Last Monday, Gov David Umahi, the chairman of the Southeast Governors Forum, which is the umbrella body of the governors of the Southeast Zone, made haste to intervene on the face-off between the immediate past Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha; now a senator, and his successor, Hope Uzodimma, both of same party.
Umahi, who intervened on behalf of the Southeast governors, was suing for peace and looking for an amicable settlement ot the misunderstanding between Okorocha and Uzodimma. His intervention came barely a day the face-off was reported.
That intervention would surely have been okay if there wasn’t a more serious issue threatening the existence of the people of the zone whose fate have been entrusted in the hands of the governors. That issue was the invasion of Orlu, Imo State, and a part of Anambra State, Ihiala.
The invasion which came in the form of military helicopters flying over the roofs of people and shooting sporadically into bushes, arose from the invitation of the soldiers by the Imo State governor, Uzodimma, for the soldiers to flush out members of Eastern Security Network, ESN, formed by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.
The security outfit, it will be recalled, came into being owing to the failure of the Southeast governors to present any serious blueprint for the protection of the people of the zone against the menace of Fulani herdsmen whose activities include raping women and kidnapping the people for ransom.
The Southeast governors’ failure was accentuated by the action of their counterparts from the West who rallied together to form a security network known as Amotekun when they found themselves in the same situation as the Southeast governors.
With nothing similar coming from the Southeast governors after the initial noise, it was no surprise that Kanu came up with his, a development that a vast majority of the people hailed.
Kanu’s ESN had gone about sacking herdsmen from some communities, much the same way as Amotekun had been doing in the west. But while no one in the west raised a finger against the activities of Amotekun, the Imo State governor invited the soldiers to flush out members of the ESN, not minding the potential danger such an invasion could cause the innocent civilians.
It is not our intention to start arguing about the propriety or otherwise of the formation of the ESN, but the fact remains that ESN was a child of circumstance arising from the inaction of our governors in the face of the danger posed by the herdsmen.
Following the invasion of Orlu by the soldiers, many people in the Southeast Zone, including some from outside, have been condemning the action, but strangely, the Southeast governors have remained silent.
The swift manner in which the soldiers swooped on the ESN is in sharp contrast to their response to the activities of the herdsmen that have been far more dangerous. And given that the ESN is basically defending their people from further attacks by the herdsmen, the sledge hammer treatment of the Federal Government against the ESN becomes all the more questionable.
The chief duty of any government is to protect the life and property of its people. That has not been the case either in the larger Nigeria or in the Southeast where the people have been virtually left to defend themselves.
Therefore, the silence of the governors of the Southeast has left much to be desired and that is even stranger when they were quick to react to the face-off between two leaders (Okorocha and Uzodimma) who should really behave better.
Are the Southeast governors afraid of the Federal Government? Are they putting party loyalty ahead of the security of their people? Are they silent because they are looking for safe landing after their tenure? Whatever the reason may be, keeping mum in the face of such aggression against their people is unacceptable. It is shocking, it is unbelievable and it is appalling.
Our governors should know that the people of the Southeast are always prime targets in Nigeria and are thus always at the receiving end of things. Being docile in the face of the current action of the Federal Government will only encourage them to do more.
If the same Federal Government did not carry out a similar attack against Amotekun in the west, why would it do so in the east? If the governors of the west did not invite soldiers to flush out Amotekun members from the zone, why would any governor do so here?
Yes, ESN might have been formed without the consultation of the governors, but we are looking at the larger picture and the implications of such based on our collective experiences as a people. Carrying out an attack the way the FG has gone about it is bound to cost the lives of innocent civilians and that is why such an attack should be condemned. That is why the Imo State governor got it wrong.