• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Exploitation of the chaos, disorder in the southeast of Nigeria

Present one-point agenda for Namdi Kanu’s release, Ekeh tells S/East govs

The level of anarchy, siege and violence in the South eastern part of Nigeria portrays vividly that there’s no government in power. Even if there is a government, then they are powerless. The tension, anxiety and fear experienced throughout the five eastern states signifies a huge vacuum.

Some governors in the south east even preside over the affairs of the state from Abuja. Some of these governors will likely have a come-back for a second tenure. Conversely, the level of killings in different parts of Nigeria shows that there’s no government.

If even there’s one, then they are hedonists who do not value the sanctity of human life. The shedding of innocent blood in Kaduna, Plateau, Benue and other parts of the country is beyond calamity. If the primary function of protection of lives and property cannot be guaranteed by any government; then it has lost legitimacy. There is a clear evidence that the loss of life in the present administration in Nigeria will surpass that of the Muhammadu Buhari administration except if something drastic is done.

You cannot travel to any part of the east without enquiries concerning your safety. The East in the struggle for freedom has become confined and isolated

For the past two to three years, the most peaceful part of the country became a war zone. There are uncountable numbers of military checkpoints in the South eastern part of Nigeria. A lot of these soldiers have been attacked and many killed. The level of killings in the South eastern part of Nigeria is unprecedented. Freedom of movement and other sacrosanct rights of an individual for a good, comfortable and happy living has been consistently denied the Igbos in the eastern part of Nigeria.

The days of prediction, murmurings are over but uncertainty and uneasy calm pervades in the region of South East. The statements and steps taken by some statesmen and socio-cultural groups, organizations, is like a drop of water on a rocky ground. Not just rich men or unfortunate persons, government officials, technocrats, professionals, tycoons, clergy men, religious women, bishops, priests, diplomats and other high profile personalities have either been killed or kidnapped in the South eastern part of Nigeria in the wake of the present uprising.

Most of those who were killed had their body parts mutilated or cut in pieces. Some had their heads cut off or sensitive body organs, parts, taken away or even offered to different idols. A lot of transporters, commuters, private car and motorcycle owners have either had their vehicles set ablaze or lost their lives in a co-joined tragic incidents.

Bizarrely, the tension in the south east can be compared to the rest of war-torn areas like Darfur-Sudan and other Islamic State encroachment. The Islamic State, al-Qaeda-linked groups, Boko Haram and other extremist movements are protagonists in today’s deadliest crises, complicating efforts to end them.

They have exploited wars, state collapse and geopolitical upheaval in the Middle East, gained new footholds in Africa and pose an evolving threat elsewhere. The sense of danger, restrictions and oppression facing citizens in the South eastern part of Nigeria is seen in the way people come out early in the morning and how they rush home in the evening after work.

The insecurity in the South eastern part of Nigeria means distinguishing between groups with different goals. The era of “unknown gunmen” seem to have phased out but the hardliners even militants in the east has defied dialogue, inclusion and reform. These movements are powerful forces, controlling territory, supplanting the state and ruling with a calibrated mix of coercion and co-option. Little suggests they can be defeated by military means alone.

Thanks to the resilience, dynamism and humanity of the dwellers in balancing the challenging and distressing reality. The occurrences of today indicate that tomorrow’s chances are bleak. There are patterns of radicalization, enrichment and sponsorship from village to village, individual to individual in the ongoing siege. Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Anambra are torn-apart by violence.

Several axis in Anambra State are no-go areas for commuters. Most communities in Imo and Ebonyi States are ghost towns. Most thriving neighbourhoods are now fortified enclaves. You cannot travel to any part of the east without enquiries concerning your safety. The East in the struggle for freedom has become confined and isolated.

At the worst hit of COVID-19 crisis in March 2020, the whole world was locked down and everyone in every nation was made to involuntarily sit at home for a period of two months or more. Though IPOB claims that their ‘Sit-At-Home’ order emanated from what happened in India by the revolution of Mahatma Ghandhi but the two incidences do not have similarity.

There is a high connection between sit at home and insecurity in the Southeast. Certainly, the sincere effort of the members of the IPOB and her leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has been hijacked and truncated. Recently, the force of Sit-at-home, whether coming from IPOB, Simon Ekpa, or any other group is more violent than peaceful. Historically, sit at home is a nonviolent form of civil disobedience.

It was deployed with remarkable success against the British Raj in India by Mahatma Ghandhi. The British colonialists saw it as the greatest sign ever that the Indians were unrelenting in their quest for freedom. And what did the British do? They abandoned their usual course of levying force and rhetoric against the people and resorted to dialogue.

The two scenarios are not the same and the same result will not be achieved. Since June 2021, after the extraordinary rendition of Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the next thing that ensued locked up in the Sit-at-home conundrum. Due to the young man’s passion and hunger for justice and equity in Nigeria, everyone agreed to the fact of during his trials was the mandatory sit at home order in the whole South East region of Nigeria.

The porous and compromised security architecture of the Nigerian government made it possible for the ‘unknown gunmen’ to operate freely in the Southeast. We are yet to come to terms with the operation of different security outfits as ‘Eastern Security Network’, ‘EbubeAgu Security Front’, and the ‘Unknown Gunmen’.

Initially, the common Igbo man was happy that the Nigerian Army, Police Force, sister security agencies who had allowed Fulani Ak-47 carrying herders to destroy their farmlands, rape their women, burn down houses were now being repaid by unknown gunmen.

But this joy did not last long as the horrors of Sit-At-Home order began to emerge. The enforcement of sit at home order in the Southeast took a dicey dimension because it was not done willingly but by compulsion. Properties were destroyed, lives were lost; those who sought for freedom had their breathing space taking away. It did not result to dialogue rather to a colossal damage. Even as I write, no one can boldly certify the forces that ensure sit at home compliance in the South east.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu sacrificed a lot for the betterment of the Igbo race but all his sacrifices have been mutilated by the strange forces destabilizing the peace of the South east region.

It was a breaking news on Saturday 10th of December 2022 that Gunmen enforcing sit at home attacked Enugu Market and burnt Police Operational Vehicle. Igbos saw it as a fanfare when the wanton destruction of public properties started. Commuters and Keke riders ridiculed anyone whose means of livelihood was vandalized by telling them; “You cannot even obey simple instruction/order.”

‘Sit at home but you would not listen’. However, it is now becoming clear to Anambrarians that all the police stations, police posts, vehicles burnt and destroyed were bought and built with tax payers money and replacing them will be with tax payers money.

Also, mayhem, killings and destruction especially with the security agents were rumoured to have taken place on the same day at Orlu in Imo State because the residents shunned the five-day sit-at-home, Simon Ekpa, the self-proclaimed disciple of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu declared in the Southeast region.

Some places experienced early morning attack as a deliberate effort to scare the people and force them to obey the sit-at-home order. Equally, in Imo State, gunmen killed Nigerian Actor, Osita Iheme’s brother and injured Imo State Commissioner during the purported sit at home. Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife who champions Igbo course, seeking the release of Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, together with the Secretary-General of Ohaneze-Ndi-Igbo were cautioned by the IPOB leadership concerning their utterances.

On the same day, tension was heightened at Eha Amufu in Isi Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State following the burning to death of unspecified number of persons in the area. Hoodlums are on rampage in the Southeastern States.

Even though the APC-led government has failed the citizenry in the security of lives and properties; what the Easterners have done to themselves and their economy far outweighs whatever the Government did not do for them even as some still believe that the insecurity in the region is caused by Fulani herders, arsonists, bandits and kidnappers. Who knows?

Ever since the traditional Monday Sit-at-home started in the east, no one including the elderly individuals and children can access medical emergencies on Monday. Most times, Sundays are locked up in the Sit-at-home conundrum. The economic effects and impact have been over flogged by some state governors. How can we talk about the struggle with basic necessities like food, water and electricity for small business owners.

What about petty traders and Okada riders who pray every day for daily bread and Monday have become a day of scarcity and rationing. So many would claim that Mondays have become a day of rest but it is an euphemism. A rest on Monday in the east is a compulsory rest.

How do we resonate with the struggles of citizens in a condition of hopelessness and grief? It has become a daily occurrence to hear the sound of gunshots from different parts of the various States on Mondays. Roads are deserted and streets are totally avoided. Could this be the life of citizens in a free country or refugees/asylum seekers?

Exposure to unfavourable social, economic, geopolitical and environmental circumstances – including poverty, violence, inequality and environmental deprivation – also increases people’s risk of experiencing mental health conditions.

The era of propaganda is fast phasing out and we are facing the real facts. Among the Igbos, the desire for separation may have become understated to a large degree in the years that followed the war, but like all ideas that have gained a romantic appeal, it has always been a constant. As such, pro-Biafra rhetoric is not a strange concept, either to the Igbos or Nigerians of other tribes.

What set Kanu apart and grabbed the attention in those early years is also the reason why among more nuanced spectators, he is not taken seriously. His core audience is a new generation that only saw the war in books and stories and he is able to sell them his own idea of the country of their dreams, re-imagined to suit his inclinations. For them, Nnamdi Kanu is the new Biafra in flesh.

For many years, southeast Nigeria was considered the safest geopolitical zone in the country. The five states – Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo – that form the zone had recorded the least spate of violent attacks in comparison with other parts of the country. The zone which is predominantly Christian States had always been peaceful but a non-Christian and a non-Muslim had ignited a fire of violence and destruction among the states.

Nonetheless, our idea of a ‘New Nigeria is possible’. It is not a quest for another country; it is a conscious awakening of Nigerians to create and embrace progressive civilization such as brotherhood, peaceful co-existence, selfless service, honesty, hard work, and nationalism in order to change the prevailing course of events in the country. All hope is not lost.

As we look forward to effective governance, citizens must contribute their part towards a decent society. A warning was given in 2006 by an Anambra State politician during his campaign saying; “The society we abuse today, will take revenge on us tomorrow”. We all must take full responsibility of whatever is happening in our country. If we did not aid and abet the reign of terror and anarchy, we agreed to the proponents in their bid. We must begin to believe in Nigeria.

Read also: Southeast elders demand immediate release of Kanu

If not for the Biafra-Nigerian war, most Igbos would have naturalized in different parts of the country. Sadly, every new president in Nigeria keeps turning and tearing the country apart. Not just tribalism, nepotism and bigotry has taken a new dimension in Nigeria. We must believe in Nigeria and eschew tribal sentiments. It entails a heart-whole belief in Nigeria, all-inclusive love for all Nigerians and the willingness to serve the interest of the nation at all times and in every situation.

Leadership calls for the stretching of creativity. If you are a leader, you will occasionally find yourself up against a blank wall. It’s big and intimidating and usually tall and slick. You can’t push through it, climb over it, or see your way around it.

That’s when it gets exciting! That’s when innovative juices start to flow and you begin to think about possible ways to get beyond that wall. Innovation and creativity (not to mention courage) team up, determined to find an answer and a way. May we be models of diligence, honesty, compassion, creativity. May our work be an extension of our integrity.