Operation Python Dance can swallow Nigeria!

It is ethnic and religious domination that is at
the root of the Nigerian condition and it is
mainly a problem of leadership. Apart from
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (ceremonial President of
the First Republic) and General Aguiyi-Ironsi
(first Military Head of State) both of who made
every concession to the North, for national
unity, as well as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who
made effort to carry all parts of Nigeria along,
both times he led, whatever people will say,
Nigeria has been in short supply of detribalised
leaders. The ultimate solution is to decentralise
the Nigerian federation into regions with the
critical mass of people and resources to take
their fate in their hands, as was the case in the
economically successful First Republic.

The January 15, 1966, coup d’etat was largely a
reaction by socialist intellectuals of the
Nigerian Army to (1) rising corruption and
nepotism in Federal Government, even in the
Armed Forces (2) the deployment of force and
guile to further the ambition of the Northern
People’s Congress (NPC) to bring Northern
minorities and the rest of Nigeria under its
political and religious domination and (3)
NPC’s capitalisation on intra-party crisis to
imprison Chief Obafemi Awolowo and to
destroy the Action Group in the Western
Region, which constituted its most formidable
opposition. Six more coups d’etat or so and
long periods of military dictatorship, which ran
the country aground, followed.

A similar totalitarian tendency is again playing
out, from the Northernisation of security
services, the Presidency and the National
Assembly, through to the avarice of political
office holders, to the rising aggression towards
opposition and dissent. President Muhammadu
Buhari, who operated in the theatre of Western
Region crisis of the First Republic, that largely
triggered the January 15, 1966 coup d’etat and
also in the coup d’etat of July 29, 1966 and its
aftermath and had been military Head of State,
should know better and can do more to
stabilise Nigeria.

Right now, the government might be courting
the disintegration of Nigeria by the
deployment of force in the East and, in
particular, against Nnamdi Kanu and his
Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) on the
pretext of routine military exercise, code-
named Python Dance, which had better been
called off. But routine military exercise should
not be contested, so why call this one off?
Without any incident of armed rebellion in
IPOB activities, the involvement of the Army is
premature. Nnamdi Kanu and the leaders of
IPOB have made it clear that they are ready to
die for the emancipation of their people but
would never take up arms against Nigeria.
Shooting and manhandling of civilians started
one week before the September 15, 2017
official commencement of that exercise,
betraying the true nature of the campaign,
which is bound to be resisted. Python Dance
that will end up in extra-judicial killing will
make things worse.

Most Nigerians have come to believe that the
agitation by IPOB and Niger Delta militants and
other groups are not baseless and have, more
or less, come to agreement on the fundamental
issues to be addressed for Nigeria to move
forward, by way of political and economic
restructuring of the federation. The general
perception is that the All Progressives
Congress-led Federal Government is not eager
to address these issues. Therefore, some
aggrieved sections of the country are bound to
key into the resistance and there will be a
conflagration that can stretch government and
precipitate balkanization, fuelled by the fear
that other agitators would be suppressed one
after the other and had better acted together.

Moreover, if the horrific Nigerian Civil War
could not deter the agitation for self-
determination, which is a universal civil
liberty, then these fundamental issues must be
irresistible and nothing other than change of
attitude, from combat to dialogue and
negotiation, could save Nigeria. Python Dance
would rather swallow it.

Moreover, if, after 50 years, the same people
who were at the vanguard of Nigerian
independence struggle and in the forefront of
domestic investment, education, sports and
everything that makes the society tick are
again demanding to leave the house they built,
like a man running away from his home, you
must know that the matter is serious. The toad
does not run in the afternoon for nothing, nor
a man lightly abandon the house built by his
sweat and blood. Why not test their agitation
by referendum when the chance is 50: 50? Or,
would Nigeria collapse if they left? If so, they
deserve attention and not disdain!
Do you know that Nigeria would have fared
much better, politically and economically, if the
Aburi Accord of January 1967, to reconcile the
Eastern Region to the Nigerian federation,
after the hostilities of 1966, had been
implemented – even if modified with mutual
respect? But the Federal Government chose to
levy war on the Region which threatened to
secede on account of its repudiation by Gowon!
The rest is history. In place of the Aburi
Accord, today, we have the Report of 2014
National Conference. Why not treat it?
Furthermore, the abrogation of the
competitive regional and fiscal structures of
the First Republic, the transfer of all essential
resources and legislative powers from
federating units to Federal Government and
the redistribution of federal revenues and
offices in favour of Northern constituencies by
the military establishment, in the greed of oil
boom, cannot be sustained if Nigeria is to
move forward. It seems that they never
thought that crude oil, like coal, would ever
decline. We are now saddled with a bloated
bureaucracy that consumes more than 70 per
cent of public revenues and an imperial Federal
Government and Presidency that constitute a
noose on the citizens and the states, rendering
the country unproductive but obsessed with
avarice for oil revenues and bedevilled by
laxity, massive corruption, unemployment,
militancy and crime! It should have been clear
that such a bogus, aberrant, structure, foisted
by Decree 24 of 1999, as the 1999 Constitution,
would soon be resisted, given the dearth of
detribalised leadership.

Operation Python Dance should be called off –
if it cannot be conducted with equanimity, as is
already evident. The first step to resolving
agitations in a democracy should be restitution
and dialogue with the aggrieved parties at the
appropriate level of state or Federal
Government. In this case that an entire region
is involved, the appropriate level is Federal
Government which should not be too big for
its citizens.

Let us address fundamental issues (diseases) to
reposition Nigeria and stop toying about with
symptoms till the patient dies. Otherwise, even
after IPOB, agitation will not cease in the
country due to injustice. 

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