Last week, over 100 innocent citizens of this great country were painfully sent to their early graves in a suicide bombing that took place in a popular bus station in Kano.
From information gleaned from the spot, a majority of the dead were feared to belong to the Igbo ethnic group. For over three decades, Igbo have been at the receiving end of such attacks. I recall the heady days of Maitasine riots in the North. Hundreds of innocent people were killed. Is the recent attack in Kano an orchestrated to decimate or intimidate Igbo out of the North?
What happens if those aggrieved decide to retaliate and this causes another social upheaval that could set the country on the edge? Why the suicide bombers and their sponsors chose this critical time in our national history to carry out the attack still baffles me. Past attacks had been targeted at places of worship in the North, with no particular ethnic group as target.
The Kano one was specifically and deliberately targeted at Igbo. What they want to achieve by this senseless attack is yet to be ascertained. I have written more than two-dozen articles on the need to foster unity, tolerance and love among the various ethnic and religious groups in our dear country. In each of the articles, I drew attention to the ills that work against the advancement of our nation, especially ethnicity and religious bigotry.
Recent events across the country show that these calls are not usually heeded by those at whom the messages are directed. How can anyone explain the increased rate of violent crimes that have nearly made life unlivable in our nation? There is no part that is spared: from east to west, north to south, it is the same story of indiscriminate killing of innocent citizens. All the efforts by the security agencies so far to curtail the menace seem not to be working.
For all I know, the latest attack was an unnecessary distraction. It does not have the capacity of achieving anything for the attackers and those sponsoring them. Let the perpetrators of these attacks take a look at what is happening in other nations in turmoil to be able to appreciate the perilous direction they are taking our nation to.
Yes, it is important they look at the anarchical situation in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central African Republic (CAR) and other parts of the world to understand the danger inherent in fanning the embers of hate, tribalism and religious fanaticism. Do they want our nation to become one of these ill-fated countries?
I must confess that my heart has been in deep pain since the bus-station bombing in Kano last week took place. I learnt that the five buses bombed were heading for Lagos and Aba – usually with mainly Igbo businessmen and women. Boko Haram was blamed for the multiple blasts.
Why should Boko Haram attack Igbo? Is there anything Igbo and Boko Haram adherents are fighting over? Why should Boko Haram unleash such mayhem on innocent Igbo businessmen and women who did not pose any obstacle to their perceived interest(s)?
Are they aware that their unprovoked attacks have cost Igbo numerous lives and billions of Naira in materials? Do they know how many families they have rendered hopeless with the recent murder of their breadwinners?
We need answers to these questions urgently otherwise there is fear that this particular incident can trigger off more serious troubles in our nation if not carefully handled. There is no way we will fold our arms and watch our people killed so wantonly again.We have the right under the law of man and natural justice to do everything within the ambit of the law to defend ourselves from the knives and bombs of any conscienceless group wreaking havoc on our nation in the name of agitation for self-governance.
The 1967-1970 Civil War was caused by the senseless and unwarranted killing of Igbo in the North. Though I am a proponent of mutual, peaceful coexistence, however, that is up to the limit commonsense can permit. Is it fair for our people to continue to support the unity of a nation in which their lives are not safe? This is not the first time this kind of callous act is happening.
During my tenure as governor, I personally led a delegation to the North in 2000 to appeal to their leaders to call their youth to order; to stop killing our people without provocation. This was after the unprovoked killing of Igbo in several parts of the North for religious reasons. As a direct response to my peace shuttles, there was a brief period of respite for Igbo in that part of the country.
Now, the monster has woken up from its slumber, and it seems our leaders have gone to sleep. Nobody is talking or doing something concrete to stop the carnage. The only strong voices from Igboland doing something to condemn the recent killing were MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazurike, and Senator Uche Chukwumerije who moved a motion in the Senate last week.
I also credit President Goodluck Jonathan and the Senate leadership with statements condemning the attacks. It is a pity that other key Igbo political leaders have chosen to keep quiet, while their house burns. What they have probably forgotten is that they are, by their studied silence, only postponing the doomsday – of which they may be its biggest beneficiaries.
Whoever sees evil and fails to condemn it will face the aftermath. It is not arguable that those who kill by the sword die by the sword someday. Today, others are being killed and you do nothing to help. Tomorrow it could be your turn. That is nemesis. After all, what goes round comes around. Insecurity has assumed a new dimension as we approach 2015, and security agencies seem helpless. Must we kill in order to win election or register our discontentment?
Politics should be just a game of wits and not bombs. Those who resort to violence to register their resentment are nothing but barbarians. The leadership of this great nation is open to anybody who is a bona-fide citizen of this country, who has met all the statutory requirements to seek election. It is not the birthright of anybody.
This is why I have always advocated openness and brotherliness in political contests. – Former Orji Uzor Kalu.