By Odunewu Segun
By far, the greatest threat to Nigeria’s unity is the Biafra agitations. And stoking this embers by a coalition of activist groups under the aegis of Northern Youth Groups who gave a 3-month ultimatum, expiring on 1st of October 2017, to Igbos living in the Northern part of the country to leave, has compounded the matter.
According to political analyst, Cheta Nwanze, who is head of research at SBM Intelligence, the tensions are likely to come to a head. “If improperly managed, the current tensions are a huge threat. Nigeria is currently unstable, and a spark could ignite a flame,” says Nwanze. “In its current state, and with current revenue trends, Nigeria has two decades maximum before it implodes.”
Nigeria in recent years has witnessed a revival in pro-Biafra sentiment. Especially since the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, a British-Nigerian in October 2015. He heads the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a group calling for secession.
Since his arrest in October 2015 and subsequent release in May after almost two years in detention without trial, support for an independent Biafra has been on the rise.
According to findings by National Daily, the group witnessed support growing from 21.4 per cent to 43.2 per cent in the south and southeast in the last 18 months from survey conducted by Nigerian think tank SBM Intelligence.
The Niger Delta is another keg of gun powder, but it seems tension in that region has been doused for now. By extending amnesty payments to former militants and an increased attention from government, the pipeline vandalisation has stopped.
The Boko Haram group during his hay days nearly brought this country to his knees. It declared war on the Nigerian government in 2009 with the stated aim of establishing a radical Islamist caliphate in the region. At its strongest point in early 2015, Boko Haram controlled territory equivalent to the size of Belgium.
But since Buhari came to power, it has been beaten back and much of its territory reclaimed by government forces. The group remains a menace, however, and has launched some 50 attacks so far in 2017.
But by far, the greatest threat to Nigeria’s unity is the Biafra agitations.
According to an author, Max Siollum, there is very little chance of the federal government considering an independence referendum for any part of Nigeria. “Nigeria’s elites will handle these secessionist demands the way they always do: via some form of unwieldy yet ingenious backdoor compromise.”
And as it is, acting President Yemi Osinbajo, expressed this much when he met with leaders from the Northern part of Nigeria, threatening to bring to bear on inciters the full wrath of the law, yet the inciters still walk free among us.