By Chiedu Uche Okoye
THE violent events we are witnessing in Nigeria can be likened to the political conflicts which engulfed the country in the mid-1960s, and resulted in the Nigeria-Biafra civil war.
At that time, the Igbo who were accused of trying to impose their political hegemony on the people of Nigeria were pitted against the rest of the country. The civil war was waged to keep Nigeria as one united country, but sadly, today we are witnessing an ugly re-play and reenactment of those things that sparked off that war.
Nigeria is on the boil, again. Consequently, the country is perching precariously on the precipice. From the Sambisa forest in Borno State to the Niger Delta’s marshy terrain, and from the greenery of Benue farmlands to the hubbub of the Southeast, innocent Nigerians are being systematically and gruesomely killed by Boko Haram insurgents, ‘bandits’, cattle herdsmen, and the unknown gunmen.
These victims committed no crime other than being Nigerians at this critical juncture in our country’s political odyssey. In peacetime, Nigeria has lost thousands of her citizens to the assymetrical wars which are being waged against her by terrorists and secessionist groups. Nigeria, which is tipped to become the giant of Africa, given her vast human and material resources, is a flowing river of blood, today.
However, it is inconceivable and incredible that the president who is reputed for his valiant deeds during his stint in the military, couldn’t solve Nigeria’s security challenges. As a young soldier, he led troops to prevent the armies of other countries from overrunning Nigeria.
But under his leadership, the country has almost succumbed to the onslaught and assaults being waged against her by non-state actors. Nigeria, the giant of Africa with feet of clay, is lying prostrate while the government has buried its head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich.
President Buhari’s half-hearted, and non-committal approach to issues, which have caused our security challenges, have compounded and worsened our niggling security problem. He hasn’t made public names of the sponsors of terror deeds, much less arresting and prosecuting them for treasonable offences. Because of filial bond with the itinerant cattle herders, he has continued to treat the issue of cattle herders’ menace with kid gloves.
Instead of ensuring that the so-called repentant bandits and Boko Haram insurgents, whose hands are dripping with blood, are put on trial, he appears to be disposed to granting them amnesty.
But he used extra-ordinary rendition to bring back the proscribed IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, to Nigeria, and hounded another secessionist, Sunday Adeyemo, into Benin republic, where he is being detained for violating that country’s immigration laws.
It can thus be said that the use of double standards in handling vexed national issues such as banditry, insurgency, and the secession matter have contributed majorly to the escalation of violence and heightening of political tension in Nigeria.
But why is Nigeria now seized with bloody violence and revolts? What is happening in Nigeria now could be likened to the revenge of the dispossessed in our political polity.
The marginalisation of the Igbo in Nigeria’s scheme of things is the reason why the Igbo have started romanticising the idea of having the state of Biafra. It is why the Southeast is rumbling with bloody secessionist agitations now. And, in the North, millions of out-of-school children, who are impressionable, are being recruited into the Boko Haram group.
Uneducated and impressionable, they are receptive to the toxic knowledge which is imparted to them. They are indoctrinated with teachings that propel them to kill other people, who do not share their religious beliefs and ideologies.
Our political leaders, irrespective of the political parties to which they belong and the faiths which they profess, are egoistical people who perceive their possession of political power as an ample opportunity to make good for themselves by looting our financial tills.
They do not have pragmatic economic policies on how to lift millions of impoverished Nigerians out of the dungeon of poverty; neither are they keen on fixing the vexatious out-of-school children issue.
Rather our political leaders, who are pachydematous to our cries for help, have clannish dispositions and moral ineptitude.
In addition to being corrupt political leaders, they are ethnic chauvinists and religious bigot, who do not have pan-Nigerian visions and dreams. At the state level, many state governors have failed to provide quality leadership to the people to better their lot in life and improve their living conditions.
A dispassionate assessment of the current leadership in the country will show that there has been a marginalisation of the Igbo people in the Nigerian scheme of things. Are Igbo people who are eminently qualified to occupy top positions in national security organisations not sidelined when such organisations are recruiting security personnel?
Our leaders’ insensitivity to the plight of the poor, their inability to solve the out-of-school children matter, and their failure to fix our problem of youth employment have left our youths with no alternative but to embrace violence and other anti-social behaviours.
Consequently, we are experiencing and witnessing the unfurling of the spectacle, which can be rightly called the revenge of the dispossessed.
To douse the rising political tension in Nigeria, obliterate ‘banditry’ and Boko Haram insurgency in the North, and reduce the tempo of the clamour for secession in our country, the president should change his leadership style.
He should have a pan-Nigerian vision and make Nigeria an egalitarian state, where everybody has equal rights and opportunities to realise his or her potential.
Okoye, a poet and author, wrote from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State