We’ll treat them in language they understand: Now that Buhari has pressed the button


Unrest, uprising, clashes, destruction of properties coupled with the already-known menace of banditry, kidnappings, Boko Haram attacks, and killer herdsmen could be the order of the day if the route the federal government of Nigeria has taken is anything to go by. No, I am not a prophet of doom but if the leaders that should toll the line of tranquility and order are now the purveyors of violence, then even worse things could be imminent.

You may be picked up and detained for expressing your fundamental human rights. You may be driving on the highway or walking down the street, and a commando-like arrest could be carried out on you. It could also happen in the wee hours of the night after you must have had a nice dinner and retired to bed to refresh for another day, and while you are having the first set of dreams in your sleep, you may be forced back to conscious life by the violent sound of invasion by security agents. This is the abysmal level the country has regrettably degenerated to.

The country is already in a state of security quagmire and the president has pressed an obnoxious button that could land his administration in worse bedlam. It appears we are back in the military regime but with a democratic face mask.

While you pray not to be a victim of kidnapping, banditry, unknown gunmen, and killer herdsmen attacks, you will also have to wish that the government of the day does not clamp down on you for expressing your fundamental human rights. And like singer Asa said in her song ‘Bibanke’, I have handed over my case to God to watch over me.


Barely one month after President Muhammadu Buhari’s “we’ll treat them in the language they understand” speech, we have seen that he has pressed the activation button.

Buhari had made the statement in a video and later tweeted it on June 1, 2021, consequently forcing Twitter to pull down the tweet for violation. True to his words, Buhari has swung into action.

Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, was rearrested in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia or Kenya, and brought back to Nigeria to continue his court case, while Sunday Igboho’s house in Ibadan was invaded by the DSS, gruesomely killing at least two people and destroying property in a failed attempt to capture the Yoruba Nation agitator.


Buhari had hinted that he has given ‘these people’ enough time but will now treat them in the language they understand.

After the statement, security agencies have swiftly intensified their operations, arresting, and harassing citizens. At least, we now understand what the president meant by his statement.

But what are the implications of Kanu’s arrest and the invasion of Igboho’s home? Will the trial and possible conviction of Kanu bring peace to the government and residents alike? Or will another ‘Nnamdi Kanu’ rise up and succeed his boss, just like the killing of Mohammed Yusuf was the precursor to the subsisting Boko Haram insurgency?

Unfortunately, the re-arrest, detention, prosecution, and imminent sentencing of Kanu will not completely eradicate the idea and agitation for the independent state of Biafra, the government is well aware of this too. If it were to be, then the 1967-1970 civil war would have conclusively put an end to the agitation for separation.


The federal government is only cutting the tree halfway, which it has done several times, but has refused to uproot entirely from the ground. After Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu lost the civil war, the idea of Biafra never left the minds of most Igbos, in fact, it continues to grow bigger especially as the region is marginalised.

Hence, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) was established by Ralph Uwazuruike immediately after the return of democracy in 1999. The group later birthed the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by Kanu. This trend may continue even if the IPOB leader is incarcerated.

Did the show of force by the police and the barbaric killing at Igboho’s house by the DSS in Ibadan stop the Yoruba Nation rally in Lagos? No. But worse still, another killing, this time of an innocent 14-year-old girl, was unfortunately recorded allegedly from police stray bullets. How long will Nigerians continue to lose their lives because of Buhari’s ‘we will treat them in the language they understand’ statement? Is the killing of Nigerians the best way it’s President can manage agitation issues?

The implications of Kanu’s latest predicament and the killing in Igboho’s home is the possibility of violent reactions by members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) launched by Kanu or any one or other group sympathetic to the actualization of Biafra. There is also the danger of a splitter group springing up with a more ferocious leader who may only seek to pull down.


This regime has refused to admit that the collective disenchantment with the conduct of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is the main issue that must be addressed. The Nigerian government must tread with caution and consider the country’s peace and unity as a priority. Nnamdi Kanu is a cult figure and his trial will attract the watchful eyes of the media and public alike.

Dialogue and only dialogue can calm the nerves of agitators. The government must show that it understands the plight of these people. It is not just about the draconian treatment of arrest and detention, Nigeria belongs to every of its citizens who equally deserves a better life.


Now that Buhari has pressed the activation button, tension continues to rise in the land, Nigerians can’t sleep with two eyes closed and the catastrophic state of the nation remains unabated.

Ojoko can be reached via [email protected]


Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.
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