I had no intention of putting down an article today. As a matter of truth, I had just come back from a night vigil, and I had planned to keep my body and soul hibernated and in sleep mode for a good portion of the day.
The war drums have been sounded. Before I go any further, let me state categorically that I have only decided to put down my thoughts for you because, there are signs, signs that we have either failed to take note of, or signs that we have failed to take as important. The war drums have been sounded, and this time around, it is not from Asari Dokubo or Junaid. It is from a sitting state governor, a person that is supposedly supposed to be a role model and leader of his flock. I advise everyone, irrespective of party affiliation, tribe or religion to spare a minute or two and go through Murtala Nyako’s purported memo to the Northern Governors Forum on the 16th of April.
Researchers of the events of 1967 will be quick to tell you that utterances like these were what set the stage for the Nigeria-Biafra civil war—and as George Santayana put it, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Reactions have rightfully trailed the memo written by Nyako, but like I said, they’ve just been reactions and nothing more. It is imperative that we understand what the said memo is capable of doing to our already ethnically and religiously polarised country, and as such treat this memo as a threat to the stability of this country.
In the first paragraph of that memo, Nyako said “it is very clear that the protection of life and property of innocent citizens in Northern Nigeria and recognising their Human rights and voting right in the forthcoming general elections is no longer a cardinal principle of the administration”. There is nothing bad in this claim, as the FG has indeed failed to attend to the issues such as the protection of lives and properties in Northern Nigeria.
I was beginning to nod in support of the contents of the memo, when this hit me: “The administration is bent on bringing wars in the North between Muslim and Christians and within them and between one ethnic group and another or others in various communities in the region”—it was obvious politics ended in the first paragraph and Nyako moved to a different level. He indirectly—but if you ask me, I’ll say he directly accused the FG of inciting conflicts in Northern Nigeria between Christians and Muslims. “Cases of mass murders by its bloody minded killers and cut-throats are well known, but it attributes the killings to so-called Boko-Haram.”This allegation is damning.
Nyako not only accused the FG of the murders going on in the North, he also claims the FG is wrongfully attributing them to Boko-Haram, hence, Nyako has directly absolved the sect of any blame that has to do with the wanton killings in the North. “These organised kidnappers must have the backing of the federal administration for them to move about freely with abducted children just as those who convey ammunitions and explosives from port to the safe-houses of the so called Boko-Haram”. This statement does two things; it accuses the FG of backing the kidnappers of school children and also for conveying ammunitions and explosives to “so-called Boko-Haram”.
I was of the opinion that it couldn’t get worse than this till Nyako hit me with: “There have also been attempts to assassinate the Senate President (Northerner) in Imo State, two Executive Governors of states in the North (The Governor of Benue and my Humble self), two of our most prominent Traditional leaders (Shehu of Borno and Emir of Kano), senators and others too numerous to mention, all from Northern Nigeria.” Coming from a former military personnel and a current Governor, this claim is quite serious—with his emphasis on their Northern origin, Nyako has directly given the FG a Southern face with an alleged plan to annihilate Northern leaders. This brings back to memory the statements that were released before and after the civil war, and the devastating effects they had on the Nigerian state.
The most worrying part of Murtala Nyako’s memo came when he started bringing the Nigerian army into things, and this time around he has incited members of the Nigerian army from Northern origin against the FG which he has now given a Southern face. “Furthermore it is a well-known fact that virtually all the soldiers of Northern Nigerian origin recently recruited to fight Boko-Haram have been deceived in that aspect. They are being poorly trained, totally ill-equipped, given only uniform and are killed by their trainers in the Nigerian Army training centres as soon as they arrive in the Nigerian Army camps being used by so called Boko-Haram insurgents.”
It should be noted that the Nigerian Army is comprised of gallant officers from the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, and these officers have dedicated their lives to protecting the Nigerian populace – Nyako has failed to see this, instead he has decided to cause pandemonium and breach of trust within the ranks of the Nigerian Army, he is on the verge of creating ethnic tension within the Nigerian Army which is not a good sign at all. He went further to state that “the Federal administration’s affront to frame Northerners is also an open secret.”He went ahead to place” a call to action”which I’ll now make my own “call to alertness”.
The said memo is already in circulation, so I’ll stop here in pointing out the obvious red signs that are now going on display in the politics and policies of this country. Saying that Murtala Nyako has sounded the war drums is an understatement. It will be good to note that the last time the nation’s polity was this heated, AK 47 rifles later went off, Ogbunigwe was made and millions of people died. I find it disheartening that we have decided to play politics to this level, and that most APC supporters have toned down the issue of his memo, is quite disturbing. I’ll also want to remind us that when the kakakakakakakaka and Gbooom! Soundtrack are being played, nobody will ask you “APC or PDP” before issuing some rounds of ammunitions into your body.
What I got from that memo is simple: Nyako tried his best to incite Northerners in the military against the FG which he gave a Southern face, and history has taught us that incitements of this magnitude has most often than not, been heeded. That memo should be treated as a real security threat for which it is.
Nyako’s memo will be tendered as evidence when history comes knocking, and it is safe to say, with the way things are escalating, the US might be right about 2015 afterall.
Saatah Nubari is a public affairs commentator. He tweets from @Saatah.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.