By Abachi Ungbo
Each time am tempted to give up on the country so many reasons to stay positive keep falling on me like confetti forcing a rethink. We’re in an important epoch requiring great leadership. This one thing can make any society flourish or wither!
It’s trite to state that we are in the clutches of crushing challenges with every facet of our national life lying prostrate. Significantly, we’re where we are on the strength of our failure in tapping into our rich vein of diversity and prosperity. Therefore, securing the best for the country in term of peace, justice and development has been largely chimeric.
Insecurity is ferociously charging on us with polarising effect. Though, strong voices of restraint can be heard amidst the cacophonous calls for the decoupling of the country as the activities of IPOB become deadly in the South East.
No doubt, the South East is now a seething cauldron which the thought of it boiling over is filling us with a lot of disquiet fuelling extreme views. Truth is, neither the sentiment that the region is an offending part in the national body that must be excised through acceding to the demand of the agitators nor fire that must be extinguished solely by deploying military fire can ever be helpful in dealing with our fraying national cohesion.
Any military action will be tricky as it will go a long way to inadvertently help the agitators’ cause. The civil war is today used as a convenient object of deterrence unmindful of the unity and solidarity that existed back then. Basically, the kind of broad-based support in keeping the country one before and during the civil war is regrettably lacking today. The country has never been so fractured with just about everyone talking about disintegration so loudly.
War in south east will lead to untold collateral damage that will confer victim-hood to the agitators further attracting long queue of sympathisers behind IPOB and its agenda both within and outside the country. We must bear in mind that whatever military aggression no matter how resourced and methodically planned will certainly drag and remember it will be an asymmetrical battle.
This will come on top of the existing fight against insurgency in the North East that has been running for over a decade. ISWAP is a big monster having gobbled up Boko-haram in a turf war with rich support of ISIS which makes a divided military focus a big gamble. The scattered sheep of a shepherd-less Boko-haram for now remain flaming embers and together with ISWAP they all have eyes set the North. And, we must not allow a roll back of the modest gain in circumscribing the insurgency within the North East corridor.
The question is do we have the resources and motivation to keep our military and other forces active at different fronts amidst sundry crimes and internecine hostilities? The administration needs to calibrate its plans and actions even if has the mandate to quell insurrections using whatever means necessary.
The separatist agenda shouldn’t make us go berserk and act irrationally. I hear extremist views from people who otherwise should pour oil on troubled waters. In people of the South East are resources that would make any country proud. Countries like Taiwan and Japan are where they are not on the strength of its mineral resources but its resourceful people which the South East has in abundance.
It is the Igbo spirit and vibe that saw to the glittering rise of the region out of the ashes of a debilitating war. A serious country with hunger for sustainable development and prosperity would have over the years developed the South East into an industrial and manufacturing hub.
The talk about swinging the presidency to the region is not an enduring solution.The rallying cry for the agitation is predicated on alienation, injustice victimization.
Authorities should consider extending an olive branch to the agitators for negotiations which is never a sign of weakness or capitulation in time of existential crises. Definitely, no government will ever want to succumb to any criminal blackmail- that’s right. But, let’s not be too presumptuous in handling this delicate issue lest we create another Boko-haram.
Meanwhile, under the current template the country can’t have the desired unity to drive peace and development until we reach for a national dialogue. After all, not a few proposals exist on making the union work. All that’s needed is collective agreement on the path to tread and collective will and partnership to work in mutual respect.
Abachi Ungbo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org