Kanu’s reappearance and Kaduna crisis: A prelude to 2019

In the midst of all these, consciously or not, the political actors are setting the tone of things to come, before, during, and after the polls.

Before now, the political atmosphere in the land witnessed some sort of tranquility, save for some bickering and wrangling among politicians jostling for party tickets to contest in the general polls, the polity, to some extent had been relatively calm.

As days go by, events unfolding are presenting, subtly, the template for things to come in successive order.

Rising from a high-profile meeting with the President last week, Nigeria’s security chiefs and other top security officials hinted that, as elections draw closer, political actors, groups as well as some individuals, by their actions covertly or overtly, consciously or subconsciously, would likely ignite crisis in the country.

There is no gainsaying that most political seasons herald an era of palpable fear and an atmosphere of uncertainty and delusions. Some, premeditated, while others borne out of genuine paranoia for the usual madness that characterized Nigerian electioneering season.

At such moments, the country’s demographic setup is altered as massive exodus of people from a particular region to a safer location is eminent.

To put it more succinctly, Igbos resident in the North often travel down south east for fear of the unknown, to return, only after the elections, or a time they feel safe. Same is also the case with some South-westerners and Niger-Deltans whose perception of the North as having the propensity for violent confrontation leading up to any elections.

On the other hand, the political actors cannot be absorbed of any complicity in such scenarios. Majority of them benefit one way or the other, because, they simply explore the anxiety and emotions of the public and use it effectively for political gains. Whether it is religious, ethnicity, or regional affinities, the political actors employed such antics at various fora, and at any opportunity to further exploit such diversities for the selfish goals.

Sadly, this is a stark reality of Nigeria’s political journey. To further buttress this point, last week, two scenarios akin to such postulations played out.

First, the reappearance  of the erstwhile leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and the resurgence of religious and sectarian violence in the once peaceful Kaduna.

The temptation to give the two scenarios a political coloration was so overwhelming strong. Therefore, without mincing words, and aligning with the position of the security experts, I make bold to say, the two events are political.

Take for instance, the timing of the re-emergence of Kanu. Before now, Kanu was a demigod amongst the teeming Igbo youths of the southeast. He was perceived as a liberator, or an emancipator and restorer of the Biafran dreams and ideals. He carried with him an air of affluence, royalty and importance. At some point, the name Nnamdi Kanu send shivers down the spine of most southeast Governors who dreaded his rising influence in the region and beyond.

In fact, his activities instigated and threatened the continued existence of Nigeria. It was alleged in some quarters, that he sought and received monetary gratification from individuals, groups and some foreign interest. His IPOB-led activities was becoming a nuisance not only to the southeast, but the entire nation as tension continue to mount. The Nigerian government responded with a military exercise known as Operation Python Dance II, on September 24, 2017 in southeast states, and specifically targeting and invading Kanu’s residence at Atara-Ukwu, community in Umuahia-Abia state.

After the invasion, nothing was heard from the IPOB leader which led to insinuation that he was executed by the Nigerian Army, thereby, leading to widespread protest across the southeast. After about a year, images of him praying in Jewish sites in Jerusalem surfaced online, few days ago.

Interestingly, the timing of his re-emergence is what got conspiracy theorists talking. Some opined that, he had agreed to cooperate and work for the government hence, they granted him safe passage initially, and his emergence at this point when the opposition PDP candidature of Atiku/Obi is currently gaining momentum in the entire southeast.

But in a live broadcast on Sunday, 21st October, (yesterday) via Radio Biafra, he reiterate  his resolve to actualize the Biafran dream and called on all Igbos to boycott the 2019 elections and further declared, No Referendum, No Election in southeast.

Now, for a group who claimed to be apolitical, how would the pendulum swing?

It called for the boycott of 2019 polls in southeast, by that action, it had marred the goodwill and chances of the PDP candidature of Atiku/Obi in the region and had given the ruling APC an edge in the coming polls.

Similarly, if it had outrightly urged all Igbos to vote the opposition PDP, by virtue of its son, Mr Peter Obi, many would have dismissed the group as partisan and self-serving, seeking relevance within the Nigerian State. Such is the dilemma of the IPOB.

In Kaduna State, precisely a sleepy town of Kasuwan Magani, in Kajuru Local Government, violent clashes erupted last Friday, which was on a market day, ostensibly between Muslims and Christians. The state in the past has had its own share of ethnic and religious strife, especially with the return of democratic rule.

Between 1999 and now, the state has witnessed no fewer than 10 different crisis at different time and locations. Curiously though, these crises erupt usually in the build- up of major elections, and that got many analysts wondering whether the political actors can be exonerated of any complicity.

The crisis in Kaduna last weekend, witnesses say started as a minor disagreement between two traders at the local market, which ordinary could have been resolved by community or market leaders led to the death of 55 people. In a related twist to the reason of the escalation was the abduction of the Paramount ruler of the community, who sources say was abducted alongside his wife at gunpoint, and his Police Orderly executed by unknown gunmen on Friday.

Soon, the crisis degenerated and spread to the metropolitan part of Kaduna. Palpable tension and fear of further escalation and reprisal attacks made the state authorities to declare a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

Looking closely at the two scenarios, someone, somewhere, and somehow stands to benefit immensely from the crisis, especially from the political angle. To the political actors, imbibing the Machiavellian principle, “the end justifies the means” tends to care less how they achieve their political goal.

For Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB co-travellers, whichever side of the divide they decide to pick, some persons stand to benefit. Whichever way, the pendulum swing, to some it’s a win- win situation.  At the end, politics had taken better part of the entire process.

As for Kaduna, since the 1960s, the state has been regarded as the political capital of the region. With magnificent landscape and an urban population, it has overtime provided a serene abode for major political actors, and successive policy makers. Events in the state do not go unnoticed, therefore, whoever governs it is always be on the international and national spotlight, regardless of political affinity or faith.

With few months to general elections, politicians who had hitherto lost out in whatever contest or felt shortchanged, would have old scores to settle. Therefore, crisis of this scope are familiar occurrences. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, politics is played without morality, and sadly, even, with human lives.

And, this can be understood by the sudden reappearance of Nnamdi Kanu and the resurgence of crisis in Kaduna State.

Mohammed wrote this piece from Kano.

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