by Alexander O. Onukwue
The week ahead is going to be crucial for Nigeria.
The President, Muhammadu Buhari, will be away at the United Nations General Assembly, the Senate has proceeded on recess, and the military operation Python Dance II will proceed. IPOB, according to the military will be treated like a militant terrorist organisation. The Army says its officers will approach their duties with the highest level of professionalism, while IPOB continues to spit fire.
In other parts of the country, noises have been made about possible conflicts between Igbos and persons of northern extraction, particularly Jos. It has not escalated to a full-scale violence anywhere but no one is comfortable. There has probably not been any other time in the last two decades when the nation was facing such tensions.
But there are genuine reasons to be optimistic and not to give into paranoia. With the commencement of Python Dance II, the Army wishes to be trusted, and reassures residents in the South East that they can go about their normal businesses. It would be counter-productive not to give them that trust, seeing as they have made to commit themselves to hold their officers accountable to a high level of discipline. The matter of describing IPOB as a terrorist organisation should not be dragged on to demean the organisation as a whole, having in mind that they still require the support of Nigerians in the fight against actual terrorism in the North East.
The passing week has felt like a tree blown by heavy winds but it’s not been more than a few dry leaves falling off. In the event that it is confirmed that some persons did die from the altercations in Umuahia, that would mean that some fruits have been lost too, unfortunately. However, the tree is not fallen and the branches remain firm. It has passed, and the coming week should not be worse.