There are different ways to look at the issues surrounding the fresh agitations, by certain sects, especially Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), depending on what angle you view the conversation from.
But should the government understand that this is yet another delicate debate that should be handled carefully? Absolutely.
Our correspondent Richard Babaeko notes a couple of reasons below.
Buhari ought to take into cognizance, Nnamdi Kanu’s popularity and support base. There are millions online and offline who subsrcibe to the vision of IPOB. The government will need to take the sentiments of these citizens into consideration, and empathize with them, without necessarily aligning with their mission.
HEATING UP THE POLITY
Sending Nnamdi Kanu back to prison, as is now being feared in some corners, may further heat up the polity. The worst, it may lead to avoidable civilian disobedience.
Self determination is among the known laws at the UN which Nigeria is signatory to. President Buhari himself made that case for the people of Western Sahara and Palestine at a recent UN summit giving the world reasons why these countries should be independent, and that “self determination is the sacred right of every individual to exercise”.
POSSIBLE LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT
Government must handle Biafra protest carefully, especially as many pundits have speculated there may be more support for the group than is known. The group appear to have access to funding, Intel, and marketing.
RULE OF LAW
Being a formal military dictator, millions are watching to see how the President will submit to the rule of law, and not demonstrate a propensity to take the law into his own hands. Two wrongs, they say, do not make a right.
President Buhari may have agreed with the late Biafran Leader Ojukwu that there’s no place for Biafra in today’s Nigeria, but many Igbo leaders are throwing their weight behind Kanu and his group, for different reasons.
THE WORLD IS WATCHING
The rest of the world is watching, to see how Nigeria handles the reemergence of a civil issue that led to a three year-war in the early days of independence and created wounds millions are yet to heal from.
It’s a thin line between stopping an individual seen to be a threat to the unity of Nigeria, and abusing the fundamental rights of that same individual or a group of people. The Buhari-led government already has too many issues on their plate – they must avoid adding another, especially one that may help IPOB and its sponsors secure public sympathy
Other groups are watching. The way IPOB and related issues is handled will determine the future of Nigeria, with regards to secession.
The Igbo are divided over their support for the fresh calls for a Republic of Biafra, as is being propagated by IPOB, but the government must understand that every Igbo voice must been listened t0 and heard. Millions of families lost their loved ones and properties during the Biafra war. The scars are still evident in many homes today. Handling IPOB and the different demands of the Igbo wisely will do a lot towards making the region believe their future is safe here.
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