Insecurity or civil conflict in any state threatens the safety and prosperity of Nigerian families.  Recognizing their common destiny, all Nigerians need to recommit to democracy and cooperation.

OPINION

To betray the flag is to condemn one's own family

Nigerians of all ethnicities must cooperate to improve conditions.  Civil war — abandoning democracy — means starvation and crimes against humanity.

7 April 2021

Fred Kamalu

Fred Kamalu

Opinion columnist

Discussing anything with a “true believer” can be futile, but try asking a secessionist to explain how Nigerian families will get food, once terrorized farmers have fled the fields and rival factions are blocking imports and international assistance.

Ask them to outline how murdering police and releasing thousands of murderers and rapists from prison will “defend” the rights of local families.

Extremists who reject inter-ethnic harmony, democracy, and patriotism pretend to be the “great defenders” of their respective ethnicities or religious groups.  However, they cannot possibly articulate a coherent strategy having any possible outcome other than mass starvation, crimes against humanity, and an unending cycle of retribution.

Older people and people who know history have seen this movie many times before.  Sadly, young hotheads, usually lacking education or job prospects, are ignorant and lack the cognitive ability to foresee the human suffering they cause.

In recent months, in the name of “defending” their ethnicity, Tigray regional leaders in Ethiopia rose in rebellion against their federal government.  All they did was spread starvation, ruin, and trauma among their own people.

It is true the federal government has failed in various respects.  Violent herders increasingly rampage across the countryside with impunity.  Large criminal gangs and corrupt politicians certainly exist.

It is right that people demand concrete actions to address these and other concerns.  All ethnic groups and religious groups should cooperate to identify solutions in view of improving security and prosperity in every state.  

However, disloyalty and civil war will make life for families much worse, not better.  Preaching an us-vs-them ethnic narrative will only make one’s own group the target of an unending feud.  

The Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War (’67 – ’70), led to the starvation of millions of Nigerians and an exacerbation of poverty.

If radicalized young men are immune to logic, objective data, and historical lessons, what can one do?

Although one cannot expect any quick miracles, one cannot give up either.  One must maintain a steady stream of reality-based information.

Fanatical groups use tactics such as collective chanting and circular logic to shield members from contact with reality.  Although this can create frustration for responsible citizens who want to reach them, eventually doubts do emerge in the minds of some.

Sadly, many radicalized individuals will only “snap out of it” after they have seen negative consequences with their own eyes. 

Regardless of the psychological issues or societal conditions that explain their disloyalty, ultimately traitors and terrorists cannot be excused.  Those who take up arms against their own country have only themselves to blame when they get themselves shot or captured. 

It is the innocent families who never asked for war that deserve sympathy.

Perhaps most despicable are the exiles living comfortably in Europe or America who use social media accounts to encourage Nigerian youth to embrace ethnic conflict or civil war.  

With their own families safely protected in Western democracies, these scoundrels cynically seek to undermine the Nigerian democracy.  They abuse their rights to try to destroy the rights and lives of Nigerian families.

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