I was not born when Nigeria witnessed her first civil war from 1967 to 1970, but if the accounts of the books I have read are to be believed, it was a bloody and terrible event, one I hope never to see in my lifetime. The accounts of the war though varied, are united in claims of avoidable events which led to the war, and I can’t stop drawing parallels with that time and now.
The Nigeria of 2012 under the Goodluck Jonathan administration is bediviled with several problems that threaten the very existence of the country. From corruption to insecurity, the list is endless, and the government appears at loss for what do. There has been a slow descent into anarchy as religion and ethnicity becomes effective tools for making outrageous demands.
When Boko Haram came into the scene in 2002, the government ignored the warning signs of an impending security catastrophe and concentrated on depleting the national reserves. The sect was ignored just as the Niger Delta militants were ignored till they grew formidable and became more than a rag tag army weilding unsophiscated weapons to one with IEDs and assault rifles that send the men of the Nigerian army scampering into bushes. While the president continues to indulge in useless political diatribe and finger pointing, the sect continues to flourish, spreading its tentacles across the entire North.
The government’s lackadaisical attitude has emboldened more people to become revolutionaries, fighting for a cause or merely issuing threats to all and sundry, or in some cases to particular targets who may have drawn their ire. The threats too have been ignored or given less attention than they deserve. From Abubakar Atiku’s threat of violent change based on the famous words of late president John Kennedy of America to Asari Dokubo’s recent threat that the country would disintegrate should the house of representatives impreach president Goodluck Jonathan, making threats has become the order of the day. Asari and Atiku are not alone in the threat business, we have had religious leaders from the two major faiths in the country struggle to outdo themselves with inciteful words, adding more fuel to the burning fire.
As if things are not bad enough, there are talks of secession from nearly every corner of the country. For MASSOB who still dream of the secessionist state of Biafra, there is no going back on the clamour for a separate country. The demands of the islamists up North have bordered on getting a separate state run on the dictates of religious laws. We will not forget the furore generated by the Ekiti state government’s decision to adopt its state anthem and flag, and how the state governor Rauf Aregbesola was accused of harbouring a secession plan. Now groups from the South South geo-political zone seem to have caught the secession bug. On August 2, Goodluck Diigbo, factional leader of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) declared independence for the Ogoni ethnic group in Rivers State. Barely seven days after Diigbo’s announcement, the Bakassi people also declared their independence. The declaration which was spearheaded by the Bakassi Self Determination Front (BSDF) witnessed the hoisting of the Blue, White, Red official flag with eleven stars on the blue and launching of a radio station called ‘Dayspring’. Then, last Wednesday August 8, Bayelsa State government announced plans to have state-owned flag, coat of arms and anthem.
I don’t know if President Goodluck Jonathan is aware of the grave consequences of ignoring the issues on ground. I don’t know if he is capable of shrugging off the toga of ineffectiveness, political naivete and incohrence to bring sanity to the land. I don’t even know if he knows that being the president calls for deep insightful action than empty rambling, but one thing I know is, if things are left to continue the way they are going, there will be a repeat of 1967, only this time, it will be on a larger scale as the lines are blurred and the enemies plenty.
Umari Ayim is a lawyer, published author and a thinker devoted to the Nigerian cause.
Her column ‘Revolution Woman’ where she will be dealing on topical issues runs every Monday.
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