It is sad. The pictures and stories of killings and revenge killings coming out of Nigerians are very sad. The very agenda being pursued by the Boko Haram killers in the North is gradually taking shape in the south. The aim of their killings is deliberately targeted at provoking a response from the South with the hope that it will degenerate fast into the absolute lawlessness that they desire to take advantage.
Unfortunately, some Nigerians are beginning to fall for this agenda with the killings in Benin yesterday. It is very sad for some people to think that the killing of one innocent man compensates for the killing of another innocent man. This will be seeking the Rwandan solution to our problem. It will spiral the country into the pits of hell in which very few people will live to tell the story.
For those who think revenge killings are the way to go, they should go and read about what happened in Rwanda. Nigeria as it is currently has a good number of the characteristics of Rwanda and even worse. We are not only divided along tribal lines we are also divided along religious lines. Unlike Rwanda, we do not have two major tribes; we have three major tribes that are divided into several sub ethnic groups and several non-major tribes.
In the North you have entrenched Christian states and Southerners who have lived all their lives in the North. In the South, you have entrenched Muslim communities and Northerners who have lived all their lives in the South. There are Igbos who speak more Hausa than Igbo and there are Hausa’s who speak more Igbo than Hausa. Yoruba’s have almost an equal number of Muslims and Hausas.
Whether we like it or not we have lived too long together as Nigerians to go our separate ways without serious collateral damage. It is the height of naivety to think Nigeria could easily be divided into two halves and everything will be okay. The truth is that Nigeria is not divisible into two halves, it is not divisible into three, it is not divisible into four, it is not divisible into five, it is not divisible into six and it is not divisible into any number of predictable parts. This is the truth. Do a critical study of the ethnic and tribal divisions and animosities among tribes and ethnicities and within tribes and ethnicities in the country, and it will be clear to you that Nigeria toys with division at great risk to the lives of everyone.
To understand the collateral damage that may arise in the break-up of Nigeria is to understand the complexity of the different intra-tribal and inter-tribal relationships. There are three major militant groups MEND in the South South, there is the Odua People’s Congress (OPC) in the South West and then there is Boko Haram in the Northern Nigeria. These groups are all heavily armed and uncontrolled by the Nigerian State.
But besides these known major militia groups, there are also known to be several sub militia cum political groups who owe no allegiance to any of these major militia groups and will fight for their own interest. In the South East, you have the Bakassi Boys, MASSOB, the Igbo People’s Congress and many others. In the Delta Edo axis you have the Egbesu boys which claim to be behind yesterday’s revenge attacks in Benin City, Edo State. You also have the Niger Delta People’s volunteer force and the Niger Delta Vigilante. There are several other militant groups active in Northern Nigeria with some having operated several years before the emergence of Boko Haram. These existing groups may not necessary share the ideals of Boko Haram.
Obviously, it will not be a piece of cake for Nigerians to break along tribal lines considering that there are 250 different distinct tribes, not counting ethnic affiliations. This is the time for all well-meaning Nigerians to reach out across the religious and ethnic divide and preach peace and tolerance while isolating as fast possible the evil ones among us trying to tear this country apart. The same vigour that leaders across the divide have used to condemn the removal of fuel subsidy is needed right now to stop this evil descending on Nigeria.