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Flashpoint: Restructuring, Biafra And Secession

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Jonathan Nda- Isaiah

The three most popular words in the country right now are restructuring, Biafra and Secession. The country is tethering on an edge and the gun has been loaded, the safety pin has been released, it’s just a matter of time before the bullets go off.
The call for restructuring has grown louder in the last two years mainly by people who have lost out in the power game and some as a campaign tool for 2019. Most of the proponents of restructuring are telling us that’s the magic wand that will solve our problems. Restructure and all our problems will be over, we will be competing with UAE and America and to them, it’s that simple and without restructuring, the country is headed to Armageddon. They argue that when we restructure, we will start producing leaders like Barack Obama, Lee Kuan Yew and Wiston Churchill- it’s that simple.
While this sounds good, the motive for most of the proponents of restructuring is just pure mischief. Most of the people calling for the restructuring of the country are from the south. It is instructive to note that in the 18 years of democracy, the south has held sway for 13 years and in those 13 years, I didn’t hear calls for restructuring, maybe they were whispering it then and now that they are out of power, they are blowing the trumpets.
On the other hand, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar whose middle name is now restructuring, is championing the cause for his 2019 ambition. It’s a given that Atiku will contest the 2019 elections, and as a smart politician, he knows the south is all for restructuring and given that the North is his home base, he is good to go. The last time I checked, Atiku was vice president for eight years and throughout those eight years, restructuring was just a word for him, maybe he has seen the light but rule number one – never trust Nigerian politicians.
On the other hand, I support the devolution of powers to the state. We should have a state police even though most of our rogue governors will abuse the state police. States should negotiate their minimum wage, you don’t expect a state like Lagos and Zamfara to be paying the same minimum wage.
Our problem has never been restructuring, our problem is a leadership problem, when we restructure, we are not bringing angels to govern us, it’s still these same set of Nigerians that will rule. Those who are advocating that we should go back to regions are not just being realistic. This is 2017 and not 1960.
The misconception in the south is that everybody in the North is Hausa – Fulani. It is instructive to note that the Adamawa and Taraba axis have more than 70 tribes, more than the whole of the tribes in the south west and south east put together.  Minority tribes in the North like the Nupe, Igala, Idoma, Tarok, and Jukun will not want to be under any regional government in fact, Idoma people in Benue have not given up on getting their Apa state.
That brings me to the issue of Biafra, the Igbos have been crying of marginalisation since after the civil war. The issue of Biafra was a forgotten issue when Goodluck Azikwe Jonathan, their adopted son was president for almost six years. The economic team of former president Jonathan was practically in the hands of Igbos. When President Muhammadu Buhari came into power, the agitation for Biafra was resurrected. When they were no longer getting a piece of the pie, the calls for Biafra became louder, maybe they were observing table manners during Jonathan’s regime which states ‘don’t talk when you are eating.’
Buhari made the leader of Independent people of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu a hero by arresting and keeping him longer than necessary. If he had been ignored by the authorities, he would not be enjoying his cult-like following now. Prominent south east politicians and leaders are now falling over themselves to identify with Kanu. Someone, obviously a clown, took it to a ridiculous height when he claimed he was healed of stomach pains when he shook hands with Kanu. So, apart from being the new political leader of the south east, he is also the spiritual leader of the region.
Whether you like it or not, he is now the new political leader of the south east in their quest for Biafra. My problem with the agitation is how they are forcing other regions to be part of Biafra, the south south has denied several times that they are not part of Biafra, they are dragging Benue and Kogi States into their new Biafra and with the way they are going, they will soon add Lagos and Abuja to the new Biafra map. The last time I checked, the era of colonialism has ended and you can’t force people to join your agitation. I also believe every region or people has a right to self-determination and there are ways to go about it, issuing threats, blackmail or intimidation will not work.
I am also appalled with the way Kanu has been flouting his bail conditions. He has been daring the federal government, acting as if he can do anything and get away with it.
We are all marginalised, the Idoma have never been the governor of Benue State and feel marginalised by the Tivs, in Kogi, it’s the same problem, if you are not Igala, forget about being the governor. Yahaya Bello, an Igbirra man, became governor by stroke of fate. Since 1999, a Christian has not become the governor of Niger State, even though the state boasts of a sizable number of Christians. So, the same story everywhere, one way or the other, we are all marginalised. Why must the three major tribes – Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba produce the president or the vice president? What stops us from having an Igala, Jukun, Itsekeri, Jabba man as president or vice? The three major tribes are marginalising the minority tribes in Nigeria.
On Tuesday, an obviously idle group called the Arewa Youth group gave the Igbos till October 1 to vacate the North.
According to them, “the persistent actualisation of Biafra by the Igbo of south-eastern Nigeria has lately assumed an alarming twist. The new dimension, which involved the call for the forceful lockdown of activities and denying of the right to free movement in south-east by the rebellious Indigenous People of Biafra group, is so disturbingly embarrassing that in our view, calls for a rethink.
The group claims to be speaking for the youths in the north. I am a Northern Youth and they are obviously not speaking for me.
This latest ultimatum brings to the fore the arguments about the unity of Nigeria. I have said it on this page, Nigeria’s unity is a farce. When you read comments by youths on the social media, you will know that the unity of the country is a mirage. Every event is viewed from an ethnic or regional prism, I shudder at the hate and inciting messages on the social media. The social media youth who obviously was not born during the civil war and has not witnessed any war, does not believe in the unity of Nigeria. Nigeria is definitely sitting on a time bomb and it’s ticking fast.



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