By Edidiong Udobia
Nigeria is a big theater of drama; everyone with their own script. From the government to the people, the different ethnic blocs and religions, political parties, to the institutions – it’s been series of unending and very unpleasant drama. These days, it’s one day – one drama in Nigeria. It’s either we go bed laughing at what has become a yearly national budget comedy, or we wake up crying for Calabar where two supposed security agencies caused a public unrest by engaging in a show of might.
The latest drama is that some self-appointed landlords of Nigeria have issued a quit notice to their tenants, Biafrans. According to a report on Guardian Newspapers online; “Sixteen northern youth groups rose from a joint meeting in Kaduna yesterday to give Igbo residing in their states up to October 1, 2017 to vacate the region.” Their actions, of course, is a direct response to the renewed agitation for the creation of Biafran state and other inciting/divisive actions by a section of the Igbos recently. A part of the statement issued by the northern youth groups, reads;
“The persistence for the actualisation of Biafra by the unruly Igbo of South-Eastern Nigeria has lately assumed another alarming twist which involved the forceful (sic) lockdown of activities and denial of other people right to free movement in the South-East by the rebel IPOB and its overt and covert sponsors.
“This latest action and similar confrontational conducts which amount to a brutal encroachment on the rights of those termed as non-indigenous people residing and doing lawful businesses in those areas illegally demarcated and defined as Biafra by the Igbo, are downright unacceptable and shall no longer be tolerated”.
Another part of the statement further reads; “As a first step, since the Igbo have clearly abused the unreciprocated hospitality that gave them unrestricted access to, and ownership of landed properties all over the North, our first major move shall be to reclaim, assume and assert sole ownership and control of these landed resources currently owned, rented or in any way enjoyed by the ingrate Igbo in any part of Northern Nigeria”.
On a lighter note, Nigerians are weird, but we all know that our northern brothers are the weirdest; they are the kings of the nerds. The wordings of the quit notice may imply that they have appointed themselves as the sole custodians of lands in the North. Call them the landlords of the northern Nigeria. Firstly, their declaration contravenes the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). Section 41(1) states; “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefrom”, while section 43 further states; “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every citizen of Nigeria shall have the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria”.
Secondly, emphasis must be placed the fact that the Igbos on their part have beaten more than they can chew. Since the election of President Muhammadu Buhari, they have been a serious thorn in the flesh. Within the last two years, they have taken their ethnic bigotry to an unbearable level all in the name of agitation for Biafra. From Nnamdi Kanu launching Radio Biafra and using it incite his fellow bigots, the frequent disruption of activities in major cities by pro-Biafra protesters, to the recent “sit at home” order on May 30, 2017, have been a slap on the country. In a swift response to the declaration by the northern youths, the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), through its leader, Uchenna Made, said it has accepted the quit notice and called on the Igbos to return home immediately. A part of the statement reads;
“The latest quit notice by the coalition of northern youths under the umbrella of Arewa youths is not a surprise gift to Biafrans residing in Arewa land. MASSOB is aware that such rascality will happen. As a matter of fact, this is the only rascality exhibited by sponsored Arewa youths to forcefully (sic) exit the people of Biafra residing in Arewa land that MASSOB will hundred percent support. Their Boko Haram tactics didn’t work as planned.
“MASSOB gladly received the good news of quit notice order to the people of Biafra living in Arewa land. We pledge our total support towards this divinely approved quit notice. MASSOB congratulates the Arewa political, religious, and traditional and opinion leaders who sponsored their youths wing by using Arewa House in Kaduna for this greatest meeting of a coalition of Islamic fundamentalists.
“MASSOB is hereby advising the people of Biafra mostly the Igbo living in Northern Nigeria (Arewa land) to take this quit notice serious (sic) as the plan to violently kill your children, wives and demolish your investments are already perfected. MASSOB will never fight or defend your lives and properties in Hausa Fulani land. The consciousness and realities of Biafra is highly overwhelming now.”
It’s 47years since the Nigerian civil war also known as the Biafran War, (6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970) ended. This simply implies that none of the irrational youths in MASSOB, Arewa or any other ethnic group, were old enough to fight for themselves during the civil war. Senator Godswill Akpabio, some years back, shared his personal experience of the civil war; “I was a victim of the Civil War. I was one of those who suffered the pains of the war. I was born sometime in 1962; the civil war came really into our area in 1967. So, I was probably five or six years old during the war; and if I had been around nine years, I would probably have been conscripted.”
(www.maiyegunsdiary.com/…/nigerian-civil-war-senator-akpabio…). Senator Akpabio is about 55years now. I can bet that none of those ethnic bigots beating the drums of war is about that age. None of them can claim to have seen the horror for what it was. If not checked, this brazen ignorance by a bunch of retarded youths will be grave consequences on the country.
In his piece, “Reopening Nigeria’s civil war wounds”, Senan Murray notes that “more than one million people died in the three-year Biafran war” . Another article, “Effects of the Nigerian War” gives a further account of the war; “The Nigerian War (Biafran war) ended in 1970 and had a bad effect on Nigeria. Suffering with starvation, losing money, lack of food, and other economy disasters which made the population decrease by a estimated up to 3 million people died.” In our ignorance, we have failed to understand that countries do not break-up by giving each other handshakes and pats on the back. Break-ups are usually the results of serious conflicts and wars.
For instance, the Second Sudanese Civil War lasted for 22years (1983 to 2005), which resulted in the independence of South Sudan on July 9, 2011. However, barely two years after gaining independence, South Sudan has suffered ethnic violence and has been in a civil war since 2013.
The lesson here for Nigeria is, first, it is most unlikely for the country divide peacefully. From all indications, the current agitations for independent states by different blocs will likely be achieved through serious conflicts or war. The question is, are we really ready for another civil war? Secondly, just like the first civil war, Nigeria may be embroiled in another civil war and after all the killings, destruction and suffering, there is still no successful separation. Then, to what end was the war? Thirdly, the South Sudan situation is a clear prove that creating an independent State is not a guarantee to national peace and unity.
By divine arrangement, Nigeria is a complex society with interactive ethnic and religion systems. That is why the North, after all the bragging about self-sufficiency, cannot afford to lose grip of the oil blogs in the Niger Delta; the Igbos may claim how much they despise “Nigeria”, yet they are everywhere in the country. We must realize that the configuration of Nigeria makes us indispensable to each other, and that, perhaps, this “unholy marriage” is God’s way of protecting us from self-destruct. We can overcome our present challenges if we learn to be more Nigerians than ethnic/religion extremists.
God bless Nigeria.