Quite unexpectedly, the social media was recently awash with inviting pictures of Governor of Anambra State, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo engaged in a warm embrace and exchanges with the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
No doubt, the sudden appearance of those pictures following the unannounced visit of Governor Soludo to Mazi Kanu not only surprised many people but took the wind out of the sails of those ever ready to criticize the Federal Government and the Department of State Services (DSS) for keeping the IPOB boss in detention over the amended charges of treasonable felony.
This is against the backdrop of spurious claims and insinuations dropped in the public space by rumour-mongers that the embattled Kanu is in bad shape due to perceived ill-treatment being meted to him in DSS custody.
The visit by Governor Soludo to the DSS holding facility and Mazi Kanu’s appearance in court on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, have certainly put a lie to all the backlashes aimed at the nation’s secret police whose responsible mandate delivery has continued to receive accolades from well-meaning individuals and groups for the various roles in tackling evolving security threats, including counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in the country.
Regrettably, away from the antics of Mazi Kanu, his legal team, and the horde of supporters that daily make the social media their abode to churn out mind-boggling half-truths, the worrying situation being instigated by the Kanu-led IPOB, its paramilitary wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), and other smaller pro-Biafran groups in the region, is yet to be appropriately addressed by the leadership structures in the South-East zone.
Amid the crisis, some prominent Igbo leaders are still shying away from openly discussing the destabilizing effects of the group’s illegal activities, especially the regular sit-at-home orders that have and are still inflicting immeasurable hardship and pains on the South-East people and residents, and what should be done to rein in all those criminals currently unleashing terror on innocent citizens.
But helping to put in perspective the damage being done to the South-East geo-political zone and its hitherto flourishing economy by IPOB’s agitations, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State has repeatedly warned that the unrestrained killings and sit-at-home orders frequently issued by the body were the worst things to happen to the commercial activities of the region.
Governor Umahi, who also serves as the Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, recently told State House correspondents that political leaders of the zone, in collaboration with Ohaneze Ndigbo, are working together to address the grievances of the youth, but self-restraint and conscious efforts by all stakeholders are required to save the zone from impending economic ruins due to the disruptive and destructive activities of IPOB and other militant organisations.
One appreciates the apprehension expressed by the likes of Governor Umahi and other leaders over the gradual but massive wreckage inflicted on commerce within the zone despite government’s interventions in terms of ongoing “megaprojects”, particularly the Second Niger Bridge fast becoming a reality as well as the award of the eastern corridor of the railway line meant to fast track commercial activities in the South East.
Concerned by the economic losses being suffered by the zone, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has joined other well-meaning groups and individuals to impress on Igbo youths to desist from sabotaging the economy through the enforcement of IPOB’s sit-at-home, maiming and killings of innocent citizens.
Describing militancy and other criminal activities in the region as economic “self-extermination” programmes, the rights group, like many others, deserves commendation for rejecting the frequent directives as ‘senseless and unproductive’.
On this score, it is important for all stakeholders to continuously harp on the need for those behind the enforcement of such illegal orders and other to immediately put an end to all forms of economic “self-extermination and destabilization programmes through the paralysis of commercial and public activities in the region.
Reports and statistics abound that the South East has suffered economic and social losses whose magnitude is in the region of over N700 billion since June last year, and according to HURIWA, “The fact is that the South East is draining and its economy dying as a result of the sit-at-home order. When markets, banks, supermarkets, schools and others are locked down on days they are supposed to be open, money is lost.”
Another group that has added its voice to those bold enough to demand an end to IPOB’s ‘senseless struggle’ that defies all known civilized methods of engagement is the Igbo Business Forum (IBF).
The IBF said; “Come to think of it, they are not more Biafran than us? You tell people to sit at home when you have nothing to manage the effect of hunger in the land and for those of us in the business sector, we lose an average of N25 billion in Onitsha alone and I believe we also lose a lot in Aba, Nnewi and other cities. This is not good for our economy.”
Truth be told, these criminal elements do not deserve pity given that life has become more difficult for those directly hit by these illegal and crime-infested activities and one agrees with the Anambra Elders’ Council (AEC) that has urged the South East people to abandon the unnecessary sit–at–home because it is killing the economy of South East.
As was the case during the administration of immediate past Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, the AEC, comprising eminent people and notable traditional rulers, should not relent in its stakeholders’ engagement by approaching Governor Soludo to build the required strong liaison with other South-East governors, political and community leaders to find urgent solutions to the problem.
These Leaders must work on convincing those non-state actors that have repeatedly given orders stopping people from working, including going to school and writing critical examinations as well as other actions that contribute to demolishing and throwing the South East economy into ruins.
If what is happening in the South-East continues unabated, it would inadvertently spell doom for the zone because closing down of the people’s shops, factories and offices is primarily detrimental to Ndigbos and the South-East geo-political zone.
So, reining in the youths has become quite urgent and the bitter truth is that IPOB and other faceless organisations have unfortunately used the so-called Biafran struggle to destroy and ruin families and the lives of their people.
Whatsoever the grievances of the South-East youths and Ndigbo in general are, positive and robust engagements with the relevant authorities and stakeholders from the Federal to State and Local governments is really the way to go and the time is now so that nobody will live in perpetual regrets for their actions or inactions going forward.
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