Call War Mongers To Order, Please!

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According to an African proverb, “If the keg of palm-wine is not quickly snatched from the hands of an exuberant drunk, he may drink himself to stupor.” A similar proverb also says “If an overzealous child is not assisted by his elders when roasting yams in the farm, he may innocently set the farm and the hut ablaze”.

There is no denying the fact that the foregoing African proverbs succinctly illustrates the repercussion of the somewhat drums of war that are been beaten in the South Western States of the country, with particular reference to Oyo State where quit notice has being issued to Fulani herdsmen, and on the other hand the entire Eastern parts of the country where Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been calling the shot for the creation of Biafra.

If warmongers are not brought under government searchlight, and called to order, it may create a hydra-headed security challenge that may make the challenges already posed by Boko Haram look like a child`s play. It is possible for some Nigerians to see this piece as the opinion of a coward, I will accept to be so seen as long as an African proverb has it that “Truth is the first victim of war”.

Apart from the need for the governments at all levels to closely watch war monger among us, and call them to order, it is expedient that traditional rulers, political leaders and even opinion leaders weigh in on the ongoing bickering over the quit notice given to Fulani Herdsmen to prevent the situation from exacerbating to what virtually all Nigerians do not bargained for. It is not as if this writing is wishing for another civil war to occur, God forbid! However, the fact remains that there have been rash, careless and voices being raised that predict and seem to encourage civil war.

Since the quit notice was issued to Fulani Herdsmen in Oyo State, I have being able to discernably see the threads of hatred that literarily run through the fabric of co-existence between the Fulani Herdsmen and the rest of us. In fact, with some of the arguments that were informally demonstrated on the streets, offices, and other informal places, I was shocked to the marrows. While listening to some of the views, even from educated elites, it dawned on me that it is just a matter of time before the seemingly uncoordinated group of war mongers would embrace tribalism and religious bigotry that could leave disastrous consequences in its wake.

To me, I think we should be very careful on this matter of quit notice given to the herdsmen as some misguided youths have the predilection of becoming tribal warlords and religiously sentimental whenever they are mobilized to do so. To this end, leaders that have the ability to sway public opinion should endeavor to swing public opinion to the side of peace. The leaders should ensure that the call for Fulani Herdsmen to desist from the meadowlands in the western parts of Nigeria is not hijacked by unscrupulous people to achieve their selfish objectives or begin to use it as a platform for committing nefarious activities.

To the Ika-speaking people of the Midwestern part of the country, there is an aphorism that says “When a child witness war from the trenches amid the bang of guns and “Ogbunigwes”, he will call war “Aya” with spittle involuntarily dropping from his mouth like an imbecile and pronounce it as such, instead of calling it “Agha” as it is known to be called, and pronounced among the Ika-speaking people of Igbanke, Agbor, Abavo, Owa and the rest of them.

In fact, since war begun to rear its ugly head as a threat to peaceful co-existence among people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, peacemakers have for the umpteenth time warned of its consequences. In fact, not few warmongers have foolhardily refused to heed advice. To this end, they have, just as an African proverb says, like the stubborn fly, followed the corpse to the grave.

To stress how destructive war is, it has been acronymically defined as by an unknown author as “Waste All Resources (WAR)”.

In a similar vein, a folktale has it that there was a man that ran into a thick forest, abandoning his wife and children, due to the fear of a raging war. As the tale goes, he spent months in the forest oblivious of the fact that the war has ended. Having realized that he has overstayed in the forest, he decided to take the bull by the horns by deciding to go back to the village; without minding whether the war has ended or not, since he was emotionally down for abandoning his children and wife.

Laughably enough, he left the forest few weeks to Christmas, and on getting close to the village, he heard banging sounds from knock-outs being fired by playful children, and home-coming youths from the cities, but erroneously thought the sporadic sounds were fired by soldiers, and hurriedly ran back to the forest where he further stayed for months until the villagers organized search groups to fish him out from the forest. Without any iota of embellishment, the foregoing view has no doubt threw an insight to the impact of war and extreme stress on civilian populations. In the same, vein, I have personally interacted with an Easterner who had his eardrum ruptured as a result of the impact of bangs from gunshots and “Ogbunigwe” bombs during the civil war that took place from 1967 to 1970.

As gathered regarding the Nigerian Civil War that was fought more than fifty years ago, and captured the world’s attention, the war raged in Biafra, from 6 July 1967 to 15 January 1970. It was recorded by historians as the first modern civil war in sub-Saharan Africa after independence and one of the bloodiest with the death of about 1 to 3 million people, mostly from starvation. The war, no doubt, sparked a massive humanitarian crisis as it was said that the levels of starvation in Biafra were three times higher than the starvation reported during World War II in Stalingrad and Holland. It was also recorded that the War-induced food blockades that led to severe protein shortages in the entire eastern region and caused widespread malnutrition and devastation among adults and children. Above all, war historians noted that the Biafra war ranks as one of the great nutritional disasters of modern times.

Also to be considered to have being of help, particularly in serving as a lesson to warmongers, is the Liberian Civil War that had at least 150,000 people killed, and hundreds of thousands becoming refugees throughout the region.

As of 2004, at least 200,000 Liberian refugees were living in surrounding countries, including Nigeria. Economic analysts were unanimous in their views that years of civil war destroyed the Liberian economy, which is now characterized by an extremely low growth rate, high foreign and domestic debt burdens, and an unemployment rate that in 2005 rose to an all-time high, and estimated be at 80 percent.

It would be recalled that prior to the outbreak of the civil war that Liberia was exporting raw timber, rubber and diamonds, but in 2001, the U.N. Security Council imposed an embargo on Liberian diamonds and timber, contending that the wrong people were profiting and that trade in these natural resources fueled further conflict.

As googled, an estimated 15,000 children fought in Liberia's civil war. Worse still, a Filipino policeman deployed by the United Nations to investigate Liberian war crimes, came back with gory facts that include the one that says that Taylor's men would sometimes bet on the sex of an unborn child, then kill both the mother and the child to determine who the winner of the bet was.

Given the foregoing gory details about civil war, it is expedient to say that if anyone would have a knowledgeable perspective on the question of whether we are headed for civil war, it is warmongers among us as they have in the last one week been beating war drums. To my view, I think the government should with its constitutional power call this men to order as Nigeria cannot afford a second civil war.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Isaac Asabor and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Isaac Asabor