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  • Countdown to October 1, 2017
  • ON October 1, 2017, we will be marking (not
    celebrating) the 57th anniversary of our
    Independence. Taking everything into account,
    there is nothing to celebrate about a blood-
    soaked national history; a nation whose
    independence has only brought great misery to
    the generality of its people who have now turned
    against one another with hearts full of hatred, or
    so it seems.
    Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has a very
    difficult task on his hands. Even without the full
    toga of executive power (let’s face it: the cabal
    of President Muhammadu Buhari’s kinsmen
    within the corridors of power are on guard
    watching every move he makes) Osinbajo has
    been pulling the various levels of leadership
    from across the nation’s geopolitical divides to
    reaffirm faith in the sanctity of Nigeria’s unity.
    The other day, I mentioned that the Buhari
    Presidency is like a coin with the obverse and
    reverse sides. Buhari, the main face of the coin,
    created the problem we are currently facing by
    going against our constitution which demands
    the equitable distribution of the offices and
    amenities of the nation to give every group
    within our diversity a sense of belonging.
    During his inaugural speech on 29th May 2015,
    President Buhari pledged to Nigerians: “I belong
    to everybody and I belong to nobody”. But
    nearly two months later on 22nd July at the
    United States Institute of Peace USIP,
    Washington DC, the President contradicted this
    noble pledge when he said he would give more
    favours to those who gave him “97%” of the
    votes that brought him to power while those
    who gave him “5%” would have to manage with
    less. Alarmed, I wrote an article on 14th
    December 2015, with a title: “97%/5%, A
    Formula For National Upheaval”, which has
    turned out prophetic.
    Now with Buhari away on medical leave, Acting
    President Osinbajo has been trying to cope with
    the damage created by the faithful
    implementation of this obnoxious policy. He has
    even openly criticised “lack of inclusive
    governance”, though he did not make direct
    reference to anyone. Obviously, it was the
    President’s refusal to carry all Nigerians along
    that made the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra
    IPOB, leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the overnight
    “hero” he appears to have become. The quest
    for Biafra had been tepidly and peacefully
    pursued for over twenty years by Barrister Ralph
    Uwazuruike’s Movement for the Actualisation of
    the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB.
    Buhari’s assumption of power and his
    unwillingness to carry the South East (and to a
    lesser extent, the South-South) along provided
    the fuel with which Nnamdi Kanu’s pirate Radio
    Biafra caught the imagination of millions of
    angry Igbo youth. Kanu claims that his Biafra
    agitation is “non-violent”. That is hardly the
    case. What is violence? Is it only when you
    threaten others (or your country) with arms? I
    don’t think so. When you abuse people, call
    them dirty names and dehumanise them with
    incendiary rhetoric; that is violence. And when
    you mobilise people to block the roads and thus
    prevent other law-abiding citizens from going
    about their normal duties; that is hardly
    “peaceful”. You are violating their fundamental
    right to free movement. But when you boycott
    socio-economic activities and observe a “sit-at-
    home” call without being forced to do so, I don’t
    think that is violence because you have not
    stopped anyone from enjoying their
    constitutional liberties. It is a legitimate form of
    agitation.
    It is in this light that I see the “quit notice”
    issued on Igbo living in the North by a coalition
    of Arewa youths as a totally unhelpful response
    to the Biafra agitation. Not only did the “Arewa
    youths” give a group of Nigerians quit notice,
    they also threatened to “pull out of Nigeria” as
    they are no longer willing to live in the same
    country “with the Igbo”.
    The way I see it, Nnamdi Kanu and the Arewa
    youth who issued the Kaduna Declaration are
    birds of a feather. Their activities, in my own
    judgement, are treasonable because they both
    seek to unsettle the cohesiveness of Nigeria
    through verbal violence which might give way to
    other forms of violence if not properly handled.
    Both sides being guilty, however, I wonder why
    the Arewa youths have not been arrested by the
    law-enforcement agencies as Kanu and some of
    his disciples were in December 2017. Kanu is
    still on trial for treason. He is only out on court-
    ordered bail. I know it is not an easy matter to
    handle. It may seem partial that the IPOB
    leaders were arrested and put on trial while the
    Arewa boys have been left untouched, nearly
    three weeks after Governor Nasir el Rufai of
    Kaduna State and the Inspector General of
    Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, asked for
    them to be nabbed.
    My suspicion is that the authorities have learnt
    their lesson from the Kanu arrest episode. It
    brought millions of his pro-Biafra devotees into
    the streets in encounters which, according to an
    Amnesty International AI, report led to the loss
    of 1,967 lives. It ended up making Kanu a
    “hero”. I am very convinced that the Arewa
    youths were sponsored by some faceless
    individuals with a hidden agenda. I do not think
    their “quit notice” is the general mindset of the
    Northern people and their leadership towards
    the Igbo. In the same vein, I do not believe that
    Nnamdi Kanu’s violent outbursts against non-
    Igbo Nigerians are shared by the generality of
    Igbo people.
    I certainly don’t share in it because I have no
    problem with fellow Nigerians, including
    Northern Nigerians as a people. That the Igbo
    people thrive in other parts of Nigeria is a
    powerful testimony to the fact that though we
    often quarrel, Nigerians have no problem living
    together as compatriots. Just as the Igbo
    interest groups resident in the North have
    distanced themselves from Nnamdi Kanu’s
    destructive Biafra agitation, Arewa people living
    in the East have also come out boldly to
    condemn the “quit notice”.
    I am a Nigerian to the core. I believe that the
    Igbo people are co-owners of this potentially
    great Nigerian commonwealth. Nobody can
    chase out a stakeholder from a property he co-
    owns. It is also preposterous for a co-owner to
    abandon his property and “go”.
    The problem with Nigeria of which I complain
    everyday here and elsewhere is with the system
    we operate. It is a system that makes everybody
    unhappy. It produces bad leaders and makes
    nation-building extremely difficult. Even the
    Northerners who are often accused of
    oppressing the others have statistically been
    proved to be behind in most indices of human
    development while those who complain the
    loudest are well ahead on the average. Nigeria
    must be restructured to give power back to the
    peoples of our respective localities to take their
    destinies in their hands. Nigeria must be made
    to become productive once again.
    But the “quit notice” issue cannot be left as it
    is. Those who issued it and their sponsors must
    be made to apologise and retract their
    ultimatum. They must be made to know they are
    not untouchable. Right now, they are still very
    defiant to the point of writing the Presidency to
    help ease the Igbo out of Nigeria, including
    those who are not on the same page with
    Nnamdi Kanu. If nothing is done about this quit
    notice, I am afraid there may be major mass
    movements as we near October 1, 2017. All it
    takes to trigger off a major national disaster is a
    little spark somewhere, perhaps staged by some
    mischief-makers. If it starts, no one will be safe.
    This is the time for the security agencies which
    are empowered to safeguard Nigeria and
    Nigerians to go out and do their work.

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