Posted by News Express | 1 May 2021 | 279 times
In 2017 when the Nigerian Army declared its Operation Python Dance in the South-East and also clamped down on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), declaring it a terrorist organization, the governors of the South-East (three of them being PDP), Ohanaeze Ndigbo, members of the National Assembly and some other stakeholders converged in Enugu, where they looked into the emerging trouble and quickly disbanded the group.
Many people rose against the action, calling the governors cowards, but we (this writer) threw our weight behind the governors. We hailed them for their intelligence, courage and political will. In hailing the governors, we did not agree with the Nigerian Army on their profiling of the IPOB as a terrorist group, neither did we dispute the fact that Ndigbo have over the years been marginalised in the scheme of things in the country. Specifically, we noted that “Many Igbo people agree that marginalisation is real in the South-East, but they also fault the methodology Nnamdi Kanu brought to the Biafra question. Therefore, while we may consider the methodology of the IPOB as not good, we must not lose sight of the fact that the long years of marginalisation of the Igbo nation gave birth to whatever Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB are agitating for.” (http://247ureports.com/2017/09/biafra-agitation-third-eye-collins-ughalaa/).
We considered the decision of the governors as germane to keep many Igbo youths off the streets and out of harm’s way. “Let (us) once again thank the five governors of the South-east for the decision they took in Enugu and for standing out for Ndigbo when it mattered most, despite their political differences. All over the world, the primary essence of politics and governance is the protection of life and property. By what the governors of the South-East have done, they have demonstrated that they can act for the overall interest of the Igbo nation in critical situations. … And people now go about their duties without having to be disturbed by the Army even in their Operation Python Dance II, despite the fears expressed before it began….This is why we must continue to thank the governors for their decision, which saved the Southeast from becoming a theatre of war and a field of human bodies.” (The future of Ndigbo in Nigeria (1)
So much water has gone under the bridge since 2017. Generally speaking, Ndigbo have fared no better. But this is the time to act like wise elders and look at what is in the bag with the eyes of the elders. As worrisome as the events of 2017 were to Ndigbo, events in 2021 are more worrisome. And if we do not take enough precautions and act with the wisdom of the elders, we may find ourselves in a situation where we suffer another civil war in the hands of the rest of Nigeria, or we have a military occupation of the region. As Igbo people, we believe in the aphorism of “Ako bu ije”, meaning that the intellect guides us through the journey of life. We should allow our intellect, not our emotion, guide us through these challenging times. In relation to the obvious political disadvantages and marginalisation we suffer in present day Nigeria, Ndigbo should calculate better moving forward, using their tongue to count their teeth. A man surrounded by enemies always guards his life.
It is common knowledge that many security experts and social/public commentators from across the country and beyond believe that the escalation of the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency that has crippled the north-eastern part of Nigeria and cost the country a fortune, both in human and material resources, was because the group was mishandled in its formative stage by the Federal Government and that the insurgency was an avoidable issue.
Despite the success recorded by the Nigerian military in the fight against Boko Haram, the war is still ongoing and lives are still being lost in the North-east. One had, therefore, thought that the Federal Government would have learnt a thing or two from the Boko Haram episode and applied the lessons in handling similar situations. But we do not pray that the Federal Government unleashes its lessons on the South-east in the name of fighting an unregulated security outfit in the hands of non-state actors in the region, or what they fear may become another Boko Haram. This is the reason we align with the governors, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other critical stakeholders who converged in Owerri on Sunday, April 11, 2021, for the South-east Security Summit that gave birth to a joint security organisation for the region, code-named Ebube Agu.
Ndigbo are facing the worst insecurity since after the civil war where millions of people died within a period of over thirty months. The gruesome experience of Ndigbo during the war is better imagined. Not many believe that the Igbo man you see today as a success story was handed a miserly £20 at the end of the war, no matter how much they had in the bank. Granted that Ndigbo have since moved on to conquer new grounds, we must not lose our guard. We must continue to allow our intellect guide us. We should find the reason to rally the governors of the South-East and Ohanaeze Ndigbo as they take steps to make Igbo land safe again.
We must find the reason to support a regulated security outfit and not prevaricate on the matter or make comments that tend to put the security of the Igbo nation in the hands of non-state actors. We must resist the temptation to water down the patriotic, wise and timely establishment of Ebube Agu. After all, Ndigbo asked the governors to establish a regional security outfit, and now we have it. It behooves us all to make necessary contributions to its success. We must jointly take actions to ensure that acts of terrorism or banditry have no place among us. If we allow a group of people burn down our region, we will be the ultimate losers. Those who survive it would come back at the end of hostilities to begin the rebuilding process.
Remarkably, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, under the leadership of Amb (Prof.) George Obiozor, is living by example. In a press conference on Thursday, April 15, at the headquarters of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo said the establishment of Ebube Agu was good news.
“To begin with, the greatest news I bring to you is the heartwarming and overwhelming reception of Ndigbo of the news of the formation of Ebube Agu, a zonal security apparatus by the South-East governors for the security of the South-east zone. Ohanaeze Ndigbo wishes to congratulate the governors for this milestone and assure them of the support of Ndigbo anywhere and everywhere for their efforts towards the security of Alaigbo.”
Prof Obiozor also noted that Ndigbo are passing through “one of the worst times,” stressing that the times offer “another critical time to rethink, reflect and act” in order to save the country from a national tragedy. He expressed worry that ethnocentric nationalism has taken over the country, noting that the dangerous phenomenon makes the dream of a united Nigeria recede and fade away with violence and conflicts taking over.
“The result of all this is the rise of ethnic rivalries, agitation for secession, self-determination, insurgency, banditry, etc”, he noted, warning: “These are historical protracted and unwinnable wars by nations and empires, and there will be no exception”. He called on the Federal Government to take the necessary lessons from history “by not fighting an unwinnable war against nationalism, but seek possible peaceful options that are the only solution that guarantees national unity and peaceful co-existence”.
The Ohanaeze leader urged “the Federal Government to reconsider the use of force in resolving the present national crises.” He said: “History shows that military and violent means to solve the national question is bound to fail as it leads to further national fractionalisation, anarchy and eventual or inevitable disintegration, as in all empires and multi-national state or country.”
He further called on political leaders to make haste and careful choices on how to resolve the problems, saying that the Federal Government should “conspicuously embrace the values of justice, equity and fairness in their true sense for real peace, progress, unity and development to thrive in Nigeria.” He also cautioned against selective morality, outrageous paradox and double-standard in national life. He said Federal Government should avoid a situation where citizens feel alienated, uncomfortable or doubtful about the decisions of the government, noting: “It is time the government and people start the healing process. Nigeria is in agony and pains, it is time for national healing.”
The most effective balm in the healing process as espoused by Ohaneze Ndigbo is justice, fairness and equity, peace, progress and unity.
Governor Hope Uzodinma agrees with this prescription when he posited during the South-east Security Summit: “What Ndigbo wants is justice, equity and fairness. A Nigeria that provides a level playing ground for all citizens. That is what we want. And we believe we can get what we want through constructive and tenacious engagement with fellow nationals and relevant institutions, not by violence or war.”
This, to us, should be the preoccupation of all at this auspicious time.
•Collins Ughalaa KSC writes from Owerri. He can be reached via email@example.com
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