Published On: Fri, Aug 11th, 2017

Quit notice and the quest to avoid ‘Armageddon’

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The tension building up among the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria has yet to abate. Day by day, those values and patriotic zeal binding the people together are getting weakened. The north-south dichotomy, hitherto being exploited for political advantage by politicians, is assuming a dangerous dimension by dovetailing into ethnic distrusts.
Evidently, the bad blood created by many years of misrule has come back to hunt the country as disenchanted youths from all of over the country seem ready to slug it out in a bloody manner if adequate measures are not taken to calm frayed nerves.
There is no gain saying the fact that virtually every section of the country is complaining of one sort of marginalization or the other. But the ability of the people to maintain decorum by channeling their grievances to the appropriate authority in a peaceful way determines how quickly knotty issues can be resolved in the interest of all.
There have been several agitations in the country in the past but the call for secession has been the most suffocating for the corporate existence of the country. The clamour for secession predated the 1967-1969 progrom which claimed millions of innocent souls in an avoidable civil war.
Current call for secession by Nnamdi Kanu-led Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) the quit notice issued by a coalition of Arewa youths to the Igbos in the north are worrisome development that should be immediately tackled before it gets out of hand.
With few days to the October 1st Arewa youths’ ultimatum to the Igbos to quit the north, a hate song instigating the northerners against the South-easterners has attracted condemnations from leaders and opinion moulders across the country.
Those who condemned the hate song include the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former Kaduna state governor, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Second Republic lawmaker, Junaid Mohammed; and Arewa Youth Consultative Forum leader, Alhaji Yerima Shettima.
According to Atiku, all Nigerians should condemn what he described as a “reminiscent of the beginning of the Rwandan genocide” just as he called on the security agencies to fish out and bring to trial those responsible for the song.
In obvious reaction to the hate song, a group called Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA, has asked Fulani and Hausa Muslims or herdsmen to leave the eastern region latest October 2, 2017, saying any of them who stayed beyond that date would be on his own.
Secretary of the ECA and Founder of Igbo Youths Movement, IYM, Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, gave the ultimatum in Enugu recently saying the decision to expel Hausa and Fulani herdsmen or Muslims was taken at the Nnamdi Kanu Centre.
With these developments, the apocalypse seems to be closer than imagined. Leaders, traditional, political and religious all over the country now have the onerous task of smoldering the smoke before its final conflagration which, of course, will come with damning consequences.
These ultimatum and counter ultimatum must not be taken for granted by the authorities. Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and the Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, captured the need to nip the issue in the bud at a meeting he held recently with the leaders of the coalition of the Arewa youths in Maiduguri when he said “Some people may think the withdrawal of eviction ultimatum by the coalition wouldn’t mean so much but to us as leaders and from our experiences, it is always dangerous to underestimate the capacity of any group of youths especially when youths come together and seem determined
There are millions of other youths that might have been following and supportive of the activities of the coalition of Arewa groups and as we know, issues relating to ethnicity and religion mostly get out of control.”
Leaders across the country should take a cue from Shettima by engaging the dissenting groups in dialogue for peace to reign. There are lots of disenchanted and unemployed youths in the country who may become willing tools to perpetrate violence.
Though the Presidency had intervened by engaging leaders from both divides and vowing to uphold law and order, there is the need to employ the carrot and stick approach.
Those engaging in hate speeches and promoting division in the country should not be treated with kid gloves. Security agencies should be put on red hot alert and be made to be proactive.

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