by Alexander O. Onukwue
Contrary to the interpretation given to the statement by the Abia state Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, to imply that Python Dance has ended, the Nigerian Army announced that the operation will go on as scheduled.
General Kukasheka, the Army’s head of Public Relations, said in a statement that soldiers being withdrawn from the streets “should not be misconstrued as withdrawing of troops earmarked for Exercise EGWU EKE II”. In his words, “Exercise EGWU EKE II is commencing as scheduled. Commanders have been instructed to ensure that all hands are on deck to commence the Exercise to its logical completion. We wish to state further that the successful completion of the exercise will dovetail into the various states security outfits till the end of the year”.
The initial results of the military presence in the South East, especially in Umuahia, home to the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, led several persons to call for a removal of the Army from the region. Past leaders from the Eastern region like Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, speaking to Raypower FM on Thursday, called for the operation to be aborted for the broader goal of maintaining peace.
But the Army appears to have made its mind up and will go ahead with the Python Dance II. They wish to reiterate that it is a field training mission which has similar types in other parts of the country. However, Egwu Eke remains a subject of worry for many, given the particular state of affairs in the state, and the manner with which the soldiers began it.
Asking members of the group to drink from a muddy water, if the videos seen were recent and of Nigerian soldiers, the broader message to other IPOB members would have been “Be very afraid, Keep off”.
Kukasheka’s statement about the continuation of the operation emphasized that “we would not allow any individual or group to jeopardize the conduct of the field training exercise through unlawful or criminal activities. Hoodlums and criminal elements are once again warned to be law abiding and not cause any breach of peace”.
There was a warning for soldiers to stay out of irresponsible and unprofessional behaviour, that “any act of indiscipline by any of our personnel would be decisively dealt with”. For better transparency, it would seem necessary for the Army to give a bit more information on the music they intend the soldiers to dance to.
‘Egwu’ can mean music or dance, but it can also mean fear.