By Jude Atupulazi
As insecurity ravages across the length and breadth of the once peaceful Southeast Zone of the country, following the unrelenting activities of hoodlums parading as unknown gunmen and kidnappers, the seeming reluctance of the Southeast governors to tackle this matter the way it should, has become highly alarming and has made it imperative for one to wonder if there is anything some of these governors from the zone, if not all, are scared of doing.
Yes, there have been individual efforts by the various Southeast states to stem the tide of insecurity but these efforts have not really yielded the desired result. What has been happening is what I will capture in this analogy I will give.
In a big yard lived a man whose house was infested with rats. He became determined to chase them away and bought rat poison and sticks to achieve that. But you know the way of some of these rats. You set traps for them only to see them jumping over the traps and going about their business.
There are even some that will refuse to eat food laced with poison. They don’t eat it not because they know for sure that it is poisoned but because they have a sixth sense that warns them of danger, especially when they see strange objects, including food, that they see where they don’t usually see such. Thus they tend to jump over them and be on their way. Because of this some people call them evil rats.
But I’m not talking about these type of rats in this piece, but the ordinary ones. It is these ordinary ones that this man always tried to get rid of. Sometimes, he killed some of them but many times others escaped. Those who escaped by running out of his house invariably ended up in the houses of his co-tenants and when these other tenants tried to eliminate them, they returned to the first man’s house. It thus became a round robin which did not achieve the expected results.
But one day, worried by the growing number of rats in their yard, the tenants held a meeting and decided to choose a day in which every house hold would chase and kill the rats in their houses.
When this day came, they started chasing and killing the rats simultaneously until most of them were eliminated. The few that managed to survive did so by running away from the yard completely. That was how the yard knew peace in a long time.
The above is what appears to be happening in the Southeast States at the moment; security wise, with each state trying to fight it alone and achieving very limited results. Each time Anambra pursues them they run into Imo and when Imo pursues them they run back into Anambra. It therefore becomes clear that this game will continue ad infinitum unless both states and others adopt a holistic approach in tackling the problem.
This is what I have always been advocating as the panacea to the menace of the gunmen in the Southeast Zone. The solution seems not to be rocket science buy yet seems to be lost on the governors of the zone. What then is holding them from exploring this obvious option?
Is it politics? Is it the fear of being deleted from the good books of the Federal Government, especially given the belief that some of these gunmen belong to the untouchable Fulani Tribe? One may never know but it is a no-brainer that unless and until our governors join hands to fight this scourge sweeping away the social and economic life of the Southeast Zone, the story will remain the same.
The solution should be adopting a practical approach; not one that involves the usual academic security summit where ”experts” will come and say things everybody already knows.
The solution, as we are finding out, does not lie in buying patrol vehicles and armoured tanks for the security agencies with which they will once more chase the hoodlums in their states to other states after which the runaway hoodlums steal back into their previous bases.
No, the solution is in adopting very practical and simple means of waging the war. Communities can try but without government support they will not go far as the community vigilantes don’t have weapons matching those of the gunmen.
A community in Abia cannot effectively commandeer another community in Ebonyi State to fight the criminals the way it wants. But if the governments of the Southeast Zone decide to come together, they can pull it off, especially since they can get the services of conventional security agencies which have the wherewithal, experience and professionalism to wage the war.
If there are some unknown reasons why some of the governors or all of them are loath to enter into full time collaboration to stamp out this scourge, it is known only to them but they should consider the overall interests of the people they serve and whom they swore to protect.
The immediate past Regime of Muhammadu Buhari was known to have pampered some terrorists like the herdsmen of Fulani stock who killed at will but were never prosecuted for the entire eight years Buhari was in power. Then, it was known that some governors who were licking the boots of Buhari for favours were reluctant to touch the killer herdsmen with a long pole, not to talk about hunting them down for fear of a backlash from Buhari.
Those were governors who had further political ambition and thus were ready to do anything to please Buhari. We know that a character like David Umahi of Ebonyi State was then eyeing the presidency and thus was never expected to do anything Buhari would not like.
The Imo State governor knew how he came in and thus never wanted to annoy his boss, Buhari. Ditto Enugu and Abia States governors who eyed the senate and did not want any sand to enter their garri plate. But it was poetic justice that none of them realized their ambition, except Umahi, who after missing out on the presidency hastily settled for senate.
But now Buhari is gone and Tinubu has not shown any inclination so far to go the Buhari way although it is still too early in the day to determine that. But the governors whose states are being ravaged by herdsmen and other bandits should act boldly first and let’s see if they will be berated by Tinubu for the period he is expected to stay at the helm.
Now is therefore the time for the governors to galvanize their people and work in concert to fight this menace before it ends up like what played out in the North where bandits and terrorists eventually overwhelmed the governors who earlier tolerated them, thinking they could use them against the ”infidel” Christians.
Our governors should know better than expecting much help from the Federal Government, as the situation in our land must be making those on the other side happy. These are people who are believed to have been looking for a safe way of ”dealing” with the Southeast Zone and when we started foolishly killing ourselves in the name of agitation, they became elated.
It is like a situation where a man who is angry with his neighbour decides to set fire to his house to show his anger. He will realize at the end of the day that he has achieved nothing other than playing into the hands of his enemy who will sit back and watch with glee as the house burns to ashes.
Thus, even though a new government is in place at the centre, it is still clear that anti-Igbo sentiments have not gone away and thus, even if they have no hands in what is still happening here, they will be reluctant to stop us from our tomfoolery of killing ourselves. If possible, they will subtly lend a hand in ensuring the carnage continues.
But while we expect our governors to do what is necessary, we also have to ask our people involved in the carnage in the Southeast to have a rethink. While it is clear that Fulani herdsmen are involved in the killings and kidnappings going on here, it is even clearer that the main people behind the killings and kidnappings are our own people.
If they genuinely think that by decimating their own land they will actualize what they fight for, then they must be stupider than we believe them to be. And if they have become tools in the hands of enemies of Ndigbo to wreak havoc among their own people, then they should consider themselves saboteurs. But whichever way it goes, the battle is no longer what should be fought from one sector.
The time has come for a multi-sector invasion. Our governors, over to you.