A little reading on the Nigeria Civil war of the late sixties reveals that what most people considered an ethnic issue did not really begin as an ethnic issue but a struggle within the army against what some top soldiers like Major Nzeogu considered corruption in the ruling government. It is a historical fact that Major Nzeogu surrounded himself with Hausas and had his base in Kaduna when he began his struggle prior to the war. General Aguiyi Ironsi also had a lot of non-Igbos around him and some people even think he was exposed as a president by his ‘naivety’. A few months later some people saw things differently and it became an ethnic issue leading to a civil war.
The understanding we had of Boko Haram’s struggle is an attempt to Islamize Nigeria and wipe out western education yet these days some statements I read seem to indicate that they are trying to prove that the current administration is not strong enough to stop them. Their actions further tell us that they are trying to wipe out Christians from Northern Nigeria (and possibly from Nigeria generally). Some of their statements also seem to be an attack on anyone who opposes their cause. What is all this really about?
If the other militia and non-militia groups in Nigeria – OPC, MASSOB, the Niger Delta groups and the like have begun viewing the actions of Boko Haram as ‘external aggression’, then we need to intercede harder. If Christian clerics have begun organizing congregations for reprisal attacks, then we need to pray even harder. Some may say we are being merely religious in calling for prayer while others vent their anger by writing against the Jonathan –led government. Whatever you view is, trust me, you do not want war in Nigeria.
A war in Nigeria means complete instability in the entire African continent. Managing close to 100 million fleeing refugees is not a joke. A war in Nigeria means a standstill to the thousands of businesses including major African Banks whose largest branch networks are in Nigeria. A war in Nigeria means global impact on supply of crude oil. A war in Nigeria means the closure of a major market for manufactured products produced by major developed and developing nations: China, the US, India …. A war in Nigeria means a standstill in the economy. No matter how bad it is now, a standstill is far worse, believe me.
Everyone has a right to defend themselves but I do not believe that stirring up emotions about warfare within a nation as big as Nigeria in this day and age is a step in the right direction. I do realize that there is probably some dishonesty in the negotiations among leaders regarding bombings in the North but I do think efforts should be directed at unveiling the masked mafias behind this group rather than fighting all Northerners. As a possible solution to Nigeria’s complexity, I subscribe to Pa Enahoro’s idea of a Sovereign National Conference proposed as far back as 1992. Rather than dividing the nation violently, we should agree on what the terms of our living together are.
After the last civil war, I understand some Igbo’s swore never to make any investments in the North only to yield to the enterprising spirit just a few years after. Well, truth is “If they persecute you in one city, flee to the next” meaning in this context, better to stay among your own people than to be killed among another. Yes, another. We are one political entity but we are definitely different peoples and if we are going to live together in peace, then we must agree on the terms rather than depending on a mere political structure created by the British. Finally, maybe God is indeed trying to tell us something we are not hearing. God bless Nigeria.