The man who shot his sons to prove a point

The Man Who Shot His Sons to Prove a Point

By Azuka Onwuka

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s President

Mr Adams had six wives. Each of the wives had a minimum of five children. Years ago Mr Adams was wealthy. He lavished his wealth on his family. However, there was always some misunderstanding in the family, as expected in a polygamous family. To make matters worse, Mr Adams did not have the skills in managing a large family. He did not use the same rules on members of his family. He was either favouring one child or discriminating against another. Distrust, hatred, quarrels, fights, and even deaths occurred frequently in his household.

Mr Adams swam in wealth but was not good with managing resources. It was not surprising that he soon ran into hard times. Things became worse. The available funds were insufficient to take care of the needs of the household. That heightened the frustration in the household and led to more friction and tension.

One of the children, Peter, protested that he and the children of this mother were not being treated fairly. Mr Adams ignored him. Peter’s voice rose and he became caustic. His father locked him up and refused all entreaties and advice by elders to release him or even look into his complaints. Each day Peter stayed in detention, sympathies grew in his favour. Even his brothers who never liked his words and agitations began to have sympathies for him and his message. Eventually Mr Adams released his son on temporary basis.

Peter and some of his siblings continued with the agitations, insisting that they were tired of remaining in Mr Adams’ household and wanted to move out and run their own household. Mr Adams tolerated the taunts and agitations for a while. Then he decided to show the agitating children his might and what he was capable of doing. He bougth a double-barrelled gun and took it to the quarters of Peter and his siblings. He believed that if he walked around their quarters with the gun, they would know that he had the power and seriousness to deal with them if they crossed the red line.

Surprisingly, the more he displayed his gun and shot into the air to prove that indeed there were bullets in the gun, the more Peter and his siblings dared him. Peter called his names, daring him to do his worst.

Mr Adams could no longer take this insult and unruliness. How dare these little children insult him and question his authority? He believed that if he allowed this to continue, other children of his would copy this and turn his house into a mad house. So he aimed his gun at the children and fired. Two of his children lay dead.

If you were to react to this matter, what would you say? Would you commend Mr Adams for teaching his children a lesson to save further spread of the unruliness in his household? Would you tell Peter and his siblings that they got what they asked for?

The happenings of last month in Aba, Southeast Nigeria have a semblance with the events in the house of Mr Adams. The agitations in Nigeria have been coming in different forms and shapes. From the February 1966 Niger Delta Republic agitation of Isaac Boro to the current agitations for the exit of Biafra from Nigeria, when one is quelled, another starts.

But the interesting thing about the Biafran agitation is that it has been off and on since 1967. After the defeat of the Biafran Army in 1970, it seemed as if the issue of Biafra was dead. In 1999 it resurrected under the aegis of the Movement for the Actualisarion of the Sovereign State of Biafra, led by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike. After some years of protest, MASSOB did not resonate with the people. Gradually it lost relevance. Other pro-Biafra groups which sprang up after MASSOB did not get much traction.

In 2012, Mr Nnamdi Kanu started the Indigenous People of Biafra as well as Radio Biafra. Because of his ranting, the few people who listened to him wrote him off as an uncouth young man that should not be taken serious. Things continued like that until after the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, 2015.

As he made appointment after appointment, no Southeast person was mentioned. Complaints rose that he had proved people right that he did not like the people of the Southeast and the Southsouth. That was also the period he made the undiplomatic statement that ordinarily he would not treat those who gave him 97 percent vote as those who gave him 5 percent vote. He made 47 appointments in his first few months with no Southeast person named.

It was that period that the Niger Delta Avengers sprang up from the Southsouth with the mission to sabotage oil production by blowing up oil facilities. That same period Nnamdi Kanu took advantage of Buhari’s treatment of the Igbo to win hearts over to his Biafra cause. Many of those who thought that he was not worthy to be listened to and believed began to change their views.

Then in October 2015 he came into Nigeria and was arrested and charged to court for sundry offences. Repeatedly different courts granted him bail but the government refused to release him. Protests broke out in many Southeast cities and some Southsouth cities over his detention. Some of the demonstrators were shot dead by security agents. All these steps by the government elicited sympathies to Kanu and his Biafran cause. For close to two years he was detained. From relative obscurity, Kanu’s profile skyrocketed. Even though many disagreed with the bile he spewed out, they aligned with his message that Nigeria was unfair to the Igbo and that others would be better for them to leave Nigeria to form their own country.

There were other issues that helped to make this narrative sound good. The murderous activities of Fulani Herdsmen in different parts of the nation and the fact that they were treated with kid gloves by President Buhari was a point. The continued lopsided appointments and siting of projects by Buhari, which was clearly against the Igbo, was another point. The lynching of some Igbo and Southern people on religious grounds in some parts of the North without any penalty meted out to the perpetrators was another issue. Then the non-conciliatory method the President employed in quelling the agitations angered many Igbo people. If he was negotiating with a front-line terror group  like Boko Haram, and granting freedom to some of its members, why treat a nonviolent IPOB with maximum force? If he was not arresting or prosecuting Fulani Herdsman that had killed thousands of people, why come hard on IPOB that had not killed anybody? The conclusion by many Igbo was that Buhari did not like the Igbo and was not treating them well. That worked to the advantage of Kanu and his Biafran cause.

Last month’s action of the military against IPOB followed the same hard stance. Even though Kanu had said unprintable things, the fact that the military shot and killed his civilian members in their Operation Python Dance in Abia State made his wrong steps pale into insignificance. What has surprised many is why Buhari believes that the most result-oriented way to solve this Biafran agitation is the use of force.

Last month the government announced that IPOB had been designated a terrorist organisation, even though they did not use guns on the military, but rather were seen through stones, sticks and bottles at armoured tanks. Many lawyers have argued that the government does not have the right to unilaterally designate any group a terror group. The same reaction followed last week’s proscription of IPOB and other Biafran groups by the Southeast governors. The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, was quoted as saying that both actions were illegal.

There is no denying the fact that the use of force against the Biafran agitation exacerbates the crisis and wins many over to become apostles of Biafra. When will Buhari understand this and change strategy to stop this avoidable bloodshed in Nigeria?

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