“Operation Python Dance”: An Index of Nation Building Through Barrel of the Gun
by our Staff Reporter
The only time that the carnivorous predator snake, python, has the urge to dance in public is when its habitual prey, which has already been caught, strangled and swallowed whole, is digesting inside its gut. So, the Chief of Army Staff, with the accent of the Commander-in-chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces and Head of State, has resolved to engage combat-ready troops in an emergent python dance in all the nooks and crannies of the country’s Southeast geopolitical zone as the Christmas season approaches. According to Colonel Sagir Musa, “Operation Python Dance” is necessitated by “the prevalent security issues such as robbery, kidnapping, abduction, herdsmen-farmers clashes and violent secessionist attacks” in the target area. The question that readily comes to mind is when did the armed forces, which are supposedly tasked with warding off foreign invasion, take over the internal security matters usually consigned to the Nigeria Police?
What “violent secessionist attacks” are this army officer, Colonel Musa, talking about? What is the nature of this violence? Where is the violence being perpetrated and who are its primary victims? Even more important is to name the perpetrators of the said violence. Many residents of the zone are unaware of any secessionists lurking within the Southeast geopolitical zone. It is also strange to hear from Colonel Musa about violence being orchestrated by secessionists within the Southeast geopolitical zone. The last time we checked, whatever violence that is known in this part of the country is the one brought about by indiscriminate mass murder of unarmed Igbo youths by Nigeria’s central government security troops whenever the former engaged in peaceful protests to vent their anger on a governance setup that regards and treats them as an enslaved people.
SUSPECTED SINISTER MOTIVES BEHIND “OPERATION PYTHON DANCE” IN SOUTHEAST ZONE
There is nothing ordinary about the military crackdown in Southeast Nigeria code-named “Operation Python Dance”. Not the rationale behind it and definitely, not the timing. Some of the sinister motives enunciated by army spokesperson, Colonel Musa, include the “the prevalent security issues such as robbery, kidnapping, abduction, herdsmen-farmers clashes and violent secessionist attacks, among others” as the main focus of the exercise. What a ruse and subterfuge!
There are two issues here. One is the underlying motive and the other is the timing of “Operation Python Dance” in Southeast geopolitical zone.
Display of deadly force in all parts of Alaigbo and elsewhere in the Lower Niger has been a Nigerian national policy since past fifty years. The most recent was the murderous rampage of the Fulani herdsmen militia in many rural communities of the Southern states. Now, it is the elaborate deployment of combat-ready troops with “terms of engagement” to pacify the occupied territories of the Southeast. Resistance which had occurred in recent months against the influx of Fulani herdsmen militia has not registered well, at all, in the psyche of the self-styled overlords of Nigeria. So, armed troops are now being deployed to soften this resistance and thus prep the ground better for a more cordial reception for subsequent waves of herdsmen militia in the near future.
The purported “herdsmen-farmers clashes”, which the military exercise is aimed to quell, is an obfuscated version of the real intent of the puppeteers controlling the strings behind the scenes. The so-called clashes have been initiated and perpetrated by only the invading Fulani herdsmen militia against the indigenous inhabitants of sedentary communities in Southern states who are being slaughtered in their own ancestral lands. Mention of imagined clashes is only the cover being given to confuse the uninitiated and the general public to camouflage the fact that Nigeria’s military troops are being sent into the Southeast as reinforcement in aid of the insidious Fulani herdsmen militia agenda in the zone and contiguous territory.
Some astute pundits believe that the show of force through this sabre rattling during the Christmas season is designed to accomplish multiple objectives. This is time of the year when Ndiigbo, who reside in all parts of Nigeria, return home to Alaigbo to reconnect with their ancestral families. Instead of the anticipated joyous moments of the end-of-year reunion, the occupation force feels that it can get better mileage by introducing fear in the suppressed population at peak of the holiday season. This is a well-known counter-insurgency tactic for intimidating and cowing an occupied subservient group. The end goal is make it absolutely clear who the actual master and overlord of the land is. It is surely not the ancestral “umunna”, village, hometown unions, church bazaars etc. It is instead the almighty occupation force endowed with the will and capacity to inflict mayhem when the subject population would rather celebrate and enjoy some good time as they are used to doing for generations.
The Christmas season provides the greatest market for “nama” meat (wild beef) in the Southeast. Traffic of herdsmen and their cattle is, therefore, expected to increase several folds in order to accommodate the high demand during the Christmas and New Year. The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), the organized entity that sponsors Fulani herdsmen militia, could have asked for deployment of troops into the principal cattle market in this time of year to guarantee unimpeded access to goods (cattle) and most important, safe repatriation of the proceeds to kingpins in the North. It should be mentioned, for those who are unaware, that the incumbent president and Commander-in-chief of Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, has been serving as Patron of MACBAN for decades.
Suspected Role of Igbo Lagosians and Well-placed Igbo Elite Corps
Troop deployment could have been requested by some Igbo elite who believe that their activities and utterances may have alienated them so much from their kith and kin, particularly the pro-Biafra activist youths who are totally fed up with the status quo in today’s Nigeria. Even if some Igbo elite have not specifically asked for the current troop deployment, the timing of “Operation Python Dance” to coincide with period when the Abuja and Lagos Igbo elite chose to make their annual home trips may be aimed at reassuring these Igbo “expatriates” that everything will be done to assure their safety even against their very own kith and kin resident in the East. What else could have necessitated the special warning issued to “violent secessionists” in MASSOB and IPOB ranks? It is known very well that there are well-placed and influential Igbo elite who resent the mere mention of self-determination demand by the youths as the inevitable future for Ndiigbo. Some of them are either top leaders in the ruling party, APC or principal officials in the unitary government in Abuja.
In brief, “Operation Python Dance” is only another variant of the Fulani herdsmen militia dressed up in conventional military khaki-green uniforms combat fatigues. The timing for the so-called military exercise is supposed to lubricate and thus facilitate brisk transactions during the peak “nama” market season. It is also a well-disguised tactical maneuver to assure the elite Igbo “expatriates” that the minders of the status quo have got their backs and thus, it is safe and okay for the former to take a quick vacation at ground zero during the 2016 Christmas, irrespective of the intensity of anger welling up in ranks of their youthful kith and kin at home in the Southeast.