It is no more news that Nigerians of Igbo extraction have been given marching orders to vacate the North by Northern youths under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Youths (CNY) and the subsequent backing by Northern Elders which has sparked outrage and generated so many criticisms by both Nigerians at home and abroad.The reason cited for the eviction order borders on the ongoing agitations for secession which is being championed by the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MAASOB).
Recall the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum did expressly say the threat issued to Igbos to leave the region is for real and by no means a joke notwithstanding the orders from Abuja to clamp down on the purveyors of the eviction notice. At the beginning of the episode when the eviction notice hit the nation’s airwaves and later the social media, President of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, was remorseful and went on to give reasons why they gave the order amid ominous silence by the Northern Elders.
No sooner had the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam El-Rufai and Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police given orders to arrest those behind the eviction notice than the prime movers behind the orders surfaced in the person of Prof Ango Abdullahi and Dr Junaid Mohammed and other members of the Northern Elders Forum who have been threatening fire and brimstone which now hangs over our heads like the ancient sword of Damocles.
Only today, Yerima Shettima encouraged by the subsequent vocal support by the prime movers, said they have no regret for the order and he owes no one apology for the quit order served the Igbos.
Noteworthy here is the ominous silence on the above-named prime movers and the subsequent threat by Junaid Mohammed that the North is not afraid of war which has made news headlines across Nigeria and the seemingly lackadaisical attitude of Nigeria’s security agents to effect the arrest of Shettima and his co-travelers in the perilous journey to plunge Nigeria into annihilation.
As it is, there is no denying the fact that ill-conceived plans may have been perfected to unleash fury on a harmless people who are only in the region in their capacity as bonafide citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria whose rights to self-determination is inalienable. They remain the citizens of Nigeria until a proposed referendum decides otherwise. On this score, this threat to leave the region on or before October 1, I dare say, is ill-advised and I condemn this in the strongest terms.
Since this threat was issued amid condemnations by the Northern ruling houses, how many arrests have been made? According to reports making the rounds, President Muhammadu Buhari did expressly pat Governor El Rufai on the back for the order to proceed against those who gave the eviction notice. Be that as it may, how many arrests have been made?
This appears a cause for concern seeing that the heads of Nigeria’s security agencies are all made up of people from one region who partly appear in sympathy with their people and partly fundamentally opposed to the ongoing agitations mainly in the southern parts of the country. Against this background, I have every compelling reason to call in question the assurances and reassurances by the government that Igbos and other southerners are safe in the North.
In the light of the above, the threat to Igbos to leave the North should, by all means, not only be taken seriously by the Igbos but also by every Southerner because past events in the region have shown that every Southerner in the North is labeled as Nyamiri and would not escape the looming conflagration as time menacingly ticks by. Thus, there is a compelling need for every Southerner to be pro-active by leaving the region at least for now until the coast becomes clear if ever, otherwise one would be seen as abandoning oneself not only to an avoidable despair but also to a looming pogrom.
A people that fail to learn from history is doomed to perdition. Before the Civil War in Nigeria, the late Biafran warlord, Odumegwu Ojukwu was helicoptered into the desert city of Kano to register his displeasure with the then Emir of Kano in protest against the killing of Igbos and he was reportedly assured actions and measures would be taken to halt the killings.
As luck would have it, the reassurance by the then Kano Monarch did not see the light of the day as no sooner had he left the region than fuel was added to the raging flames and Igbos were killed in their thousands. This, according to reports, became the last straw that broke the camel’s back which did not only precede but hasten the historic declaration of secession from Nigeria at the period under sad review.
A similar scenario is dangerously unfolding again following the feigned reassurances by some Northern grandees. Frankly, I do not see the genuineness of the reassurances so far as no drastic measure has been taken to douse the tension triggered off by the raging threat. This may just be another ploy to commit a genocide on a harmless people who are only in the region as bonafide citizens of Nigeria and as part of their constitutionally-guaranteed rights.
It is high time, the north controlled Nigeria’s security agencies delved into action to proceed against the promoters and purveyors of the ill-conceived eviction order as anything to the contrary amounts to speaking to us in the appearance of Esau but in the highly deceptive voice of Jacob.”
*Iyoha John Darlington, a social activist, political analyst and public commentator on national and global issues wrote from Turin, Italy.