Magnus Eze, Enugu
Chief Emeka Diwe is the National President of Association of South East Town Unions (ASETU) which recently sounded a note of warning to Fulani herdsmen over their activities in the region. As those at the grassroots, he disclosed that they will deploy their structure to protect Igboland but called for the collaboration of the State Governments.
What do you say about the state of insecurity in the country?
Insecurity in the country has become an issue of great concern and has assumed a worrisome dimension to everybody especially to the Igbo who are the direct victims of many of the unrests we experience. This is so because the Igbo have the greatest individual concentration of investments scattered all over the country, so, they feel the impact more when it comes to damage to lives and property.
Don’t you think the government has failed with regards to the activities of kidnappers and herdsmen?
Honestly speaking, the activities of these people are quite worrisome and I believe, and rightly so too, that the government of the day is paying lip service to it. I say so because the Fulani herdsmen who are actively involved in these acts at the moment are enjoying immunity from the government and when it becomes obvious that none of the people arrested so far has been prosecuted, then there is a field day in crime. The only person that can stop the activities of the killer herdsmen is the president himself. I say so not only because he is the president but because these people are his kinsmen. So, he is in a better position to talk to them in a language that they will understand.
Do you believe that there is complicity on the part of security agencies; that seem to have turned a blind eye to their dastardly activities?
We are saying the same thing in different languages. If the president who is controlling all the security apparatus in the country can allow the activities of the Fulani herdsmen to continue unabated, then the talk about complicity may not be far from the truth. When a criminal, rightly or wrongly, feels he enjoys some degree of immunity from prosecution, it makes that criminal to step up his or her criminal activities.
As an Igbo leader, you seem not comfortable with the idea of restructuring. Why?
There is nothing wrong with restructuring if it can be actualised. It is easier said than done. My fear is that restructuring might lead to another merry-go-round process. It might land us in the same or even worse situation. Let me ask, is there a template called restructuring that you just adopt or that all the inherent groups will come together on a roundtable and redesign the present political structure to a more equitable structure? If the latter is the case, how can we be rest assured there will be an easy consensus. There are no two identical concepts of restructuring among the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria clamouring for restructuring. Restructuring, like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder- an Ijaw man’s configuration of the idea of restructuring is different from that of the Igbo man, Yoruba man and Hausa. In a situation like this, who will concede or sacrifice his position for the other? If we now decide to toe the democratic process of popular vote, it may worsen the situation in the Nigerian setting. Secondly, I believe for the Igbo man, the major challenge in the Nigerian nation is security of life and property and what I call the ‘Aku-Ruo-Ulo investment initiative’. That is why we in the town union leadership across Igboland are partnering the Ala-Igbo Development Foundation (ADF) in strategic pursuit of this noble project.
What’s this concept of Aku-Ruo-Ulo initiative?
Aku-Ruo-Ulo as a concept is a clarion call to Ndi-Igbo outside Igboland to come home and invest a certain percentage of their money towards developing Igboland. It is expedient to also consider the ‘home front’ so to say. You will agree with me that if that happens, Igboland will be better for it.
What are your expectations from the new administration in Imo State?
It is still very early to talk about Ihedioha and the new administration in the state but I can tell you from his body language so far, he will perform better, he will restore hope to the people of the State.
What’s your take on the plan to establish Fulani vigilance groups across the states?
It is a mischievous proposal, a smokescreen to shield the reality behind the real. The vigilante being proposed is nothing but an invading army put together to facilitate the expansionist agenda of the Fulani Nationalist Movement. We cannot be fooled. The South East Governors have taken a firm stand on this by unequivocally saying ‘no’ to the proposal. However, I would appeal to the South East Governors to follow up on this rejection by partnering the town unions to ensure security at the grassroots. The town union is willing, ready and better placed to mobilize the necessary intelligence and human resource to ensure security of life and property in every community across the length and breadth of Igboland.