Nigeria in Pieces: the Crushing of the Defenceless

Fela once called them vagabonds in power, VIPs. It now seems they are cowards in government, CIGs – Guynes

One really has to consider the resounding cowardice of Nigerian leaders with the monopoly of violence at their disposal since the end of the Civil War in 1970. There has been a combination of mobile police led-repression, instances of “mad dog syndrome” whereby soldiers take on ‘self-appointed license’ to punish civilians with unrestrained heavy handedness and blatant military massacres during both stratocratic and democratic administrations. In all these cases the victims are defenceless and unarmed citizens. However, why is it that when Nigerian leaders are faced by competent armed groups under their jurisdiction who readily take offensive initiative against the military they cannot be fight back successfully?

The recent announcement by the Nigerian Army that it will crush any protests carried out by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) is a national disgrace, even if predictable. Is Nigeria still a democracy? The Government of Nigeria (GON) unduly detains Nnamdi Kanu without charge as a “national security risk” and expect his indigenous compatriots to keep silent. Interesting logic and expectation. This is reminiscent of the film “Primary Colours” in which a US President starts off a war to divert attentions from his present failings and scandals. Holding Kanu amongst some in the security sector is looking like a diversion from the failing campaign promises of the incumbent GON.

Why else will Nnamdi Kanu, a man that lacks the resources and capabilities to pose an existential threat to the security or unity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria be held so visibly? Has the IPOB fallen for the GON’s trap? It is made out by the mainstream public opinion as if it is the GON that has fallen for the trap of IPOB. Nonsense! Has the government has successfully baited IPOB, should be the question.

Back to cowardice. It is easy to crush unarmed and defenceless citizen; it is a bit like a professional boxer fighting an armless man. Shagari did it with mobile police. Buhari did it against the outspoken. Babangida did it against opponents of structural adjustment programmes. Obasanjo did it to the Niger Deltans and the people of Plateau and Benue with mass murdering massacres. And there is more. However, when it came to facing armed and offence-initiating groups, Obasanjo and Jonathan were very willing to call truces with Niger Delta militants and Boko Haram insurgents, respectively. The message of the GON is unequivocal: if you want us to take you seriously – take up arms.

Dele Giwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Ugonna Omereonye, Alfred Rawane, Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti, Khudirat Abiola, Funsho Williams, Bola Ige, Moshood Abiola, Festus Okotie-Eboh, Marshall Harry, Abdullahi Muazu and countless others were all slain by ‘cowards-in-government’. Be it a group or an individual, once you are defenceless and unarmed, the government will be extremely and exceedingly keen to take you on. Have you heard the government’s contempt-inspiring excuses on why they could not defeat Niger Delta militants or Boko Haram insurgents?

In a land of intelligent people it is hard to fathom how Biafra in today’s world can be a serious problem to everyday life of Nigerians. Nigeria has the highest proportion of illiterates in the world and worsening. Nigeria has one of lowest life expectancies in the world and worsening. Nigeria has one of the lowest per capita consumption of electricity in the world and worsening. Nigeria has some of the worst roads in the world and worsening. Nigeria has one of the weakest militaries in the world and worsening. Hunger pursues the majority of citizens like a merciless avenging angel. And this is just to mention a few social failures of the Nigerian state. The GON should focus on solving such problems properly.

Cowardice can assume power by “special arrangement” but it takes a lot of courage and diligence and even sacrifice to overcome the aforementioned major problems afflicting Nigeria and more, with any level of success. We have been told to have patience. Nevertheless, cowards in government only achieve what the international community instruct them to do and nothing more. It is so much easier to provoke a Biafra crisis; was the GON instructed to do that too?

We wait. Patiently.

Grimot Nane

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