Sunday, July 3, 2016 6:35 pm
I have been engaged in a Twitter debate all day with Niger Delta Avengers, their sympathisers and their Biafran allies over the renewed bombing of oil installations in the region.
I described the fresh sabotage as senseless. Though it hurts our country Nigeria, it even does more harm than good to the people of Niger Delta and their cash strapped state governments. I also said the campaign is misplaced as the point of beginning out to be in the NDA calling their leaders, past and present to account. Every Nigerian knows that the region had been viciously raped materially by political leaders who ought to have seriously used available resources to take the region and people out of mind-boggling poverty.
My surprise is that my position was attacked more vociferously and intemperately by Biafran agitators, who now equate Niger Delta Avengers destructive campaign as part of a larger IPOB campaign for secession. To these new secessionists, the Niger Delta Region is part of Biafra, after all, some water bounding the region was once described as a Bight of Biafra.
Not so, I shot back at these day-dreaming critics because the history of the Nigerian civil war did not suggest so. The ethnic minorities in the states now called South South clearly resented the appropriation of their region by Igbo leaders and their being driven into war, they did not start.
The secessionists would still not accept my line of reasoning as they challenged PMB to follow David Cameron’s example by calling a referendum to decide Nigeria’s future. When I told the agitators that Cameron’s referendum was not about UK’s unity, but its membership of the EU, they still did not get the point. May be the Biafran agitators forgot that Cameron in 2014 fought to ensure that Scotland did not break away from UK.
Just like Cameron, no Nigerian leader will want to go down in history as a nation wrecker.
Unfortunately for the secessionists, not an old soldier such as PMB who had taken part in a unification war in 1967-70 would want to superintend over a disintegrated Nigeria. And more bad news: there is no provision for referendum in the 1999 Constitution to vote on the co-existence of Nigeria’s various nationalities.
What our nation needs now is peaceful dialogue, not violence.
Bayo Onanuga is the Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria. He posted this article on his Facebook wall on 3 July 2016. Credit: https://www.facebook.com/bayo.onanuga/posts/10157089057555111