President Muhammadu Buhari must accept full responsibility for the spiralling insecurity and violence in the South East zone in particular, as well as other flashpoints that have developed nationwide since then. In 2015 when Professor Attahiru Jega, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, pronounced him winner of the presidential election, the South East, South West and North West were peaceful.
Boko Haram had been substantially beaten back, but were still occupying some local governments, same as they are still doing up till today. The murderous herdsmen were only active on the Plateau with a few nodules in Nasarawa, Kaduna and Benue states. There was also temporary calm in the Niger Delta, while the militants watched to see what would happen after their son, former President Goodluck Jonathan, was humiliated out of power.
The first act of unpatriotic governance which Buhari initiated was his “97 per cent/ five per cent” formula, which he has meticulously implemented over the past six years. He used this formula to hand over the national commonwealth of Nigeria to his ethnic, religious and regional kinsmen/women in total disdain of the Federal Character provision of Section 14(3) of the Constitution 1999 as amended. During his first tenure, he permitted a few favours to the South West which helped him to the power that had eluded him over three presidential contests. But when he came for a second term in 2019, he practically shut out even the South West.
Among Buhari’s “five per cent” Nigerians he made the South-South feel they were preferred to the South East with the way he extended some “juicy” appointments in the armed forces, oil sector and Niger Delta-related affairs. The trouble with Nigerians is that we have an unprincipled attitude to injustice. Any injustice not directed at us does not concern us. When Buhari launched his anti-Igbo agenda, Igbo people, once again, complained of marginalisation. Some Nigerians who felt their section was very “smart” in bringing Buhari to power, accused Ndi-Igbo of “putting all their eggs in one basket”. Some even said Buhari was free to appoint everybody in his government “from his village”!
Unfortunately, this position was held even by some Southern professors, ignoring the Political Sociology theory of Relative Deprivation which leads to alienation and violence (crime or political rebellion or both). Even at the family level, if you give what belongs to the entire family to one or two favoured persons in brazen violation of the natural law of equity, you are sowing the seeds of war. If you doubt this, try it at home with your children and say goodbye to peace and progress in that family.
Our hungry professors, rotten eggheads, and impoverished social commentators/opinion leaders were rationalising poisonous governance because they hoped Buhari would notice them and extend them some crumbs. In Nigeria, we go to school to acquire access to make money. Our education is to service our pockets and release us from poverty. What have we gotten? Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world! In climes where the correct orientation to the pursuit of education applies, people get an education to build a better society, for development. Poverty in society is minimal and easily managed.
The immediate import of Buhari’s charter of nepotism was that all the dirt and vermin swept under the carpet since the end of the civil war among the Igbo people started crawling out. Before Buhari, a number of activists had been using the word “Biafra” to seek relevance. We had, for instance, Ralph Uwazuruike’s Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, which was a mere copycatting of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP. It had been in existence for about 20 years before Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, MNK, came into the Biafra struggle.
By 2014 when Jonathan was still in power, MNK had made his full transition from a campaigner for a restructured Nigeria to an outright secessionist-by-referendum (in other words peaceful, democratic Biafra exit). The question that should be on the minds of serious and honest analysts is: how did the agitation for Biafra restoration, which was at best a mere academic exercise or at worst political jobbery, become what it is today: sufficiently radicalised rapidly towards an armed struggle?
The answer is not farfetched: Buhari’s charter of nepotism and the rise and rise of land-grabbing, armed killer herdsmen under his watch. Three factors made the difference between MNK and the others before him. Number one is the fact that the Igbo people have the hugest Diaspora population throughout the world. There is no country from where people do not call into Kanu’s Radio Biafra. Radio Biafra is the second gamechanger in the MNK-led renascent Biafra struggle. The third is, MNK has kept the faith and not sold out.
With his Radio Biafra, a very articulate Kanu is able to reach his audience everywhere in the world through the internet. If Buhari had adopted a patriotic attitude to governance and treated all Nigerians equitably, and if he had obeyed the Constitution by squelching the killer herdsmen’s medieval drive to conquer and annex the lands belonging to Nigeria’s indigenous peoples, most Igbo people would have remained with other endlessly floating Nigerians.
In 1987, Leon Degrelle, a Belgian author wrote a book entitled: Hitler, Born At Versailles. The summary of his 535-volume work is that Adolf Hitler was thrown up by the Treaty of Versailles which dehumanised the Germans after their defeat in the First World War. But, after the Second World War, the United States of America forced through a Marshall Plan which rebuilt damaged Germany and Japan and gave them back their humanity in exchange for their permanent abstention from militarism. Today, Japan and Germany are the third and fourth wealthiest countries in the world and among the most peaceful.
Did Nigeria learn from this?