(By Chiedu Uche Okoye)
“Nigeria is a big country in Africa. In the event that Nigeria is engulfed in a conflagration, our neighbouring countries will be affected. The war will spill over to them. And, it will create a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions given Nigeria’s huge population. But, aren’t we better off as one united country than splitting into smaller nation-states? The strength of Nigeria lies in its cultural and ethnic diversities, natural resources, humongous population, and large land-mass“.
AREN’T we living in a world without peace? Armed conflicts have defined our today’s world. Some countries are in the throes of bloody conflicts, now. From Nigeria to Central African Republic; from Israel to Syria, it is the same mordant and blood-curdling tale of blood-letting executed by either Islamic extremists or separatist groups. Can war cease from the face of the earth?
In Nigeria, members of the Boko Haram group have been waging a determined war against the Nigerian state. Members of the group want to Islamise Nigeria, and enthrone Islamic theocracy in it. To this end, they’ve been detonating bombs in churches, bus terminals and public buildings. Members of the dreaded group do strap bombs to their bodies and detonate them in crowded places. Thousands of people have died from the Boko Haram insurgency. The group has laid siege to the North-east states, especially Borno. Borno State has become the epicenter of their terrorist acts. The villages in state that share common boundary with Cameroun have suffered intense depredations executed by the Boko Haram sect.
Their murderous activities have created humanitarian crisis in the North-east. Thousands of people in the area have been displaced from their homes. So, economic activities and social life are paralyzed in most cities. Is this not a disincentive to the development of the area? And, the number of people they have killed has increased exponentially since 2010 when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan assumed the mantle of leadership as our President. It is evident that the group’s main grouse is about the occupation of the highest elective political post in Nigeria by a Christian from a minority ethnic group.
The implications of the continued escalation of violence in the North-east will be grave and disastrous for Nigeria. The Boko Haram insurgency has the potential of throwing Nigeria into a civil war if it is not checked. The 2015 general election is drawing nearer, and the North is poised indeed desperate to wrest power from the incumbent President through any means, whatsoever. The unguided utterances and divisive politicking of Northern elders and leaders have centrifugal effects on our body politic.
Nigeria is a big country in Africa. In the event that Nigeria is engulfed in a conflagration, our neighbouring countries will be affected. The war will spill over to them. And, it will create a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions given Nigeria’s huge population. But, aren’t we better off as one united country than splitting into smaller nation-states? The strength of Nigeria lies in its cultural and ethnic diversities, natural resources, humongous population, and large land-mass.
Nigeria is not the only country that is afflicted by conflict in the world, however. The Israel-Palestine conflict has resurfaced again with its disastrous consequences. Over 1,500 Palestinians have been killed in this recent conflict. Israel has its own casualties, too. Thousands of people in Gaza are displaced. But, the killing of innocent people, especially women and children, is not acceptable to people with active restrictive mechanism. The killings should stop. Hundreds of Palestinians have become orphans and widows from this current round of fighting between the Hamas and Israel. Palestine is alleged to be the aggressor in this conflict. It’s said that Hamas militants kidnapped and killed some Israeli youngsters. But, Israel’s retaliation that is aimed at decimating the population of Palestine by launching missiles into Gaza is disproportionate to the alleged Palestine’s offence, intransigence and aggression.
Israel, as a sovereign nation, reserves the right to own a home-land. Before 1947, they were without a country; then, they were scattered in different countries. Since the Biblical era, Israel has been suffering persecution. During the Second World War millions of Jews were killed in gas chamber by Hitler. The Israeli-Palestine conflict started many decades ago. It behooves the UN and the U.S. to step into the matter and use their conflict resolution mechanisms to mediate peace between the two countries. Let the current truce existing between them lead to a lasting peace. The sentiment of anti-Semitism that runs high among the Arabs should stop.
More so, in Iraq, the Islamic State fighters, who are mainly Sunni Moslems, are fighting the Shia Moslems, Christians and the Kurds. They feel marginalised and short-changed in the political scheme of things there. The Islamic State fighters have occupied a part of Iraq; and, they have established their capital in Mosul. The Yazidis have been driven to the mountain area. The Yazidis are believed to be devil worshippers. Sadly, the Islamic State fighters are asking Christians and the Yazidis in Iraq to either convert to Islam or face execution. That action of the Islamic State fighters is immoral, despicable and condemnable. In today’s world, everybody has right to freedom of thought and religion.
Thankfully, some European countries have pledged to offer military assistance to the troubled Iraqi Army and government. The U.S. Air Force is bombing the rebels’ strong-holds, and offering support to the Kurds who are nursing self-determination notions. The resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, may help to restore peace in the country. Haider al – Abadi is the prime minister designate. The U.S. and UN should assist Iraqi and the Pershmerga (the Kurds fighters) to fight and defeat the Islamic State fighters who want to create a caliphate in Syria and Iraq.
We want the world to become an oasis of peace; and, it is achievable.
• Okoye is a poet and lives in Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra state.
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