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Heavy Battalions and the Verdicts of History – By Onyemaechi Ogbunwezeh 


The Nigerian government is at the moment terrorizing its civil population in Southeast Nigeria. She patched up an ill-advised military operation code named “Operation Python Dance” to that effect. 

Its aim is to “show force”. 

“Showing force” to any one is always designed to intimidate and influence behavior. And that force is being shown to citizens in a democratic setting, is either a symptom of an unrestrained slide into tyranny; or the inglorious remnants of a  pathologically militarized society. 

Operation Python Dance in Southeast Nigeria; at this time is not only one of the most stupid decisions ever taken by this government; it is also an abbreviation of the slavery to that kind of unintelligence, which is forever native to incompetence; to which this government is imprisoned in. 

To pacify; to intimidate; to frighten and to cow a people; one considers as rebels; for the “treasonable crime” of speaking out their discontent; has historically being the exclusive province of political sociopathology. 

Political sociopathology peddles a pedestrian philosophy of power. Its vision is dangerously myopic. It is absolutely convinced that power flows from the barrels of a gun.  To that end, it believes in advertising and retailing brutality; ripping its opponents asunder; decapitating every tongue that wagered a criticism towards it: in fact it loves showing force. And men of low morality, dictators and sociopaths are in love with showing force. 

Power flowing from gun barrels, may seem self-evident. But history has never been a linear progression; burdened with a syllogism irrevocably bound, to conjugate the verbs of “might being right.” 

Right is nobler as might. That is the benediction reason pays to justice. But the nobility has not succeeded in making this sociopathological philosophy extinct. 

Some of the greatest apostles of this metaphysic; have been some of the greatest mass murderers of history. Chairman Mao Tse Dong; the major proponent of power flowing from the barrel of guns; was that venerable scoundrel; who presided over the starvation of millions of Chinese people, during his Great Leap Forward program. 

The projection, and practical application of this Hobbesian-Orwellian metaphysic; which subscribes to “God being on the side of the heaviest battalions”; is what actually paid the gate-fees; and ensures the admittance of Josef Stalin into the halls of eternal infamy. Stalin for those who missed history classes; or played truancy, while the lessons ran, was that psychopathological scoundrel, who gave free reign to his murderous bloodthirstiness in Soviet Russia. This oaf murdered close to 20 million Russians in the name of communism. He was a disciple of that metaphysic.  

All political edifices of history, which dared run its political metaphysic on this software; went into decline or matriculated into infamy.

Rome was the mistress of Italy. She was one of the most powerful empires of history. Whenever Rome roared; nations trembled. Her legions represented the ultimate killing machine that the ancient world had ever seen. She conquered nations; smashed cities; enslaved the proud and the mighty; hung yokes of enslavement on necks of foreign nobles and their peoples; and eviscerated every opposition on her way to a place in the sun. 

Rome believed that the power of her legions guaranteed the rightness of her claims. She believed that because she can project savagery and decimate peoples, that makes her civilized. 

All her conquered victims; were intimidated by the raw savagery and the incomprehensible brutality of Rome, into an epistemic immobility; that eviscerated every reason to resist.  Rome brutally clamped down on every resistance. She decapitated every opposition. She crucified anyone who dared rebel. 

That was the case until Rome, ensconced in the dogma of her invincibility; marched in strength to pacify the rabble-rousers of Germania!

Rome never expected Arminius. At the Teutoburger Forests near the German city of Osnabrück, the pride of Rome suffered a defeat of the ages. Rome operated this metaphysic. It blinded her into sending her legions to pacify Germania. The rest thy say, is history!

Soviet Russia believed that shitty philosophy until a Ragtag band of Afghan Mujaheedins; stood it on its head. And a Superpower was sent running into decline, and disintegration, with its tail in between its legs. In 1979, the last Soviet Soldier left Kabul towards Mother Russia. That was the rigor mortis of an expired superpower. Soviet Union never recovered from that. Just like “all the Kings horses, and all the Kings men, could not put Humpty Dumpty together again”; all the Glasnot and all the Perestroika couldn’t put Soviet Union together again. Gorbachev became the tragic midwife; in whose hands USSR gave up the ghost. 

I wouldn’t go into the historiographies of the defeat of imperial French arrogance in Haiti in 1803, and in Dien Bien Phu in 1953. Neither would I go into how the United States was handed her ass on a plate by the Vietnamese; forcing her to run away from Saigon in 1975.  These examples even though pertinent are too variegated for our purposes here. 

We essayed to avail posterity of these examples; so that those coming after us; after we, in allegiance to our foolishness on all sides; must have succeeded in destroying what is left of Nigeria; would know that we did not keep quiet at those junctures where reason called us to intervene to save our age. 

These lessons, which Buhari and his government have refused to learn is that unless a government weans itself from this political sociopathology; which sees force and its brutal projection as the only conflict resolution methodology; that the point would come, when a defeat to that projection; would send Nigeria into irredeemable decline. 

Mr. Buhari, impregnated by the sycophancy of his cheerleaders, and Vuvuzelas may humor himself thinking that Nigeria is non-negotiable. History testifies that this was the same cool aid; which the builders of the Titanic were drinking; believing their sea monster unsinkable; until that fateful night of April 12th, 1912, when an iceberg capsized their dreams. 

History is first a teacher, before it comes back to haunt us as a tragedy. And the fact remains that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it as George Santayana held. 

Nigeria has fought a civil war over Biafra before. We don’t need another one. No country in history has ever survived two civil wars. 

I wouldn’t know if Mr. Buhari and his adviser knew any history. But all I know as history continues to show is that you don’t even try to militarily pacify a people fighting for an idea. It has never succeeded either way. You either make yourself a butcher and put in your nomination for the mass-murderers hall of fame; or you are defeated and your “habitation would lie desolate, and your office another would take”.

The time to dialogue with the people agitating in Southeast Nigeria is now. Pull your Python back into its cage. You can never frighten a people into keeping quiet. You can shut their mouths. But you cannot shut their minds. 

That is my two pence.

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