After beating about the bush for months on end, South East governors have finally come to terms with reality. They have, after ceaseless prodding, come to set up a regional security outfit code-named Ebube Agu. The security body, from all indications, was hurriedly put together. That is why it has neither method nor content. It is just a fleeting impression, which is yet to attain a concrete status.
But as is usually the case with the chairman of South East Governors’ Forum, David Umahi, the impression being sold to the public is that the security body is already operational. But we know it is not. It cannot possibly be operational when there is no foundation of any sort upon which it is resting. Umahi, we know, likes to lead his audience by the nose. That was how he told the public that South East governors have banned open grazing. Yet, there is no system in place to ensure the implementation of the ban. There is no ban on open grazing in the zone just as the setting up of Ebube Agu remains a statement of intent. Perhaps the governor wants to divert our attention from the true state of affairs. We will not be deceived this time. Talk, as we all know, is cheap. But Umahi has a knack for making it cheaper.
While we wait for South East governors to establish Ebube Agu in word and in action, we cannot but underline the fact that the road to setting up the security network has been long and windy. It was so because we have a crop of governors who are either beholden to external forces or too timid to understand the mood of the nation on security issues. Some are too ensconced in their little closets to understand that the entire Igbo nation is their forte. In that case, they will wish that the cup of shouldering the burden of the Igbo should pass them by. In a situation where everyone else is burying his head in the sand, somebody has to seize the stage. That is what Umahi has been doing. He is the dominant influence among the flock.
The defining characteristic of his disposition is that which imagines that you could curry the favour of external powers at the expense of your people. In trying to fit into this devious scheme, the governors began to take steps that imagined that they could be smarter than their environment. They probably thought that the environment was not keeping a close eye on them. They even imagined that they could win judgment against their people. That was why they ignored popular outcry and chose, instead, to engage in self-worship. Like a dancer before the mirror, they enjoyed their antics all alone. Now, their histrionics has run full circle and reality has set in, very suddenly.
Anybody who has been following developments in the South East will readily know that what the governors of the zone just embarked upon is a ridiculous volte face. When their South West counterparts took the bull by the horns and set up Western Nigeria Security Network, South East governors quickly jumped into the fray. They said they would soon set up their own security network. They told the people that they would soon come up with a name. They never did. Suddenly, the governors opted for the community policing initiative floated by the Inspector General of Police. They abandoned the regional security idea without saying a word to the people that elected them. That was an unconscionable show of contempt for the people.
The problem with the leadership of South East governors was, and has remained, selfishness. By now, it has become very well known to everybody that Umahi has been more interested in how to feather his own political nest. It would not have mattered if the governor, in doing this, did not subjugate the interest of his people in order to gain personal advantage. But the ultimate tragedy in all this is that the other governors do not seem to have a mind of their own. That is why one of them is leading them by the nose. There would have been no Ebube Agu, for instance, if Umahi had not been personally wounded. Ebonyi, his sacred grove, has been violated by blood suckers whom he thought were friends of his state. They pulled the rug from under his feet and left him squirming with discomfort. If Umahi were still comfortable, he would have told the Igbo that his people have no problem with Fulani herdsmen; that they are living in peace and, therefore, do not need any regional security network.
It was the Umahi disposition that drove South East governors into indecision over regional security outfit. It was in their refusal to act that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) stepped in with Eastern Security Network ( ESN). The outfit has been at daggers drawn with security agencies of the federal government. But they have managed to hold their head high in spite of the rough tide. It was in the midst of the growing popularity of ESN that the South East governors shamefacedly stepped in. Maybe, reality has finally dawned on them. Now, their Ebube Agu is rearing to compete for space with ESN.
Before the needless struggle distracts them, someone needs to tell South East governors to, first and foremost, get serious with their Ebube Agu. This security body, from what we know, is just a paper tiger. It does not exist in real terms. Umahi’s declaration that it has taken off is diversionary. It is a show of lack of preparedness on the part of the governors. If the governors are serious about their Ebube Agu, they will begin by giving it the force of law. Having done that, they will recruit marshals that will do the job. Existing vigilance operatives cannot be infused into the new body without proper legislation covering their operations. But then, the brewing rivalry between ESN and Ebube Agu is absolutely unnecessary. Since their objective is to protect the East against terrorists in whatever guise they come, the way to go is for both bodies to complement each other.
While expecting that South East governors will begin to look inwards, the fact that no one can run away from is that security in Nigeria has gone regional under the Buhari disorder. In Buhari’s Nigeria, jihadist Fulani militias are on a mission of conquest. They want to infiltrate and take over every region of the country. Indigenous natives have been killed in their numbers by these marauders. Their women have been recklessly raped. Their farmlands have been destroyed and their forests forcefully occupied. The people have cried for help. But Buhari’s security forces have treated the matter with kid gloves. They have acted in ways that suggest that the Presidency is acting in cahoots with the invading army.
The South West block of the country was quick to identify its regional interest. That was why their governors and leaders did not have difficulty identifying what they want. Together, they resolved that the invaders must be flushed out of their region. In doing this, their governors put aside political affiliations or personal interests. What mattered was the overall interest of their region. Regrettably, the cahoots lacked cohesion and could not, therefore, identify its group interest early enough. For governors of the region, reality in this matter is late in coming. But now that it has come, let us hope that they will learn from it.