The move by governors of southern extraction to define and identify what is best for their region has advanced to its crucial stage. It is the stage that will sift the grain from the chaff. The time has come for the unmasking of the pretenders. I anticipated this outcome from the very beginning. I knew that we would get to the stage where the quislings would give themselves away.
The governors of the South, irrespective of political party affiliation, have met thrice in the last couple of months over some vexed national issues. They want a secure South; a South that will not be at the mercy of the gun-toting terrorist who is out to reduce the region to a mere vassal territory. That is why they set out to ban open grazing of cattle, an unwholesome practice that provides the killer-herder the launch pad for his dance of death. They also want a South that will get its due politically. It is for this reason that they are demanding that the region should produce the next President of the country. Beyond these, the governors are concerned about other national issues, especially as they affect the South.
When they first met in Asaba, Delta State, they were in high spirits. They expressed their views on urgent national issues without let or hindrance. The same was true of their follow-up meeting in Lagos. They showed no sign of stress or distress. They approached the issues before them with gusto. But what marked the Lagos assembly out was the deadline the governors set for the enactment of anti-open grazing laws or updating and strengthening such laws, where they already existed. Another was the position of the governors on power shift to the South in 2023. These are testy issues, which can easily test the loyalty, or lack of it, of those involved.
As is usually the case in matters like this, high level horse trading has been going on in high places over these issues. At issue here is the clash between southern interest and that of a section of the North. Will all the southern governors stand with their people or will some of them sell out to opposite interests? The answer to this question has been unfolding in diverse ways. But we got a clearer picture of the envisaged crack in the southern governors camp when the governors met in Enugu last week. The attendance to the meeting told the story of a possible sellout by some of the governors. It was strange, for instance, that the South East governors shunned a meeting that was taking place in their domain. Only the host governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, was present. Governors from the other two zones of the region who were at the meeting must have been embarrassed by the obvious disinterest of South East governors in the ongoing effort to forge a united front that could save the South from territorial expansionists and political predators.
My scant knowledge of the governor of Abia State tells me that the man may not be in the league of those who are working towards betraying the southern cause. He has no history of misdoings as far as the interest of his people is concerned. So, we wait as situations unfold, believing that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu will continue to flow with the tide. While we await further developments, we will not bother about Imo in this matter. It is already a settled fact that the governor of that state is looking in the opposite direction. That leaves us with the governors of Ebonyi and Anambra states.
Those who have a good knowledge of my interventions in this column already know that I dismissed Governor David Umahi as a quisling more than four years ago. I saw through him early enough. His predilection towards external interests at the expense of his people has never been in doubt. He demonstrates it in words and actions. Sometimes decent people find it difficult to believe that someone who occupies the high office of governor could sound so unschooled. It can only take an Umahi to tell the public that IPOB’s sit-at-home orders are ineffectual before South East governors since there is always food for them in Government House and also for the fact that their children are schooling abroad. It is the height of indiscretion for a governor to utter this balderdash. By this statement, the governor has simply demonstrated that he does not deserve the high office he is occupying.
As we pity Umahi and his disgraceful public displays, let us spare some space for the man called Willie Obiano. This governor acts in very strange ways. He is cocooned in his state of Anambra and is hardly bothered about what the outside world is saying or doing. This governor does not contribute to national discourse. He has no opinion on any national issue. I have never heard or seen him espouse on any issue. We just hear distant stories about his indulgences in a state that has the highest concentration of wealthy entrepreneurs in the country . Governor Willie is just in a world of his own, luxuriating to no end.
We would have continued to ignore this man and his ways as we have been doing for over seven years now if his present actions and inactions do not have direct consequence on the survival of not just the Igbo nation but the entire southern Nigeria. This governor has done nothing about the anti-open grazing law that he and his counterparts took a decision to bring into place. He has also not told anybody why. I understand that Anambra professionals have asked him to identify with the collective wish of the South in this matter, but we are yet to hear from the governor. As always, he has never expressed any opinion on the myriad of issues that his fellow governors from the region are concerned about. Given the governor’s morose disposition, you are then left to wonder whether the man actually understands that he owes the people of his state, the South East zone and, indeed, the entire southern region a responsibility in this matter. What is Obiano’s position on these issues that are trying the soul of the nation at moment? A responsible and responsive governor cannot afford to be indifferent to these issues. Indifference is certainly not one of the attributes of a public office holder.
Going by the disposition of these governors, it has become obvious that the South East is the least serious about the decision of the South to forge a common front. But the problem does not derive from the people of the zone. It is borne out of the rapacious greed of some of those who have been elected to serve them.
But the renegade governors must understand that the issues, which they are running away from, have to do with the survival of their people. The South is trying to respond appropriately to the wicked plan to take over their territory by nomads from the Sahel. But rather than identify with their people in their bid to stop the invaders, some governors, mostly of South East extraction, have decided to sabotage the interest of their people. Rather than help the cause of their beleaguered people, these South East governors have decided to become an embarrassment to the region. This is very regrettable.
But as the treacherous governors wallow in their self-destructive tendencies, somebody needs to remind them of the way their master, Vidkun Quisling, the Nazi collaborator, ended up in the hands of Norwegians. A little bit of historical excursion will help them to appreciate better the dangerous path they are treading.