Magnus Eze, Enugu
The second leg of the first global Igbo national summit on peace, security and development of Igboland and its neighbours, which took place in Houston, Texas, United States of America from August 31 to September 2, afforded the Igbo opportunity to interrogate and x-ray the challenges of insecurity and threats to life and property in Igboland, occasioned by the rampant killings, rape of women, kidnappings and other atrocities committed by armed Fulani herdsmen, bandits and terrorists, currently on rampage in the region.
One of the major groups that participated in the event including the first leg that held in Owerri on August 22, was the Association of South East Town Unions (ASETU); which has lately repositioned the town unions as a major driver of grassroots governance and development in Igboland.
The US summit was part of the 2019 convention of the World Igbo Congress (WIC) where it was resolved that henceforth; the Igbo would adopt diplomacy in the push for emancipation and possibly, the independent state of Biafra.
A communiqué by the Secretary-General, Dr. Richard Nwachukwu, stated that “Over the years, people in the Diaspora of different nations of the world have been the key players and drivers of nation-building and economic emancipation of their homelands. It is resolved that the World Igbo Congress should take leadership, and like other Diaspora groups like Jewish Congress, apply pressure and lobbying mechanism to achieve Igbo emancipation.”
To give impetus to its plans; the Congress resolved to forge strong partnership with the town unions’ body to “establish formidable intelligence units in Ala-Igbo, as well as reinforce vigilante groups in Ala-Igbo to ensure that Igbo land is protected.”
The communiqué which deplored the continued invasion of Igbo land by armed Fulani herdsmen and incessant killing of Igbo people; also highlighted promotion of sustainable economic development of Igboland in order to promote stay-in-the-region movement for Igbo youth and businesses, as well as the future of the Igbo regarding association of with her neighbours.
When National President of ASETU, Chief Emeka Diwe, addressed the convention, he noted that the docility of the Government and security agencies to contain the precarious security situation in the region had fuelled the suspicion that the Igbo were marked out for ethnic cleansing, adding that the people were now only left with the natural right to self-defence.
“As town unions, we have taken steps to confront this menace. We have leveraged on our grassroots reach and tentacles to establish a Town Union Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, which connects all the Igbo communities and instantly transmits information, so that what happens, for instance, in a community in Enugu can quickly be responded to by a combined team of standby volunteers across the South East,” he said.
ASETU operates a pyramid structure which unites all the Town Union Presidents-General and members at the community level, all the coordinators at the local government level, all the zonal coordinators in the Senatorial Districts, all the chapter presidents in the five States of the South East and the National Executive Council (NEC).
Diwe also said that ASETU has been working tirelessly to ensure that all town unions across Igbo land have local vigilance groups that are functional, well-motivated and well equipped: “Where they are comatose, we are ensuring their revival, and where they are dysfunctional we are ensuring they are strengthened”.
He called on Igbo people all over the world to think home, act home and make home the best place.
For him, “Our efforts must go beyond just palliatives which are aimed only at momentary mitigation of the current onslaught against us. We must seek sustainable solution to our problem. We must take the discussion on the defective foundation of Nigeria and the need for reworking it seriously. We must redefine the terms for our continued existence as a country. We must stop the slaughter of our people. We must reassert ourselves, re-establish our dignity and make our young ones realize we truly care about them.”
Before this period, the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) reached understanding with ASETU regarding Igbo wellbeing, security and development.
ADF described the town union as the major pillar in the foundation of Igbo people’s power, noting that: “Unless town unions return to the foundation of the management of the socio-cultural, economic and political life of Alaigbo, our survival as a people cannot be assured. To see the town unions regain this power, the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) hereby extends our hand of fellowship and assures our Town Unions our interest in historically partnering with them, together with all other patriotic forces, leadership and governments and organizations in Alaigbo.”
Recently, the town unions at their meeting in Enugu, had resolved to pursue a conscious and well-coordinated provision of “home-security” in all parts of Igbo land, anchored on the original concept of town unionism in partnership with all traditional institutions.
ASETU also resolved to meet and interface with the South East Governors’ Forum and to always inform them of the happenings in the local communities.