Time to Be Sober

Time to Be Sober

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By ABBA MAHMOOD

A lot is going on in the social media over the Biafra agitation and the ultimatum issued by some northern youths to the neo-Biafrans to leave other peoples’ lands and go and form their country as they wish. Abu Najakku’s column titled “Standing up to Biafra” aptly summarises the views of many on this issue and I hereby share it with you below. Happy Sallah in advance!

In all honesty, I am not in support of the dissolution of Nigeria as advocated by the so-called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) or that coalition of northern youths who’ve issued an ultimatum to the Igbo to quit northern Nigeria. So, I’m as much against the IPOB as I am against those northern youths. The coalition of northern youths did not speak for me. I’m for Nigeria, warts and all, and in the firm belief that things will improve in no distant future. Building a nation takes generations absorbed in visionary leadership, unity of purpose, hard work and perseverance.

However, I’m aware that a lot of northerners have endorsed this ugly quit notice as a good counterpoint to the burgeoning agitation for an independent state of Biafra spearheaded by IPOB. A lot of northerners believe there is a difference between shutting out the Igbo elite from political appointments and denial of citizenship to the Igbo masses. As far as the masses from northern Nigeria are concerned, there is suffering and plenty poverty in the land and they don’t blame this on the Igbo. Most of them are rather hopeful and confident that, in the future, life may improve. The northern masses are therefore surprised at the lack of perseverance of the Igbo elite or their masses who are clamouring for Biafra barely two years into the Buhari administration. The northern masses know for example that just about two years ago, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former finance minister, was more powerful than Namadi Sambo, President Goodluck Jonathan’s deputy. During this time, these masses never blamed the Igbo collective for their woes or asked for their own country out of Nigeria.

The northern masses detest insults hauled at them daily by IPOB and its misguided leaders. These northern masses don’t understand why they are being called animals in a zoo by Nnamdi Kanu or why President Muhammadu Buhari should be called a paedophile by these Biafrans; did Buhari have any amorous relationship with some underage Igbo girl? And if all these insults, name-calling and treasonable activities are not endorsed by the Igbo leadership, why did they keep quiet all this time until these so-called northern youths issued their quit notice to their kinsmen?

Nevertheless, a sizeable number of community, traditional, religious and political leaders are silently happy with the quit notice issued by the northern youths. These leaders think that the Igbo grievances are one too many, something absolutely absent during Jonathan’s six-year administration. These leaders think that the agitation for Biafra is now way over the top and Kaduna declaration is its appropriate answer. The northern masses are stupefied at how someone like the Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, is in the forefront of those scrambling for bail and photo sessions with such a treacherous personality as Nnamdi Kanu. Now that we are in this mess, are we going to have real, sober elders who could cool tempers?

Some of us have made personal sacrifices to stomach some of the irritations and unpleasant things associated with the union called Nigeria in the reasonable hope that things will get better. I have not in any way benefitted personally because Muhammadu Buhari is the president of Nigeria. I still think that my children, who are dreaming big, along with their classmates from other cultures, can work even better to make Nigeria great.

The Nigerian civil war was avoidable then and the one we want to start is also preventable. I did not witness the so-called civil war and I don’t want to do so now or any time. Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, etc. — we all have formed and run businesses together, worked together in civil and public services and national institutions, inter-married and established other bonds such that separating from one another will be a calamity for all of us.

It is the time to pull back from brinkmanship and inflammatory rhetoric. Chukwuemeka Ezeife’s rhetoric and asinine claims are unhelpful; he had said well before now that Nigeria would be unliveable if Gooduck Jonathan was not re-elected. His last unproductive threat was that the minimum the Igbo could take from Nigeria was restructuring. Elsewhere, he had perennially bandied the bunkum that a state in the north had “born to rule” as slogan on its number plate! Like Nnamdi Kanu, Ezeife’s maximum demand is Biafra! Just where is Ezeife now? Is he still thinking through a reply for the northern youths?

Make no mistake about it: Buhari belongs to the old school; his administration is not going to implement the report of the 2014 Jonathan conference. From the beginning, Buhari and his political allies did not support this conference. This is a conference that was conceived to disorganise the crystallising coalition against Jonathan’s bankrupt administration intent on self-perpetuation. This is a conference whose numbers were idiotically skewed against Muslims and the government refused to do anything despite complaints. In fact, the conference was not called in good faith; it was convened chiefly to spite the north and recreate the country on their own terms during an anticipated Jonathan second term until they were stopped by Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC). Tell me why bad partisan losers like Ayo Adebanjo, Edwin Clark, Femi Okurounmu, Chukwuemeka Ezeife and other agonizing politicians in search of relevance imagine that they can dictate agenda for this government!

The Buhari government should concentrate on fulfilling its promises to restore security to the length and breadth of this country, fighting corruption, enhancing electricity supply, revamping the economy and ensuring the efficient management of our national resources. Unlike these manipulators, Buhari is a man of integrity and the world bears him witness.

As far as I’m concerned, the ultimatum by these northern youths coalition is a bluster that seeks to equal the IPOB bluff; this dust will settle down and we will all return to nation-building. My dear compatriots, I unreservedly vote for Nigeria.

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