Why secession agitations will never cease in Nigeria ~ by Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko
Since 1999, certain categories of young people from my region began to demand to exit the country, no organisation, sociocultural group, nor leadership of any local, state, regional or even federal government, has been sincere enough to carry out a study and make public, reason a sizeable swathe of the population, especially, the younger generation, believe that exiting the country was the best option for them.
The elite of the region are scared of being identified with the agitators. The masses are ambivalent. The government is pissed off. And the beat goes on.
Errors and mistakes on all sides have convoluted the crisis regrettably.
Loss of faith in the system seems pretty obvious as the driving force behind the agitation.
When will the authorities adopt a change of strategy.
Why are the authorities afraid of enquiring from the aggrieved agitators and establish the exact identifiable reasons why they lost faith in the system, believe they won’t get justice and conclude only secession will grant them fulfilment?
How come nobody truly cares to actually dig into their bitterness to understand why they have remained committed and consistent in their agitation for 25 years? If they felt a sense of belonging or truly felt as part of the country, would they have sustained their agitation for a quarter of a century in spite of the fatalities they have suffered?
Why are the angry youngsters convinced that they will never be treated right and therefore insist on secession as the only solution to their fears and frustration?
Isn’t 25 years enough time for the authorities to finally sincerely engage them to identify their grouse and grievances and then perhaps turn and tell the world that their grievances are unreasonable.
If their grievances are found unreasonable, the whole world will note.
If their grievances are real, then the authorities should address them, the injustices remedied, and the land will move on in peace and harmony.
Closure and resolution are achievable, in an atmosphere of equity.
For the agitator, refusing to sincerely identify and address their grievances for a quarter of a century, seems to suggest disdain, contempt and disrespect towards the people of the region.
It sends a “do your worst” and “go to hell” message to the people of the region.
It suggests “we will not invite you for talks”, “we don’t care about your grievances”, we will just crush your agitation without caring what your grouse maybe”, “we don’t want to know about your grievances”.
The perception that the agitators are not important enough to be engaged or invited for talks, sends a certain kind of message to the agitators.
Everyone else, from the bandits of the North West, to insurgents of the North East and even the Niger Delta agitators have all been invited and engaged for talks.
Is it possible that there are certain folks and cabals blocking suggestions to engage the agitators directly for talks?
Has the strategy of containment adopted these 25 years succeeded in resolving the problem?
Did the strategy of containment rather strengthen and grow the agitation instead?
Since 1999, when Ralph Uwazurike activated his MASSOB, to over a decade later when Nnamdi Kanu upped the ante with his IPOB, till this year 2024, the nation and the world has haplessly watched a few hundred youths who began the waving of flags 25 years ago, metamorphose into a frightening army of millions of angry young people scattered over 86 countries of the world, and some people still believe there’s nothing wrong with the strategy of containment.
Engaging them will better resolve the issues.
Let truth be told: If the authorities still refuse to dig deeper to find out what convinces millions of artisans, traders, students, etc., to continue paying monthly dues to further the emergence of their dream nation in the believe that they will never get justice here, the problem may last longer than we assume.
As long as they believe they will never be treated right here, the problem will remain unsolved.
Hearing them out will help arrive at the truth.
Military operations, airplane sorties and offensives by security forces cannot restore love for the country, patriotism and an end to the fear of the future, which drives the bitterness that inspires lack of faith in the country.
The lack of trust in the system which breeds the feeling of alienation, exclusion and isolation cannot be resolved through military action.
The problem can be rather located at how the people and their region has been treated since July 1966.
Addressing the perceived mistreatment will heal the land and restore peace to the land faster than any other strategy.
Blackmailing truth bearers, discrediting the agitators, by labelling them miscreants, criminals, and terrorists has not restored sanity to the land.
Highlighting only the mistakes of the agitators hasn’t resolved the situation.
When will we quit wasting resources on smoke dispelling choppers, when we should simply locate the source of the fire and quench same with water.
Are some people profiting from the 25-year warfare to forcefully contain the agitation without ever seeking, identifying and addressing the root cause of the anger, bitterness and frustrations that inspire the agitation?
Obstinately struggling to sustain the earlier narrative that the agitators are unreasonable criminals have not helped the matter.
It is not in the nature of man, for any people to sustain an agitation for 25 years, stoically enduring fatalities year in year out, if they do not think their cause is a righteous one.
The agitators are no saints. We may not be fond of them, but they have remained committed and dedicated.
It is not true that the agitators are hustlers seeking attention.
Rather, the agitators are citizens who do not want their own children to be treated in the same manner that they themselves have been treated since 1970.
They believe that the situation of permanent spectators and onlookers allotted them by the unitary structure of the land, must not be transferred to their progeny.
Refusing to truthfully seek the root cause of their frustrations and delaying the rightful strategy of identifying and addressing their grievances, will continue to reinforce their belief that they are treated as second class citizens, validating their agitation before their eyes.
It is very difficult to understand why nobody really cares about identifying and addressing the root cause of the agitation.
Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko
Founder: Igbo Youth Movement IYM
Secretary: Eastern Consultative Assembly ECA
Deputy Secretary: Igbo Leaders of Thought ILT