The National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Uche Achi-Okpaga, has rejected fresh plans by the military to hold another Operation Python Dance in Igboland, saying it is a ploy to arouse the anger of Igbo youths, forment some violence or disorder here and there and capitalise on the situation to kill and maim them, and also hound them to prison.
He asked the soldiers to rather take their python dance to Israel, where Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra recently re-appeared.
Mr. Achi-Okpaga said this in an interview with Punch, warning the military not allow its foundation to be dismantled by ethno-religious sentiments. “A country without a united and strong military base is finished.”
He also warned youths in the South-East to be wary when the pythons come dancing, because according to him, they are the targets of the dance.
“The youth of the region should understand that they are the targets and l task them to be wary.
“It is not in doubt that our youths are usually peaceful and law abiding. However, they should know that the Operation Python Dance is just a ploy to arouse their anger, foment some violence or disorder here and there and capitalise on the situation to kill and maim them, and also hound them to prison.”
Read below the excerpts of the interview:
The Nigerian Army has said it will conduct another Operation Python Dance in the South-East, which is coming on the heels of the reappearance of Nnamdi Kanu. What is Ndigbo’s reaction to this?
That really sounds very strange because the whole world knows that there is no insecurity in the South-East. There is no need for another Operation Python Dance. Is the python coming to dance the relatively peaceful drumbeats here, or is it coming to ignite insecurity? Is it in the South-East that Kanu reappeared? They heard him well saying that he is in Israel. Let their python go to Israel and dance. There is no gain saying that the Federal Government is playing politics with security and that is why all the security apparatus is headed by the North, and not just the North, by northerners of a particular religion. There is colossal insecurity in the whole of northern Nigeria. Look at the callous massacre of innocent Nigerians in Kaduna State. They have no answer to that. Instead, they are bringing the python to dance in the South-East and the crocodile to smile in the South-South. At any rate, we are not bewildered at the news because Nigerians have not forgotten how they deployed 30,000 policemen and a barrage of soldiers with armoured tanks and other weapons of war just to conduct, or is it to win a governorship election in Ekiti State but people are killed in tens and hundreds in the North, yet nobody talks about deployment of the army.
But the army also said the Operation Python Dance is necessary to combat any form of kidnapping and armed robbery as the end of the year draws near. Do you think the army has enough reasons to deploy soldiers again in the South-East after what happened last year?
Can you imagine the military coming to combat kidnapping and armed robbery? Is that the primary duty of the army? What then would the police do or are they insinuating that the police are not doing their work? See, the respective states in the South-East have made adequate arrangements with the police commands in synergy with the local vigilante on how to combat armed robbery and kidnapping, as well as other violent crimes. With that, the Nigerian Army doesn’t have any reason to deploy soldiers in the South-East at this particular time that everywhere is peaceful.
Are you categorically saying that the Ohanaeze is not in support of another Operation Python Dance in the South-East?
Ohanaeze does not and will never support the deployment of soldiers against harmless, unarmed civilians in the South-East and elsewhere. How could they be short of soldiers to check the activities of killer herdsmen but yet have enough to unleash on innocent civilians here? It is uncalled for, unnecessary and ridiculous. It makes no meaning at all.
What is your message to the army in this matter?
The military should not allow its foundation to be dismantled by ethno-religious sentiments. A country without a united and strong military base is finished.
What advice do you have for the youth and other people in the South-East on how to stay safe when the army comes back with the Python Dance?
The youth of the region should understand that they are the targets and l task them to be wary. It is not in doubt that our youths are usually peaceful and law abiding. However, they should know that the Operation Python Dance is just a ploy to arouse their anger, forment some violence or disorder here and there and capitalise on the situation to kill and maim them, and also hound them to prison. I am quite convinced that the python will not dance if it has nobody to showcase its dancing steps to. In such a situation, the python will just go home with hunger and shame if it finds no prey. That is my advice. They should just go about their businesses and try as much as possible to ignore what is happening around them.