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Ethnic agitations: We must learn from history!


SIR: One of the topical issues in Nigeria at the moment is agitations from across different ethnic and socio-cultural groups. These agitations are not far from the power play within the polity, most especially from the ethnic nationalities who believed they have been politically and economically marginalized since the return of democracy in 1999. This has since become more strident under President Muhamadu Buhari.

The Indigenous People of Biafra {IPOB} has been demanding for secession, while the Arewa youths and some northern elders have in the past demanded for the exit of the Igbos from the north and vice versa, also not forgetting the recent loud ring for an Oduduwa republic in the Southwest. Interestingly, the agitations and demand for secession have somewhat sunk into the subconscious of average young Nigerians.

Why now and should such ever happen again in Nigeria?

While it is imperative for people to express their plights most especially under unfavourable political and economic atmosphere, I think government at the centre has not been sensitive enough to people beating the drums of secessions by trying to hear their plights in order to address them.  We have failed to learn from history and if proper attention and care is not paid by government by seeking constructive way to put permanent end to agitations, we may as a nation again experience what I call the “Ethnic Armageddon” from which Nigeria may find it impossible to recover.

For those who have forgotten or who don’t know or bother to know, I think it is important for all to learn. The civil war lasted for almost two and half years, 1967 to 1970 taking with it lives of almost two million Nigerians, severe famine lying on its wake for those that did not see the battlefield. We need to think of the would-be devastation of war in relation to the present Nigeria considering our population. We can as well learn from the present conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan, which has claimed thousands of lives, and brought about severe famine. Despite the “successful” secession of South Sudan and Eritrea, they are still not better off years after.

Looking into the present state of insecurity in all geo-political zones of the country; insurgency in the Northeast, banditry in the Northwest, kidnappings and farmer-herder crisis in other zones and the heavy impact of the aforementioned on our overstretched and limited security formations, can Nigeria afford to manage another civil war?

The lesson of the past, especially the most recent past are clear enough for the blind and the deaf, otherwise, we shall pay dearly for it once again as a nascent nation. The blood of innocent citizens flowing daily is too much to bear, let alone another civil war.

The onus is on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure Nigeria does not go the way of Sudan, as he’s has been repeatedly accused by different categories of Nigerians of his body language promoting ethnic and religious sentiments. There is need for the president to listen as a father to the pains and demands of Nigerians at this time.

Importantly, there is need for him to engage opinion and notable leaders irrespective of political and religious differences in helping him appeal to the consciousness of aggrieved Nigerians.  This should be done in good faith to find the panacea to present agitations.

A Yoruba proverb holds that “the king that rules when the town was peaceful will not be forgotten” vice versa. This also should serve as a wakeup call to President Buhari and successive leaders in Nigeria.

As we salute and appreciate the efforts of our security agencies for their relentless efforts, we believe that they can do more to ensure peace and stability in the country if they get the right political support.

It is important to know that no nation is devoid of challenges, the world powers inclusive; it is however, our collective responsibility as patriotic Nigerians who believe in our national creed to sue for peace at all times.

  • Olaogun Michael Sunkanmi,

Ilorin, Kwara State.

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