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The basic opportunities of freedom


Northern NIgeria. PHOTO: ABC News

What marks a democratic nation from a dictatorship are the basic opportunities of freedom enjoyed by the individual in the former. These basic opportunities, frowned upon or prohibited in a dictatorship, include the freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of movement, among others.

However, these freedoms are moderated by the law of the land and the rights of others. For instance, the fact that one has the right of movement does not entitle him or her to stroll into the premises of another and do whatever they liked there. Neither does the freedom of speech entitle one to say whatever comes out of their mouth against another. Freedom carries enormous responsibilities with it.

In highly disciplined societies, even with their emphasis on human rights and freedom of association, political or religious organisations are required by law to be registered. The names and addresses of their principal officers or leaders, as well as their sources of funding and main objectives, are documented in public registers. These organisations are also required by law to seek the permission of law enforcement agencies, the police specifically, before they can perform any of their activities in public places.


There is also the overriding demand of the national interest in the freedoms we enjoy. National interest can be briefly defined as the major objectives pursued by the state in the interest of its prestige and the well being of its people. It is because of the national interest that a nation fights a war, or withdraws from it. Every nation seeks to pursue its survival and territorial integrity. There is hardly any nation of the world that would yield an inch of its territorial space to another without a fight. Even China, with a population of close to 1.5 billion people, is fighting over a small territory!

And this brings one to the question of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its proscription by the authorities. Without much doubt, IPOB must have overstepped its bounds as a politically acceptable organisation. Its creation of the Biafra Security Service and Biafra National Guard suggest it had already created its own republic out of the recognised Republic of Nigeria. It is doubtful if any government that has got spine would tolerate such an affront on the territorial integrity of a nation it has been elected to govern.

It is a different question altogether whether IPOB is a terrorist organisation or not. The Federal authorities have designated it as one, with reasons. One should be sceptical of those privileged nations, America and the European Union, that may have contradicted the Nigerian position in this regard. The reason for this scepticism is that those who had predicted the disintegration of Nigeria cannot be taken as trusted allies in this matter. It would seem as if they have been enjoying it all along when Nnamdi Kanu and his organisation were redrawing the map of Nigeria with such effrontery and glee.

Of course, it can be understood why established powers may not want another power to emerge now and in the near future. What cannot be understood is the seeming acceptance by the Nigerian elite, either because of short term political gain or shortsightedness, of this conspiracy. Suddenly, those who never said anything when the arrogance of IPOB was festering came out pontificating about democracy, constitutionality and human rights, once the Python had danced elegantly to the admiration of well-meaning Nigerians. They never told the misguided youths what we suffered in the Civil War of 1967-70, and why a united and peaceful Nigerian nation is in the best interests of all.

Any measure that stabilises Nigeria without encroaching on the dignity of hardworking and law abiding citizens will be justified in history. There are too many evils in the land-Bokoharamism, Badoo, kidnapping, and herdsmen criminality. Not too long ago, three female students of Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, were reportedly murdered by those said to have been contracted to produce three left breasts of women for rituals. In Britain of old, during the Tudor era, these criminals would possibly have been fed to hungry lions in the glare of public entertainment. There is a history to stability in the nations we celebrate today. If the Python would inject civility in the Nigerian behaviour, so be it.

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BiafraEuropean UnionIPOB
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