The IPOB challenge


Recent events in the south eastern part of Nigeria has shown that there is still work to be done in terms of nation building and indeed cultivating political culture. The announcement by the Nigerian Army that it was following up on a military exercise which it carried out several months ago code named  “operation python dance” created some level of panic. The exercise, the Army said, was to conduct drills and general security surveillance according to its terms of service engagement. For them, the incidence of kidnapping, armed robbery and insurgent activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB was enough for the python to dance.

In fact the official take off of the military drill had not commenced when all hell was let loose. Media accounts had it that while a military convoy was making their way around the residence of Nnamdi Kanu in Afara Ukwu near Umuahia, some youths, who appeared to be members of the IPOB challenged the Army personnel and pelted them with stones, bottles and sticks. Even so, the men of the Nigerian Army did not respond if the amateur video released to the public and reviewed by this newspaper by a member of the Biafran group is anything to go by. However, there were other skirmishes on the day. The Nigerian Union of Journalists Press Centre in Umuahia was invaded by the angry soldiers, who claimed that journalists were taking unauthorised pictures of them.

By the next day, pandemonium had broken out around Aba in Abia state and Oyingbo in Rivers state. Oyingbo is very near to Port-Harcourt. In that skirmish, it was reported that a police sergeant died in the hands of IPOB agents. The policeman was trying to prevent the agitators from burning down a mosque in the vicinity. Of course, these steps are sure ways to know that some of these attacks were premeditated. It’s as if the IPOB was primed to do what it has done. Searching for mistakes to cripple the public relations of the Nigerian government or the Army.

To be fair, if you have listened to IPOB’s rhetoric on the internet and on radio Biafra you will not but support what the Army has done. the Army had to intervene when it became apparent that the police had failed to arrest the situation. Speeches and boasts of the calamity that will befall Nigeria were alarming. Most pathetic was the utter bile, hatred,prejudice and bigotry preached by Mr. Kanu. It will be the standard case of hypocrisy if any sane person supports what IPOB did. From forming a Biafran Security Service, BSS to a declared formation of the intelligence arm of the  “republic “. IPOB also threatened to unleash nuclear weapons on Nigeria and to “raze the zoo country to the ground”. He and his supporters call Nigeria a zoo while everyone in it was called an animal. The hatred was unimaginable.

It is pretty clear that even the engagement initiated by the vice president did not impress Kanu. He repentantly attended a meeting with all south east governors to seek peace with him. But he came out to poo-poo whatever they discussed. After all, he had declared that election will not hold in Anambra state as a prelude to total boycott of elections in the whole of south east come 2019. Kanu and his IPOB showed little or no regard for the Nigeria nation. They carried on as if Nigeria was in a stateless form where anarchy reigned supreme. It must have been that feeling that made him and IPOB to begin to take laws into their hands. They set up tax collectors and generally maintained enclaves where no other mortal could trespass.

By challenging the authority of the country it was only natural for the army to intervene one way or another. To be fair, the Army’s intervention has brought down tension around the country. There may have been procedural errors while this was going on but it is the court that has the final say if the proscription and tagging the group a terrorist was fair. However, every Nigerian must have something to say about their country. We hope that the IPOB situation will offer Nigeria the opportunity to device practical ways of dealing with such vile campaigns in future.

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