President Muhammadu Buhari inadvertently exposed his real fears over the renewed agitation for the freedom of the Republic of Biafra which is in the South East part of Nigeria.
While speaking in his home state on Monday, May 9, 2016, at the palace of the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumini Kabiru Usman, Buhari lashed out at the pro-Biafra agitators and swore that his government would ensure that Nigeria remains unbroken.
In his speech, which would definitely insight anger in the advocates for a split of the country, President Buhari said that Nigeria fought a 30-month civil war between 1967 and 1970 and made an historical error when he claimed that crude oil was not yet discovered at the time of the civil war. He noted that 2 million people died, but failed to say that they were mostly 2 million Igbos and children who suffered malnutrition due to the food blockade into the region.
“But recently, some people who were not even born during the war are saying they want to divide Nigeria,” Buhari said. “I always say the civil war was fought for the unity of Nigeria because then we hadn’t even discovered oil let alone enjoying it. But two million people were killed.”
The president didn’t get his facts right. Crude oil was first discovered Oloibiri in President Goodluck Jonathan’s local government area of Ogbia in Bayelsa State in 1956. Oloibiri Oilfield is the first commercial oil field in Nigeria and the first crude oil export was done in February 1958 from that field. By the time the Nigerian civil war started in 1967, Nigeria was an oil economy.
Then, he revealed his real fear about a free Biafra, “The way the Sahara [Desert] is advancing, with Boko Haram, growing number of people and uncertainty over rainfall, in a land where we fought civil war leading to the death of about two million, for someone to just say he will chase us out? So where do we go?”
There are two hot topics in Nigeria today. The first is the grazing terrorism being carried out by Fulani militia, the armed wing of the Fulani herdsmen against the people of the Middle Belt, South East, South South, and South West of the country. The armed group, ranked globally as the 4th most deadly terrorist group in the world has killed over 5,000 Nigerians since it started its campaign of violence.
The flashes of violence came to a head with the killing of over 500 people by these Fulani terrorists in Agatu in Benue State and the invasion and killing of over 40 people in Nzimo in Enugu State. These two events led to an outcry against the activities of Fulani herdsmen in communities in Southern Nigeria and a condemnation of Buhari’s silence on the killings.
The president is Fulani and a cattle herder too. He is also the life patron of the cattle breeders association of Nigeria, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), powerful lobby that backs the terrorist activities of the Fulani herdsmen.
The second hot topic in the country right now is the proposed National Grazing Reserved Bill currently before the National Assembly. The bill stipulates that the federal government would forcefully collect land belonging to communities and set up grazing reserves for Fulani herdsmen to graze their cattle.
Governors, activists, community and religious leaders in the South see the National Grazing Reserve Bill as a ploy to claim the land of the people of the South and hand them over to the Fulani as an inheritance under the cover of Federal force.
It turns out that Buhari, a major backer of the National Grazing Reserve Bill, is pushing this controversial legislature which has been described by rights activist as one that violates the rights of indigenous people of the South because he fears the Boko Haram terrorism and the encroaching desert in the North and actually wants to forcefully resettle the Fulani people from Northern Nigeria to the South.
Leader of the pro-Biafra group, Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu was arrested by the country’s secret police, denied bail several times even after the courts had granted him bail and is now facing trial for alleged treason at a Federal High Court in Abuja. Mr. Kanu is an advocate for the actualisation of the Biafra Republic and ran a pirate radio station, Radio Biafra until his capture by the Nigerian authorities.
Buhari slipped on national television and told the world that Kanu is being incarcerated illegally on his personal beliefs that “people like Kanu and Dasuki don’t deserve bail”.
Emir Kabir in his remarks urged the people of Katsina to intensify prayers for the president against “the enemies within and outside.” He said that there were saboteurs in Buhari’s government “but we will finish them with prayers”.
The president paid a similar visit to the emir of Daura, his hometown, Alhaji Umar Farouk Umar, where he reassured Nigerians that his administration would continue to promote programmes and policies that would ensure unity, stability and development of the country.