…says review of president’s policy of 95 to 5% against Igbos can stop agitation
…asks FG to concentrate on bandits, B’Haram, instead of IPOB
Former Military Administrator of Kaduna State, Col Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (rtd), yesterday, declared that President Muhammadu Buhari’s manifest of poor skills in managing Nigeria’s diversity has been largely responsible for the growing agitations for self determination by various groups in the country. The ex-MILAD urged President Buhari to review his ill-advised policy of 95/5 per cent votes for political patronage which has put the South East at a disadvantage under the current administration, stressing that such a move will help in bringing an end to the separatist agitations as championed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other groups.
In a statement which he personally signed and released in Kaduna, Umar lamented that Buhari appears not to have learnt valuable lessons from some of his predecessors who managed Nigeria under difficult circumstances “Truth be told, the Buhari administration has so far exhibited poor skills in its management of our diversity.
Yet, it has the benefit of great examples by past administrations and statesmen which should guide it. “After our bitter civil war, July 1967-January 1970, the then Head of the Federal Military Government, General Yakubu Gowon, declared a no victor, no vanquished reconciliation and reintegration policy. Its implementation may not have been perfect but it produced a guiding vision which served as a template for the reintegration of the nation.
“These are in sharp contrast to the declaration of President Buhari after his election in 2015 in which he promised not to treat, on equal terms, those who gave him only 5% of their votes with those who gave him over 97% of theirs. This may account for his government’s refusal to appoint an Igbo as head of any of the security services. A review of this ill-advised policy will go a long way to neutralise the growing influence of IPOB among Ndigbo, both at home and in the Diaspora,” he stated.
Umar said that the perceived threat posed by Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB to Nigeria’s security and unity was “clearly an exaggeration,” adding that it was quite embarrassing that the Buhari administration was spending so much energy in an attempt to quench the agitations of Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB, instead of confronting the much more serious issues of Boko-Haram insurgency and banditry ravaging most parts of the North East and North West regions of the country.
“It is quite strange and disturbing that the Federal Government is according undue attention to the threats of separatist movements in contrast to the more daunting ones posed by bandits, kidnappers and insurgents in the North West, some parts of North Central and North East. “Activities of those criminals have resulted in the evacuation of over 20% of the villages in North West and North East. Hundreds are being murdered and maimed every week. Many more are kidnapped for ransom. Millions have been rendered internally displaced, facing disease and starvation.
Over one thousand school children were abducted in the past eight months with over 300 still in the hands of the bandits and kidnappers demanding humongous ransom payments. “Rape of women and young girls has become a daily occurrence. Most economic activities, particularly farming, which are the mainstay of the people in these areas, are now all but impossible,” he said.
Umar declared that the government’s earlier claim of having technically defeated the Boko Hatam insurgents in the North East has turned out to be an empty propaganda. He argued that contrary to the claim, the enemy has morphed into a more determined and deadly force, threatening to overrun the whole of the Northeast region.
Umar said that for the average Northerner living in these troubled zones, who is barely aware of the activities of separatists, banditry, kidnappings and insurgency are of greater threat and concern. According to him, the arrest of Kanu was of no serious consequence to people living in the Boko Haram infested North East and those in the North West ravaged by bandits, since it does nothing to ameliorate the harsh and brutal conditions in these areas.
“In recognising or reasserting the right of every citizen or groups to express their desire for self-determination, one does not support or condone the use of violence for such purpose. IPOB and its leader may well be responsible for some of the violence, including the murder of security personnel, arson and destruction of public and private properties for which they should be held to account.
“We must, however, be honest enough to identify the cause of the current growing restiveness in the Southeast. “By all means the government needs to deploy nonviolent means in addressing the problem. It is self-evident that justice, fairness and equity are the best means of building a united and virile nation, particularly one as diverse and fragile as Nigeria.
“It is my long held view that this country is more beneficial to all the federating units, if only because it provides a security umbrella to all its units. None of them will fare better in a balkanized Nigeria due to their similar diversities. The recognition of Nigeria as the giant of Africa is not on account of its huge oil wealth but its size, diversity as well as other potentials. These notwithstanding, the nation can only remain united and prosperous when all its citizens and the component parts feel a true sense of belonging.
Without it, the nation’s unity will be in serious jeopardy similar to what Nigeria is currently experiencing. “The FGN must go beyond the arrest of Kanu and pay greater attention to the more serious security challenges threatening to cripple the country completely. The apparent failure of our security forces to deal decisively, as the President so often commands them to do, with these security threats is obviously due to the acute shortage of manpower and equipment. “These deficiencies have resulted in the thin spread of our forces and lack of timely rotation in areas of conflict. Government must massively increase security manpower and equipment. As we have seen, mere change of Service Chiefs would appear far from being the solution,” he said.