Unlike a majority of retired generals who maintain the patriotism and dignity of “officers and gentlemen” as they retreat into civil life, General Alexander Ogomudia is obviously opting for the murky fringes of parochial politics. Thirteen years ago he was the highest ranking military officer of the Nigerian Armed Forces as Chief of Defense Staff. It was his duty to formulate and execute policies and programmes focused on attainment of highest level of national security and operational competence of the Armed Forces. Even as recently as last year, General Ogomudia was hailing the Nigerian Army for successful operations in the continuous fight against all forms of insecurity. “I urge you not to rest on your oars but work assiduously with other security agencies towards maintaining and improving the security in the country,” he told troops at the end of the 2018 West Africa Social Activities (WASA) celebration of the Army, in Dodan Barracks, Lagos.
Shockingly, a few weeks ago the same General had abandoned the cause of national security and jumped onto the bandwagon of bellicose agitators for “restructuring” who are prone to threatening fire and brimstone as the consequence of failing to heed their demands. General Ogomudia’s alarmist war-mongering was the last thing expected of him at a lecture organized by the Catholic Church of Warri’s Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC). But he threw caution and decorum to the wind, defiantly declaring that the continued “suppression” of the agitations for the restructuring of the country could lead to “violent break up of the country”. Suppression? In fact, the restructuring charade fizzled out due to agitation fatigue !
Whatever was responsible for such a tragic turnaround, from a patriotic pillar of national peace and security to a callous campaigner for do-or-die restructuring, is a perilous pointer to the irrational tendency for people to adopt desperate and uncompromising postures in pursuit of political goals, contrary to the norms of democracy. General Ogomudia’s untimely emergence as a doomsday advocate of restructuring after maintaining dignified distance from the contentious confrontations that erupted earlier in his post-retirement years when his geo-political enclave ruled the country also exposes the parochial parameters of his current posturing.
Nevertheless, it is instructive that the General and his cohorts would rather issue empty threats of “violent break up” than take the democratic path to actualizing their restructuring aspirations, which remains the only reasonable and realistic route that rules out violence and break up. It is an intriguing irony that those who claim their desperate uncompromising agitation for restructuring is fuelled by “suppression” adamantly refuse to initiate the constitutional process of gaining the necessary democratic endorsement of a majority of federal and state legislators to achieve success. Yet they insist on restructuring the whole country just by “agitation” and threatening apocalypse!
In the circumstance, there is reason to believe that the purported desperate agitation for restructuring is in fact the means to an ulterior objective of instigating instability and eventual break up! Thus, little or no effort has gone to propagating the essence and defining features of the desired form of restructuring and its twin-federalism- demanded and building national consensus despite the existence of several models with varying implications on the preferences of other geo-political entities.
General Ogomudia’s outburst on restructuring is so nebulous that it indicates a similar pre-occupation with destabilization agenda that cannot be unconnected with his looming irreversible loss of national political relevance . It is not a mere coincidence that the General has lately been more politically active in his native Uzere in Isoko South Local Government Area in Delta State of Nigeria, which is facing communal crisis of sorts. Interestingly, he was quoted as vehemently denying involvement in the crisis, arguing that a man of his status who succeeded in nailing Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram during his time as army chief would not stoop so low to foment trouble in his own community.
Evidently, the General still harbors nostalgic recollections of his more glorious attainments in the service of the fatherland, dedicated to securing its sovereignty, peace and stability as a patriot, retired officer and gentleman. If only he could put the preservation of the territorial integrity of Nigeria above all else, restructuring inclusive, he will not envisage a violent break up. Even though General Ogomudia was commissioned after the civil war ended and has no civil war record, he must stop considering violence as an option for resolving national political issues when peaceful, democratic alternatives remain unexplored. A violent break up of Nigeria is an abominable a proposition with unthinkable potential consequences on innocent citizens who, unlike the Generals and other “big guns”, cannot escape the blood bath. General Ogomudia and his cohorts should perish the thought now and forever! The more sensible task of building national consensus and mobilizing legislative endorsement across the country to facilitate constitutional actualization of the restructuring agenda is a more honourable and patriotic initiative for General Ogomudia to undertake than sacrificing national peace and stability.
Maxwell Nzekwe is a youth activist in Port Harcourt