FEATURE ARTICLE

Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaMonday, December 19, 2016
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OPERATION YULETIDE DANCE

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f recent, the Nigerian Army, under the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari and his Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, launched dancing military operation to deal with perceived enemies of the nation in the South-East Region of Nigeria. I thought the Army is for maintaining territorial integrity and for fighting, when the need arises. But the soldiers have also learnt how to dance like pythons with their weapons. Which type of dance does the Army enjoy? Is it martial music, ogene dance, high life, gospel music, disco, music from the masters, etc? As the soldiers are dancing in the arena, the kidnappers, armed robbers, terrorists, abortionists, murderers may be the spectators.

Not long ago, the Army inaugurated Operation Crocodile Tears in the Niger Delta Area to deal with the Niger Militant Agitators protesting against the injustice done to the people of the area by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Oil, which is the main resource of the country, comes from the area while the inhabitants languish in abject poverty and their land devastated by the side-effects of the oil bunkering. The youths of the area manifested their anger by bombing the pipelines. Since the operation started, it is not only the crocodile that are shedding tears, the people concerned are also shedding tears. However, military dance is excluded here.

Before the Operation Crocodile Tears, there has been Operation Lafiya Dole (To live is a must) in the North-East of the country to deal with the Boko Haram terrorists who have killed thousands of innocent Nigerians and destroyed billions of Naira worth of properties in the area. The survivors fled and are now housed in internally displaced persons's (IDP) camps within and outside the country. There is no dancing of the Army in the Operation Lafiya Dole.

The South-East of the country is devoid of terrorism. But kidnappers and armed robbers terrorize the people here and there and from time to time. But in Anambra State, through the good governance of the incumbent Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, kidnappers and armed robbers have been sent packing from the state. Hence Anambra state is known nationwide as the safest state in Nigeria. Nowadays you can sleep comfortably with two eyes closed unlike before in the state. Kudos to Governor Willie Obiano! This safety of lives and properties has attracted a lot of investors into the state.

Surprisingly, as the 2016 Yuletide is fast approaching, the Nigerian Army decided to inaugurate Operation Python Dance in the South-East. According to the Army Authority, the soldiers through this operation want to ensure a crime-free Yuletide and free flow of traffic in the Eastern zone during the Christmas and New Year festivities. It began on 27th November and will end on 27th December 2016. It is a one-month military exercise. The Deputy Director, Public Relations of 82 Division, Nigerian Army Enugu, Col. Musa Sagir maintains that the Operation Python Dance is not meant to witch-hunt any group or individual but is a purely military training and crime prevention exercise against armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism and traffic gridlock. Regarding the last aim, is it the function of the Army to control traffic with guns? Where is the Road Safety Commission? Also, I hope the Army will swear that the Operation Python Dance is not meant to witch-hunt anyone or any group in the South-East. If so, then there is no cause for alarm.

Everything has a purpose. Thus in reaction, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) describes the Operation Python Dance in the South-East as "an attempt to divert attention and a diversionary measure to free itself from the indictment, condemnation and criticisms it has roundly received over the Amnesty International report that criticized their barbaric activities in South-East states. It is also a plot to kill more IPOB members"(www.Vanguardngr.com, Wed 7 Dec 2016). It was on the news that Amnesty International indicted the Nigerian Army of killing over 150 unarmed and non violent IPOB members. Is it true? Let me remind everybody concerned that human life is a primary value and should be respected. Unjust killing of innocent people is against the Fifth Commandment of God. The Army and Police should protect innocent lives at all times. Everywhere is not a war front. It is a crime itself to kill unarmed and non-violent protesters worldwide. The Federal Government should as a matter of urgency investigate the veracity of the indictment of the Army by the Amnesty International to assuage any harm done.

On her own part, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has declared Operation David Dance as a response to Operation Python Dance. David was a warrior anointed by God. By the power of the Almighty God he killed a giant and fearful soldier called Goliath, who has been subduing the Israelites in those old days. Hence the Operation David Dance is the dance that gave David victory against Goliath at the battlefront, because God Almighty does not sleep. Therefore the Indigenous People of Biafra trust that God would fight for them against the injustice meted to the South-Easterners. Can the python conquer David? Let us watch and see as they enter the ring.

In his own reaction to the presence of soldiers of Operation Python Dance, the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, appeals to the people to cooperate with the Army in sustaining the relative peace in the state. He assured the people that the soldiers are not Army of occupation and that no one will be molested. However he warns criminals to steer clear of Anambra State because the Operation Python Dance will not be friendly with them.

Many eminent persons have commented on the presence of the Operation Python Dance in the South-East, especially in Anambra State. For me, there are no more pythons as such in our midst. The pythons are on the run. Governor Willie Obiano security outfit has caged the pythons. Therefore I appeal to the Army in our midst to keep their guns aside as they dance in case of accidental discharge, which may kill innocent people going about their normal business. Again we are in a democratic dispensation. I recommend that the Operation Python Dance should proceed to Sambisa forest in the North-East to deal with the dangerous pythons in that evil forest. The Army should also use the python dance against the Fulani Herdsmen ruthlessly murdering innocent Nigerians here and there. In addition, President Buhari should enquire why the Niger Delta Agitators and the Indigenous People of Biafra are protesting. Dialogue, and not bullet, can solve the problems. The virtue of justice should be applied in dealing with the agitations. The people are free to protest peacefully, devoid of violence. The Army or Police should not release the triggers of their guns anyhow, because human life is sacred. But kidnappers, armed robbers, murderers, terrorists and murderous Fulani Herdsmen can be dealt with accordingly.

For the time being, the South-Easterners do not see the Operation Python Dance as a priority. Rather, they want to be part and parcel of the Administration of the Federal Government. Excluding them in national offices and affairs is part of their agitation. Let the kite perch. Let the eagle perch. The spirit of One Nigeria should be inclusive and not exclusive of any tribe, culture or religion in the entity called Nigeria. The South-Easterners would like the reconstruction of the deplorable federal roads in the region. The Federal Government should pay attention to the construction of the second Niger Bridge which is overdue. The Easterners want to see significant Federal presence in the South-East. The three Rs - Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation - declared by General Yakubu Gowon after the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War in 1970, are yet to be completed. If justice prevails, then peace will reign.

Finally, by the power bestowed on me by the Almighty God when I was anointed a priest (unworthy as I am), I hereby declare Operation Yuletide Dance in order to reduce the tensions in this country. Yule is synonymous with Christmas. Christmas + tide = Yuletide, which means Christmas season. At Christmas we commemorate the Birth of Our Saviour Jesus Christ. He took flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary known as the Incarnation. The Word was then made flesh and he dwells among us. Jesus Christ was incarnated to reconcile sinful humanity with God after the fall of Adam and Eve and the generations that follow. In this Operation Yuletide Dance, all the inhabitants of the world should rejoice because the King of Peace is born. Therefore, I invite the Federal Executive, the National Assembly, the Judiciary, the 36 State Governors and the Minister of the Abuja Federal Capital Territory, the State Houses of Assembly, the Army, the Police, the Custom Service, the Road Safety Commission, the Civil Defence Commission and other Security Agents, the Indigenous People of Biafra, the Niger Delta Militants, the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Yoruba Group, the Middle Beltans and all the Tribes that make up Nigeria, the divergent Religious Bodies and the entire citizens of Nigeria to participate actively in this Operation Yuletide Dance. The terrorists, the kidnappers, the armed robbers and all sinners are also invited to the Operation Yuletide Dance. Do not exclude yourself. At his birth, Jesus Christ reconciled fallen humanity with God. As we participate in the Yuletide dance, we are expected to reconcile with one another so that peace, justice, unity and progress can reign in Nigeria as the Giant of Africa. Let us sing with the Angels: "Glory be to God in the highest and on earth peace to men who are God's friends!" Long Live Nigeria! I WISH YOU ALL MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A FRUITFUL NEW YEAR.

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