The step taken by the Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police Force, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to sound a red alert nationwide over the effect of rising tensions between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran is here in Nigeria welcome and timely.
US President, Mr. Donald Trump had, on Thursday, January 2, 2020, ordered a drone attack on the 62-year-old Head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Quds Force), Major General Qassem Soleimani, who died instantly along with the Deputy Head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, outside the Baghdad Airport.
President Trump said he ordered the assassination of Soleimani allegedly for plotting “imminent attacks” on Americans. Soleimani and al-Muhandis were at the airport amidst the break-in of protesters at the compound of the US Embassy which prompted the evacuation of American officials.
The protests arose after the US bombed targets in Iraq and Syria, killing 25 fighters of an Iran-backed Shi’ite group. Iran called Soleimani’s assassination “an act of war” and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has vowed a “harsh retaliation”, which also prompted President Trump’s warning that 52 targets in Iran will be bombed if any American citizen or interest was attacked by Iran or its proxies.
This issue is of grave concern to Nigerians for economic and security reasons. Many analysts are already expressing their fear of a possible Third World War if the escalation is allowed to tip over.
Even if there is no large-scale conflict of that proportion, our economy is bound to be affected because of its effect on crude oil exports. More important is the likely challenge it will pose to our national security, which is why we are glad that the Police authorities have demonstrated commendable alertness. Nigerian Muslims, especially in the North, tend to react sharply to significant events in the Middle East.
Already, some Muslim groups have protested in Kaduna, Abuja and other Northern cities, hurling invectives at America and burning her flags.
It is also well known that Iran has a strong hand in the affairs of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (the Shi’ites) which, though quite organised and volatile, has remained non-violent.
Efforts must be made to ensure that Iran, the U.S. and other foreign powers do not involve any Nigerian group in their proxy wars as this could turn Nigerians against one another.
All the security agencies and the general populace must join hands and ensure that the US – Iran conflict, even if it graduates to open war, does not worsen our already precarious security situation.
We have too many security problems of our own to add the power show between America and its adversary, Iran to them. Let us mind our business. Let us not cry more than the bereaved.