Memo to Buratai on pythons

Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai


Sir, I guess you still remember me. The other time there was little problem between you and my Oga, Dapo Olorunyomi, I was the one that wrote to appropriately advise you without a fee. I told you then that even as a general, war should only come as the last option on your menu. It is not as if I have better martial knowledge, but wars, even between husband and wife, have a way of not ending once started.

I will not forget to add that peace is also not a permanent state of affairs because conflict is a fact of life. This is the basis of all theologies. That person or force that we refer to as the devil is also constantly working to offset the beautiful chart that God has arranged. There is war when men listen to Lucifer and there is peace when men listen to Jehovah. If this is so clear, why is man so unable to listen to the Still Small Voice of Jehovah to avoid wars?

Having said this, sir, I want to believe that you are among the very few that follow the Still Small Voice of God. At least, there is now peace between you and Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, publisher of Premium Times. If yes, it is a very good development and I congratulate you for being a peace ambassador. As you can see, it is easier and far less expensive to make peace than to make war. When there is war, you lose men and material; you know what you are passing through in the Northeast. I am praying for you to feed this peace between you and Dapo and the Nigerian media generally with good conduct and conscience so it will remain everlasting.

I want to add today that it is not good performance to make peace in one place and go to another place to make war. That is sheer cancellation of results, which brings no value. I will go straight to the point. I know of some kind of irritation in the Southeast called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). This has been for some time and it is not dying down because it is calling attention to fundamental issues.

Your Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C), President Muhammadu Buhari, fought in the civil war, saw war in all its raw ramifications like Warsaw in Poland, and on the basis of which he is prepared to crush anything including peaceful agitation that could invoke a second civil war. Nothing, apart from history, emotionally and psychologically connects you with the tragic events of the 30-month civil war.

You and your C-In-C are products of different occupational circumstances. And so, if President Buhari, on account of his involvement and arising psycho-emotive attachments wants to sink the entire Southeast just to avoid a second civil war, you, who are free from all psychological and emotional encumbrances occasioned by the civil war, should not be carried away like him. Coupled with other advantages, you should know better that lasting victory comes by engagement not by conquest.

The C-in-C needs to understand that the events of today in the Southeast are a consequence of the mismanagement of the battlefield victory of 1970 and that if the declaration of ‘no victor, no vanquished’ at the end of hostilities by the then C-in-C, General Yakubu Gowon had been faithfully lived through in the last 47 years, there could have been, perhaps, no reason for Nnamdi Kanu after Odumegwu Chukwuemeka Ojukwu.

I even hear that Philip Effiong, the Vice President of the defunct Republic of Biafra dropped enough warning in his surrender speech to Olusegun Obasanjo. The man said the rising sun of Biafra, which Gowon declared had set forever, could rise again if the victorious Nigerian side did not show magnanimity. It goes to show that the human spirit can neither be killed nor even caged for too long. It seeks always to live and express freely no matter the destructiveness of the opposing forces.

There was War World II after World War I and the spectre of a World War III is rising daily because the New World Order, which came into effect in 1945 at the end of WW II and which offered greater space for engagement as against encounter or conquest in the determination of human conflict is crumbling in the face of increasing military adventurism of stronger nations.

Many people have commented on the constitutional role of the military in this democracy. Instead of going into the sophistry of constitutionalism, I shall limit myself to preaching common sense and humanity. Sir, which between the interest of your C-in-C and the interest of the people of Nigeria comes first on your loyalty scale? And in the event of a conflict of interests, on whose side, the C-in-C or the people will you stand?

Meanwhile, in case you are unaware, tyranny is when everything including human lives is sacrificed to please and sustain one life. As we speak, this kind of thing is happening in Syria and North Korea. It is about to happen in Nigeria. Be informed however that people who inherit tomorrow are not those that are today counted on the side of a tyrant. I shall illustrate.

In 1986, former Filipino dictator, Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos called for election after 14 years of martial law and misrule. Corazon Aquino, widow of Bengno Aquino, Marcos political opponent whom he (Marcos) liquidated, became the unified opposition’s candidate. The elections were rigged in favour of Marcos, but that did not lead to his victory. Instead, Marcos fled the country when the people backed by the military stood against him. In fact, General Fidel Ramos, who was then the army chief declined, perhaps for the first time, an order by Marcos to roll out military tanks against the people. General Ramos who later succeeded Aquino as president stood with the people.

On August 21, 1991, a handful Bolshevik hardliners who had become disillusioned with President Mikhail Gorbachev’s twin-reform programme of glasnost and perestroika took control of the government of the former Soviet Union. Then Russian President, Boris Yeltsin mobilised the people against the coup. The Red Army, which rolled out tanks to enforce the take-over, froze in their tracks when they saw the sea of civilians prepared to defend their liberties with bare hands and chests against military tanks. The coup failed after only two days.

The choice is yours to make sir. Outside soldiering, the other thing you do so well is snake farming from which you have reportedly made fortune (selling venom) to own a property in Dubai. I salute your ingenuity sir even as I yield to your superiority in matters of snakes. But tell me sir, have you witnessed a dancing python before in your farm?

It does not sound creative altogether. A python does not gyrate. It is a gentle and sleepy giant, that does all its things, including catching prey, quietly and by subterfuge. If a snake must dance, it should be cobra.

The cobra can lift about three quarters its length into the air and in that position, dangles forth and back and sideways as if actually dancing, to hypnotize its prey before striking with deadly precision.

You know better than I do as a snake farmer. Sir, I have a feeling I want to share with you. Now that you have driven these IPOB boys underground with your python dance, I fear a counter-offensive the boys may code-name ‘Operation Cobra Dance I’ or ‘Operation Strike and Vanish.’

It seems to me a bigger mess than this your so-called python dance. That was how you and your men went to the Niger Delta the other time to do ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ and when the boys came with ‘Operation Crocodile Tears,’ which was more like the thing to say in the first place, things didn’t quite go entirely your own way. I think a word should be more than enough for a General. I rest my case. Thanks and stay blessed sir.



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