Founder, Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari against ordering military invasion of Nigeria’s South East region, as according to him, such move would lead to chaos and an unprecedented meltdown of the country.
In a statement on Wednesday, Uko who is also the secretary of Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA), warned that military invasion rather than resolve the security situation in the zone, will make things much worse, even as it could lead to anarchy.
Uko’s warning comes amid reports that President Buhari had concluded plans to order a major military operation in all the five states of the South East in response to recent attacks on police stations and other public facilities in the zone by gunmen amid growing agitations for a separate state of Biafra.
Online newspaper, TheCable quoted multiple security sources to have confirmed that President Buhari has given the security agencies the marching order to curtail the attacks.
Buhari had in a series of tweets via his verified Twitter handle, @Mbuhari on Tuesday, tweeted that, “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
The president went on to say that the agitators would soon get the shock of their lives, an indication that he had a major military operation in mind.
The tweet which referenced the 1967-1970 Biafra war, in which an estimated three million people, mostly in Nigeria’s Southeast, were killed, including over a million children starved to death by food blockade, however, sparked angry reactions from many Nigerians on the social media platform, with many reminding the president that he had not made similar moves against bandits wreaking havoc in the country’s Northwest and Boko Haram in the Northeast.
Reacting to the speculations, Uko emphasized that dialogue remained the only viable solution, as according to him, an invasion could lead to an all out conflict and Nigeria may never be the same again.
“Rumours of proclamation of a state of emergency and the invasion of South East Nigeria by contingents and battalions of Nigerian military any time now, should not be true,” Uko said.
“If it is, then, the largest black nation on earth, may drift into an unexpected and unprecedented meltdown, which may be difficult to contain and impossible to control, and that would be because the rulers of the land, do not have the faintest idea of the resolve and anger in the souls of majority of the citizens of that region. The rulers will certainly meet unexpected reaction from the people of the zone. 51 year old pent-up anger in their hearts will explode in an unimaginable dimension, that may make it extremely difficult to save Nigeria.
“The stored up anger and bitterness in the hearts of Serbs as their parents retold stories about the sufferings of their people during the siege of Sarajevo in the 19th century, ensured the destruction of Yugoslavia over a century later.
“Those planning to invade South East and conquer the region, clearly, do not know the pain and humiliation the people of the region have had to endure and swallow for years, their strength and wealth, and especially the commitment of the diaspora population, and their readiness for a long and protracted struggle for justice and freedom from oppression. The government underestimates the mindset of over 20 million Igbo youths scattered all over the world, who have sworn not to hand over a situation of eternal servitude as permanent onlookers in the Nigerian project, to their progeny.
“Regardless of whatever may be wrong with the methods of the agitators, 90 percent of the masses, sympathizes with their cause, therein lies the problem.
“The government will not face stiff resistance from the people, because the agitators are saints, angels and very polite folks, agitating with humility, no, that doesn’t bother the people. The people are rather, very deeply offended, that the same government that has refused to rein in the deadly Fulani herdsmen who have made it extremely difficult for them to farm in their ancestral lands, paid hundreds of millions to vicious armed bandits terrorizing the North West, are suddenly bringing war to the most isolated, ostracised and persecuted region in the country.
“This planned and ill-advised military campaign to the South East, will only confirm and affirm the rhetorics of the agitators, that the South East is deliberately hated and unwanted in the land. It will be difficult to convince the people otherwise.
“The collateral damage in terms of human lives of innocent citizens, damage to infrastructure, rude interruption and destruction of economic life, and obstruction of trade, academic pursuits and civil and social activities, will produce enough bitterness and hatred of the central government, that the agitators will become heroes and idols of the much oppressed people of the zone.
“I have been closely involved with Igbo youths for close to 4 decades. I know that the last 2 years have been a remarkable period in the renaissance of ideas for self determination, never before experienced in this clime. I happen to know, not because I am a very smart person, but because I have intensely interacted with Igbo youths over the years and managed to earn their confidence.
“I say this confidently: Neither their parents nor teachers have any idea the degree of anger and bitterness in the hearts of Igbo youths born between 1990 and 2000, who are aged between 31 and 21 years of age. Certainly not the government. The whole world is in for a rude shock, you may wish to take my words to the bank.
“The government, politicians and leaders across strata, made terrible mistakes by misjudging the agitators and applying very wrong strategy, that led to this unpleasant tension in the land. Military option will spiral into a conflagration that will be difficult to contain.
“Having said that, it is important, to advise the South East Governors to, urgently meet with and explain to Mr President, the true situation on ground. Dialogue should replace military action. The government has never demanded a list of grievances from the agitators, government must do so now. More bloodshed will only prepare the ground for a bitter, protracted conflict, that will certainly change Nigeria for ever.
“Nobody supports the agitators’ sudden militant posture. But the brigandage of the ruthless Fulani herdsmen and their seeming above-the-law arrogance, forced the helpless masses to embrace the agitators’ defence militia.
“The refusal by government to invite and hear the grievances of the agitators and the decision to only kill them extra-judicially, granted the agitators, huge sympathy. Marching in to kill more of them, will complicate matters completely.
“Besides, Nigeria’s multiple heamorage on many fronts, and the deep silence of the international community to support and advise Nigeria on the urgency to restructure the polity and adopt a new federal constitution, that would enthrone equity, suggests a conspiracy to programme Africa’s largest nation to implode.
“Heavily indebted, with a steady inflation figures, unrest in all the regions, weak economy and agitation for seccesion thriving in the South East and South West, military action in the East will ensure the utter destruction of the road to peace.
“Why is our colonial master watching and not advocating a new constitution for Nigeria? Why is the Bohemian club silently watching. Why is the council on foreign relations, the trilateral commission, the U.S state department etc, not pushing for a new people’s constitution for Nigeria. Is their a silent conspiracy by the west, to watch Nigeria implode?
“How come, all the eggheads in Nigeria are pretending they do not know that military invasion of the South East, will have dire consequences, first on the economy, and then on the unity and the very survival of Nigeria.
“The government should engage the agitators in a dialogue. Military option should be out of it.
“It is very doubtful if other regions will applaud the decision by the federal government to use military operation in the east to save the 1999 constitution. Everybody knows where Nigeria’s problem is rooted. Insistence on preserving the 1999 constitution with the blood of citizens is unholy.
“History will judge all our actions today.”