Nigeria: War And The Drumbeat (Analysis)

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BY CHRIS SULEIMAN

History is an important aspect of any people, a nation without history may be lacking direction, because the knowledge of where it is coming from is unknown.   And it is a common saying that if you don’t know where you are coming from, getting to your destination may be a mirage. The knowledge of the past is necessary to better assess the present in order to ascertain the level of progress made.  This, many analysts believe will help in predicting the future.

Developments and happenings in  Nigeria in recent times is an indication the citizens have not learnt much from history.  The many sentiments culminating into violent agitations from various aggrieved groups in the country has  given many analysts the reason to conclude that, Nigerians have not learnt anything significant from their not too pleasant past.
The nation has remained stunted with little or no significant progress because of many man made challenges that have stood between the country  and development.  Many nations of equal potentials with Nigeria  when the country gained independence from Britain, have joined world super powers leaving   Nigeria behind still battling to hold her own as a developing nation.
For instance,  less than a decade after gaining freedom as an independent  nation from Britain,  Nigeria went into the bloodiest civil war ever  in the continent of Africa,  it was far from being equal in  terms of casualties with what took place in Rwanda during the ethnic genocide that occurred  in 1994 between Hutu and Tutsi.
Needless to bore readers with the number of deaths recorded in that war that has dealt a devastating  damage to Nigeria’s unity.  It was a devastating war that took three years of the nation, but only to leave pains,  sorrow  and destruction  in the country.   For five decades now,  the nation has remained divided in spite of many efforts aimed at uniting it. No significant result has been achieved towards restoring genuine peace and unity. Nigeria has remained a divided nation with citizens who are largely loyal and faithful to their ethnic nationalities and in some cases their religious affiliations than they are to Nigeria.
Analysts were optimistic with the speed at which the country came together after the war in the 1970s. In fact, in 1979, Chief Alex Ekwueme from  present Anamabra  State,  South East Nigeria became the Vice President of Nigeria when Alhaji Shehu Shagari was elected as the first Executive President of the nation. This was viewed as a major and significant level of healing achieved in the country.  Many observers then were happy that the nation had put behind her the skirmishes of war and  shown significant magnanimity to the Igbos by  electing  somebody from the Igbo extraction to occupy the number two position less than a decade after coming out of a bloody civil war which many see the Igbos as the rebels who caused the war.
But after this, the Igbos have consistently complained of marginalisation. They have cried out in many fora on how they have  been denied the chance to take up leadership  of the country after the war.  But Nigerians from other regions have also dismissed this claim of the Igbos. Many analysts queried the claim of marginalisation by the Igbos while maintaining that no part of the country that has not suffered one form of marginalisation or the other.
Analysts have however,  questioned the level of  confidence in the igbos by Nigerians. Many observers expressed doubt on the level of sincerity on the parts of other Nigerians to extend their support for an Igbo candidate  to vie to be President of the country. This subject has divided  analysts and  opinion leaders. The  debate on this subject matter  has taken a large chunk of the media space in recent times with conflicting parties holding tight to their views.
 According to former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon who under his watch the unfortunate civil war took place in a recent comment, said that the world was surprised at the speed at which Nigeria came together after the war. Gowon was speaking to journalists shortly after his national prayer programme.
The former head of state was in Sokoto for the North-west prayer rally where he said no nation has ever passed through the level of devastation Nigeria went through during the war  and  recovered within the short period. General Gown maintained  that all nations of the world have challenges peculiar to them and that Nigeria was not an exception,  urging the youth to tone down their agitation and embrace peace building process.
Like General Gowon,  many observers expressed concerns at the renewed level of agitations in the country. These  analysts are disturbed that the menace of the Boko Haram insurgents left behind fatal damage, which the nation is still battling to tackle and what makes sense is for all Nigerians to rally round the government to fight this insurrection to standstill not to come up with another security challenge that will bring the government down.
Responding to the agitations led by the outlawed  Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) that has in recent times threatened the peace of the nation, stakeholders have advised government on how to go about the crisis. For instance, former President Olusegun Obasanjo have advised Buhari to invite IPOB leaders for negotiations. This advice has divided many opinion moulders in the country.  Many believe,  it is weakness on the part of government to have any discussion with the group who have been agitating for independence from Nigeria. But the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Obasanjo’s comment was not a law or a rule. He said, “It is an opinion that he has proffered and when you proffer an opinion, it is not a law or a rule. It is now left for the person who was given the advice to consider it.”
But the Nigerian Army in a statement signed by Director of Information. Nigerian Army,  Major General John Enenche,   declared IPOB as a terrorists organization. According to the statement of the army, the  “group which has posed to be a security challenge in the country, has been metamorphosing from one stage to the other.  After due professional analysis and recent developments, it has become expedient, to notify the general public that; the claim by IPOB actors that the organization is non violent is not true.  Hence, the need to bring to public awareness the true and current state of IPOB.  In this regard, some of their actions, clandestinely and actively, that has been terrorising the general public among others include;
The formation of a Biafra Secret Service. Claimed formation of Biafra National Guard. Unauthorised blocking of public access roads. Extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks.
Militant possession and use of weapons (stones, molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles among others) on a military patrol on 10 September 2017.
Physical confrontation of troops by Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB actors at a check point on 11 September 2017 and also attempts to snatch their rifles.
Attack by IPOB members, on a military check point on 12 September 2017, at Isialangwa, where one IPOB actor attempted to snatch a female soldier’s rifle.
From the foregoing, the Armed Forces of Nigeria wishes to confirm to the general public that IPOB from all intent, plan and purpose as analysed, is a militant terrorist organisation.  Therefore, parents and particularly unsuspecting residents of the South East and other Nigerians should advice their wards to desist from joining the group.
The Defence Headquarters restates its commitment to handling all the security challenges in the Country and further assures all Nigerians of the protection of lives and property.”
Similarly the governor’s and other stakeholders from the southeast region have also proscribed IPOB and all its activities describing the group as an illegal group.  Rising from a meeting in Enugu shortly after the Nigeria military described the group as a terrorist group.  The meeting was attended by governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu, Dave Umahi, Ebonyi, Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia, and Willie Obiano, Anambra. While Imo State was represented by Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere.
The meeting, which lasted several hours, also had the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and the General Officer Commanding, 82 Division, Enugu, Gen. Adamu Abubakar, in attendance. Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, Umahi, who addressed journalists after the meeting, which held at Enugu State Government House, explained that the leadership of IPOB “sent their apologies” for their absence at the parley. Reading a communique after the meeting, Umahi said, “All activities of IPOB are hereby proscribed. IPOB and all other aggrieved groups are advised to articulate their position on all national issues and submit to the Committee of Governors, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and National Assembly members from South-East Zone, through the Chairman, South-East Governors Forum.
This action has however,  divided opinion among analysts, to many the government is playing double standard by tagging the Biafra agitators terrorists,  this school of thought believed the military have no such right to so declared IPOB a terrorist organization with the list the military gave in their statement as the beses of reaching that decision.  Other observers also accused President Muhammad Buhari and his party of hypocrisy making reference to some of the comments attributed to them while in the opposition on the prescription of a more deadly terror group in the country,  the Boko Haram.
Other watchers of events differ from the view above,  they believed the government took the right step by declaring the Nnamdi Kanu led IPOB a terrorist organization.
According to this school of thought, the activities of Kanu,  his utterances against the sovereignty of the Nigeria state require no any other treatment than what the government gave to him.  Observers also averred that no group that has threatened to plunge Nigeria into war than the Kanu’s group,  they claimed that Kanu  and his followers attempted to cause a huge bloodshed that was curtail by the prompt action of the Federal government.
It is the opinion of other analysts that, Nigeria have pampered many agitators through the grant of amnesty,  which has portrayed the machinery of State to combat crime as very weak. They advised that no insurrection should be so honoured with a discussion with the government.
It was also averred that the Kanu led IPOB, want to breakaway from Nigeria, similar to the Boko Haram insurgents who want an Islamic state out of the present Nigeria. Equating the two however, left many analysts divided and a sharp debate has taken over the social media with few mainstream media joining in the debate.
Which ever side of the divide you belong,  you cannot denied the fact that the nation was gripped with tension as the military operations in the south east tagged operation python dance II cracked down on the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra ipob.  The spread of rumours across the social media only make matter worse.  The fear of reprisals in the northern states have garnered support for whatever action the Federal Government has taken with many others expressing reservations on the government decision.
Nobody wants war,  but the drum of war seems to be  beaten by many agitators in the country, which has led to many military operations across the country.  Indeed war is going on in Nigeria considering the many military operations in the country.  The operation harbin kunama,  operation crocodile smiles,  operation Delta Save,  operation Tsare Teku, Operation  Gama Aiki,  Operation Lafiya Dole,  operation python dance and many operations ongoing in Nigeria.  This is war and the drum beat of War must be stopped.

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