By Muhammad Mahmud
Even as the nation is struggling to bring an end to the Boko Haram crisis, which could’ve been effectively tamed but for the inane and complacent manner the leadership of some Northeastern states treated the issue initially, we could not but gape at the myopic decision of the Southern governors to fly the kite of moral support to their organized thugs who were recently suppressed by the authorities.
At their meeting on Monday, July 5 2021, the southern governors “resolved that if for any reason security institutions need to undertake an operation in any State, the Chief Security Officer of the State MUST be duly informed.” (Emphasis mine).
It is unmistakable that the governors were referring to the recent success recorded by the nation’s security agencies in arresting many IPOB members, including their “supreme leader” Nnamdi Kanu, and the arrests at the residence of a tribal warlord, Sunday Igboho.
One cannot but wonder how on earth these governors will be so insensitive to the flights of their people. The gory stories emanating from the arrested members of IPOB, where 2000 fresh skulls of innocent southern girls were targeted and how lives of fellow southerners who never aligned themselves to the “cause” were to be wasted, are enough to galvanize the governors into taking stern action against those terrorists. But to the shock of the whole nation, these governors, who never even found it worth their time to give a one minute silence to mourn souls of the ten brutally killed girls, have the temerity to demand that they must be informed whenever the criminals are to be arrested.
Perhaps the support for IPOB and Igboho militia by the southern governors has everything to do with what Rochas Okorocha said, in an interview with BBC, that it was the fear of what the IPOB boys could do to them that stops Igbo elders from speaking against them. This gives a picture of caged and gagged elders who have no option but to simply watch as the boys took their entire region into uncertainty. This means that Kanu’s group has evolved into a monster that no Igbo could dare criticize even from afar.
Maybe the southeastern leaders fear that what happened to the four Ogoni chiefs could befall them if they dare oppose IPOB. On May 21 1994, four Ogoni chiefs were beaten to death by angry Ogoni youths. The victims’ names were Edward Kobani, Alfred Badey, Samuel Orage, and Theophilus Orage. Their crime was that they were suspected to be against the MOSOP. Perhaps the Igbo leaders fear the Ogoni chiefs’ treatment from IPOB; that’s why they are backing them.
But suppose Igbo elders are so terrified with the IPOB to the extent that they are hypnotized into submission, or they are so emotionally sympathetic to the “cause”. In that case, it is very dumbfounding that the south-southern governors couldn’t see the danger of backing IPOB for the simple fact that they (IPOB) made it categorically clear that any non-Igbo will be, and shall remain, a third-class citizen in the region. Suppose the south-western governors found it strategically right to support IPOB in supporting their tribal warlord, Igboho; what exactly is in it for the south-southern region? Their governors seem to be either coerced/harangued into submission or too foolish to figure this out for their people. I believe if a south-southerner like Reno Omokri is among the governors, he will object to this.
It appears as if the southern leaders are no longer in control. They seem to be tele-guided by the prevailing emotions in their regions instead of playing the leadership role of directing towards a better future for their people.
Notwithstanding some of their failures and the resentments of their people, Northern elders are more in control and seem to be leading. When some northern youths issued a quit notice to the Igbos, in a reaction to the IPOB’s agitation, the leaders of the north rebuffed them. Governor El-Rufa’i even ordered their arrest. When some northern youths initiated “Shege Ka Fasa” as an answer to south-western governors’ backed “Amotekun”, the leaders of the north stopped them, and they complied. Even Boko Haram, with their firepower, did not frighten northern leaders into opposing the federal government to support them!
If the southern leaders are publicly backing their criminals with a kind of moral encouragement by attacking the federal government’s crush on them, they should, rest assured, know that it will boomerang. They should have taken lessons from what happened during the early stage of Boko Haram in the northeast.
During the initial stage of Boko Haram, they enjoyed massive support from their people. This is partly because they appeal to their people’s sentiments. All they need is to list eloquently, in a highly sentimental manner, the ills and backwardness that bedevilled the people in addition to hunger, poverty, diseases etc. and finally quote relatively congruent verses of the Qur’an and sayings of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to drive home their point that “Jihad” is the only way out and they, as the conveyors of that message, are the ones to lead. It was full of promises of a utopian state that will replace the current dystopian state. And that appealed to many, more especially as most of the movement members were children of the elite. What a perfect gulp of toxic will that be on the gullible, the strata of his/her social status notwithstanding.
It was only after the actual road to Sambisa was taken that the people realized, albeit too late, how wrong they were and how naive they behaved.
Now the IPOB and the tribal warlord, Sunday Igboho, are getting the support of the southern governors because they appeal to the sentiments of regionalism and tribalism (or drum up support for their political agenda), only time will reveal the sour fruits that will shower down. I hope some leaders will be blunt enough to put aside political correctness and act appropriately before that happens.
Malam Muhammad writes from Kano. He can be reached via email@example.com.