Does the Show of Force quell Secessionist Agitations? Let’s rather denounce and criminalize “Hate Action”.

Nnamdi Amaefule

In the past, gunboat diplomacy was always deployed in pursuit of foreign policies by advanced nations. However, military threat and deployment of force rarely achieves any meaningful and sustainable success in the pursuit of foreign policies, in most cases. The most part of the international community have since given up on the idea of gunboat diplomacy in pursuit of foreign policies. Equally, most advanced nations, rarely deploy military force in pursuit of domestic policies, or even to quell secessionist agitations. Hence, most Nigerians in the light recent events are currently wondering, when the Nigerian Military and by extension, the Nigerian Government will learn to shield their military prowess, in the pursuit of domestic policies against any and/or all forms of agitations, particularly, secessionist agitations.

The strategy of the Nigerian Government deploying full military force against innocent unarmed civilians, agitating for perceived political or religious rights is well documented. From the days of agitations resource control by the Niger-Deltans, to the obnoxious declaration of boko haram in Northern Nigerian; the incessant human rights violations by the Nigerian Military, have only succeeded in fuelling these agitations, leading to greater number of avoidable causalities, rather than immediate quelling of the agitations, whenever the Nigerian Government deploys military force against agitators. When will the Nigerian Government learn from their past mistakes or from their foreign counterparts?

For over two years now, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of the 97%-5% Policy and the subsequent brazen pursuit of the policy, we have seen increased agitations for secession across most part of Southern Nigeria. Prominent among the agitators are the IPOB members; who have continued to call for the sovereign State of Biafra, invariably, within their own rights. It is also on record, that some element in the North had at some point, issued a Quit Notice to the Igbos in the North due to the agitations for Biafra. There are reports that some youths within the south-western region, are currently agitating for an Oduduwa Republic, while others are calling for the restructuring of the country. All these agitations were invariably caused by President Buhari’s pursuit of “Hate Action”.

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Hate Action is the obvious 97%-5% Policy, aggressively pursued by President Muhammadu Buhari, by which all appointments and government programs are heavily skewed in favour of the northern part of the Country. Regrettably, rather than change his 97%-5% policy, following the gravitation garnered by various agitators, President Buhari has deployed the military within the south-eastern region of the country, for an operation otherwise, termed Python Dance II. This operation has had ripple effects in cities like Port Harcourt, where there have been reported cases of reprisal attacks against northerners by some miscreants. As at date, there are media reports that a group of Niger Militants have declared that an attack on the South East is an attack against the Niger Delta, and have now threatened to vandalize oil installations, if the officers of the Nigerian Army are not withdrawn from the south-east, immediately.

Contrary to the Press Release by the Nigerian Army on the commencement of the Operation Python Dance II, the real intendment of the operation Python Dance II remains unclear, particularly, in the wake of recent media reports. The reported carnage unleashed against reportedly innocent unarmed civilians within the south-east, begs the question, as to whether there was any real need for the massive aggressive deployment of the officers of the Nigerian Army within the south- east region in the first place. The media have been awash of wide spread human rights abuses and in fact, killing of innocent civilians, within the last four days, so typical of the Nigerian Army. As at date, there is an imposed dust-to-dawn curfew in Aba, Abia State by the Abia State Government, in a bid to de-escalate rising tensions. Some folks have since concluded, that the officers of the Nigerian Army were simply deployed by the operation Python Dance II to quell secessionist agitations for Biafra, within the south-east, by killing the leaders of the agitators and harassing their followers to silence.

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The idea of secessionist movements is not unusual in modern times, but have in fact continued to gather speed. From UK, where the activities of the Scottish Movement is well documented including, of course, the victory of the “Remain Campaign at the last outing, to Spain where the Government of Catalonia had recently declared a date for referendum, but lost at the Constitutional Court. Even the much-revered USA, are not immune from secessionist movements. From Texas to Alaska to California to Hawaii, there are all manner of secessionists. Yet the USA, just like other advanced nations have not deployed their unique military capabilities against secessionists.

Furthermore, the United Nations recognizes the peoples’ right to self-determination by the principle of self-determination. Pursuant to this principle, all the peoples of a nation have the right to determine their political status and to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Remarkably, President Buhari’s federal government have continued to support a two-state solution regarding the ever-ranging dispute between Israel and Palestine. In effect, the Nigerian government supports the right of the Palestinian people to be an independent sovereign State. Interestingly, this support was not pursued by gunboat diplomacy. What then is the real essence of the operation Python Dance II, I dare ask? Why are the officers of Nigerian Army killing innocent unarmed civilians, while President Buhari continues to look the other way? For how long will the recent human rights violations continue?

The point remains that the 97%-5% Policy pursued by the Buhari administration has continued to fuel secessionist agitations. President Buhari’s hate action incensed the secessionist. The continued bastardization of the Federal Character Principle under this administration, have continued to derail the national unity of this country in an unprecedented manner, while the National Assembly stands aloof! What has the Federal Character Commission done to check against the continued bastardization of the principle of federal character by the current administration, despite the continued castigation of the President Buhari’s 97%-5% Policy? The solution to secessionism is not “the show of force!

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The current increased secessionist agitations is the bye-product of President Buhari’s Hate Action. We don’t need a show of force against secessionism. Rather, we need to quickly and aggressively “show-force” against “Hate Action”, by denouncing and criminalizing such approach to governance in a diverse nation such as Nigeria. The time has come for the National Assembly to intervene against President Buhari’s hate action. The Buhari administration needs to pursue a more inclusive policy rather than the 97%-5% policy. President Buhari has the responsibility to show the vast majority of Nigerians, how they are better and can pursue their socio-economic and political developments under a united Nigeria, by the aggressive pursuit of all-inclusive policies. The brazen pursuit of 97%-5% policy cannot foster and promote the unity of this country. Further show of force will only continue to gravitate secessionist agitations and derail the nation towards the part of disunity than unity. Let’s cure the disease, rather than “show force” against the symptom.

Nnamdi Amaefule ( a Lagos Based Lawyer and Political Analyst.

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