors and elite of the region, though belated too, have disassociated themselves from Kanu and IPOB. Kanu’s actions have stained any genuine agitation the Ibo may claim, thus the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization.
Peace and security must not be compromised in any form in Nigeria. Out gallant military are up to the task of securing all the Nigerian territory. I am proud of them. I hail the north for not carrying out reprisal attacks; the some northern youths dressed in Ibo attires to express unity of the peoples of Nigeria. I equally applaud the customs service which must work harder to also block arms dealings across our land borders. Those who are behind the seized arms from the Lagos sea ports must be disgraced publicly rather than secret trials. Nigeria has the potentials of being a competing economy of the world if not because of these badly internalized distractions. But what will keep all these blessed backgrounds: ethno-religious, socio-cultural and political groups together is the duo of fairness to all and the political will to act decisively on the economy to provide shelter, ensure security and bring food on the tables of all the Nigerian people. That is exactly what the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is trying to do. The Ibo should give him the chance.
Let the python dance tactfully, steadily and intelligently and swallow all the animals that say woe to law-abiding patriots anywhere in the zone. Let the ‘eke’ dance further to unveil all the links Kanu has within Nigeria and outside the shore of the country. All the privileged Nigerians who have been sympathizing with his mission are not hidden. And all Nigerians must distil their minds from ethnocentric politicization of national issues. Rather, they must rise together at all times against any attempt to cause another civil war.
Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail email@example.com.