IGP, federal govt and the South East
I am as disturbed by the general narrative against the Fulani, because of the failure of the Federal Government of Nigeria to secure our country from invading foreign terrorists – a failure that many Fulani & others in Northern Nigeria find as unconscionable as other Nigerians in the South – as I am with the Inspector-General of Police’s reported order to police to essentially violate human rights and engage in extra judicial killings in the Southeast under the guise of “Operation Restore Peace” in the region against Biafra secessionist agitators.
The IG says President Buhari has ordered a “shoot at sight” against anyone carrying an AK-47 rifle illegally, ostensibly as a justification for his spurious orders regarding the Southeast. I’d like to know how many terrorist “herdsmen” in Nigeria have been “shot at sight” so far since the President’s reported order. A lack of commitment to a Nigeria based on the equality of every Nigerian and every part of Nigeria is the reason why there are very obvious double standards in security operations in Nigeria. This leads us to simplistic narratives that demonize ethnic groups at large, and to compare apples with oranges.
I believe that Nigeria can flourish under the right conditions, with real leadership. Agitations for seccession are fed by a deep sense of injustice and alienation, and not just in the Southeast. Nation-building calls for addressing these root causes, not lazy, jaundiced responses to agitation and security challenges from a particular part of the country that only worsen the problem, while even worse challenges in other parts are essentially met with ransom payments and “negotiations”.
Let me be clear: I do not support violence or the targeting of security forces by any group or individuals. And I do not support hate narratives against any Nigerians, whether they are peaceful Fulani that do not support invading foreign terrorists and rank nepotism in (mis) governance, or political agitators against injustice and hegemony. The Federal Government of Nigeria must know that the excessive militarization of the Southeast in response to a problem that is fundamentally political will lead nowhere.
There is no alternative to a fundamental constitutional restructuring of Nigeria. Our leaders should go and study history. The reported comments of the IGP while addressing the Police Mobile Force and Special Tactical Squad of the Police Force in Enugu are not just irresponsible, they project a sense of impunity in sanctioning unaccountable use of force, and are an invitation to anarchy.
The rule of law does not exist in Nigeria. The selective application of unaccountable use of force, even by a security agency such as the police force, is essentially lawlessness.
As for those demanding secession, both from the east and the west, I believe they can come to the table, as should happen in a civilized context, if they are confronted with responsive, mature and visionary leadership that seeks fundamental solutions, as opposed to the disdainful arrogance of fleeting power.
The risk the Nigerian government runs if it continues its present trajectory on this sensitive matter is that it could push this agitation from the fringes into the mainstream. Risks are meant to be managed.