By Muyiwa Olayinka
Nigeria is presently at a cross road with the precarious security situations, hunger, deepening of ethnic cleavages, despoliation of our values and norms we hold so dear in the past under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. The appalling and disturbing situation is threatening the fabrics that hold the foundation of Nigeria.
Though the present government inherited some of the security challenges and national malaise such as the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, communal and border clashes but this government allows it to degenerate to dangerous proportions. Buhari’s government has abandoned the sole responsibility of securing the nation but pursuing nepotism and widening sectional differences. The unyielding nepotistic behavior of President Buhari has deepened ethnic cleavages and aggravated an already tensed situation.
A situation where the security architecture of Nigeria was concentrated in a particular section of the country has bolstered the belief there is a sinister agenda or simply put, a Fulanisation agenda to favor Buhari’s minority Fulani ethnic stock over others. Despite repeated and muffled complaints, it took Mr. President Donkey years to tinker with his security chiefs despite obvious failures. As if this is not enough, Buhari rewarded these failed security chiefs with ambassadorial postings.
The failures of political leaders in providing security, especially the President and the Governors have exacerbated the security situations that led to endless killings, bloodlettings and wanton destruction of properties. From North to South, East to West, Nigeria’s security system has collapsed and bedeviled with a crisis that has necessitated every tribes, region to come up with initiatives to provide security to safeguard their communities. Nigerians have resorted to tribal alliances to protect interests.
The south west launched Amotekun, a regional security outfit to protect lives and properties as a result of systemic failure of the federal police to nip in the bud the incessant attacks and criminal activities of Fulani herdsmen in the region. The six Governors met under the auspices of Development Agenda for Western Nigeria) DAWN in establishing Amotekun, a quasi-security organization.
While the governors of south west seem to be finding alternatives to the appalling security situation, the south east governors have failed to have a united platform to come up with any security initiative. It is so sad that the five south eastern governors have exposed their citizens to the marauders. The governors are blinded by political loyalty and survival, pursuing selfish interests and positioning themselves for bigger roles in 2023. For example, the governor of Ebonyi state, Dave Umahi recently decamped from PDP, the political party that gave him recognition to the ruling party APC based on frivolous reasons.
Since nature abhors a vacuum, Nnamdi Kanu floated the Eastern Security Network (ESN) to secure the entire south eastern states. ESN has gone to work to eject some Fulani settlers from the forests in Ebonyi state, the state of the defected governor.
Nnamdi Kanu, not new to controversies, is the repressive leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) that has been at the forefront, championing the secession of Biafra republic from the Nigerian union. A dogged fighter in the pursuit of his people’s interests, his fiery, controversial and caustic choice of words has put him at loggerheads, at different times with the Federal government and the elitists from the south east region. His political activism could be likened to the late American freedom fighter and civil right of the 60s, Malcolm X.
He was arrested and detained before he was granted conditional bail. He violated his bail condition and at the verge of being arrested fled to Britain where he had continued his activities to the consternation of the Federal government. He has a large followership among the Igbo masses and he has been reaching them through different social media platforms and the popular Radio Biafra.
Unfortunately for him, the Igbo elites and the political establishment see him as an enemy. His political activism has been viewed as dangerous and inimical to their interests. The five South East governors namely: Willie Obiano (Anambra), Ikpeazu (Abia), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Hope Uzodima (Imo) and (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) backed the federal government to invoke Operation Python Dance, a military intervention exercise that killed many of his supporters and followers. Many innocent lives were lost as a result of military actions and various attacks on them.
Ohaneze Ndigbo, is the socio political umbrella group and rallying point of many Igbo groups but in recent times, it has been deeply factionalized. It is fractious and pursuing selfish interests that are inimical to the wellbeing of the masses.
The people of south east (Igbo) are republican in nature, lacking a central and unifying body to harmonize common interests unlike the northern and south west part of Nigeria. The existence of a well-structured traditional institution in these regions helps in great measures to provide a rallying point to protect common goals.
The North has an Emir system while the Yoruba has Oba that has endured and gone through different stages of fine-tuning. These institutions protect the culture and norms of the people and have a top down approach with the Emirs and the Obas as the titular heads.
For example in the south west, the Fulani herdsmen and farmer crisis brewed out in a sleepy town of Igangan in Ibarapa local government of Oyo state. A relatively unknown political figure, Sunday Adeyemo popularly known as Sunday Igboho with the backing of some traditional rulers, notably Alaafin of Oyo, issued a quit order to the leader of Fulani settlers, to vacate the lands that has been harboring kidnappers that engage in criminal activities leading to persistent killings and destruction of farmlands. Oba Lamidi Adeyemi wrote a public letter warning President Buhari of dire consequences of not protecting Nigerians including the people of Igangan.
This tacit support from the foremost traditional ruler kept the Federal government at bay from arresting Igboho as earlier threatened by Nigerian federal police and other security agencies. Other notable personalities like Aare Ona Kakanfo, Iba Gani Adams, and others rose in unison to lend their voices in support of the Alaafin
The Igbo and political elites should realize that fighting for individual interests and mercantilist politics will deprive them to present a formidable front in achieving common goals. Nnamdi Kanu enjoys mass appeal among the masses and the grassroots. The elites should support his struggle in a deeply divided heterogeneous Nigeria. His persistent call for referendum is a legitimate demand that is in tandem with self-determination that is enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
My advice to Kanu is tone down his caustic and virulent remarks, personal attacks on perceived enemies. He needs to woo and engage more with other ethnic groups, bridge building for many to understand the core issues of his struggle. His ethnic group of Igbo cannot engender a radical change in Nigeria without help from others, hence the need for him to gain more followers across the divides.
Nigeria is at a cross road and if the core issues are not truthfully and addressed expediently, it could mark the end of this dubious and duplicitous British creation of Nigeria.