28 Sep 2017

IPOB: The Python Will Continue To Dance

Following the outrage that trailed the controversial Operation Python Dance carried out by the Nigerian Army recently, Alvan Ewuzie, in this piece, explains that the "python will continue dancing" in Southern Nigeria.
File photo: Nigerian soldiers

When President Muhammadu Buhari made his short broadcast on return from the medical trip in London, it became evident to any discerning mind that something was bound to give. He did not mince words about his displeasure with agitation for Biafra and the negative application of the social media to spew hate speech and divisive tendencies. It did not take long before the military announced an intention to monitor the social media. That is in the pipeline as we say here. It may not get off the ground or yield much. But the agitators for Biafra, and now the entire south eastern part of Nigeria, have come face-to-face with what the president meant in his speech.

If the owl cries at night and the baby dies in the morning, you do not need to go far to know what happened. The Python now dances in the Abia: Perhaps, a test case of the military operation tagged ‘Python Dance’ meant for that zone. It is inconceivable to think that the military would embark on such dance without authorisation from the Commander-in-Chief. When the president came down hard against the agitation for Biafra in his speech and said, Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, had agreed with him in a meeting, perhaps in 2003, that Nigeria was better united, than fragmented.

The military came down with the operation that saw it in a show of power. Members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) became the prime targets of the military might, which saw the residence of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, riddled with bullets and the target escaping by the whiskers. Kanu became as powerful and popular as this regime made him with totally unnecessary incarceration and undue obstinacy in granting him bail. He became a security monster created by a regime that would rather apply force than obey court orders or dialogue.

The military showed us how the python dances in the South East. Nnamdi Kanu has escaped. I believe the dust has begun to settle, in spite of the curious declaration of IPOB, as terrorist organisation. The implication is that its members deserve the same treatment being meted out to the blood sucker group, Boko Haram. IPOB is not known to bear arms and never engaged in the senseless suicide bombings and mass wastage of lives like the real terrorist group, which some of those in power today raised their voice to defend when this same military, now ravaging the South East, went to quell their activities. Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika, who was Chief of Army Staff from 2010 to 2014, came short of being accused of genocide against the terrorists, yet the blood thirsty group were killing people in droves. There has been no report about those who fell to alleged IPOB reign of terror.

Now voices from the ruling party have risen in support of restructuring. They know that the nation is fast sliding down the slope of anarchy if nothing is done about this structure, which has made the centre the hub of near absolute power, controlling the larger chunk of the nation’s common wealth. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has lent his heavy political weight to calls for restructuring, an indication that there is a consensus across the political divide on that score. He talks about ‘True federalism’. The implication of that leaning should not be lost on anyone with good political barometer. The matter is still unfolding and those who should know insist that the force of arms can only postpone the inevitable. The question about the inevitability of restructuring or unbundling of the 1914 fusion that resulted in Nigeria is a debate that may continue.

The political elite has leaned on the side of restructuring in place of unbundling. The regional structure of yester years held Nigeria on a tripod until the military struck in 1966 and plunged a fledgling nation into political experiment that has further divided it such that several ethnic nationalities have come to a realisation of themselves and thus demand a fair stake in the amalgamation. No price will be won by any prediction, as I now make, that the regional structure preceding the war is no longer feasible. Will the Benue-Plateau hub, if I may use that expression, align with Northern Nigeria of old? Will the South-South feel at ease with return of Eastern Nigeria of yester years? You can add to the blocks and attendant suspicion. The reality of a deeply fragmented polity stares us in the face, which is why restructuring may require far more intellectual input than the casual thinking on the matter, which seem to be making the rounds. The reality is that the nation is truly at the crossroads, which is deeper than merely advocating restructuring without a seeming focus.

There is mutual suspicion even within the components of former homogenous regions. The ruling party has a committee it has saddled with the task of directing it on which way to go on this matter. That team must think deeper that the surface and come up with a concept that could cement the gulf widening daily within the components at inter and intra levels. The dilemma remains in the open sore that the current structure has become, with the tendency to ignite fire of revolt from those who feel that they have been shut out of the centre that has remained custodian of huge portions of national resources.

The python has been dancing around the nation before now; it did in the South-South when the boys in that region chose to wrest their resouces from the almighty federal force. The Isaac Adaka Boros, Ken Sao-Wiwas, the Ogoni 9 and several others fell to another brand of python dance. In the wake of June 12 crisis, the python danced in the South-West. It is the reality of the current structure making it impossible to remain in this situation akin to bringing ant-infested firewood and still abhor the inevitable visit of the lizard. If this statuesque remains, the python will not cease to dance. Something must give.

Written by Alvan Ewuzie

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