ONWUASOANYA FCC JONES
Nnamdi Kanu is arguably the most popular Igbo man alive today. The ordinary people look up to him as a kind of Messiah and a prophet who has filled a gaping vacuum of leadership left by the Southeast political leadership, while the Igbo political elite have become afraid of him. The Igbo political elite are careful to condemn the activities of the IPOB leader, not because they are comfortable with his styles but because they are not oblivious of the unfavorable boomerang any reprimand on the self acclaimed Biafran liberator might have on their electoral chances. It is also becoming increasingly unsafe to speak out against the Afara born prince, because both his online soldiers and the dangerously armed ESN may not spare anyone who speaks against their "Supreme Leader".
For the Yoruba, Sunday Igboho has become more valuable and better respected than all the Southwest governors, Southwest traditional leaders and the political elite of that region put together. It would be easier for the people of Southwest and other Yoruba speaking parts of the country to obey Sunday Igboho's directive than when a combination of all the Yoruba leadership structures come together to give a directive.
Shettima Yerima of the Arewa Youths wing commands a lot of respect, but seems to be in line with the established religious, political and traditional leadership of Northern Nigeria. However, the Miyetti Allah, Shekau, bandits, terrorist Fulani herdsmen, civilian JTF, hunters and other self-help and criminal groups have either overrun the North or are being tolerated by Nothern elite for whatever reasons. These groups, individually and collectively have held the once peaceful Northern Nigeria hostage and our political leadership seems helpless in the situation.
This horrendous situation demonstrates the embarrassing cracks in our national political and security firmament. But more than security, it is our political leadership that has failed. The people have lost confidence in the ability and even willingness of our political leaders to take steps to protect them, hence, their shifting loyalty to unconventional and even illegal organizations and lawless individuals. Nigerians are not so gullible as to not to understand that these individuals and extremist groups are outlaws and could be dangerous, but the dereliction of those whose lawful duty it is to protect lives and properties of Nigerians have left us with no option.
As bad as the situation is in the country at the moment, our politicians are more interested in politically correct actions than patriotic actions that would save our country, while some activists and social commentators are either more interested in the applause of the crowd or afraid of attracting the ire of the radicals. But the truth remains that Nigeria's imminent descent into full blown chaos can only be averted if those who should talk stop keeping mute and if those who are talking start gauging their words well before they put them out. This is no time for politically correct speeches not is it time for inflammatory utterances from any quarters.
Except for few political leaders who have been categorical in condemning acts of violence and criminality by any group of Nigerians, others have maintained what I may describe as irresponsible silence in the face of obvious affronts on our union. Some activists and critics have also allowed their emotions to get the better part of them, thereby knowingly or unknowingly stoking the fire of insurrection and encouraging these criminal elements to continue to resort to self-help.
However in all this, one man takes the whole responsibility and that is the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. It is the President's failure to provide the right kind of leadership that has dragged our nation to this precipice of riotous rancour. He is the prime culprit for condoning the excesses of these Fulani herdsmen over the years. He has left people with no option but to conclude that he is the grand enabler of the terrorist herdsmen. What else are we expected to think, when our President keeps quiet while leaders of the Miyetti Allah group come out in the open to threaten Nigerians? How would an average Nigerian not lose confidence in the ability of the President to reign in these marauders when women are raped, homes are razed, farmlands are destroyed and hardly does any of the Fulani terrorist herder brought to book? Why wouldn't Nigerians be frustrated when a sitting governor would openly defend the arms bearing Fulani herdsmen and our President keeps mute?
I didn't witness the last civil war, but I have read enough books and listened to chilling stories about that war to know that it is not an experience anyone would want repeated. Unfortunately, things may get to a point where no one can do anything about it, if far-reaching and sincere interventions are not immediately taken by those whose responsibility it is to do that. Wole, the Nobel Laurette had raised an alarm about the imminence of a civil war, retired military top rankers and other prominent Nigerians who should ordinarily know more than we do have spoken out at different times about their fears for Nigeria's continued unity. Aren't the breakpoint tensions across Nigeria's ethnic divides palpable enough?
Today, we have ethnic based militia groups in almost every part of the country whose members openly wield high caliber ammunition and kill mostly innocent citizens with hardly any evidence that they are visited with the commensurate resistance of the law. Our situation may best be described as a reign of terrorists and criminals. Bandits, terrorists, criminal herders and kidnappers seem to have overwhelmed our security agents and the people may have been forced to place their fate in the hands of these militia groups, thereby affording the needed support to operate in various localities across the country.
At no time in the last 20 years or more has our country's heterogeneity become so profoundly pronounced, than at this time. The South/North dichotomy and the Christian/Muslim differences are so nakedly felt at this time than at any other time within my conscious life. This of course is to be blamed on the President's handling of the nation and his unapologetic predilection to favouring 'his people' with any juicy appointment. The average Igbo man has every reason to feel unwanted and the average Christian feels he is not trusted by his President. This situation swells the ranks of extremists who capitalize on the President's mistakes in handling our diversity to plant seeds of discord and fuel hate among different ethnic groups.
Very few people would understand that the leaders of these emergent militias hardly have the best interest of the ordinary people at heart. If anything, most of them are exploiting the incompetent political leadership of our leaders to their selfish political, economic and religious gains. They hardly care about what happens to the many defenceless people who would be at the receiving end of any crisis, because most of them have been able to secure the future of their children in schools outside the country and hardly would any member of their nuclear families be affected by any possible outbreak of a major crisis in the country.
History is replete with instances of nations that were overran by militia and terrorists who came on the guise of liberation and secured the support of the people. Today, those nations are disaster areas with many human and material casualties on their trail. Libya, Mali, Yemen, Syria, name them. However, like I have severally implied or directly stated, for these militia to succeed in winning the people's support, there must have been a great level of sabotage by the political leadership.
This is not the right time to embark on political campaigns or any form of partisan political exercise. We will have to have a nation before we can run election or play politics. What should concern every responsible politician at this time is to calm the dangerously volatile ethnic temperaments across the nation. We can have many elections later, but if we allow things to degenerate beyond this, we may find ourselves in a position where we are struggling to still have a united Nigeria.
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