Peeved by the arson and killings in the South East, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has called for immediate cessation of the carnage in the region. The group particularly frowned at the festering destruction of life and property in the zone by armed gangs. The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor, who made the call, described the violence in the area as a systematic destruction of the geo-political zone.
The socio-cultural group also drew the attention of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) to the danger violence has posed in Igbo land and asked the group to facilitate an end to the carnage. “Today, what we are seeing in Igbo land is not liberation but Igbo destruction and devastation. It is a national tragedy for Igbo. The liberty and freedom of Ndigbo are threatened internally and externally. I call on IPOB leaders to reassert its authority and control of the organisation,” Obiozor stated.
Obiozor’s intervention is timely and his advice must be heeded because the security situation in the South East has almost deteriorated. Policemen and other security agents are randomly attacked and killed at check-points and in their stations. Civilians are equally attacked and killed by rampaging gunmen. Dr. Chike Akunyili, the husband of the erstwhile Director-General of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the late Prof. Dora Akunyili and his colleague, Dr. Lawrence Ezenwa, were among high profile murders in two separate attacks by gunmen lately. Also, the convoy of House of Representatives member, Chris Azubuogu, was attacked and his driver killed, within the same period. A police station was attacked in Ajali, Anambra State, among others. In fact, no state can be said to be free from the growing bloodbath in the region and security agencies are apparently not on top of the situation. The people of the region are living in fear and uncertainty.
In the same vein, the economy of the zone is steadily going down, no thanks to the IPOB-induced weekly sit-at-home order. According to data from Nnewi Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), the economy of the area has lost over N50billion since August 8, 2021, when the sit-at-home began. The economy is reeling with factory shutdowns, non-movement of labour and capital, low productivity and high cost of living.
With cessation of production, many people have lost jobs. A 2020 report of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) ranked the South South geo-political zone with 37.0 per cent unemployment rate, as the highest in the country followed by the South East with 29.1 per cent. With the spiraling insecurity and shutdown of factories, the South East must have overtaken the South South zone. The education sector is equally not spared in this season of anomie. The unflattering reports of students being prevented from sitting for the West African School Certificate Examinations in the region by armed men during one of the sit-at-home sessions, spoke volumes of the extent of the disorder in the region and its aftermath on education.
The South East leaders must not allow the bloodbath to further escalate. In 2016, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) rated the South East as the most human security secure geo-political zone in Nigeria. The UNDP defined human security as safety from chronic threats such as hunger, disease and repression as well as protection from sudden and harmful disruptions in patterns of daily life, whether in homes, jobs or communities. The same verdict cannot be given on the region today by the UN agency, in view of mindless carnage.
We call on Igbo leadership to rise up and check the deteriorating security situation in the region without further delay. At the same time, they must engage in productive dialogue with the youths and other stakeholders on how to ensure the return of peace in the region. They must factor the youths and women in the development agenda of the region.
Let the leaders provide the enabling environment for massive job creation in the South East through agriculture and establishment of industries. Since poverty, unemployment and leadership failure have been identified as key drivers of insecurity in the zone, the leaders must frontally address them. Doing so will go a long way in restoring normalcy in the troubled region.
Like Ohanaeze Ndigbo, we believe that Ndigbo must avoid being a race that has voluntarily chosen to perish in violence and insecurity. Therefore, there must be a stop to the growing culture of violence and violent rhetoric in the zone. The ongoing anarchy in the zone does not represent the entrepreneurial spirit of the Igbo. It is also antithetical to Igbo cultural beliefs and values. The South East governors must now work in concert to restore order in the region and stop the needless bloodbath and arson.