APPRAISING THE CALM DISPOSITION OF THE SOUTH EAST GOVERNORS IN THE FACE OF UNWARRANTED STATEMENT BY SOME STATE AUTHORITIES :

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The recent statement credited to the Nation’s Army Chief, Lt. General Tukur Buratai to declare a state of emergency in the entire South East should the inhabitants of this region continue to attack the Government Security Agents and have gained traction in various news outlets is highly regrettable. It is equally unfortunate having to come from number one Army Officer in the country who rose through the ranks and should be seen to comport himself in a manner deserving of a gentleman Officer. This alleged statement credited to him had stuck like a sore thumb and have brought to the fore the many issues of how the security situation in the country is being managed.

That the Army Chief has neither denied nor refuted the statement nor the Presidency reigned in to condemn such in its entirety is a clear indication that we might just be hearing the voice of “Jacob but the hand of Issau”

It is important to stress what the pundits have expressed in certain quarters that the nation has never been more polarised than now in our journey of nation building. This should not be so. Despite all efforts at articulating and fashioning the best means to engender National unity and cohesion, we seem to be putting the wrong foot forward principally engineered by agents of destabilization who seem more interested in what they stand to gain than the interest of the generality of Nigerians. What a shame!

Currently, the nation’s National Assembly has started what it termed constitutional review. Nigerians are not new to these antics which many have either situated as being diversionary or distractive and begging the question. Many governments in the past have pursued this hallowed objectives with little to show for it at the end of the day in terms of positive results but have enormous resources to gamble with. No business oriented man would deliberately set out to embark on a wild goose chase if he is sure to gain little or nothing. This has been our lot in this country. It is utterly detestable. Back to the current review embarked upon by NASS, many memoranda have been submitted with many of the ethnic groups that make up Nigeria demanding outright self determination or creation of additional states to improve their lot. This has clearly shown the extent of disappointment or disapproval of the current state of the country.

The Igbo nation situated mainly in the South East Region of Nigeria seem to be the worst hit. Ever since the end of the Civil infractions that lasted for horrendous 30 months after which the head of the Nigerian government then General Yakubu Gowon declared no Victor no Vanquished to accelerate the healing process of the entire nation, yet the Igbos have surpassed even their modest expectations without the assistance of the Central government to bounce back to reckoning. They have remained resilient and resolute to recover the years of the locust occasioned by the unfortunate genocidal war.

The question which clearly agitates the mind is if other ethnic nationalities who are presently having it rough with the management of the Nigerian nation could be upspeaking about their travails, why would the Igbo nation be singled out for castigation and admonition for demanding a fair treatment from the Nigerian nation or be allowed to stand out from the rest? Why would they be constantly harassed by the agents of government simply for agitating for self determination?

History is replete with incidences where even relatively smaller nations have had to split amicably to pursue separate goals when it is obvious that going together is not in their best interest. For those who may not know, what we refer to as ethnic groups in Nigeria are actually nations in the Europe world. The white man does not accept domination from another white man in perpetuity.

It used to be so under the Roman empire and the like. Not any longer. The Communists tried it, dividing society into capitalists and proletariats, deluding themselves that ethnicity is effectively swept under the carpet, but what followed? The Communist edifices in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the big brother, USSR, all collapsed, while the two Germans that are ethnically the same but split by communism vs capitalism were reunited. Such is the power of ethnic nationalism.

Czechoslovakia was made up of two ethnic groups, the Czech and the Slovakians. Both separated peacefully on 1st January 1993. The former is today 10.6 million people and the latter 5.4 million. Added together, they’re not up to Lagos. Yet, they split for peace. Two masters can’t be in the same house.

Yugoslavia in 1991 was 23.2 million, barely more than Lagos population. It broke into six countries same year – all along ethnic lines, namely: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, MonteNegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.

USSR had at least 24 ethnic groups identified by their languages:
Today, we may not be able to count the number of countries that have emerged from the USSR.

Again in Europe, the two best examples of fairly stable multi-ethnic states are the UK and Switzerland. The former is led by reasonable men who permitted regional autonomy to the Irish, the Scots and the Welsh, while the English dominate Westminster. This scenario may actually reflect the yearnings of many ethnic groups in Nigeria.

The latter country, Switzerland, has four ethnic groups. Each of them rotates the presidency annually through seven cantons that constitute the federation units. All the four languages of the four ethnic groups are recognized as official languages and school languages to boot, namely, German, French, Italian, and Romansch that has just a few thousand speakers!
The Caucasians will never allow the domination of their group by another.

In Canada, Quebec is the only full French-speaking province, aside a little section of New Brunswick. The other seven provinces are English-speaking. Yet, Canada is bilingual for the sake of Quebec! And each of the provinces is largely self-governing.

It is important at this juncture to stress that peace is ultimately a sine qua non in engendering unity and cohesion. Peace is easily achieved through sincere and honest engagement of all stakeholders in a conflict. Again the true Principles of Public Relations which seeks to engender mutual respect and understanding of all parties to a dispute or promoting same between an Organization and its Publics must be vigorously appreciated at this time of our nation history.

It is in the light of this, that the forum of South East Governors must be commended. It might appear that they are quiet by not towing the part of volatility to heat up the polity in the face of any perceived provocation which other stakeholders have seemingly picked up the gauntlet to condemn the statement of the Army Chief through various press statements.

I’m quite certain that the forum of South East Governors know what they are doing and where they are going with their people. We can do without beating more war drums. “Whatever would be would be”. Surely in the end, the people will emerge victorious. Igbo nation is surely in the hands of God!

Written By Austin Okechukwu Chijioke,
A public Relations practitioner from Abuja

Member :Enugu di na aka Chukwu movement

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