From Marginalisation to Militarisation of South-East, By Chima Nwafo

Posted by News Express | 5 October 2017 | 2,223 times

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•Operation Python Dance troops torturing IPOB members

I fully agree with the motivational speaker who said “to be uninformed is to be deformed.” But in Nigeria today, some folks chose to be uninformed about issues out of ignorance or parochial political interest. That is precisely how politically advantaged Nigerians have treated the officially programmed and systematically implemented policy of neglect of the war-torn South-east since 1970. Perhaps, it was the post-war aspect of “starvation as instrument of war”. And it was perfectly implemented from one administration to the other, till 2015 when an elected President told Diaspora Nigerians in far-away America, that he cannot give the 5 per cent voters same treatment as the 95 per cent who guaranteed his victory.

 For the benefit of those who believe that Nnamdi Kanu and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other agitators are mere rabble-rousers or crusaders without a cause, ‘Fisayo Soyombo’s headline in his News Express column of Monday 18th snugly fits the scenario. It reads: “A Million Pythons Cannot Dance Away The Biafra Question”! That is the simple truth.

Back to the root of the marginalisation of the old Eastern Region, though more pronounced in the South-east. Thank God, the intransigent Gen Jack Yakubu Gowon is still around. The head of state who reneged on the Aburi Accord, among other pre-war provocations, also declared “No victor, no vanquished”, followed by Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, after the civil war. Aout the same time the above policy was announced, the Federal Commissioner for Finance, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, authorised that surviving “rebels” should be paid 20 pounds flat, no matter how much they had in their bank accounts before the crisis? That meant every Biafran account-holder, after the 30-month genocidal war, began life with 20 Nigerian pounds or N40. Although the ‘rebellion’ has been crushed, the issue of malnourished children who were dying in thousands was NEVER considered a humanitarian issue worthy of federal attention, lest the United Nations, where Britain crushed every attempt towards relief for surviving Igbo children, despite the massive destruction and vandalisation of the whole South-east landscape. Yet, Gowon’s regime enjoyed humongous flow of petro-dollars during the Oil Boom era of the early 70s when, in his own words: “Money was no problem.”

In the midst of such abundance, how much did the Federal Government allocate for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the war-torn Eastern Region: where Egyptian pilots, flying Russian Mig fighters and Royal Air Force bombers, mindlessly straffed and bombed schools, markets, residential homes, commercial houses and bridges? That is, besides the large scale-artillery bombardment at the war fronts, which covered every nook and cranny of today’s South-east? Recall that Gowon enjoyed six robust budget years before he was ousted in 1975. And that we were forced into the self-determination war, after a crisis that claimed over 30,000 easterners in Northern Region. Ironically, it was a British journalist with London Observer that first used the word Pogrom to describe the extent of massacre. For details, google BRUTALITY OF NATIONS by Dan Jacobs.

The foregoing flashback is necessary, given the thrust of this essay: to educate myopic quota graduates and opportunistic hirelings in the social and traditional media who disparage complaints of marginalisation of the South-east, as the fundamental root of agitation. Children born in the South-east since 1970 grew up to witness various forms of hate policies directed against them. For example, despite three years of educational shut-out due to air raids that broke every paragraph of the Geneva Convention, and six years of grappling with post-war hardship, then East Central State was tagged “Educationally Advantaged”. A policy instituted to deny their students equal opportunity in admission into federal institutions; Just as the Federal Character was used reduce their engagement in ministries, departments and agencies. Already, the organised private sector had been hijacked by beneficiaries of the 1972 Indigenisation policy. Promotion limitations were placed even in the Army and Police.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration speech noted: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody…. A few people have privately voiced fear, that on coming back to office, I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores.” But the ink with which the script was printed had hardly dried, when he began settling old scores. First, the officer who humiliated him 30 years ago: Col Sambo Dasuki, National Security Adviser in the Goodluck Jonathan administration, is still in detention, despite several High Court rulings, including ECOWAS Court. The 5 per cent treatment did not end with appointments, including total exclusion from top security positions and directors of the NNPC (Imo and Abia are oil-producing states), in flagrant disregard for section 217(3) of the Constitution. Without trial before any panel of inquiry or military court, there was a cleansing of senior officers of Igbo and Rivers State extraction in the Nigerian Army. Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Defence Staff and Defence Minister sat as accuser, prosecutor and judge. Long after their sack, a panel was set up to incriminate them.

The unconstitutional invasion and militarisation of the South-east, has claimed over 200 lives, mostly young people, including non-members of IPOB. This was several days before the cover-up Operation Python Dance II officially kicked off on September 15. Again, the President has also made good his post-2011 presidential poll threat: “Should this repeat itself in 2015, both the Dog and Baboon will be soaked in blood.” Is it also a coincidence that same Buhari in mid-night of December 31, 1983, truncated the Second Republic, under the National Party of Nigeria, which had mapped out a programme of rehabilitation, including election of an Igbo president by 1987? Perhaps not!

Now, it is obvious that the people are being punished for complaining that they are being unfairly treated in a federation where we should be equal partners. The atmosphere of exclusion and neglect, spanning four decades, explains the emergence of Igbo politicians and business men who had to bend backward, having realised the only channel open is to tie their fortunes to the hegemonists’. This class rose to political power and business fame. Therefore, they are manipulated by their slave-masters to work against our collective interest.

But for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (who is unfortunately misconstrued), both as Federal Commissioner for Works and head of state/president - there might not have been such federal presence as Ala-Oji Power project, construction of the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway and dualisation of Onitsha–Owerri road (Owerri-Aba end is still waiting) – except poorly-funded federal universities and Federal Medical Centres.

 Today, humanitarian aid is pouring into the North-east, while billions of naira are being allotted for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation through the Nigerian Emergency Agency (NEMA), and other committees. In February, 2017, $1 billion Nigerian Humanitarian Fund was launched by the United Nations, noted Britain’s Permanent Representative at the UN, Mr Matthew Rycroft, who recently visited Nigeria. He said British humanitarian gesture to North-east is “$130 million by 2017…, besides $260 million pledged over the next four years for North-east Nigeria Transition to Development Programme.” This resonates the dubious role of Harold Wilson’s Government in blocking relief aids to Biafra during the 30-month carnage. Before he left, Rycroft called on President Buhari, and reassured him: “There is a lot more that we all need to do. We cannot afford to lose focus.”

Indeed, there’s a lot more. On September 12, Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, reported $700 million has been realised from UN-backed Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and Lake Chad Region. The conference was organised by the Federal Government of Nigeria in cooperation with “Norway and Germany, to address the humanitarian crisis in the region.” We are not against these gestures. They are being captured to show the degree of conspiracy against the Igbo, which some deformed minds attempt to deny, or compare with the cancellation of June 12,1993 presidential poll. Why the noise about one nation, when the same folks hypocritically mouthing “unity” have no sense of fairness and equity?

The difference between Islamist insurgency (Boko Haram) and Biafra “rebellion” require no definition. It is determined at Chatham House, London. If in doubt, ask: Why must Nasir el-Rufai present the North’s view of restructuring to UK first, before making it known to the All Progressives Congress who gave him the assignment? Because, London MUST interpret any issue of great importance to the North, before they can accept it, even if the whole nation burns (yours truly had access to reports on this after the 1966 pogrom).

Innocent and unarmed civilians have been massacred in hundreds again, by soldiers under a democratically elected progressive government. That tells how much value this administration places on human life. No doubt, Kanu played into Buhari’s hands with his idiotic and talkative approach to political agitationYet, it cannot be denied that they were complaining justly, without violence. But Kanu forgot his enemy has the monopoly of violence. That is why machetes, stones and broken bottles are dangerous weapons that justified the proscription of IPOB, whereas AK-47 and daggers are decorative artifacts in the hands of murderous Fulani herdsmen.

Weep not, brothers! Justice/Karma/Nemesis never fails to deliver. 

Nwafo is Consulting Editor, News Express. He can be reached via, 080 2933 4754

Source: News Express

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