As October 1 draws near
Of recent, the polity has been engulfed in political tensions generated first, by the agitation for self-determination by the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) group, the amorphous Arewa group, President Buhari and his penchant for open hostility to and alienation of some particular sections of the country by his words, silence and conduct. As a result of the activities of IPOB and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, the amorphous Arewa youth issued an October 1 ultimatum for all Igbo people in Northern Nigeria to leave the region or risk being forced out. Although, since the return of the president, the so-called Arewa youths have rescinded the ultimatum and threat, it is still important that security agencies be on the alert and take special care to ensure that the lives and property of all Nigerians no matter where they reside in the country is assured and well protected.
It is clear the threat by the Northern youths brought back memories of the events of 1966 – the pogrom against people from eastern region resident in the northern parts of the country, events that hastened the Civil War of 1967 – 1970. Those are sore wounds that have not rally fully healed and for which nothing was done as a nation to bring closure to. Hard as that is and despite the fact the victims had chosen to move on, the amorphous group sat at a government building in Kaduna and threatened to subtly repeat the events of 1966. Although the Kaduna state governor threatened and indeed gave orders for the arrest of the youth, they are still walking free and talking with all the boldness they can muster.
Yet on the return of the president, his entire focus was on the activities of IPOB and nothing was said about the band of criminals issuing threats and ultimatum on other Nigerians to leave particular regions.
The need to ensure adequate security of all Nigerians cannot be over-emphasised. Any act of violence on or after October 1 will be seen as premeditated and will unleash thrown the country into another avoidable crises and conflicts the consequences of which can only be imagined than witnessed. We are afraid that few days to October 1, there are no signs that security agencies are ready and prepared to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians no matter where they reside in the country. Probably they are content that the group that threatened violence has rescinded the threat. But we cannot rely on the words of criminal elements. The security agencies must not leave anything to chance.
This is also the time the president should building bridges across all sections of the country, preaching national unity and togetherness. Sadly, the general perception of the president is that of an ethnic champion at best.
Like we have argued before, the president always fails to appreciate the complexity of the country and the need to be fair to all sections and also give a sense of belonging to every part and people of the country. This has unleashed terrible centrifugal forces now threatening to tear the country apart. Aside the now usual and boring statement that the unity of the country is not negotiable, the president has done nothing to promote national unity. He has rather stocked ethnic and regional tensions and disunity with his words, actions and silence.
Like we argued before, the president may not be sectional or does not deliberately choose to be. But his actions are feeding that perception and that is where he and his handlers and minders should be most concerned. His actions currently portray him as a divisive leader who actively hates a section of the country he is supposed to lead. Perception generally need not be true. But that is why it is particularly dangerous because it is not open to factual verification. That is also why the president and his minders should have avoided feeding such perceptions in any way and work actively to demonstrate his Pan-Nigerianness. Currently, his actions do not in any way match his words that the unity of the country is non-negotiable.
Clearly, the president’s inability to build bridges across all parts of the country is hurting the country and giving ammunition to ethnic champions to continue to call for and work for mobilisations along ethnic lines while actively working to subvert the goal of building a united and strong nation.
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