Not long ago, while I was waiting to be called for the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC), my brother, who had graduated before me was posted to serve in Yola, one of the states the rampaging Boko Haram insurgents declared their caliphate.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan had just then, declared a state of emergency in the three states ravaged by Boko Haram group, signalling a total and comprehensive military operations in the region.
Immediately after the declaration of the state of emergency in the Northeast region, I responded in fear with a piece, titled: “So that state of emergency does not turn into military terrorism.”
The reason for this unprepared article, was not because I just wanted to write about the development but because I was obviously expressing fear of the safety of my brother who was due to assume orientation camp and other innocent Nigerians living in the region.
My fear was so intense that I was picturing how the post-emergency rule in the region would look like.
As a matter of fact, while my mother and other family members were discussing whether my brother should abandon the program if the NYSC management would not re-deploy him to other states, he received a cheering message from NYSC, directing him to report at their Abuja camp for the three weeks orientation programme.
I, who was still waiting for the next batch to be mobilised, was fervently praying to God not to let the management post me to any of the northern states in spite of the fact that I am from Kogi state, which is in North central.
Fortunately, a few months later, I was posted to Abia state in the Southeast: the state which happens to now house the melting point for Biafra agitation.
I received the news of my posting with mixed feelings.
First, I heaved a sigh of relief for the fact that I was posted out of the war zone (Northeast). Secondly, I was scared of my sojourn in the ‘Nyamiri’ region, as it’s fondly called, for my one-year compulsory programme. My second reason above was hinged on the narratives that the Southeast region was not conducive to serve, especially for practising Muslims.
I decided to go and experience for myself how the region would be.
Surprisingly, on getting there, I noticed that the region was very peaceful and more conducive than even my home state, Kogi. I explored the state, (the God’s own state) from Umuahia to Aba to Arochukwu, Ohafia and others. Everywhere was peaceful and the Igbo people I met were wonderful. I saw Mosques virtually in all local governments I went to. We observed Friday prayer freely. At my place of primary assignment, we would go out any time, though I avoided night outings.
So, it is disheartening to now be confronted with the reality that the Eastern region that was enjoying peaceful atmosphere while many people in the Northeast were admiring them suddenly allow a young guy to slide it into a war zone.
It would be recalled that few weeks after Dr Goodluck Azikiwe Ebele Jonathan fantastically lost in a general election that produced Muhammadu Buhari as president, a young Igbo guy emerged from far away London to declare what many people would probably describe as war against the Nigerian state, making all sort of inflammatory statements even when Buhari had not been sworn in as president of the federal republic of Nigeria.
The Igbo elites, who we all know, massively opposed the Buhari presidency, supposed to have understood the possible political reality that would follow such action and be mindful of their subsequent behaviour so that they would not be labeled as enemies of Nigerians.
They should have swiftly confronted the young guy from far away London to desist from making inflammatory statements and inciting people against the new leadership of the country.
But, the Igbo elites were either none concern about the damage the guy is doing to their collective political stand, or some of them were indirectly supporting Nnamdi Kanu’s unhealthy Biafra campaign, using it to hold the newly elected president to ransom.
The Igbo could not easily realize that what the young guy was cooking for the region was far more than they can chew. The Igbo could barely notice how millions of displaced victims of Boko Haram and military operations in the Northeast were admiring peace in Southeast region. They show open hatred for, and fear of Buhari in their psyche. It is so palpable that one cannot mistake it.
Now that the military has declared the IPOB as terrorist group, it’s probably too late for the Igbo leaders to condemn the violent approach of the IPOB.
One may guess however that there is a slim chance for them to urgently retrace their step by teaming up with the federal government to quell the unholy crusade of IPOB.
This will help prevent the gullible youths in the region being transformed into armed militias that may induce a total and comprehensive military operations which could, in turn, lead to the rebirth of the Northeast experience in the Southeast.
A stitch in time, they say, saves nine!