Time To Suspend The ‘Python Dance’

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President Buhari should withdraw the army from the Southeast in the nation’s interest

That the situation in the Southeast has almost reached a tipping point is an understatement. Even if that is the goal of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, the irritant leader of the so-called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the authorities should not play into his hands. We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to provide the kind of leadership that a time like this demand by calling for the suspension of “Operation Python Dance Two” so that there can be a meaningful dialogue towards an enduring peace without which progress is impossible. Whatever may be the motivation, provoking the civil populace through acts of unnecessary fright engineering is in itself a threat to national security, especially in the season we are in.

We must state very quickly that in the face of the clear and present danger posed by the activities of terrorists, kidnappers, armed robbers and sundry criminal elements, we understand the need for vigilance. We also share the view that by his unhinged rhetoric, Kanu has constituted himself into a national security threat. Nevertheless, we are mindful of the abuse that could come from a deployment of military troops as can be glimpsed from some of the video clips that are already in circulation. Without prejudice to whatever may be the outcome of the investigation the military authorities claimed to be conducting into those videos, we would like to state that most reasonable people have already drawn their conclusions.

However, it is reassuring that political leaders in the Southeast have finally decided to confront the IPOB menace while reaching out to their counterparts in the North to avoid any reprisal attacks that could lead to a national conflagration. We also commend the Northern traditional and political leaders who have waded in. We need such peace-building process across board.

Rising from a meeting last Friday in Enugu, the South East Governors’ Forum announced the proscription of IPOB activities. Forum Chairman, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi who spoke for his colleagues, said that they were already in touch with their northern counterparts “who have assured us of the safety of our people living in the north and we have also planned for exchange of visits to reinforce confidence”. He added: “We wish to assure Nigerians that full investigation is ongoing on all allegations of killings, maiming and other unlawful conduct in the zone within this period”.

The federal authorities must reciprocate this gesture. Part of the propaganda propelling the Biafran separatists is the idea that the region is being treated more like a forcefully occupied territory rather than a component of a democratic republic. Rightly or wrongly, this assumption has taken hold among unemployed youth and other subscribers to the Biafra movement in the Southeast. Droves of combat troops in open display of raw force can therefore only be interpreted as an act of deliberate provocation.

All factors considered, the idea of “Operation Python Dance” by the military at this point in time in the Southeast was ill-timed. One, the use of the military rather than the police for civil security operations has a tendency to graduate into a major national security risk whose eventual implications may unsettle our fragile and fractious democracy. Two, a retinue of combat ready troops with armoured vehicles and other instruments of war parading the streets of a state capital can easily lead to a disruption of civil life and that can only lead to an escalation of a combustible situation.

It must be clear to all concerned that when any society gets polarised along the lines of “we” versus “them”, as Nigeria clearly is today, anarchy is not too far away. Time has therefore come for critical stakeholders in our country to stand up with one voice to denounce the rising wave of violent acts that are gradually becoming the norm. But President Buhari must take the lead by withdrawing military troops from the streets of the Southeast while rallying together our people for the peace and prosperity he promised when he was campaigning for office.

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it is reassuring that political leaders in the Southeast have finally decided to confront the IPOB menace while reaching out to their counterparts in the North to avoid any reprisal attacks that could lead to a national conflagration

  • Dele Awogbeoba

    A clear and growing danger presented by an organisation whose principles are in direct conflict with the state will result in friction either now or later. It is either confronted in its growth phase or at its point of optimal strength. The timing chosen will only affect the costs in lives in defeating the menace. The choice is that of the state. Ignoring Kanu was never an option. OBJ ignored BH for so long until Yar Adua had to act. What we face today is a consequence of years of OBJ’s tolerance. Kanu’s IPOB is a failure of the Nigerian foreign security service who should have taken care of this threat very very early. Now the problem will be dealt with but it will cost many Nigerians their lives.

    Any one looking at the video of igbos hunting for Hausa people with clear intent on genocide knows that the situation in the SE requires military attention in order to avoid genocide.

    Buhari cannot be expected to be as irresponsible with IPOB as GEJ was with Boko Haram. Terrorists must be confronted whether we like it or not.

  • ifeanyi victor

    The issue is not south east finally deciding to tackle ipob,ipob is a peaceful and civil organisation,and was also affirmed as such by a competent court in nigeria.
    The issue is that nigerians,mostly core northerners are afraid of ipob’s agitation may lead to losing their feeding bottle and entrenched unmerited advantages in a centralised nigerian society.
    Hence the seal to squash an ant with sledge hammer in the situation of buhari and kanu/SE.

    • Dele Awogbeoba

      Any one looking at the video of igbos hunting for Hausa people with clear intent on genocide knows that IPOB terrorists can nevr be called a peaceful organisation unless genocide is now considered a peaceful undertaking in the SE.

      Buhari cannot be expected to be as irresponsible with IPOB as GEJ was with Boko Haram. Terrorists must be confronted whether we like it or not.

    • How can IPOB be a peaceful organisation? What is your definition of peaceful. Have you ever listen to Nnamdi Kanu speak about other tribes? He was inciting insurrection and discord.

      I am just surprised that he has no balls. Before Nigerian Army could say jack, he has disappeared. His families are here in the UK, and he is there in Nigeria farmenting trouble. Personally, I hate marginalisation, but Kanu was too arrogant in his approach. He is just puffed up, he is empty barrel, that is trying to take advantage of the situation in the SE.