The Rise of Separatists and Terrorists

It is very tempting to just sit back and black out the daily horrors bombarding Nigeria. These include the mindless carnage and butchery of human lives, the sheer audacity of terrorists/bandits armed with the capacity to shoot down fighter jets, the wave of mass kidnappings of schoolchildren in the North-east and North-west, and the sit-at-home or you die order in the South-east that has claimed many innocent lives. Together with the perilous economic situation and broken infrastructure, you have a perfect storm for a failing nation in slow motion, being steered by a failed leadership.

Curiously, the government says that all these are not happening, that they are not founded on reality but are fabricated stories by losers and Buhari-haters just to give a dog a bad name. But how do these people just manage to pretend these things are fakes? How do they even sleep at night? I am always amazed at their barefaced mendacity and audacity to lie. I am beside myself with rage but take solace in the potency of Isaiah 5:20 which curses enablers of evil: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

I believe they will surely reap the full value of that biblical curse at some point in their lives. As they lie to minimise what we are dealing with, I feel the agony and cries of my fellow countrymen affected by the free reign of evil let loose upon this land of our fathers. Their eyes are swollen from the pain of mourning loved ones lost to the senseless anarchy in the land – a country that has lost its humanity. I can’t for the life of me ignore the fact that Nigeria has become synonymous with corruption, hardship, kidnappings and killings.

We have become a nation where hyenas and baboons have become soaked in the blood of innocent people, schoolchildren and their parents, farmers, etc., are killed or kidnapped, with their wives raped and videoed by marauding herdsmen from hell. I am beyond shocked by President Muhammadu Buhari’s enablers’ lack of empathy. In all facets of national life, Nigeria is buffeted by crises of confidence and righteous anger. Terrorists’ exploits have reached unprecedented levels. Agitations for separate homelands have morphed undeniably into terrorism. Corruption has become more valuable than the air we breathe and now defines every activity of governance. It is no longer committed in the secret places, it’s now done in the open. While the All Progressives Congress (APC) made fighting this evil one of its cardinal campaign objectives, evidence abounds that it has actually liberalised the malaise.

But far more alarming is the pervasive insecurity that stalks our daily existence. Everywhere you turn, East, West, North or South, danger lurks. No one sleeps with their two eyes closed anymore, we now sleep with our eyes wide open and our ears more alert to the slightest whiff of danger. Our noses sniff the air constantly for ominous signs of kidnappers and bandits. Indeed, Nigeria can sleep no more. Travelling by road is now such a frightening and hazardous endeavour that it’s a miracle to make it safely to one’s destination. Many even describe it as a death wish.

Apart from the fact that the entire travel infrastructure network is broken, kidnappers lurk at nearly every kilometre of our roads. Every day, survival is now a miracle in this land of our fathers which was once upon a time a very safe country. The sparkling blue eyes of promise and opportunities are now gone. So is the hope many of us had about our country. All that’s left are charred and blackened promises and dreams of a potentially great nation.

The once tranquil countryside has become a den of kidnappers, and home to hideous herdsmen from hell, the lush green forests are now safe havens for criminals. There was indeed a country called Nigeria – unfortunately we lost it to ethnic-minded centrifugal forces – a country now the most dangerous place to be born.

How did the country get here? How did we arrive at this abyss of danger? How did bandits/terrorists from hell take over the North? How did the South-east become a den of a mentally-deranged megalomaniac Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB group? How is the South-west on the way to becoming a Sunday Igboho territory? How did people who are non-state actors and at best should be on the fringes, become the key players of our destiny? How did they become heroes of our land? How come men of intellect and noble heritage are bowing to nonentities and cuddling them as heroes?

Well, why won’t they, some would ask, when leaders of thought around the country acquiesced, prevaricated and openly hobnobbed with ethnic and religious zealots with a medieval mindset that have gravely mismanaged our resources and our diversity. To rub salt in the wound, some celebrated them, describing their bad leadership as the new gold standard for measuring success. In other words, the nonentities rose to fill the void and became the voice of the marginalised and those that have been traumatised by relentless herdsmen’s attacks on their communities.

There’s an unholy trinity of evil playing out in Nigeria: Corruption, ethnicity and religion – these may very well sound the country’s death knell.

It all started in the North and others then followed suit. Leaders of the major ethnic groups are aiding and abetting the erosion of national values and helping to promote the gradual destruction of the foundations of the Nigerian state. Of course, the ascension of Buhari to power and his ethnic agenda has triggered a wave of dissension from other ethnic groups, his policy pursuit and treatment of other parts, particularly the South-east, as conquered people has more than anything else galvanised agitations against the Nigerian state. His clear and unambiguous nepotism and double standard in dealing with terrorists and the handling of government business have led to disenchantment. His cuddling of real terrorists in the North-east, North-west, North-central with kid gloves while applying the sledgehammer on others has more than anything else exacerbated tensions in the land and given birth to a myriad of ethnic warlords masquerading as freedom fighters and defenders of their groups’ interests.

President Buhari will be leaving a toxic and crippling legacy that will require national reconciliation and healing to deal with for a long time to come. On this I dare say the president and his enablers must be held to account. When Boko Haram started some years back, most of the people of the North-east were sympathetic to their cause or whatever it is they claimed to be fighting for. The northern establishment rallied to provide intellectual context to the evil and backwardness that Boko Haram represented. They looked the other way as the terrorist group embarked on a killing spree, because they wanted to undermine the then president who hailed from the South. They even defended them from criticisms and instead blamed the then government. The Borno Elders’ Forum was formed and became the vocal mouthpiece in the blame game and ultimately aided in frustrating efforts to curtain the terrorists. Where is the group now?

Northerner leaders of thought and intelligentsia to a large measure tolerated the evil ideology Boko Haram represents. They excused the group’s atrocities and rationalised it. They saw it as a means to achieve political power and did everything in the book to undermine efforts to defeat the group’s evil ideology of hate, violence, unprovoked killings and kidnappings.

Surprisingly, one of the chief defenders of Boko Haram was brought back from retirement, repackaged to smell like a rose as the one to change Nigeria’s story and build for us the Nigeria of our dreams. Our people that are smart in every sense of the word but with a history of foolish choices went on to elect him president of this land of our fathers. A man who should NEVER have come close to the presidency of Nigeria was given the sacred keys to this land. Now, we all see what he has done to the labour of our fathers.

Since he became president, Borno elders have been silent in the face of massive escalation in the activities of the terrorists. When Buhari visited Borno recently, they quietly organised a massive welcome for him. I tell you, with all sense of responsibility, these people are impossible to understand.

According to a United Nations’ report, since the war began, more than 350,000 lives have been lost, 90 per cent of whom were children, with millions of people displaced and the North-east devastated! No one is talking or issuing press statements from the North-east condemning the federal government over its poor handling of the campaign against the blood-thirsty terrorists.

Lest we forget, immediately Buhari ascended to power, his kinsmen unleashed violence in the North-central states, particularly Benue and Taraba States, in a desperate attempt to seize other people’s ancestral lands. Fulani herdsmen unleashed terror on the people with no action from the president. He refused to rein them in and did everything to protect them. His ministers and top-ranking officials prevaricated and equivocated on the killings. They proffered all sorts of lame excuses for the president’s refusal to act even as the terrorists spread their violence to other parts of the country. He chose to be a willing spectator to the mindless criminalities perpetrated by his Fulani brothers. When he finally chose to visit Benue, the hotbed of the killings, what did he do or say to the victims: “Learn to live with your neigbhour.” There was no condemnation of the perpetrators of the aggression, no promise of compensation, no empathy, none. It was a moment forever etched in infamy. Up till now, no one has declared Fulani herdsmen terrorists.

Now let’s go to the North-west. When banditry started and governors were appeasing the criminals and calling them ‘our’ brothers, they were impervious to any criticism coming from any quarter. They posed for photographs with the soulless animals and looked for any stupid excuse to justify their action. They gave the bandits/terrorists money, bought them cars, motorcycles and what have you, and begged them to stop the killings. Oh my God!!! What manner of leaders is this country cursed with? How could they not see the futility of their tactics? Well, we have all seen the result of that appeasement.

Instead of abating, the killings and kidnappings have intensified. It was as if the appeasement only served as a tonic to motivate them more to continue and to even escalate the scale of their atrocities. They carried out mass kidnappings of schoolchildren, travellers, just anyone, including security personnel. Today, we all know what the North-west has become – a terrorists’ enclave. The North backed its own to commit all manner of evil in the name of ‘our own’. Northern leaders pandered to evil under the guise of ethnicity and religion. What has the North’s control of political power done for the region?

Now let’s go to the South-east: IPOB has since shed its peaceful toga and transformed into a terrorist organisation. The only viewpoint in Igboland today is IPOB’s which it brutally enforces on the people. From peaceful agitation, it has evolved into a violent extremist group that is earning validation through fear. Buoyed by the silence of a cowed majority, it started attacking and killing law enforcement officers, attacking and burning the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and prisons. Any criticism of their actions was met with a riposte that they are freedom fighters. Now prominent Igbo citizens are being mercilessly killed and their houses burnt. If this madness is not nipped in the bud, the South-east would go the way of the North-east and the North-west!! No matter how genuine the grievances are, IPOB’s modus operandi is faulty.

Interestingly, Ohaneze has now thrown its weight behind Kanu and by doing so, has fully embraced IPOB’s atrocities. “Our son is not a terrorist” is now the common refrain. All the violence and acts of terrorism clearly perpetrated by IPOB are now wished away and blamed on some other unknown groups, who are doing all these, according to them, to make IPOB look bad. All the violent activities of IPOB are being made to smell like roses. Clearly, Ohaneze leaders are in denial either for fear or expediency. They have deified Kanu and are falling over themselves to worship him. Some of the governorship candidates in the Anambra election, made a show of their love for Kanu. One in particular, went to court seeking an order to be given access to Kanu who is in detention and made a show of it in the press. I shook my head in pity.

How can anyone in their right senses support IPOB’s tactics? How? I need answers. IPOB’s sympathisers will readily tell you that it is not IPOB that is carrying out the killings. They claim that it is some fifth columnists trying to give Kanu and his group a bad name. They deny everything and admit nothing. And some otherwise intelligent but foolish people act as echo chambers to help propagate their nefarious narrative.

But as we all know, IPOB is the one issuing sit-at-home orders and enforcing it with such uncommon brutality against the very people it claims it wants to liberate. There is no other group issuing and enforcing such orders. That it has succeeded in instilling fear in the people points to its notoriety. Anyone who flouts its order is killed. I am incensed by the lame attempt to shift responsibility elsewhere. I am even more outraged by the senseless carnage and complete breakdown of law and order in the south-east. What was the reason for the brutal execution of Dr Chike Akunyili and the many that go unreported? Clearly, Kalu’s misdirected aggression is the root cause of the killings in the South-east whether anyone likes it or not.

The questions I have repeatedly asked but with no one to give me coherent answers are; how is war the solution to marginalisation? Who is not marginalised anyway? So everyone should take up arms and prepare for war because his ethnic group is marginalised? What we are witnessing from Kanu and his followers in the South-east is a situation when desire has overcome reason, the fact is, it usually unleashes deadly obsession. And that precisely is what is happening now and it is threatening the very South-east it was meant to liberate.

Kanu wants to be addressed as the Supreme Leader of Biafra. Does that not ring familiar to educated folks running after him? Do these people remember Adolf Hitler? I need not teach them history. They can read about him on the internet. Only two countries I can readily recall have leaders addressed as supreme leaders. North Korea and Iran. Kanu adopting that title is deliberate to send a message of how he would govern should he succeed in his eadeavour. He had even alluded to that in videos in the public space, when he boasted that he can play god if he chooses. And that he had the power to decide who lives and who dies. Is this the guy people are canonizing? Something is sure wrong with a lot of people in this country.

Kanu’s utterances on his Radio Biafra, viz. kill this, kill that, are highly incendiary. Beyond that, there is nothing of substance. How can any sane human being consider him a leader? Supporting Kanu in any shape or form, is equivalent to all those who clearly saw danger in 2015 and told us it didn’t matter, and proceeded to vote for a man who clearly had no business being the president of Nigeria.

Today, many of those who put us in this predicament have fled to Canada, Europe and America, leaving us to deal with the consequences of their foolish choice. I read somewhere that Igbo leaders are even mobilising to hire lawyers to observe Kanu’s trial. Well, I am sure if the late Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau had been captured alive, Northern leaders would have been very outspoken about protecting his rights; that is, if a southerner were the president. The rights of all those he killed would have meant nothing to them. Just the same way all those who have lost their lives on Kanu’s orders, mean nothing to Igbo leaders.

Arewa Youths, the Northern Elders’ Forum and other phoney ethnic infestations would have struggled to outdo one another in the public space to demonstrate their eagerness to defend Shekau. They would have called him “our son” and insisted on the protection of his rights. Some northern lawyers would have written a petition to the United Nations complaining about violation of Shekau’s rights by the government, if a southerner were the president. They would have called good evil and evil good. Such is the problem with Nigeria.

The road to Afghanistan was supposedly paved with good intentions by Islamic mullahs but we know what the situation is over there today. For those supposedly propping and legitimising Nnamdi Kanu on ethnic grounds, I say evil is evil no matter how well you package it. Nihilist criminals, as always, enjoy the thrill of destruction, dehumanisation and killing. There is no difference here. The recent targeted killing of traditional rulers by those many prefer to call ‘unidentified gunmen’ or UGM is just another dimension to the reign of terror in the south-east. It is painful to note that many more will die needlessly. I hope the genie is not out of the bottle already!!!

Afenifere is today the chief defender of Sunday Igboho, canonised as the new hero of the aspirations of the Yoruba people. Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi, the self-appointed negotiator and spokesman for bandits, is also busy assaulting our sensibilities every day. Nigeria means nothing to him. The enthusiasm with which he defends these criminals that kidnap schoolchildren for ransom is astounding to say the least. Even more confounding is the government’s provocative silence as Gumi continues to mock the Nigerian state and shame our heritage.

Now, he even threatens us that Nigeria will cease to exist if bandits are declared terrorists. I am alarmed and appalled by this government’s shameless double standard. I am more ashamed that it exists. This is a government that should never have existed. It should never have been. It is an aberration, a horror and a nightmare in suburbia. We’ve been living a real-life nightmare for the past six years plus since it came to power.

Despite all this, a certain professor and a modern-day Pharisee woke up one morning and tried to pull the wool over our eyes and deliberately provoke us to anger saying: “The president is possibly the most popular and credible Nigerian politician ever in generations.” Can you beat that? Anyway, as the 2023 presidential election draws near, many an aspiring candidate would be ready to lie through their teeth in hollow praise of the president with an eye on undue favours. But this is the biggest lie yet.

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