Igboho/Dokubo: When Individuals become greater than the state

Can situation in a nation degenerate to a point of lawlessness where, individuals or groups could threaten the existence and challenge its sovereignty? The answer is an emphatic yes! Recently, Sunday Igboho, the self-accalimed Yoruba activist and Asari Dokubo, an equally loquacious Niger-Delta leader, had, renewed calls for the eclipse of the Nigerian state. Igboho, made a case for a Southwest breakaway, to form the Yoruba Republic. Among other things, he claimed to have the blessings of most political actors in the region who are infinitely aligned to his noble cause, and dared anyone to refute the claim, a challenge no one has taken. Till this day, the only high profile dissenting voice against Igboho’s declaration is the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, who, cautioned against such agitations  reiterating the inherent danger it posed, not only to the country, but the Continent and the entire Black race. Igboho is no stranger to controversy, last January, he issued a Quit order to Fulani resident in Oyo and Southwest states, which led to violent clashes across the region. Seemingly, the tension created by the quit order culminated in the Sasha crisis where innocent traders were killed and their properties destroyed.

On his part, Asari Dokubo, leader of the Niger-Delta People’s Salvation Force, declared, last week, the formation of Biafra Customary Government, BCG, with an administrative and Provincial structures across the South-South and Southeast. Consequently, Nnamdi Kanu’s Ipob is much alive and relevant, especially with the rejuvenated and restructured Eastern Security Network taking charge in coordinating security operations across the region. Duplicity of security functions, is unarguably the recipe for anarchy, and, the formation of a state within a sovereign State is equally a dangerous precedence.

Justifications for the agitation of a Southwest breakaway as advance by Igboho are laced with incoherent and false narratives. That the region is isolated from mainstream politics in the country is not true. Currently, number two citizen, the Vice President is much alive an active in the country’s political space. The fourth most important position in the hierarchy of power in the country is occupied by Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker, House of Representatives. Several ministries and MDAs have a sizeable number of Yoruba sons and daughters.
Therefore, it is implausible and suspicious, motive of the agitators. Southwest, by far, remains the major beneficiary of the APC largesse, and cannot deny the charitability of the ruling party in siting major projects in the region. Private sector participation has been the exclusive reserve of the Southwest and by extension the Yoruba. Major companies, multinational corporations, and private firms are located in the region, with full backing of federal government. Lagos, for instance, is geostrategic and central to commercial dealings the world over

Federal government’s benevolence to the Southwest cannot be wished away. Even the crass display of arrogance and disdain for established authorities by Mr Igboho speaks volume. Had any individual with his disposition tries a fraction of what he did, (inciting violence against an entire ethnic group) and, what  he is presently doing — secession from the county, which is a treasonable felony, I bet, such a person would have been a guest of the DSS. So far, neither the presidency, security or any ranking government official had attempted to caution Igboho. As it were, Southwest cannot cry of neglect, and victims of bad govenance. However, the bone of contention, which, continually define the current calls for secession, is insecurity, as advanced by proponents of the Yoruba Republic.
The North is the region worst hit by insecurity — insurgency, kidnapping and banditry are on the rise. In Kaduna state alone, at least, 937 people died in violent attacks in 2020, this is according to report released by the state government. Unfortunately, most of the deaths are attributed to banditry, kidnappings and other form of criminality which cuts across the State. Zamfara has the highest number of victims of the mass killings, while Katsina and Sokoto followed. Most villages across the region has been sacked, forcing mass exodus and migration, which disrupted livelihood and settlement patterns. We have heard heart wrenching stories of mass massacres, and most often, villagers pay huge amounts as tax to bandits to guarantee their safety, and access to farmlands. At the moment, most schools are shutdown across the region, for fear of attacks. What can be more troubling than this!
Despite the humongous challenges, exacerbated by reckless leadership in the region and country,  neither the Arewa Consultative Forum nor Northern Elders Forum, or, any socio-political and ethnocentric group in the region demanded for the creation of Arewa Republic. Infact, when Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, attempted to protest killings in the region, DSS arrested and detained their leaders. Ironically, Igboho and his ilks are allowed to roam freely while instigating and threatening violence.

At the height of the unfortunate Sasha market crisis,  the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria, which comprises of Northern traders resorted to self-help when federal government failed to intervene and halt killings and destruction of their goods and properties by irate Yoruba youths. They ordered a full food  blockade to the region. Curiously, the DSS invited the leadership for the usual “questioning”.
From the foregoing, we could deduce some level of selective or, preferential treatment, where a region is placed high and above another. The Southwest cannot be victim in whatever circumstance.
Most nations, at some point, in their existence are confronted with challenges, some mild, while others overwhelming. Nigeria is passing through a thick storm, a temporal phenomenon or setback which would eventually phase-out. Making political gain out of it is counterproductive, and would consume us all.  There are unsubstantiated news making round that some influential persons, especially political actors from Southwest are subtly fanning embers of disunity in the country, obviously for political gains. The rascality of Igboho is suspect, considering he has not been invited for the usual “questioning” by the DSS.
On his part, Asari Dokubo, whose activities would be considered a stomach-militancy, had suddenly embraced the Biafra vision.In the past, his path and Ipob’s Kanu crossed, with a major altercation, bordering on his faith as a Muslim. it is however difficult to vaguely underscore the basis of Asari’s agitation. During the Jonathan presidency,  he alongside his  Ijaw groups were quite visible and active in most part of the tenure. He was rewarded with juicy contracts — guarding oil installations, pipelines and procurements. Infact, he had on several occasions been member, of the entourage of the Amirul Hajj, a federal government delegation to perform Holy Pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. He made so much money and was said to have acquired a world class University in Benin republic and huge investments in Togo. What an Irony! A purported freedom fighter who, having tasted opulence, dined with his supposed oppressors would abandon his boys to their fate in the Creeks, for better life in the city. It is instructive to note, like Igboho’s, most of these agitations for secession are suspect, and insincere.
World over, no nation surrenders her sovereignty or territory, the process oftentimes begins and ends in bloodshed. There could be a constitutional or peaceful mechanism in resolving the impasse. However, those agitating for a breakaway state could leverage on a Constitutional pathway in achieving their goals.
Evidently, the launch of the Oduduwa currency, known as the FADAKA, indicates clearly, promoters of the Republic are relentlessly pursuing their aspirations, such that, only the Nigerian Government can halt the movement. The process, in its entirety is reminiscent of the Biafra agitation which plunged the country into a needless three years civil war. The scenario precipitate Ipob, and its military wing, the Eastern Security Network to fiercely amplify their activities lately. The implication is, Amotekun would eventually become the Military wing, of the Oduduwa republic.
Government must not wish these groups away, it doesn’t work out that way. Dialogue, or better still the carrots and stick approach be adopted. Failure to do so, is an open invitation to civil unrest. No region has the monopoly of violence, the chain reaction could cascade down to States and cities. Government must be proactive and unravel the sponsors.
Confronting multiple challenges concurrently is no mean feat — insurgency and terrorism in North-east, banditry and criminality in Northwest, herder-farmer crisis in North Central, cultisim, kidnappings and criminalities in South South/Southeast, and now, Oduduwa secession in Southwest. Such impact would be devastating should Government keep mute. Those responsible for securing the nation are preoccupied with 2023, scheming on who gets what, when and how, while ignoring a potential threat to the continued existence of the country.
To the promoters of such divisive venture, the consequences far outweighs the gains, the losses could be monumental. We are naturally averse to learning from History, else, the gory images of starving children during the Nigerian civil war is enough to deter those advancing these vicious cause.Curiously, most would agree, promoters of such vicious agenda had their families safely in foreign countries. Igboho, Kanu and Asari had investments scattered around the globe, and their families living comfortably in such countries. Those living in the country, whose investments and livelihoods are within the nation stands to loose all, and gain nothing in the event of  any unrest. There are huge investments of Yorubas in the North and other regions. Likewise the Igbos, whose trade acumen is legendary. It is on this premise that, caution and dialog must be embraced. Igboho boasted of massive support of Yoruba leaders, and dared anyone to say otherwise. Meanwhile, the silence of prominent Yoruba leaders speaks volume
Agreed, security challenges in the country is worrisome, and cast a spell on any goodwi this administration had had. Failure of APC government is so glaring,  that most Nigerians patiently await the end of their constitutional tenure. Because, one cannot change a democratic government, the most we can do as citizens is have the love of the country, and and engage in electrical process by voting.
Those surreptitiously lending their voice, or politicizing insecurity must bear in mind, that, God-forbid, should there be an outbreak of civil war, the blood of the innocent shall be on the their filthy hands. Though, in Nigeria, political actors had zero empathy and value for human lives. But then, as a people of diverse faith who believes in God, we all are accountable to him, and must answer for our actions and inactions someday.As the saying goes, you can’t eat your cake and have it. The value of human life should not be subjected to partisanship or, any kind of mundane political game. Because, we all are mortals.
Mohammed is with the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the Ahmadu Bello University-Zaria.He writes from Kano via[email protected]m

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