by Fela Durotoye
As we have all witnessed over the last few, the path of national development is not always smooth one.
On our journey to building our nation into all that God has blessed Nigeria to be, we will go through many rough patches but we must stay together, walk together and work together until we arrive at our desired glorious destination.
To build our beloved country Nigeria into a most desirable society to live in may be considered by some to be an improbable quest, a near mission impossible.
But the secret to all impossibility is revealed by God when He said… “If these people as ONE people, speaking with ONE voice have begun to do this, then NOTHING that they imagine shall be IMPOSSIBLE for them.”
We may differ in opinion on key issues affecting our nation but we must not let our differences divide us. We are ONE NATION and ONE PEOPLE with ONE GLORIOUS DESTINY.
Yet, as the debates/activities on the fuel subsidy removal ensue, I am compelled to bring to your immediate attention, a looming crisis of unimaginable consequences if not well-handled by our government, leadership and populace.
On Jan 3rd, a faceless terrorist group called the Boko Haram issued a 3-day ultimatum asking all Nigerians of Southern Nigerian origin and all Christians to “leave” the Northern Nigerian states.
The Boko Haram’s threat was directed to all Southerners (regardless of whether they were Muslims or whether they were born and bred in the North) as well as all Christians (regardless of whether they are originally from a Northern state.)
So as to be taken seriously, the Boko Haram attacked and killed 20 NIGERIANS of South-Eastern origin whilst at having a town hall meeting in Mubi and on the same day killed another 10 NIGERIANS in Maiduguri, Adamawa State. 6 NIGERIANS were also killed when assailants stormed the Deeper Life church in Bogo, Gombe State.
Today, 4 NIGERIANS were killed by Boko Haram assailants who attacked a bus in Yobe state carrying Christian Igbo traders fleeing the northern Nigeria for their homeland.
Consequently, yesterday the 10th of January, a group known as the Niger-Delta Indigenous Movement for Radical Change (NDIMRC) issued reprisal ultimatums giving all Nigerians of Northern origin 21 days to leave the Niger-Delta or face attacks.
Today, another group – the Biafran Liberation Council (BLC) – has issued a similar 7-day ultimatum to northerners and Muslims in the Southern part of the nation to leave the area or be ready to become “victims”.
Just like the Boko Haram, the NDIMRC and the BLC has issued this malicious threats to fellow Nigerians based on ethnicity and regardless of place of birth.
Somehow, in the heat of the debates and preparations for protest against the fuel subsidy removal, these abonimable acts of murder against unarmed and defenseless Nigerians and the subsequent ultimatums have been glossed over with a grossly-inadequate response by all and sundry.
These abominations just haven’t received the adequate and appropriate reactions from leaders of thought and influence in government and society as it deserved. Through our silence, WE have ALL collectively failed our fellow countrymen who have lost their lives.
Left unchecked, Nigerians may over the next few days be ‘surprised’ by the most abominable acts of ETHNIC CLEANSING.
Just because the calculated misdeeds of a faceless terrorist group, Nigerians may soon label their fellow Nigerians as ‘kinsman’ or ‘enemy’ based on where their parents are from and not their contribution to the society or common thread of national unity that binds us together as Nigerians.
History is replete with stories of the unthinkable consequence of ethnic based attacks. In Nigeria, similar attacks ultimately led to the civil war in 1967. Remember that in 1994, about 800,000 Tutsis were massacred by extreme Hutu nationalists in the Rwandan genocide. The Czechoslovakia Serbs and Muslims.
Over 6million Jews were massacred by Adolf Hitler and his army in the worst ethnic cleansing in world history.
The question is “can we learn from lessons of the past and apply today to secure our future?”
The most amazing thing about every ethnic crises was that they were all triggered by seeming inconsequential threats and actions that many brushed aside as mere nonsense.
The immediate consequences of this overlooked atrocities include targeted attacks and killing of defenseless Nigerians. We’ve seen this happen already. So this is not fiction. What we are witnessing may inspire reprisal attacks and hatred of fellow Nigerians of another ethnicity.
Again left unchecked, this may degenerate into wanton destruction of lives and property and consequently a mass exodus and forced relocation of Nigerians within their own country.
Let me make this clear… All our debates and arguments about Fuel Subsidy removal will be inconsequential if we do NOTHING about this impending threat to our NATIONAL UNITY.
I therefore seize this moment to call on all Nigerians to condemn the attacks and threats by Boko Haram as well as the ultimatums issued by the NDIMRC and the BLC.
I call on all our elder statesmen and members of the Council of State to IMMEDIATELY arise and meet with all the key traditional rulers from all the geopolitical regions of our nation. They MUST condemn the attacks and threats with ONE VOICE.
I call on all religious leaders (Christian and Muslim) particularly the leaders of all the major religious associations to IMMEDIATELY meet and stand together to condemn all attacks and ensue for peace with ONE VOICE.
Let us all remember that Boko Haram does not represent the Northern Nigeria (otherwise they won’t be killing their own kinsmen and destroying the land).
Boko Haram does not represent Islam (otherwise they shouldn’t be killing our Muslim brothers and sisters as they have done indiscriminately).
As we have seen recently, the puppet masters behind these dastardly and cowardly acts of terrorism are highly placed power-seeking wealthy politicians who seek to divide us and weaken our resolve to build our nation.
But they shall not prevail. We WILL not be divided. We must be UNITED in bid to retrieve the soul of our nation, restore our faith and revive our hope in the future of a new Nigeria. We MUST rebuild our beloved country into a nation that we will all be proud to deliver to our children and future generations.
We must all act with ONE PURPOSE… to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done.
We must all stand together as ONE PEOPLE… though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand.
We must all speak with ONE VOICE and condemn every ethnic attack, threats and ultimatums.
Even in the midst of the on-going fuel subsidy removal impasse, it is time for you to speak out and let your voice be heard.
God bless you and God bless Nigeria.