"In the absence of a cat, the house becomes a playfield for rats", so goes a Yoruba saying. Another like it notes that "The return of a cat from a long sojourn always restores sanity and ends the free run of rodents and their destructive activities in a house".
President Muhammadu Buhari may not be a cat, but he has proved that his being symbolically likened to the wild specie and king of the jungle, the lion, by his wife, Aisha, is no fluke at all. While away on his prolonged medical vacation in London, Nigeria's corporate existence floundered and tottered on the brink, as all manner of groups took the opportunity to intensify hate rhetoric, agitations and agenda believed to be inimical to the corporate existence of the nation.
Although his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, who acted for Buhari in his absence, tried to douse the tension, his pacifist methods and dialogue with leaders of ethnic nationalities, as well as his own perception as a 'dove', coupled with power play believed to have hamstrung his decision making hardly went far in containing the state of anomie.
However, signaling hope in the improvement of her husband's health and his mind on goings on in the country, which, Buhari himself hinted in his Monday broadcast to the nation he monitored closely, albeit with distressed mind, Mrs. Buhari had assured a despairing citizenry of normalcy being restored, with far-reaching measures, once the 'lion king' was back in the country in her parable of the 'hyenas and the jackals'.
His condemnation and threat to deal with the threats to national security and stability, in his terse broadcast, which drew mixed reactions from the populace, followed by his recent order to security agencies to crush 'trouble makers', notably the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Boko Haram are simply in line with the character of President Buhari as a strong leader.
Although it is viewed in certain quarters as overkill, the President's directive has been fully backed by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF). Chairman of the organization, Dr. Paul Unongo in an interview with Saturday Sun's Willy Eya, explained that if the Nnamdi Kanu-led IPOB was allowed to carry on with its activities as it had hitherto done, it would drag the nation back into civil war.
This, according to the NEF chief, would be disastrous, when Nigerian leaders including Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu and Buhari, who were actors and also fought in the 1967-1970 armed conflict in which 3 million souls perished, regretted 'Biafra', had made up and agreed on national unity.
President Buhari has given the security chiefs marching orders to crush the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Boko Haram and other groups that pose a threat to national unity. What do you make of his directive?
I know Buhari very well. It was in my hometown, Gboko that Buhari and Ojukwu met for the first time after the war. I arranged for Buhari and Ojukwu to meet in Gboko. So I could feel Buhari's pain. You feel pain when young men that were not even born when we went and suffered so much and inflicted so much suffering on our people are using such verbiage and such type of rhetoric. They cannot even talk in such a sophisticated and philosophical manner like Ojukwu.
They cannot match Ojukwu in any way. Remember all the troubles that we went through to try and say look if we make ourselves to fight a war, we are going to come back to the same basic problems that we would sit down, talk about it and sort out. Ojukwu said let us go to Aburi and I would stand on Aburi and everybody said take Aburi; then something changed and he said give me confederation now or give me war. They were young people; both Ojukwu and Gowon were colonels. They told Ojukwu take federalism, let us dialogue and Ojukwu said no, let us fight and they now said, okay, if you fight, I would respond. And we saw these things for two years between 1967 through 1968. Then you have young persons who did not see what happened going around and matured people making the young boy feel that he is something special.
They are using half the idioms that Ojukwu used. They speak half the English that Ojukwu spoke and they are delivering the message less than the way Ojukwu delivered it and people are saying let us go to war. So, I can understand Buhari, a man who was a commander in the warfront, fought against Ojukwu and three years they never talked nor greeted, and after the war, they refused to greet, until I arranged and brought them to Gboko; Ojukwu from Nnewi and Gen. Buhari from Daura and we met at St John's Catholic Church, Gboko.
I think it is annoying. What kind of country is this? What sort of human beings are we to now prove that man does not learn from history? Shall we, Nigerians, start all over again and not move forward. After 50 years, we come back to the same rhetoric to abuse people and heat up the polity with tribal feelings right to the pitch and we fight a war. Last time, we lost 3million people. If we go with Nnamdi Kanu now, how many millions are we ready to part with? Maybe 15 million and we wait for another 50 years and the cycle continues.
I support the position of Professor Ben Nwabueze who is one of the constitutional lawyers in the world. The position is, please, let us come and sit down in a Sovereign National Conference; we are all very educated; even our children have become professors. Nigerians can sit down and talk over their differences very coolly. They can shout and abuse themselves if they want, but I do know one thing, the state of friendship, and love that was shown during the Nigerian civil war proves that Nigerians can reach agreement on every single thing, but the insensitivity of people who do not know the trauma of those who participated in the war are going through is the problem.
They are talking as if there was never a Biafra. We fought a war for three years, very serious and devastating that you can't imagine. People sought for food and anything. In fact, it got to a stage that people could have consumed human beings. The people out there who saw this horrific suffering, how are they allowing these young children to do what they are doing? We that are old have an obligation to tell the young people that we cannot go back to war.
The issue of Biafra was sorted out on the battlefield and about 3million Nigerians died in the process. I understand when Buhari talked about it with a little bit of anger. I say it softly; I beg you my brother, Kanu. We do not want another Biafra. We settled the issue of staying together with 3million people. I am 100 per cent with Buhari on that.
With less than two years of his administration left, what do you think Buhari should do to douse tension in the country?
I think that Buhari, as a politician now, has spelt out the orientation of his government and his political party has an agenda. Three items of the agenda are central to his administration. These terrorists called Boko Haram were contesting the Nigerian territory; they seized a huge chunk of the Nigerian territory. Let me give you a graphic illustration of the territory for Boko Haram. You know Borno State, in relative comparison, is seven times more than the whole landmass of the South East and Boko Haram captured almost 90 percent of that.
Boko Haram successfully captured 80 percent of the state and hoisted their flag on the territory. They captured land as big as the whole of South East. They were administering that land when Buhari took over power. They were threatening to capture Adamawa, which is two to three times the size of South East and they were encroaching into Gombe and also Bauchi.
And Buhari said he was not going to tolerate anybody. He said he was going to chase them out and crush them. He made security his first priority. He also said he would fight a war against corruption and fix the economy too.
Source: Daily Sun