The leadership of Arewa Youth Group at their meeting in Kaduna where they ordered Igbos in the north to return home. Photo by Elombah.com
To say that Nigeria is at the most difficult period in her existence as a nation since the unfortunate Civil War (1967-70), is to beg the question. The quit notice issued by some misguided Northern youths to the people of the Southeast residing in the North is nothing short of an invitation to anarchy.
The group, Arewa Youth Leaders Forum, had issued a three-month ultimatum, specifically to Igbos living in Northern Nigeria, to leave their land or have their property confiscated. They predicated their directive to what they described as the Igbos' persistent call for the actualization of Biafra.
In the wake of the call which stunned the nation, the governor of Kaduna State, Mohammed El-Rufai, had condemned it and called for the arrest of those behind it. His call was re-enforced by the directive by the inspector-general of police, Ibrahim Idris, ordering all the police commissioners in the North to go after the culprits and arrest them.
But after a week of the two directives, no single arrest had been recorded as at press time. This is indeed a worrisome development, being that those behind it are known and are said to be walking freely in the streets of the North. One of them even appeared on a Channels TV programme last Monday, still spewing his hate speech.
So why has it been difficult for the police to arrest them? Arresting them will serve the purpose of sending a warning to them and their ilk that no one is above the country or her laws. It will also prove the sincerity of government and restore some hope that no section of the country is favoured or disfavoured.
Indeed, the perception of favouritism is at the centre of the current agitations by sections of the country. The failure of the federal government to treat all parts of the country equally will always add fuel to current and future agitations.
It is indeed saddening that these things are coming up now that President Buhari is in charge of the country. Could there therefore be any correlation between these renewed agitations and the terror being unleashed on some sections of the country by the Fulani herdsmen and now the quit notice by some Northern youths who have not been arrested?
More worrisome, is the seeming support of the Northern elders to the call by their youths. Even if the call should be taken at its face value and we believe their claim that they would not use violence to evict the Igbos, we all know how such previous situations ended.
It is a sad commentary that after the unfortunate events in our history, including the pogrom of 1966, the Civil War, the religious and political killings, the Boko Haram scourge and the Fulani herdsmen's menace, the federal government will fail to act decisively against those clearly fomenting trouble for other Nigerians.
It is really strange that the same government which swiftly arrests other groups in the country agitating for legitimate rights, as enshrined in the country's Constitution, has thus far dragged its feet in arresting a group whose utterances can throw the country into anarchy.
The inability of the FG to act decisively now will lead to a colossal loss of confidence in it by the citizenry. With all the armed forces in the hands of Northerners, no thanks to Buhari's lopsided appointments, the path the country is now toeing in the handling of the current crisis is dangerous.
We therefore call on the FG to match its words with action by arresting all those behind the quit notice on Igbos living in the North. It is our view that if nothing is done now, as nothing was done in the past, the thinly stretched cord that has held the country together may finally break with disastrous consequences.