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Published On: Sun, Sep 17th, 2017

Interrogating Operation Python Dance

The state of anomie in the country has been further compounded by the response of the federal government to the agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra led by one Nnamdi Kanu for a creation of separate country for the southeast.

In a daring display of brute force and military might instead of the more preferred option of dialogue and negotiation, the Buhari led government reached for the offerings of the basest of instinct, which is military man oeuvre in the southeast, possibly to cow the secessionist group into submission. And more galling is the fact that the army authorities, which said it was launching another reconnaissance, as a sequel to the one launched in 2016 to rid the southeast off kidnappers, code-named Operation Python Dance.

As expected, the dance of the python had started last week in the southeast, precisely, Abia, and to be more specific, the army authorities chose Nnamdi Kanu’s home town of Umuahia to begin the operation.  As was expected in operation of such nature, members of IPOB were involved in war of attrition over the fallout of the skirmishes between the group and the army, as the group claimed troops opened fire on them, vandalised the country home of Kanu, and in the process, causing deep trauma to his aged parents and reported deaths of two of their members.

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While we hold high the duty of the federal government to maintain law and order, we are quick to point out the grey areas in the current military exercise in the southeast.  For one, IPOB has not embarked on riotous demonstration or violent act, neither was there any increase in kidnapping or known breach of public order in the region, thus the deployment of troops to embark on python dance in the region instead of the more urgent Sambissa Forest and the northeast is worrisome, and does not portend good omen for the unity of the country, especially when viewed against the reality of the pogrom being committed by the Fulani herdsmen.

And yet neither python nor anaconda has come out to dance in the area where the herdsmen have breached public order.

We cannot expect to make progress when we have institutionalised double standards. One of the most pungent failures of this administration is its inability to rise above primordial sentiments, and rise to the occasion of national acceptability.

We commend the efforts of the governor of Abia State for imposing dusk to dawn curfew to reduce the scale of the skirmishes and possible loss of lives.

It is wrong to subject the entire southeast to a state of siege, given that it is not everybody in the region that agrees with Kanu or shares his extreme irredentism, as Igbo people are highly educated, enlightened and still believe in dialogue, consensus building, negotiation, civil society advocacy like millions of other southerners and people in the north to realise the needed reform in the polity.

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Igbo elite have consistently advocated restructuring, and not the kind of open secession Kanu and his group is preaching. Thus, it is a psychological trauma for them for these vicarious sufferings for whatever may have been the perceived sin of Kanu and his group.

We are disturbed like millions of Nigerians by Kanu’s rhetoric, but southeast leaders are already consulting on how to rein in the wild exuberance of the young man, and tame his extreme irredentism to a more acceptable call for restructuring.

We call on the federal government to use this tense moment in our national life to immediately set up restructuring mechanism to douse tension. This is the only way to go, and this newspaper is elated by the response of northern leaders and traditional rulers. We commend their effort in setting up committee for restructuring, and call on their southern counterparts to do same. In the meantime, the army authorities should put an end to the Python dance.

 

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