Is Nigeria on the verge of another civil war? That’s the question many Nigerians are asking at the moment. Given the recent events in the south and isolated reprisals in the north-central part of the country, the idea of another war isn’t farfetched.
The last civil war that broke out on July 6, 1967, following the declaration of an independent state in the southeast to be called The Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967 by Lieutenant Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, leader of the self-styled Biafra army, and the subsequent “police action” launched by the Nigerian government to retake the secessionist territory, led to a two and half year blood-shed – that claimed more than a million lives.
The Nigerian civil war was no aberration, but a culmination of an uneasy peace and stability that had plagued the Nation from independence in 1960. This situation had its birth in the geography, history, culture and demography of Nigeria.
Nigeria in the late ‘60s was the theatre of a cruel and bloody civil war. A war fought to reintegrate and reunify the Federation of Nigeria – amalgamate of Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914. The civil war many believed had its root in the coup and counter coup of 1966. Whatever might be argued, it still remains Nigeria’s worst disaster that still haunts the nation of now over 180 million people, till date.
Renewed secessionist voices emerge after the defeat of the Jonathan/PDP administration in the polls of 2015. Under the guise of ‘Igbo marginalization’, IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra, Nigeria’s latest terror group, resurrected the Biafra secession dream of an independent Republic in the southeast – after 50-year hibernation.
IPOB, led by the dual Nigerian-British citizen, Nnamdi Kanu, this time is trying “to settle the issue of Biafra in a civilized and democratic manner”. But that’s not the case, Kanu and his shadow sponsors have opted to using propaganda and hate language – as method for achieving their Biafra dream. With threats to turn Nigeria or “zoo community” as they call it into a mess that would make Somalia look like paradise, to the belligerent rhetoric of “touch us and Nigeria will burn”, IPOB is on the path of dragging Nigeria into becoming Africa’s new ethnic battlefield.
Many analysts, observers, and stakeholders have cautioned: the rise of hate speeches, ethnic and regional irredentism and intolerance are pointing the country to the direction of another civil war.
The majority of Nigerians are unwilling to accept the Biafra secessionist self-determination as legitimate. This opposition is linked to the pervasive fear that granting self-determination of aggrieved minorities in multi-ethnic Nigeria would result in the balkanization of the country, state fragmentation and perhaps a gradual unraveling of the interstate system.
Ethnic conflicts, just as those in the Balkans, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Darfur, Zaire, Central African Republic, Burundi and lately South Sudan, are among the deadliest and most familiar conflicts of the late 20th and early 21th centuries – are often accompanied by gross human rights violations, such as genocide and crimes against humanity, and by economic decline, state failure, starvation and refugee flows.
Kanu and his propaganda mouthpiece – Radio Biafra should not be allowed to tilt Nigeria into an unwanted chaos. His army of thugs (IPOB) must know that lynching of innocent communities in the south would only worsen an already fragile situation and might even lead to reprisals in the north on other innocent communities. Restraint is the best option for now, as Nigeria overcomes this crisis. Not long ago the country was out of recession, we must be optimists!