Opinion

Have Non-State Actors Taken Over the Southeast

Among other things, the essence of having a government in place is to have law and order, which, in effect, prevents non-state actors from running the affairs of the state. Whenever this happens, it is mostly indicative of early signs of collapse of governance/leadership. What is happening in the Southeast states today is an ominous sign of collapse. Non-state actors have now assumed control and dictating to people when to wake up, when to sleep and when to come out. It is scary, ominous and unacceptable.

Last Monday, despite an earlier announcement by the leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, that it had suspended its every-Monday sit-at-home strike, the major cities in the Southeast were virtually shut down, with people fearing to venture out.

This fear was largely due to their lack of faith in the ability of the government to protect them should they come out as they earlier experienced. It will be recalled that the previous week, the first of the Mondays earlier declared a sit-at-home day by IPOB, despite government’s assurances to people that they would be protected, as well as threats of withholding their salaries, some who ventured out were either killed or maimed, with others having their shops destroyed in parts of the Southeast. Up till this moment, none of the perpetrators of those acts have been arrested.

When therefore the same IPOB announced a suspension of their sit-at-home directive some days ago, leaving it for only on the days their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, would be appearing in court, many people still refused to come out; this time, not out of compliance, but out of fear of falling victim to attacks by hoodlums.

Reports from the Southeast cities had it that the streets were deserted and business activities still grounded. If this was not an indication that non-state actors have taken over the leadership of the Southeast Zone, we wonder what else it is. And this is really a tragedy.

No wonder that IPOB are now contemplating reordering the sit-at-home directive. According to their spokesman, Emma Powerful, the willingness of the people to comply with their earlier directive showed that they wanted to continue observing every Monday as a sit-at-home day in honour of Kanu.

He said his group was considering reverting to their earlier directive and would make their decision known after consultations. It did not cross their mind that many stayed home because they were afraid and did not know the directive had been suspended.

This comes at a time when a group in Ezioha Okporo in Orlu, Imo State, was reported to have gone on a rampage, destroying street lights installed by an illustrious son of the village, armed with AK-47 rifles and dispensing terror in the village. They were also said to have visited a family planning a burial and demanded to be paid N500, 000 to allow the burial to proceed. The group was also said to have been decapitating people in the village and placing their heads at the market square.

‘Everybody is now on the run,’ the report stated.

There is no doubt that anarchy has set in in that community. But anyone who thinks it will end there will surely be living in a fool’s paradise, as such things are known to quickly spread until they become the norm. This was how kidnapping which began in Bayelsa State grew to become a national phenomenon.

Indeed, that such a thing could be happening in a community which is part of a state presided over by a governor, leaves much to be desired.

That the governors of the Southeast states as presently constituted have failed in this aspect of asserting their authority in their spheres of influence leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

Also that they were not able to use their propaganda machinery to rouse the people to come out last Monday following the suspension by IPOB of their sit-at-home order, is even worse. What it meant was that they merely left their people to their own devices, while non-state actors had their way. Perhaps, very soon, we will wake up to hear that a weeklong directive has been given for everyone to stay at home.

In view of what has been unfolding in the Southeast, we deem it appropriate to repeat our call in the last editorial for the Southeast governors to engage IPOB in a dialogue in order to stem the tide of what is proving to be an impending tsunami that may sweep everyone away.

The governors should accept that they have lost it but they can do something while they still can by reaching out to IPOB to seek an amicable settlement.

As things stand now, IPOB is taking over the leadership of the Southeast Zone, while the governors are either looking towards their retirement or future political ambitions. When what we fear takes place, the governors may discover late in the day that those ambitions or plans may not save them.

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