By Idoko Ainoko
The shoe is currently on the other foot for separatist NGO, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), which had neglected to heed the Biblical warning in Proverbs 30.33 (NIV) that said, “For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” Whatever situation Intersociety alleges now is the result of cause and effect, one it is actively responsible for creating.
In this regard, Intersociety is playing the ostrich in its unfounded accusation that the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, retired Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, reduced the Nigerian Army to a Hausa-Fulani group. It is playing the ostrich because it played a crucial role in walking the Igbo nation into the disadvantaged position they now found themselves in as far as relevance within the Nigerian military is concerned. It is angry that the erstwhile Chief of Army Staff approved promotion of Soldiers in the Nigerian Army. It so happened that 32 of the 47 persons promoted Major-Generals were northerners.
Accusation of this nature is not alien to Intersociety, whose stock in trade is a mish mash of conspiracy theories and manic-depressive rantings anchored on separatist ideology that does not recognize the right of other ethnic nationals in Nigeria to competently aspire to greater heights. Only such perverted mindset would make it assert that career military officers who had given their best to the country are not deserving of being promoted to the next rank based on merit. In reality, contrary to a Hausa-Fulani caucus taking over the Army, it is Intersociety as an evil caucus that is attempting to set the country ablaze along ethnic fault lines that it is willing into existence.
Tragically, the bellyaching by Intersociety is not a flash in the pan but rather it is part of an elaborate ploy to ethnicize and politicize the military such that the internal cohesion it thrives on would be compromised. Veterans of the armed forces would readily tell anyone with a capacity for appreciating facts that once people get into the service it does not matter where the other officers are from, everyone buries their ethno-religious background and simply become brothers in arms. The military becomes their tribe and ethnic group, and they live in that manner even after leaving service. This is why anyone that loves Nigeria should be concerned at the kind of accusation that emanated from the riff raffs in that organization.
Those who are tolerant of the irresponsible posturing by Intersociety must be warned to the reality that the group will not stop at the ethicizing of the military if it is allowed, it will go on to attempt politicizing Armed Forces, or at least its allies will take over that phase of operations if Intersociety is allowed to get away with the kind of malicious war of attrition it has launched on General Buratai for reasons that are not hidden. The owners of Intersociety hate his guts for what he has contributed to keeping Nigeria as one indivisible entity.
This pro-terrorism organization is practically the NGO arm of terrorist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). It was IPOB that mounted a campaign to discourage persons of Igbo extraction from joining the Armed Forces of Federal Republic of Nigeria while it also urged those already in the services to resign their commission. While IPOB was dishing out this misguided directives Intersociety saw nothing wrong in it and never thought that refusing to join the military will automatically translate into a depletion of Igbos as their counterparts from other ethnic nationalities advance through the ranks.
It is pure inanity that Intersociety is now holding General Buratai responsible for the sheer idiocy it perpetuated, promoted and actively propagated through IPOB, its parent organization. A responsibly entity would have dispassionately evaluated what is unfolding and then articulate a response that will save the south-east geopolitical zone from the quandary into which it has plunged them. One wonders why this same organization did nothing to lobby retired Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika to massively recruit Igbos into the military when he was Chief of Army Staff, not that they would have been willing to join what they have been brainwashed to regard as Hausa-Fulani contraption.
Intersociety as the intellectual wing of IPOB terrorist group based in the south east could have done better than trying to redirect attention from the trap it has walked the Igbo people into. This cheap attempt at distracting its victims is consistent with what the IPOB franchise is known for as its leader is ensconced in the United Kingdom luxuriating in a Swiss Cottage in one of the most expensive parts of London.
That this trashy organization is taken seriously by hopeless blogsites is a travesty that must be addressed. No entity that promotes anti-state activities in Nigeria all in the name of human rights should be accorded such talking space, which is why Intersociety looks for nameless blogs and pro-Biafra sites to land its propaganda contents before attempting to make them trend on social media. Interestingly, these are contents that qualify as hate speech and incitement to violence by any standard.
With Intersociety’s antecedents, it is not surprising that it is attempting to demonize General Buratai, who for the entire duration of his tenure as Chief of Army Staff ensured that no terrorist or separatist group was able to cause the breakup of Nigeria. It is understandable that an Intersociety whose parent organization, IPOB, is fanatical about reenacting the defunct Biafra republic, will be pained that Buratai ended his service to the nation on an excellent note.
It is also trite to observe that Intersociety hates everything from the north of the Niger-Benue. There have been instances when it openly canvassed and mobilize for hatred against persons who are not of Igbo extraction. It therefore cannot give what it does not have.
Contrary to what this uncharitable organization wants people to believe about retired Lt Gen TY Buratai, he is one Nigerian patriot who promoted patriotism and the highest level of merit above nepotism. For anyone to try to tag him as a bigot is something that calls for a review of the person making such call to ascertain that they are mentally competent.
Aside his fair and transparent leadership of the Nigerian Army under his watch, it was Lt. Gen TY Buratai who instituted laudable projects in the south east including making available medical outreaches that positively touched the lives of the people. The Governors of Enugu and Ebonyi state celebrated him as the friend of the south east. He had Christians as his personal staff and amongst his officers everyone was treated equally.
Once the issue of sterling values that Buratai brought to the Army has been properly situated, it is imperative that Nigerians call out Intersociety for its divisive activities, especially this nauseating attempt to reduce the nation’s esteemed military into a subject for ethnic bickering. The group must be properly contained to prevent it from contaminating the polity with its warped pro-terrorists’ ideology. A keen step to be taken is to pressure Intersociety to operate according to its actual identity, which is, the relevant authorities should review its affiliation with a known terrorist organization, IPOB, and strip it of registration as an NGO with the attendant consequences.
In the meantime, it is befitting to salute General Buratai while urging him to shrug off the minor irritant that Intersociety and other detractors have proven to be. His record of excellent service to the fatherland requires that Nigerians demand of him to make himself available for further national assignments.
Ainoko is a public affairs commentator and wrote this piece from Abuja.