-Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –By Austen AKHAGBEME:

AMIDST the settling smoke of crossfire and the simmering waters of hate, vexation, rant, threat, abuse and wanton provocation in the Southeast between the government and IPOB agitators, the recent arrest and repatriation of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu provides the best opportunity to address the numerous issues without the need to fire any more gunshot henceforth.

Whether we agree or not, the vexed method of approach by the two sides has led to the death of too many innocent souls and any move by anyone that seems to suggests the continuation of such senseless hostility in whatever guise will not augur well for the general well-being of Nigeria as a multi-ethnic nation.

This is not the time to roll out the drums to gloat the assumed ‘vanquished’ when the challenge at hand is yet to be fundamentally and exhaustively addressed. Rather if anything, this is the time to dialogue with Mazi Kanu and the elders of the region and all similar vexations within our complex enclave, to at least, officially understand the real issues and also to create a window to resolve them.

Whether Mazi Kanu called Nigeria a Zoological garden or not, the fact remains that “that garden” still encompasses his ancestral home up until now as far as Nigeria’s territorial integrity is concerned.

Even when the SouthEast ( Was it really the entire southeast?) was ridiculously referred to as a little dot, it is on record that that dot produced some of the early foremost intelligent nationalists that spoke, “the Queen’s English” that delivered to us political independence from the British till date.

On the part of the Federal government, the painful alternative of the proverbial stick has been used so far, this is the time to apply the carrot and the break, while applying wisdom and dexterity to amicably resolve the issues at stake.

Whether we like it or not, Mazi Kanu symbolizes the secret desire of the vast population of the youth of the southeast region; but seeking for Justice in a way that may lead us to more injustice and throw the nation into chaos was the unenviable snag that brought MNK to where he found himself right now.

In all, there has to be a point of convergence between the burning desire, anger and aspirations of a people and those whose responsibility it is to ensure that such aspirations are addressed within the confines of a known or agreed law for the benefit and mutual security of all.

Enough of unnecessary ethnic colouration of a problem that threatens the very fabric of our existence: let Democracy have a breathing space to articulate and express her divergent views. And let these views be harmlessly expressed by all without the threat of violence or the use of force by one party against the other. This is what true democracy is all about.

*Austen AKHAGBEME is a Columnist with Blank NEWS Online

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Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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