Repeated warnings by the DSS to “persons and groups” whose utterances and activities persistently constitute provocative disruptions of the ethno-religious environment and threaten harmonious co-existence of the majority common folks of this country, were beginning to sound monotonous and unconvincing until “guilty conscience” forced the prime suspects out of their deceptive demeanour. Lingering questions about “who” or “which” persons and groups the security agency was referring to were promptly vapourized in the heated rhetorical outbursts of the nation’s prominent geo-ethnic agitators –Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Northern Elders Forum (NEF)and Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF). It then dawned on all that indeed these were the “persons and groups” that have “continued to resort to inciting, unguarded and divisive statements, and acts to pit citizens against one another in order to apparently inflame the embers of tribal and religious discord,” as the DSS charged in one of its warnings.
Interestingly, none of these prime suspects in the exploitation of “some fault lines to cause ethno-religious violence in some parts of the country” could categorically distance itself from the treacherous and subversive activities detected by the security agency. They chorused a common conviction that the DSS “knows” those responsible, differing only in the respective directions of their accusing fingers. While Afenifere retorted “these people know those who are responsible for these acts but can’t touch them because of their connections”, PANDEV rehashed its grouse about “many people feeling alienated” and ACF feigned ignorance, asking “who are the people? Since the DSS knows them and their satanic mission, they should be proactive in dealing with them.” The NEF sounded unconvinced with “if there are people pushing the country into deeper crises and they are known; they should be treated according to the law.”
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You don’t have to be a spook to know what the DSS knows about each and all of these flag bearers of geo-ethnic politics in Nigeria or to understand why they all “know” that DSS knows them yet they insist on passing the buck outside their cliques. The truth is that these champions of ethnic politics know of no better solution to Nigeria’s myriad problems than for their sectional enclaves and chiefs to lord it over the rest of the country as rulers, not leaders! So desperate and unscrupulous are they in pursuing their inordinate ambitions that they absurdly and frequently agitate for “break-up” of Nigeria.
Ambition-powered mind games intoxicate their geographical consciousness to reduce all it takes to excising the territorial contours of their enclaves with the frenzied ease of cutting their portion of the remaining crumbs of the proverbial national cake. But, for the land-locked ACF/NEF agitators and their Afenifere antagonists, the only way out of a broken up Nigeria is to cascade down a mega sink hole, if their myopic manoeuvres are not to lead to a suicidal breaking into neighbouring Benin and Niger republics, currently hosting herds of gunmen, turbaned terrorists and ISWAP insurgents on border patrol.
The Ohanaeze and Pan Niger Delta chieftains’ historical incompatibility remains a contemporary political conundrum posing even more treacherous logistic challenges to breaking up, either collectively or severally, none of which can compare or compete with the militant ambitions of Biafran belligerents or entrenched mangrove swamp marauders as deadly deterrents to any empire building plots in the area. Simply put, breaking up or out of Nigeria as an ultimate political panacea or consolatory opportunity to achieve inordinate ambitions of persons or groups restlessly undermining aspirations of majority wa-zo-bia Nigerian commoners for enduring peaceful coexistence, is easier said than done.
These regional groups actually constitute major hindrances to the steady attainment of unity and peaceful coexistence that Nigeria has been labouring for since flag independence. For as long as they continue to parade the political terrain as ethnic champions, for so long will they regard Nigeria as an entitlement for their ethnic stake in the population, to be claimed or seized and, if all else fails, deconstructed and disowned as a “failed state.” Whenever they meet, the agenda is not for Nigeria’s progress and development, unless its leadership is firmly in their grasp, otherwise it is all about heckling and jostling around with barely concealed determination to deploy the notorious Nigerian Ph.d, pull-him-down syndrome against the incumbent “non-indigene” President. Whether it is ACF, Afenifere, Ohanaeze, PANDEV or Northern Elders Forum, their existence and activities will always be antithetical to Nigeria’s quest for unity, peace and development.
Another undeniable indictment of these regional separatists is that they are all self-styled political pressure groups masquerading as representatives of various ethnic groups. From their membership, it is plain to see that they consist of ex-this-ex-that and motley groups of their hangers-on and other political prospectors who share the handicap of lacking genuine and verifiable mandate of those they claim to be “fighting” for.
Ironically, this political deficiency gives them the impetus to come together, desperate to remain relevant in a democratic system run entirely by elected representatives through registered political parties with legislative and executive institutions constitutionally established to dispense good governance and dividends of democracy. The geo-ethnic groups only have a nasty nuisance value in our democratic setting as they persist in acts of mischief, sabotage, blackmail and subversion, all brazenly intended to “make Nigeria ungovernable” as they often threaten and attempt, so that, perchance, they can regain political relevance if not control. That is why their frequent clandestine meetings trigger security alerts!
With such predator-politicians lurking around the perimeters of power with dubious intent of undermining an elected government just because they are not involved, it is beyond reasonable doubt that there must be a convergence of interest linking their overt activities and the covert criminalities of kidnappers, insurgents, armed robbers, bandits and allied terrorists, combined to make Nigeria ungovernable.
Double jeopardy aptly describes the predicament of the Buhari administration having to contend with such array of formidable foes unleashing incessant assaults on national security in a time of unprecedented economic adversity. To that extent, there can only be two groups of politicians: those who are positively participating in the democratic dispensation as partners in moving the nation forward against all odds and those who are negatively engaged in sowing seeds of discord and disorder to destabilize the country. By their utterances and activities, we all know them!
At the end of the day, the majority of Nigerians are ordinary citizens whose conditions of survival were not determined by and not dependent on the geography of their origin. Their daily struggles to eke a living are sustained by submission to the will of One God irrespective of differences of faith. Nigeria is their destined fatherland to which they remain loyal, law abiding and prayerful, knowing they have no other country to call theirs, collectively showing how citizenship breeds true patriotism.
They too know that Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) resort to inciting, unguarded and divisive statements and activities to pit citizens against one another in order to inflame the embers of tribal and religious discord for the political ambitions of their leaders. Hence the poor man’s prayer remains: GOD DEY, NIGERIA GO BETTER!
Manzo Reuben is a youth leader in Lokoja