By Ochereome Nnanna
Over the past weekend, there were heavily alarming stories of the arrival of several military transport aircraft at the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri. They brought war equipment shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari threatened to “speak to” the Igbo people of the South East “in the language they understand”.
Unless sanity comes into play, the systematic slaughter of innocent, unarmed people and the destruction of their properties will commence in the heart of Igboland soon. I have two questions: what did the Igbo people do wrong? What offence did they commit against Nigeria? Before this government came to power, South East was the most peaceful part of Nigeria. Wars, insurgencies, militancy, terrorism and banditry were reported in other parts of the country but not the South East.
So, why has the relationship between the Federal Government and the Igbo nation within six years, deteriorated to the point where a second civil war is being talked about?
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Looking at Buhari’s six years in power, did the Igbo nation make a mistake in withholding their votes from him? Did they not vote for Shehu Shagari, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’ Adua and Goodluck Jonathan who were not their kinsmen as a patriotic expression of their Nigerianness?
Is it possible that Igbo rejection of, and resistance to Fulanisation is at the root of the problem? They said “no” to Ruga and every effort to take their land and give to the Fulani pastoralists who have been killing and destroying farmlands without the Federal Government raising a finger to stop them. Why would the South East, which is smaller in landmass than most states in the North but with over 40 million people, yield the little they have to violent strangers and foreigners? If the situation were turned the other way round, would the president and his people accept the medicine they are forcing down other people’s throats?
Another “sin” of the Igbo was that the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, which the Federal Government has popularised among the Igbo youth and elders alike, formed the Eastern Security Network, ESN, to guard their forests where no less than 350 herdsmen camps were identified immediately after the COVID-19 shutdowns last year. ESN has never attacked law-abiding and peaceful Northerners or anyone in Igboland. Even Mazi Nnamdi Kanu strictly forbids attacks on law abiding and peaceful Northerners residing in the South East.
They are strictly in the forests protecting the land and the people because the law enforcement agencies refused to do their job. Instead, they allowed these cancerous elements to flood Southern forests during the lockdowns. Self- defence is the first law of nature. Can you fault Igbo people for developing a template for self-defence?
Yet another “sin” is the activities of the so-called unknown gunmen. I can never excuse the activities of these terror gangs who have been killing law enforcement officers and destroying police and security establishments and electoral edifices. How I wish we knew who these people were! The security and law enforcement agencies should do their work.
There is always the temptation to blame Igbo youth for the activities of the unknown gunmen, but strangely, Governor Hope Uzodimma, an arch enemy of IPOB, has disclosed that 70 per cent of people arrested for the attacks in Imo State “are not Igbo”! Who are they? Is it possible that some of the attacks were sponsored by enemies of the Igbo nation as a pretext to punish them for their above-mentioned “sins”? Nobody is talking about the senior Presidency official Ahmed Gulak fingered as his assailant in a voice note circulating on the internet before he was assassinated in Owerri.
We have shouted ourselves hoarse that if Buhari means well towards Igbo people, he can still solve the security situation in the South by tackling it at the roots. He keeps asking: “What do these people want”? We (Nigerians) want him to end his extreme nepotism and bring back our Nigeria. It is not true that Nigeria belongs to the Fulani; it can NEVER happen. Nigeria belongs to all of us! We want this Fulanisation agenda dropped immediately. It will not work. It will only expose innocent people to danger and destruction. There is enough land in the North where the Fulani are indigenous to, for the establishment of countless Ruga and all its romanticised benefits. Don’t force it on those who don’t want it.
Why doesn’t the Federal Government Northern political leaders consider the question of a referendum? It is a democratic and peaceful demand. A referendum will give the Minorities of the South-South the opportunity to reject Biafra. It will also enable the Igbo people who have property all over Nigeria to shun Biafra. But if they opt for a tiny, landlocked Biafra where (as we hear) they will starve, kill themselves and perish, why not let them? Those who hate them will achieve their objective of Igbo extermination by letting them go into Biafra and perish. Why not allow nature to do your dirty work for you?
May I sound a note of warning. Those who are watching with excitement the deployment of the military against fellow Nigerians, the unarmed Igbo population, should get ready. Whatever goes round comes round. Fulanisation is not only aimed at Igbo land. They also want yours. They are also killing you. The difference is that, unlike the Igbo people, you are crying and expecting your prospective conquerors to save you!