CONFLICT FREE NATION (CFN) PRESS RELEASE ON IPOB AND NIGERIAN MILITARY ACTIVITIES
Since the return to civilian rule in 1999, Nigeria is plagued at present with the most difficult challenges. These challenges stem out of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north, skirmishes in the west, chronic economic condition and most important; the ongoing Biafra agitation for self determination. All these have heightened tension, distrust, contempt and disdain capable of throwing the country into a civil war if not properly handled.
The IPOB’s activities and the government approach in dealing with the group call for serious attention. More crucially, all hands are to be on deck in order to curtail this highly inflammable ethnic struggle before it plunges the nation in a gale of abyss. Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, Public Institutions, the Law Enforcement Agents and Individuals have critical roles to play.
International military hardware suppliers are watching cynically to sell arms and ammunitions to boost their sales. We cannot afford to let the country combust into another war as lesson must be learnt from the 1967-1970 civil war bitter experiences. The world is now sophisticated in arsenal more than ever before. International community is fixated on many issues, thus, our survival as a nation depends on us and not on external powers.
The war on terror in the northeast is far from finished, Fulani herdsmen criminal activities and the military crackdown on the El-Zakzaky shi’a led movements which attracted global condemnation are still very much with us. The recent deployment of soldiers to curb the “excesses” of IPOB in the southeast has made the country more vulnerable to all sorts of social vices. Mutual distrust is heightened as allegations of the ethnic cleansing have flooded the social media with pictures of Nigerian army torturing the unarmed civilians. Consequently, fear and panic have followed this development across the country particularly in the north where there are rumours of Hausa/Igbo clashes which have led to the closure of shops and businesses. We cannot pretend not to be in crisis; but it has to be addressed before it escalates into a war.
As an NGO, Conflict Free Nation, inclined to advancing peace and preventing violent conflict as embodied under goal 16 of Sustainable Development Goals, we seize this medium to express displeasure pertaining the development of the Biafran agitation. The deployment of armed men to the South East, densely populated by unarmed civilians is not only out of the military rule of engagement, but more than a mere reason the agitators react violently bearing in mind that they might be ambused. CFN, thus deems it fit to caution that the situation as it is capable of reinforcing a semblance of the 1960s civil war. War is expensive and destructive as it consumes much of a nation’s human and material resources. While this organization recognizes the fundamental rights of every individual, group of individuals to air their grievances, it urges them to follow a civilized channel to do it to avoid a breakdown of law and order. While it also acknowledges the responsibility of the government to maintain peace and stability, it appeals to the government to adopt a soft approach in handling the matter.
CFN advocates the unity of the country for verily, our plurality could be a showpiece for the rest of the world as it did at the early stage of Nigeria independence which featured visionary leaders that championed not only a united Nigeria but also sought to emancipate other African states. The efforts of our great heroes must therefore not be traded away for our bigotry. The generation to come should not be thrown into chaos by our greediness and present predicaments. We have lived harmoniously for decades and we can improve on it. All the sources of conflict such as the alleged marginalization in politics and unfair distribution of wealth should be genuinely addressed. It is against this backdrop that the CFN proposes that;
- The government should take serious the issue of restructuring. Although, CFN appreciates the administration for constituting a committee chaired by the Kaduna state governor to look into the call, it urges the committee to quicken its study and come with a concrete report for public consumption and recommendation.
- The government should withdraw the Operation Python Dance II and allow the police to maintain peace and stability in southeast so as to allay fear in the civilian communities.
- The government should intensify its effort to the address the chronic economic challenges of the country. This will prevent the ease manipulation of out of work youths from being lured into hoodlum activities as youths find pleasure in hooliganism if they are idle. While the unity of Nigeria is maintained as non-negotiable and firm, the government is hereby implored to be open-minded to citizens’ distress.
- The government should ensure that the channel of communication is made open between it and the people. This will solve the problems of misinterpretation of intentions between the governments due to the obvious communication gap.
- The religious leaders should intensify their efforts in preaching love and unity to their congregation in all places of worship, so as to avoid hate speeches.
- All sections of the country must be treated fairly and equally without prejudice to ethnicity and religion.
- Each component of the country should desist from threat or actual use of force in dealing with one another. The members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB thus, should be cognizance of the dictate of the law and must pursue all their yearnings and demands within legal framework.