Python Dance Iii: The Nigerian Army And The Challenge Of Professionalism.

By Monday Eze, Senior Correspondent, The Nigerian Voice, Abakaliki

On Sunday, 6th January 2019, the Nigerian Army launched Operation Python Dance III for the entire Southeast and Calabar which are the areas under the jurisdiction of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army. The ceremony which was launched at the 24th Squad Engineering Regiment of the Nigerian Army, Nkwoagu Ebonyi State had the General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Major General Abubakar Maikobi and the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Nweze Umahi, among others in attendance.

One may recall that while the first edition of Operation Python Dance in the division passed almost unnoticed, its penultimate edition known as Operation Python Dance II left a lot of blood, tears, sorrows and controversies, most of which are yet to be resolved, in its trail. Gory pictures of young people and the aged suspected to belong to a group avowed to non-violent agitation for the defunct State of Biafra, which had earlier been proscribed by the Southeast Governors' Forum, being tortured in the muds, maimed, killed and dismembered by heavily armed men in security uniforms are still fresh in the memories of the people of Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo States. Those orgies of bloodletting and violence on the people trivialized the intercessory and preventory roles of the Southeast Governors' Forum in their timely proscription of the group of civil agitators for Biafra, created mistrust between the Governors of the Southeast and their subjects and left the world and bookmakers overawed following their futile efforts to determine why the Nigerian authorities preferred to expend such humongous military and manpower resources on unarmed civil agitators even when the Northeast of Nigeria was under heavy threat and unabating occupation of insurgents while other parts of Nigeria were living under palpable fear of itinerant terrorist herders whose stocks in trade were massacres and wanton destruction valuable property. Making reference to the impact of Operation Python Dance II, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State who doubles as the Chairman of South East Governors' Forum informed the General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Abubakar Maikobi, during the launch of Operation Python Dance III that "The south east zone has been greatly troubled by the army’s presence, especially with its clash with members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra."

At this point, one must point out that the timing of the launch of Operation Python Dance III in the above mentioned States which, by all standards, still qualify as the most peaceful States of the country at the eve of a general election which members of the ruling party at the center who are not many in those states insinuate that they want to use "federal might" to rig seems inauspicious. Governor David Umahi further expressed this concern in unequivocal terms during the launch of Operation Python Dance III in Abakaliki in the following words. “The army should therefore remain neutral and maintain a high level of professionalism in the discharge of its duties while the operation lasts. The zone will not have problems with any place the army chooses to establish its operational headquarters as long as it maintains its professional mandate of protecting the people.

“Ebonyi, and indeed the entire South East, will resist with vigour, any attempt to rig during the elections, using security agencies as tools. The only way Nigeria will exist beyond 2019 is for credible elections to hold where all security agencies would be seen to be neutral" he concluded.

Given the taunts of "federal myth" in some political quarters and the allegations that have trailed security operatives in recent elections in different parts of the country, Umahi's concern cannot be faulted. In his response, Major General Abubakar Maikobi assured that the army shall remain neutral and will not deviate from its mandates.

In Operation Python Dance III which will last till February 28, the security agencies in Nigeria, especially the army, are challenged to reinvent themselves onces more by discharging their duties professionally without fear or favour. As the world waits to see how this positive challenge which the Southeastners have given the Nigerian Army and other security agencies through their Governors will be handled, it is suggested that the confidence of the ordinary citizens of Nigeria whose taxes are used to maintain the security agencies should be seen as the ultimate prize and coveted by Nigerian security agencies far and above every other consideration. God bless Nigeria!