When election in Nigeria was in its heyday, when the Ziks and the Tafawa Balewas ruled the day, we were treated to some soaring oratory by real politicians.
You know, real politicians, real patriots, real believers who belonged to political parties of core values, of family values, the good parties, the parties of the people.
But, like the gaudily decorated wooden horses on a carousel, the new arrivals have giddily bobbed up and down. Some have entirely fallen off the circus like merry-go-round; some never managed to bob-up, but all have continued to throw crumbs at us, and promised that, in 2016, they’re going to bring ‘change’.
We have seen the ‘change’ spoken of by these politicians and it has brought about the worst times in our history as a people. What is still unknown to Nigerians is that some, who have dared to speak out against this new and unwanted ‘change’, are being threatened and killed clandestinely by the same people promising us ‘change’.
Today, I am speaking for those people. I am speaking for the families in South-eastern Nigeria who have lost their loved ones as a result of the reported killings by the Nigerian military of innocent and peaceful protestants. Families have lost sons and daughters and fathers and mothers as a result of this evil happening before our very own eyes, which will be of dire consequence if not addressed immediately.
No matter how you view or describe these protestants, they are typical citizens… individuals who love their people.
They are concerned with the direction our country is headed, realising we have moved seriously off base. They also yearn for our country to return to the founding principles which made us the greatest country in Africa! They want our financial, moral, spiritual, ethical, political, social and family foundations restored. And… they decided to act! We have been silent too long!
Most of these boys and girls being killed indiscriminately today were never involved in politics beyond doing their civic duty of voting. They span the gamut of experience – retired (after all, they are in Nigeria) business owners, stay-at-home-moms, teachers, realtors, lawyers, builders, preachers, labourers. You name it…and it’s one of them! The one thing they and their Hausa and Yoruba brothers have in common is a desire to bring our country back to the principles of our founders — the principles that made our country great.
They also once believed in the Nigerian dream.
They believed in our greatness as a people.
They still believe in freedom of expression.
They believe in a constitutionally elected government.
They believe in fiscal responsibility.
They believe in the government of the people, by the people and for the people.
They still believe that in order to restore our country, we must elect people in positions of power who are true to the Constitution and are solidly ethical, spiritual and moral individuals.
Reports reaching us of how these young men and women are being wasted by the Nigerian military and police as they embark on peaceful protest in the east are very troubling.
Isn’t this exactly what led us to civil war in the 60s? It is very sad that our government has refused to learn from the past and is taking no stance towards dialogue.
A very dangerous mistake this government is making is underrating these IPOB agitators as they did with Boko Haram and the Niger Delta militants, which we are still dealing with the consequences till date. Creating a conflict with the IPOB youths will automatically put the military to war on three different fronts, the North-East, the South-East and the South-South.
The government must take into cognisance that the Nigerian military cannot win these battles. Already, we have a depleted army, and secondly, we have seen pictures of these Niger Delta militants and Boko Haram terrorists brandishing more sophisticated weapons than what the Nigerian soldiers have.
The Federal Government should stem the uprising in the east by engaging them in dialogue. Pride must be put aside at this crucial early stage. It is a general knowledge that the Nigerian military in total is not up to 250,000 men and, also, the military consist of men from these conflict areas. We don’t want a situation where the Nigerian military becomes divided and forced to stand with their kinsmen. A soldier who is ordered to shoot at his brothers and sisters will one day have a rethink. This can lead to implosion within the military itself.
A very crucial obligation of this government is to protect the lives and property of the citizens. No sane government would kill peaceful protesters.
We don’t want to be dragged into crisis and become another Somalia, Sudan or Chad for the African Union to deal with.
Whoever is the commanding officer in charge of the South-East should caution the boys. We must open up a channel for dialogue now before it is too late. We have lost too many valuable Nigerian lives already as a result of conflicts in different parts of the country.