By Emma Zopmal
The agony of Nigeria started by the character of the visions of its leaders past and present. Long ago, we deceived ourselves or we were deceived by the erstwhile colonialists that we have the capacity to live together as one united nation. But this assertion never took into consideration our disparate tendencies which will later visit us someday today. All other efforts in the past towards nationhood had either force elements or manipulative intentions.
It’s not a surprise today that the country is facing its most critical time. Everywhere in the world people hear the story of Nigeria. The story is not about development or advancement but a pathetic story of distrust and bleak future expressed by its citizens.
To every birth; its own blood. We had the secession struggle of 1967-1970 yet a big country like Nigeria did not learn from there. The lesson expected from that national disaster should not have been coercion or transitory programs for national unity or integration. The lesson should have been a need for equitable federalism where every component parts will have the opportunity to heal itself internally. Coercive federalism like ours cannot be the best option. In the course of this coercion, some parts are now technically tampered with to disarray.
I know so many Nigerians may see the new Biafra demand by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu as uncalled for but they find it difficult to appreciate the other side of it. It’s a default setting of human being to live a happy life, to be emphatic, and be free. That’s why the first paragraph of America’s Constitution talks of “pursuit of happiness”. It’s difficult to live in a society that’s stagnant and full of evil. The Igbos are naturally industrious and forward-looking people. They dare every opportunity to excell in life. And the beauty of a state is to provide for the welfare of its citizens and it continues in being for the sake of good life. For Nigerian state to endure and enjoy longetivity, it has to recalibrate. The current system cannot endure and accommodate our differential capacities in terms of human abilities and environments. But a more viable system that can give and allow every person or people to fit in and make impact will be better.
The agitation will not end with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOP) but it has just started with them in as much as the current system persists. The Odudua people too, feel well qualified to govern themselves without any headache from without. The long overdue struggle of the Middle Belt people is at the doorstep. The Niger Delta is already on top of the roof. The only wisdom required of the Federal Government is to absorb the demands of everyone in order to consolidate its foundation. This cannot be a misfortune but a desired development in which the future is assured. The use of force by the government on dissenting voice on the demands by these regions is a sheer negation of its very Constitutional provisions on “freedom of expression”, “freedom of conscience”, and “freedom of association”. Government cannot determine the conscience of its citizens but rather conscience of the people determine how they see, understand and perceive of the country. Therefore, the more force is used by the government, the more conscience deploys stiff resistance. At this juncture, the government-citizens relations get sour. Permit me to say at last, volcanic eruption. Indigenous People of Biafra is not our problem but the profiled injustice, frustration, corruption, poverty, loss of value and sanctity of life, downward underdevelopment, uncertainties, and total absence of freedom and liberty that have characterized our journey to nationhood. It’s unfortunate that Nigerian government is taking another decision to rearrest Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. Bold and committed to his cause, has remained resolved to resist the arrest for the second time. This reminds me of the history of Socrates (339 BC) when accused and later sentenced to death by hemlock poisoning by the ancient Athenian Court for educating the youths on justice and truth, he had all the opportunity to escape but he refused to because he knew he was guiltless. This is the power of conscience. Nigerian government should not trivialize national problem to IPOB or why should it not solve national problems but insist on subversion through that agitation alone. There’s problem everywhere even bigger than that. Take it or leave it, Biafra is an ideological belief that cannot be quenched with brute force or coercion. Just like what Martin Luther King Jnr said that you can kill racist but you cannot kill racism, you can kill haters but you cannot kill hate or hatred, you can kill trouble makers but you cannot kill trouble and so on. In the same vein, Federal Government can jail Nnamdi Kanu but they cannot jail Biafra. The millions of IPOB are not paid one dime to organise themselves into what they are but because they believe in what is Biafra, they make sacrifices for it.
The government on the other hand, has failed in its responsibilities. It cannot justify why its citizens are killed daily in the Middle Belt. It cannot justify the persistent underdeveloped condition of its people and infrastructure. It cannot justify why it does not respond to socioeconomic and political dynamics. It shields belligerent Arewa youths but tough on other civil rights activists. It has never arrested one single Fulani herdsman.Take it like an individual. Whenever one is sick, one must be taken for medical attention. This is the time that Nigeria is critically ill and it needs intensive medical attention and operations.
In conclusion, the IPOB should not be taken as a threat to national unity but a golden opportunity to look inward and ask ourselves some important questions. Once we miss it now, we cannot get it again. Political demand is common everywhere in the world. Middle Belt people are also ready to question the position of things now. There is no amount of terror or fear unleash on people by the government that can stop them from expressing their feelings and asking questions to better their earthly lives. State and government are artificial creation but life is divine.
~ Emma Zopmal
President, Middle Belt Youth Council.