FEATURE ARTICLE

Nnanna IjomahWednesday, September 20, 2017
[email protected]
New York, New York, USA

MAKING NIGERIA UNSTABLE AGAIN

watched and listened to President Buhari's UN speech yesterday here in New York City and was bemused and flabbergasted by the height of hypocrisy contained in that speech. To watch the President stand at the UN podium with a straight face, before other world leaders and lecture them about the need for a more equitable world where a large group of people do not feel suppressed, undervalued and alienated vis--vis the need for a Palestinian state, not to mention his condemnation of the pogrom going on against the Rohingya people by the Myanmar Government is to say the least a shameful act of duplicity and cluelessness that disregards his own culpability on the issues he spoke about. There is no denying the fact that Nigerians are today living in the middle of a national crisis of solidarity, hate, pervasive distrust, rising ethnic tensions and political dysfunction. Unfortunately, the one source we can use in pulling the nation together is lacking in the quality of our leadership, not to mention the most disengaged President the country has had in my lifetime. There is a lack of the kind of leadership we can draw upon to tell a better Nigerian story than the one Buhari tells. One that will unite us and yield hopeful answers instead of selfish and sectional ones.

It takes but a little portion of the gift of discernment for anyone not to shudder at the international display of Orwellian doublespeak by the President's UN speech and the deeply insulting display of a policy of concealment manifesting a bland expression of contempt for the level of intellect of those present at the UN General Assembly. With regards to Nigeria itself, the damage being done to the fabric of the nation, the threat to national unity by the recent military invasion of the South Eastern states cannot be overstated. In my opinion, it can best be described as the worst political decision made by this President. To send battalions of carefully selected murderous ethnic bigots in military garments under the guise of a military training exercise was a despicable act of military showmanship and arrogance. It was emblematic of the blatant disconnect between the President's protestations of National Unity and his disregard for both the rule of law and the sanctity of human lives which is his duty to protect. I really don't know if I am more offended by the invasion, the murderous and humiliating actions of the soldiers in their treatment of harmless civilians or the lies they gave as reasons for their presence in the Abia state in particular. The question remains. If the military presence was to combat crime and the scourge of kidnapping, why do we have the police force? Why not use the same military force to combat the murderous Fulani Herdsmen or put a stop to the daily carnage of kidnappings and the like, happening on the Abuja- kaduna highway.

The reality of the President's mercurial governing style is not serving him or the nation well nor does it in any way enhance his avowed commitment towards keeping the country together when he says its unity is not negotiable. With this action in the South Eastern states, he seems to be a man that is not conflicted by the discrepancy between what he says and what he does. There is no denying the fact that this President is at the core of the worsening ethnic divisions in the country by not only his refusal to restructure the country or his skewed appointments but his penchant for using military force and coercion as a tool for establishing national unity instead of compromise and dialogue thereby displaying distinctive political methods and priorities which are at variance with modern political practices. Like a man who has a hammer, he sees every problem as one that can be hammered down with a nail being the use of force.

There is no denying the fact that every President, for the most part, is a product of the input he receives, but to the extent, such input from this President's advisers influence or is at variance or cross-purposes with his already held views regarding the Igbos is subject to debate. Like the Moth that flies towards the glow of light bulbs just as most Presidents would fly to the glow of public opinion, this President it would appear flies to the glow of sectional and ethnic approval, which is the North. He has for the last two years continued to stir the political porridge of disunity and has finally set the table for the possible breakup of the country with this recent military action in the South Eastern states.

As I have stated before in a previous essay, arresting and locking up Mr. Nnamdi Kanu for the period he did was an egregious political mistake that has created the monster he did not bargain for. Not many people knew Nnamdi Kanu existed, neither did many listen to his Radio Biafra broadcasts, but by locking him up the President awakened in the minds of the Igbo's a feeling of group victimization and alienation that has hitherto been dormant. Now sending soldiers to harass unarmed IPOB supporters and declaring the group a terrorist outfit can be described as an even greater political miscalculation hence history informs us that people often see themselves in terms of whichever one of their allegiances is most under attack. The truth is that when you try to exclude a group of people you end up reducing their myriad identities down to a simplistic one from that of an atomized individualistic society of competing identities. The reality is that when you are disrespected or victimized for being a Moslem, a Jew, Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa, your natural instinct is to double down on that identity and most often weaponize and defend it to the hilt. The military invasion and intrusion into Mr. Kanu's home has created a feeling of group victimization amongst the Igbos and have rallied many to his course including those who do not agree with his methods.

As much as I condemn the action of the President and the military invasion of the South East, I must not fail to say this obvious truth for which many may criticize me. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, I regret to say does not have the leadership props to lead the Igbos anywhere, let alone the Biafra promise land. He does not have the vision, the temperament or strategic capabilities to be the kind of leader the Igbos deserve or hope for. There is no denying the fact that he has awakened the consciousness of the Igbos regarding their marginalization and alienation in the Nigerian polity but his tactics are boneheaded, suicidal and lacking in vision, articulation, and strategy. He definitely has an idea where he wants to go and his end objective but has no idea how to get there. There is saying, "You don't roll a boulder up a hill if you have no idea how to get it up there". A nation-state of Biafra is an uphill task that is not going to be easy to achieve at least not under the present federal administration. For me personally, it is an idea, a state of mind whose time is yet to come but not now. To the extent that Mazi Kanu has set the ball rolling, I applaud him for his efforts, but for him to make the stupid mistakes of including other ethnicities in the proposed Biafra without their consent, calling for a boycott of the Anambra state elections, insulting those who disagree with him, allowing people bow and prostrate before him in a public show of acquiescence, creating a uniformed civil brigade and so-called Biafra Secret Service does not show tactfulness and seriousness of purpose. The public adulation by his supporters and the large crowds that greet him in his rallies seems to have overtaken his sense of humility. The grandiosity with which he now carries himself and his air of pomposity belies that of a man who now sees himself as a larger than life figure greater than the cause he professes to lead and ready to die for, so he claims.

My concern is not so much about Mazi Kanu in view of recent happenings but with the thousands of Igbo youths who follow him and believe in his leadership and capabilities. Especially those who have lost their lives. My worry is that these people are committing suicide fighting a Government that has no regard for human lives. They should remember that people like Bola Ige, Abiola, Saro Wiwa just to mention a few, including thousands of Shite Moslems, have been murdered with no consequence to the perpetrators. If a war breaks out, not President Trump, Israel, Russia or Britain will come to our aid, rather they will try to sell arms to both sides of the conflict. What is happening in Syria today should teach us a lesson. Millions of Syrians have been forced out of their country while the world did nothing but pay lip service to the crisis. Right now 400,000 Rohingya ethnic citizens in Myanmar have been displaced and thousands killed yet as we saw yesterday at the UN the world leaders gathered there have only paid lip service to the problem including our President. Just as I was writing this essay I watched President Trump's speech during his lunch session with African Leaders attending the UN General Assembly meeting in which he stressed the commercial and economic importance of African states, a passing reference to happenings in Southern Sudan and the Congo with no mention of the Biafra secessionist agitations in Nigeria. So for those Igbos who were celebrating Trump's victory in the U.S Presidential elections, the reality is now staring them in the face. The truth is that in International politics, National Interest trumps all other considerations. Let's be tactful as a people and follow wisely. Nnamdi Kanu, in my opinion, will better serve the Igbos by fighting for restructuring as a prelude to a future Biafra than seeking secession now. He will serve a useful purpose by harnessing his influence and his large following amongst our youths to remove all the clowns we have as South Eastern Governors in the 2019 elections and replace them with leaders who will better serve our interest.

I will conclude by applauding all those especially the Senate President who has spoken against the unconstitutionality of the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization and the army invasion in the guise of Operation Python dance. To the rest of other ethnic nationalities who have turned deaf ears and have failed to condemn the events in Abia state by the military, they must be reminded that there is no greater danger to humanity than unfettered hate and indifference to the plight of others. Such people like many of our national and Igbo leaders must be ashamed by the cruel absurdity of their silence. Their yearning to align with power I believe must have overwhelmed their sense of rationality as they operate in the realm beyond logic where matters of right and wrong, of good will, of humanity, no longer hold sway. I hope both the President and the leaders of IPOB will choose the course of compromise and dialogue in resolving the agitations with the President leading the way as the father of the nation, a responsibility he has so far failed to embrace. With regards to our Southern Eastern Governors, I've run short of the right adjectives with which to describe them. Their haste to proscribe the IPOB is indicative of their fear of what awaits them in 2019 and the realization of how irrelevant they have become. It is my hope that our people would hasten to collect their PVC cards and unleash their anger and years of frustration on Ikpeazu and his fellow band of criminal Governors come the next elections. The Igbos deserve better leaders than the present political charlatans who claim to represent them.

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