It gladdens the heart that governors of the five states of Nigeria’s South-East region have woken up to the insecurity that has ravaged the region and crippled the socio-economic life of the people in the past few years. Whether or not the sudden verve is coming from the new crop of governors who just joined the league in the persons of Alex Otti (Abia), Peter Mba (Enugu) and Francis Nwifuru (Ebonyi) is immaterial. The move by the governors is long overdue.
The governors, under the auspices of South East Governors’ Forum, rose from their meeting in Enugu last week with a resolve to collaborate with the Federal Government to tackle the menace of insecurity in the region. Without mincing words, they said both the perpetrators and sponsors of the insecurity in the region were not legitimate agitators as they claimed to be but criminals who must be treated as such when arrested in accordance with the law.
“The forum firmly resolved to fight insecurity decisively in the region, individually and collectively, in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria and other stakeholders,” the governors said in a communique read by the Chairman of the Forum, Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma.
It is stale news that for close to three years now the South-East has been held to ransom by all manner of criminals most of who parade as Biafra agitators to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens. From Imo to Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Abia, their nefarious activities have ranged from kidnapping to decapitation of human beings, burning of police stations, burning of people’s homes and palaces of traditional rulers, among others.
We do not want to go into the origin of the widespread insecurity in the region. We cannot hazard a guess as to what may be the cause(s). We are not security experts. That is for the governors who are the chief security officers of their various states to unravel. We reckon that in unravelling the cause(s) of the menace, working with concerned security agencies, the governors would find the solution.
It is also time to end the incessant sit-at-home orders in the South-East. If the governors do not know, the economy of the South-East is on all fours now as a result of the sit-at-home. Micro businesses in the region lost an average of N4.618 trillion in one year to the sit-at-home orders imposed on the region every Monday, according to an ICIR investigation. Added to that is the loss of lives and property in the hands of faceless criminals who parade the streets every Monday in the name of enforcing the sit-at-home order.
We acknowledge the effort of the Enugu State governor to put an end to the sit-at-home order in the state. However, we think that the effort lacked proper planning and enforcement. You do not ask people to violate an order given and enforced by trigger-happy fellows without providing adequate security to protect the people against those miscreants.
The governors should take a cue from the case of the newly constructed Second Niger Bridge. Recently, reports emerged that some criminal elements had vandalised portions of the Second Niger Bridge and carted away some sensitive metals. Shortly after, drivers of heavy duty vehicles and commercial buses cried out that armed robbers and kidnappers had taken over the largely lonely bridge, forcing them off that route.
To tackle the growing insecurity on the bridge, the Federal Government ordered regular security patrol and the Anambra and Delta Police Commands followed up with joint security patrol teams on the bridge to keep off the vandals and make the bridge more secure for road users.
Now that the South-East governors have taken the initiative to fight back the criminals making life unliveable for people of the region, we expect that there should be no half measures. It is not enough to talk tough and raise hopes. Pronouncements should be matched with actions. As we said earlier, this is long overdue.