Biafra: The next bus to Juba!
Even as you read this, elders, leaders of thought and moderates in Igboland have continued to distance themselves from the separatist agitations in the south east. The increasing awareness of the damage wreaked on the nation’s economy by the freeloading of the Goodluck Jonathan years is partly responsible for this! If anything, Nigerians now appear determined to avert the return of freeloaders! Even the Jews would wish the Old Testament (Hosea 8:13) did not predict their return to a second bondage in Egypt!
There is also the realisation that it was the frustration related to the misgovernance of the Jonathan era that fuelled the wrongheaded agitation to break up Nigeria. Even the most rabid praisers of President Jonathan now openly confess that his administration simply turned the blind eye as political misfits elevated budget-padding, fraudulent declaration of assets, outright pilfering and all manner of misconduct to an art!
That, indeed, was the era when public office holders, among them the nation’s commander-in-chief, justices, lawmakers and army generals operated with the mindset that stealing was not corruption. More importantly, it is the growing realisation that reversing the ugly trend and sanitising the system are high on the agenda of the Buhari/Osinbajo administration. If, for some curious reasons the administration cannot be encouraged, the least it deserves is to be badmouthed!
In spite of the new reasoning, supporters of Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB and Ralph Uwazuruike of MASSOB remain in the trenches with live hand grenades at the steady. It is a chilling signal of the desperation to scamper on the last bus to Juba! Providence delayed the desperate scamper on the last bus to Juba when Kanu was put behind bars. Now that the irascible Kanu is out on bail, he has resumed blowing hot air characterised by glib threats to destroy his ’enemies at home and abroad’!
For Kanu and Uwazuruike and their starry-eyed supporters, the night of long knives is not even here yet. Tellingly, the two brothers are not even waiting for the party to start, so to say, before displaying their sharpest knives. Without doubt, the regular exchange of invectives between the two men and their supporters signposts greater threat to the peace in the south east. Sadly, none of them is looking toward ‘independent’ South Sudan as sign that Igboland may implode if IPOB and MASSOB have their way!
South Sudan excites us, for very obvious reasons! Marginalisation was the lame excuse given by advocates of independent South Sudan before renegade soldiers from the south plunge the country into a long and catastrophic civil war. The thinking was that the predominantly Christian and animist south was incompatible with and, would be better off, without the predominantly Muslim north. The rallying cry to arms was the excuse that South Sudan ‘freedom fighters’ needed to suspend their age-long ethnic rivalry. The flag of the newly-independent country had hardly been hoisted than the needless tussle for supremacy, often characterised by much bloodletting, resumed!
So soon, reality now stares the war-weary people of South Sudan in the face. With death more certain than life in the world’s youngest country, majority of the struggling people of independent South Sudan who are refugees in their own country and in neighbouring countries, are beginning to question the rationale behind the five-decade long bloody war of independence! Lucky John Garang! Had the renegade army Colonel lived long enough, chances are he would have had the misfortune of presiding over the affairs of a deeply fragmented ‘independent’ country.
Let’s return to Nigeria! One banal narrative told by Nigerians about their country revolves round the possibility of the break up along ethnic and/or religious lines. What this means, in the opinion of tale bearers, is that Nigeria should cease to be the ‘contraption’ of one, united country put together over one century ago. Three years after Nigerians celebrated one hundred years of togetherness, the ruckus over a possible break up is getting rowdier.
We must concede that the highly unlikely talk of a breakup of Nigeria, either now or in the immediate future, is a home grown fallacy. It is a bad product, an odious yarn that Nigerians successfully exported abroad and sold to undiscerning foreigners! In fact, the categorisation of Nigeria into Christian south and Muslim north, is as incredulous as it is incredible. In other words, the idea of a breakup is a rattlebrained idea vended by desperate rattlebrains and their collaborators in the lucrative gunrunning business!
It is instructive to remind ourselves that one of the early adherents of Nigeria’s breakup was the late Muammar Gaddafi, himself a strong advocate of one, indivisible United States of Africa with one central government who, at a point advocated for Nigeria to be dismembered, Sudan style, into two to cater for Muslims and Christians! How sorely mistaken Gaddafi was! Decades after he recanted and confessed to have spoken ‘out of ignorance’, Gaddafi’s misnomer and similar beer-parlour chinwags continue to spew from the mouth of supposedly educated Nigerians.
Let’s review the basics! Those who advocate a breakup, Czech or Sudan style, do not even appreciate the role of divine intervention in the events that culminated in the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates in 1914. The predominantly Yoruba speaking south west, where there are as many Muslims as there are Christians, cannot be referred to as Christian south. Even if the average Yoruba Muslim is liberal, as alleged, with his religion, it is unlikely they are about to play second fiddle in a Christian Republic of Oduduwa.
In the whole of southern Nigeria, it is in the south-south and the south east geo political zones that we find indigenous Christian populations in the majority. There are indigenous Igbo Muslims and indigenous Muslims in the south-south who will reject their classification as second class citizens in a Christian south.
The north-west is predominantly Muslim but, even at that, there are indigenous Christian and animist populations who are indigenous to the zone. Any way we look at it, Christians are not an insignificant minority in the north central and north east zones. And, by way of a reminder, Borno, birthplace Boko Haram, is not predominantly Muslim! Yet, even in unlikely quarters, the misnomer of a Christian south and a Muslim north persists! This may not matter much.
What does matter is that divine intervention may, once again, intervene to abort the dream of budding gunrunners….and, more importantly, abort the trip to Juba!
Magaji lives in Abuja.