Thursday, April 28, 2016

Insurgency By Other Means

By Amanze Obi
I have just been reading one of the most re­cently published books on the Biafran War in which Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon was quoted as saying, through his August 3, 1966 broadcast to the nation, that the basis for Nigeria’s unity no longer existed. Gowon was then Nigeria’s Head of State. His broadcast was fallout of the ominous events of the period. A revenge coup had just taken place in which Igbo military of­ficers were systematically eliminated by their northern counterparts. 
*Gowon and Buhari 
Because Gowon, a lily-livered officer from the Middle Belt, could not but do the bidding of the northern oligarchs who controlled him, his government could not protect the defenceless Igbo officers. He could also not protect the Igbo civilian population in the north. An organised massacre otherwise known as pogrom carried out against the Igbo under the watch of Gowon saw to the elimina­tion of about one million Igbo in the North. The result was the Biafran War in which a Gowon, who had earlier told the world that the basis for Nigeria’s unity no longer existed, suddenly declared that keeping Nigeria united was a task that must be done.
Ordinarily, we should be saying that the rest is now history. But we cannot. The wound is as fresh as ever. Gowon says he is now praying for the country, which he brought to its knees. That is hypocrisy at play. His occasional inter­jections on Biafra usually betray his private convictions. Gowon is, therefore, deceiving no one but himself with his prayer project.
We cannot also say that the events of January 1966 to January 1970 are now history because there has always been a constant playback of the insanity of the era. Nigeria has, from time to time, been engulfed by ethnic flames. Our governments, as pretentious as ever, have al­ways papered over such developments. They have always made them appear as if they were isolated occurrences. But we know that such sectional strifes are a constant staple on Nige­ria’s table.
The present security situation in the country clearly betrays and exposes the institutionalised pretences that successive governments in Ni­geria have been taking us through. They have always told us that Nigeria is a great country of diverse peoples, who have great faith in the entity. We may not quarrel with this romantic and paradisal portrayal of Nigeria. After all, it is not a crime to engage in mental flights. But when we refuse to face reality, then we have ourselves to blame for the lack and loss that it may bring about.
We have seen Boko Haram insurgency for what it is – a murderous quest by Islamic fun­damentalists to extend the frontiers of Islam in Nigeria. The affront has cost Nigeria so much in human and material terms. Yet, the misguid­ed religious zealots have not come anywhere close to realising their objectives. The insur­gency has remained a northern phenomenon. Boko Haram has no foothold anywhere in southern Nigeria.
But it would appear that whatever Boko Ha­ram has failed to achieve in the South, the Fu­lani herdsmen have undertaken to accomplish. I did say in this column a fortnight ago that we should be imaginative a bit in this matter. We should stop to ask why herdsmen, who have been roaming the length and breath of Nigeria for years on end have suddenly become a prob­lem. Is cattle-rearing a new phenomenon in Nigeria? We know it is not. So, why has it sud­denly become a blight in the land? We should ponder this question.
I suspect, as I hinted earlier, that Fulani herdsmen have undertaken to accomplish a task, which Boko Haram, for logistical rea­sons, could not broach. The recent activities of Fulani herdsmen in southern Nigeria is sug­gestive of insurgency. It is Boko Haram in a different form and shape. And the target is to infiltrate the South of the country, which the conventional Boko Haram could not penetrate. That is the way it starts.

As always, the victims of the brand new in­surgency represented by the activities of the herdsmen are crying for help. They are look­ing up to the Nigerian government to fulfill its constitutional obligation to the people – that of protection of life and property. But like the government of Yakubu Gowon before it, the government of Muhammadu Buhari is look­ing on while a section of the country is being gradually decimated. Our government has not expressed any interest or concern in the mat­ter. Like the Gowon government before it, the government of the day is, probably, waiting for the oppressed and persecuted to react with equal measure and aggression. When they do, government will then have an excuse, an op­portunity to take sides on the matter.
As I noted earlier, that is how it starts. The dark clouds are gathering. The pretenders to the throne of Nigeria’s unity are looking on. They are waiting for the shove to become a push so that they can remind us that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable. Such hypocrisy. Such double standard. It is for reasons, such as this that Nigeria has continued to crawl when it should be walking tall.
I am beginning to have a sense of ominous foreboding, following the gruesome massacre that has just taken place in Enugu State. Imag­ine this story. Defenceless and unsuspecting villagers were swooped upon in the dead of the night by Fulani herdsmen and slaughtered like cows. The mayhem claimed scores of lives. It saw many buildings, including churches, razed and burnt. After the wanton destruction, the herdsmen have returned to their base, obvious­ly getting ready for another murderous attack.
So far, we have not heard from our govern­ment. It has not taken a position on the mat­ter. The Department of State Services (DSS), which has been carrying out an inquisition in Abia State, has not spoken. It may not have heard about the massacre of the Enugu villag­ers by Fulani herdsmen.
The situation really rankles. Here, we are talking about the massacre of people in their ancestral land. We are not talking about migrant Igbo, who always fall victim in foreign lands. In this case, the people are being uprooted from their homes. They are being driven into exile. Then you ask: Is anyone imagining that these villagers do not have the capacity to defend themselves against the onslaught of the herds­men? The answer is simple. They have the capacity to engage the herdsmen in a bloody combat. We have been told that the herdsmen are usually armed to the teeth with sophisticat­ed assault rifles. But no one has stopped to ask how they procure these arms. Who armed these herdsmen and for what purpose?
Since it is right and proper for Fulani herds­men to bear arms without question, it is equal­ly right and proper for other Nigerians to bear arms. Those at the receiving end now may re­sort to this option to protect themselves. Since government is not interested in protecting them, they have no choice but to protect them­selves. That is in line with the truism that self-preservation is the first law of nature. When this begins to happen, the situation will become that of everyone for himself and the devil will certainly take the last man. The last man in our context here is the Nigerian state. The pretend­ers have, at every turn, sounded so protective of the Nigerian state. Yet, they are the worst enemies of its oneness. Their studied silence in situations, such as the Enugu massacre, speaks volumes. They are singing a requiem for Ni­geria.
*Dr. Obi is a columnist with the SUN newspaper (amaobi@yahoo.co.uk)


1 comment:

  1. Mazi Obi,

    As a matter of fact, you said it all and any attempt to add or drop from the content of your write-up, I believe wouldn't suffice to convince the Buhari Administration to take the Bull by the horn by doing what is expected of a government whose responsibility it is to guarantee the security of her citizenry. It is a shame that Buhari's regime is only for the Hausa/Fulani and a section of the Islamic citizenry and not for the entire populace of Nigerian. My question, therefore is, for how long would this non-sense continue? Do we ever have the hope that we would live to see a peaceful and united "ONE NIGERIA?" Ndewo.

    Mazi Izuchukwu B. Ihemelu
    Emenyio ya anya, ma Chukwu kwe
    n'Aguluezechukwu.

    ReplyDelete


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