On Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari had after meeting with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu; and other electoral commissioners in Aso Villa, Abuja, over the series of attacks on the facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) especially in the South-Eastern part of the country, stated that those who want to destroy his government will receive the shock of their lives as they will be treated in a language they will understand.
Buhari revealed that he received daily security reports on the attacks on critical national infrastructure, and it is very clear that those behind them want his administration to fail.
According to him, “Whoever wants the destruction of the system will soon have the shock of their lives. We’ve given them enough time.”
However, stakeholders in the Southeast region have expressed divergent views on the president’s utterance, with those believing that the latter’s comment harped on the need for the sponsors and perpetrators of criminal attacks on government facilities and security formations to stop their wicked actions, while others believe Buhari by his comments had allegedly declared war against the people of the Southeast and the Igbo nation as a whole.
In a chat with DAILY POST on Friday, a retired Naval captain of the Nigeria military, Jerry Obike Ogbonna, analysized that the President’s statement was never meant to wage any war against the east as perceived in some quarters, opining that the Nigerian leader was only letting the sponsors and perpetrators of the several wicked attacks in the Southeast know that they had stretched their lucks too far, hence the need for them to refrain from violent crimes to save the country from destruction.
The chieftain of the All Progressive Congress(APC), lamented the misconceptions and misinformation among Nigerians about President Buhari’s utterance regarding the growing insecurity in the Southeast occasioned by unknown gunmen attacks on government facilities and security formations.
According to Ogbonna, “There is a kind of misconceptions on what the President said. I don’t think he is declaring war against the Southeast. He has no reason to do that. And I also think that people are stretching their luck too far. We need to call our young people to order. There are sorts of misconceptions and misinformation going on in the Southeast and of course, the rest of the country.
“Everyday, there is one form of violence or the other. In the north, now is kidnapping and banditry, and you come to the south now, we are just talking about the issues of IPOB and ESN. I think, the President just made a statement in order to call people to order. Because we can’t just continue to destroy federal assets without the president saying anything. People have stretched their lucks too far, and I think, they should stop”.
Continuing, the Igbo chieftain, explained, “In a democratic environment, there is nothing wrong to protest. You can protest as long as you want but destroying government propertyband destroying lives, I must say, they have stretched their luck too far. I have read the statement severally. I don’t think he is threatening the Igbo race, he has no right to say that. What he was only saying is that we spent three years fighting the war that killed a lot of people. A lot of Igbo people died, a lot of military officers, women and children, and fifty years after that, we are still talking about Biafra.
“Biafra is part of our national history for Christ sake. Biafra is our national history and we can’t do away with it. I think, the government has created a problem by not allowing the remembrance of that Day. It was the day Nigeria went into the civil war. There is nothing wrong with that. We have been commemorating the end of the war which goes on every 15th of January which has been adopted as the end of the war. It had a beginning and it must have an end. What we are saying is that we don’t want east to be set on fire, “he concluded.
Reacting to the President’s statement against the backdrop of unknown gunmen attacks on federal assets in the southeast, Osita Okechukwu, maintained that President Buhari’s statement was a call for caution on the worsening attacks on federal assets by gunmen terrorizing the states of southeastern Nigeria.
Okechukwu, the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), urged those heating up the polity with the issue to desist henceforth as it would not be in the overall interests of the people.
According to him, “What the President is trying to do is to let everybody know that we need to remain in this country and that the country will prosper. And if it prospers, every ethnic group and every region would be a beneficiary. No president will be happy that police stations, INEC offices are being burnt. So, I think, my understanding is that Mr President is living up to the oath of the constitution and he will always be with Nigerians. This is our only country. We have no other country. Yes, there are challenges, but this is not the end of the road. And I’m pleading as a person for all those who are trying to smoke fire, let them know that this is our own country. If we put our country on fire, where do we go? This is our country. There are crises in villages but that has to come to an end. Nigeria is a great country with all human and natural resources. Nigeria will not fail, and this is not the end of the road”.
Okechukwu said, “I’m urging the security agencies to do a better job, expose those who are burning INEC offices, who are burning police stations, because, immediately they are exposed and persecuted, we will now know who is who. So, Mr President is like a father. He is not happy there are crises here and there. Today it’s in Niger State. Tomorrow it is in Borno and the next day is Imo State. If you are a president, you wouldn’t be happy about that. He is trying to call for caution that we are not going anywhere with this crisis. He is trying to bring to bear that look, gentlemen, crisis cannot lead us anywhere.
“We are appealing to security agencies to do a thorough job. And our own brother, Nnamdi Kanu and co, their statements are not helpful. He cannot be wherever he is and be broadcasting nonsense. We know, we(Igbos) are marginalized, but is not the end of the road. Yes, there was a day we were not marginalized.
“There was a time we had Secretary to the Government of the federation, Chief of Army Staff, Senate President, Deputy Speaker, Minister of power. Did the world collapse then?. Even as of that time, Second Niger Bridge was not being built. Enugu/Onitsha road was abandoned, the Enugu-Port Harcourt road was abandoned. That was not the end of the road, “the VON Director-General concluded.
On his part, Ohanaeze Ndigbo chieftain, Mazi Chuks Ibegbu warned President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government of Nigeria against the use of brutality and force to threaten the people of the southeast region.
He also warned that the continuous killing of igbo youths by disgruntled security agents of government may spark another civil war.
Ibegbu, the immediate past Deputy National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in a statement on Friday, called on the federal government to halt the military siege in the southeast zone, and as well, the abduction and killing of Igbo youths under the guise of Eastern Security Network (ESN).
He said, “We cannot accept these backlash. These our janjaweed army is now a killer-go army and must be brought to book by the International Court for criminal justice at the Hague”.
Ibegbu expressed displeasure over Nigeria government’s threat of war in the southeast, reminding the government that this is not a military administration as it should channel its threat against killer Fulani herders, Boko Haram terrorists that are ravaging the country with their mass killings and destruction of property.
He described Buhari’s statement as unpresidential, adding that the President should take a decisive action in the war against criminal insurgencies rather than issuing a threat of war against an ethnic nationality that had been marginalized in every facet of governance in the country.
In his submission, the former 2nd Vice National Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Barrister Monday Ubani posited that President Buhari’s comment was unpresidential.
He lamented that the President’s statement was coming barely a few days the Igbo nation marked the remembrance of Biafran heroes massacred during 1967-1970 civil war.
The renowned lawyer reminded Buhari that he has increase the pain inflicted on the Igbos by the Nigeria armed forces during the war which is yet to heal.
Ubani, however, urged the President to tread with caution in his utterances and concentrate on ways to end the worsening insecurity ravaging the country necessitated by attacks from Boko Haram terrorists, killer Fulani herdsmen, bandits, kidnappers and unknown gunmen.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed had said the president has the right to express his idea on the current security challenges.
Mohammed spoke while being questioned by State House correspondents.
He said, “Any organisation that gives directives to its members, to attack police stations, to kill policemen, to attack correctional centres, to kill warders, and you are now saying that Mr. President does not have the right to express his dismay and anger about that?
“I don’t see anywhere in the world where an organisation, a person will stay somewhere outside Nigeria and direct his members to attack the symbols of authority, the police, the military, especially when that organisation has been proscribed”.