Forum of the Elders of Northern Nigeria: Keeping the Igbo is not worth a civil war

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On June 9, following a closed meeting, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) Posted a public declaration that the Igbo-dominated southeast should be allowed to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria if it was necessary to avoid a civil war. NEF spokesman Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said that “the Forum has come to the difficult conclusion that if support for secession among the Igbo is as widespread as it is suggested, and the Igbo leaders seem support it, then the country be advised not to hinder you. His statement continued that secession was not in the best interests of Igbos or Nigerians. On the contrary, all should work to rebuild Nigeria. But blocking secession “will not help a country already plagued with failures on its knees to wage another war to keep the Igbo in Nigeria.” The statement also suggested that northerners facing harassment in the southeast should return to the north. There was no reference to secessionist sentiment in Yorubaland, in southwestern Nigeria, to which former President Olusegun Obasanjo referred. The former president mentionned that secession from the Yoruba would also be reckless, but that maintaining unity should not be done “at all costs”.

Although there is no specific reference to this, the NEF statement is clearly animated by the memory of the Nigerian civil war of 1967-70, successfully waged by Nigerian nationalists to keep Biafra dominated by the Igbo. in the federation; it killed up to two million people. This too involved massive population movements, with the Igbos fleeing a pogrom from the north to the south and fewer northerners leaving the southeast. In the civil war, the northern elites strongly supported the nationalists. The current discontent of the Igbo has its roots in the defeat of the civil war and the belief that they are marginalized from upper parts of the Nigerian state. (There has never been an Igbo President of Nigeria.) Such feelings of marginalization are exacerbated by the national epidemic of violence and economic malaise. The NEF, for its part, responded to rising insecurity in Nigeria by calling on President Buhari to to resign or for to be dismissed. Resignation or impeachment is a reversal of the NEF Support of the presidential candidacy of Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

Safer:

Nigeria

Political movements

Wars and conflicts

Conflict prevention

Civil society

It should be noted that the NEF statement in favor of allowing secession had two caveats: that there was broad support among the Igbo but also among their “leadership” (not further defined). While supporters of secession will argue otherwise, At first glance the evidence for both senses is slim.

Is the NEF’s point of view important? What is the representativeness of the opinion of the elites of the North? Buhari’s Special Media Advisor Femi Adesina replied to his declaration of June 9, describing the NEF as a “simple irritant” which hardly exists beyond its leader, Ango Abdullahi, a distinguished former vice-chancellor (president) of Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. According to Adesina, the former vice-chancellor is a general without troops. Indeed, the influence of the NEF is difficult to judge. But his public statements are attracting media attention. As with former President Obasanjo’s comments on Yoruba separatism, at the very least, NEF statements indicate that growing insecurity is driving at least some of Nigeria’s elites to rethink the foundations of the Nigerian state and the consequences of it. his civil war.

Safer:

Nigeria

Political movements

Wars and conflicts

Conflict prevention

Civil society


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