One week has come and gone since the willful killing of, possibly hundreds of Nigerians in Zaria, Kaduna State and Nigeria’s Federal government has not said as much as a word about the incident.
Forgive me, but it makes no sense to me. Your Army, trained and funded from the treasury of the people, to fight enemies of the country, open fire on numerous defenseless citizens and you, the government, elected by us, to watch over our interest, loses your voice?
Not even a word of sympathy if not condemnation of the incident, not even an assurance that the issue would be investigated. Wouldn’t that have been be enough to accuse the government of complicity in the death of these citizens?
And that is really my source of worry about this government. The nonchalant, “you can all go to hell” posture of this administration galls. Even if you ordered the killing of those people, a government that feels a sense of responsibility to its people would leave room for some deniability and assure its people of justice. But who cares here?
Yes, a lot of analysts who cannot get over the imagery that late Fela Anikulapo’s classic Zombie created of soldiers have told us that members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria led by Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky got what they deserved. They query the audacity to stand in the way of the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, the sheer dare to hold generals of the Nigerian Army in a conversation for over nine minutes and the senseless bravado of brandishing machetes and such other local weapons before the heavy artillery that the COAS embodies. They argue that such actions are tantamount to a declaration of war and that soldiers fire guns when they see war!
To some extent, these arguments are valid, at least as concerning the incident on the road, however what the do we say about the attack on the homes of these citizens? But before we even go so far, let us interrogate the incident on the road. While I concede that blocking the road was lawless, same for the possession of those primitive weapons, nothing in the videos indicates that the Army faced anything near a war situation that would justify the use of the uneven force that we saw.
The video was in actual fact edited such that you do not see who fired the first shot in the incident. All we see are negotiations, chants from the crowd, attempts to pacify them by their leaders, loud sounds of gun shots and then a road totally cleared for the passage of the COAS and his entourage. So, there is more than meets the eye even in this road event.
It is gratifying that the army made attempts, even if lame to put the incident in perspective but I do not understand why one week later, the federal government has not taken a position, one way or the other, even if on a preliminary basis on this matter. The danger that this forebodes is that Nigerian security forces will feel emboldened to unleash raw power on citizens the more.
This was exactly what we saw on Thursday when five people were said to have been killed in Onitsha while celebrating the release of Nnamdi Kanu, director of Radio Biafra and leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra. I want to suggest that this government needs more wisdom than the taciturnity, with which it is becoming popular,scan offer.
Truth be told, I cannot not make much sense of the agitations of the IPOB. I bet a lot of the agitators aren’t themselves sold on the idea of balkanizing Nigeria but then when a people have misgivings about anything their government should listen to them. Unless that happens, they will find all manners of expression until someone listens. It is the wisdom in listening and paying attention and allowing agitators gain some sense of importance that our world has refused to learn. It is one of the reasons why we see needless wars.
The Nigerian army feels like a star turning against citizens but a government which is dealing with the devastation of the Boko Haram insurgency should consider the collateral effect of another uprising in the North West or the South East or any other part of the country. The only thing that can stop that is speaking to Nigerians and making every part of the country feel like they really are a part of it.
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