Rising Insecurity In Southeast And Governor Ugwuanyi’s Emblematic Wand

Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (in white middle) with security chiefs

By Steve Oruruo

Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa) of Calcutta, the Indian-Albanian Catholic saint once said that “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” These timeless profound words provide a philosophical lens through which earth’s long gruesome history of insecurity could be appraised. Bottomless greed and maniacal quest for global domination triumphed over love for each other when nations bore arms and spilled blood like soulless ghouls in the infamous two World Wars and several other barbaric conflicts.

Has humanity perpetually forgotten that we belong to each other? The answer lies inter-alia in the present-day Ukraine where human carcass decorate the streets of Kyiv and Kharkiv, the ruination in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia or in many communities in Nigeria where human life has depreciated and is brazenly wasted on a daily basis by marauding bloodthirsty vampires. 

Insecurity is a vicious monster whose polymorphic metastasis could swing from the mild to the atrociously extreme within just an instant. The violence gripping the world at the moment has become a scar on the conscience of humanity. Unfortunately, Nigeria appears to be inextricably entangled in this global theatre of the absurd and Southeast region is obviously not insulated.

For over a decade, Northern Nigeria has been a theatre of the macabre, searing with various forms of dastardly ills. The commoner lives on borrowed time, choked by debilitating anxiety and heavy foreboding that sits like Olumo Rock in his chest. If he is not shattered to smithereens by bombs planted by Boko Haram devil incarnates, he is mowed down like a blade of grass in his own living room or farm by unprovoked bandits.

School children are abducted from examination halls, yanked from the nurture of their guardians and the society is constrained to live in the middle of nowhere, in servitude of Satan’s lieutenants. Every night in these past several years, men, women and children have gone to bed with half an eye closed, wondering how far away their Armageddon was. Add this to being disembowelled by our nation’s seemingly incurable malgovernance, and you would have an absolute tragedy of tragedies.

For the greater part of contemporary history, the north staged most of the nation’s ludicrous broadways of diabolism. The southeast enjoyed relative peace. Industrious men and women, like they have done since the dawn of time, woke up every day of the week before the first cockcrow and went to work to fend for themselves and their dependents. We would safely gather in town squares under the serenading glaze of the moon, the pub or at a neighbour’s traditional marriage to wine, dine and laugh till our throats hurt. We would look forward to returning home to our villages during the Yuletide, to spend quality time with loved ones. This has always been the Igbo lifestyle – one of responsibility, industry, hard work, brotherhood, resilience and living life to the fullest. But now things have fallen apart.

We are beginning to lose sleep in our own land. On one hand is the incursion of the enemy from distant shores into our confines, disguised as harmless nomads in search of pastures for their herds of cattle, but ravaging our homes in the dead of the night to cut down innocents in their sleep. They lay waste to our livelihood and brandish beyond machetes when we dare to complain. What is more heartbreaking is that the enemy is turning our own blood against us. Our kin and kith have become informants and co-conspirators, sharing roasted corn with us by the fireside in the day, but at night conducting the enemy’s orchestra of death. On the other hand, are our supposedly well-meaning brothers and sisters, reinvigorating the undying spirit of separatist movement but through untoward self-defeating schemes.

Have we as Ndigbo, like Mother Theresa said, forgotten that we belong to one another? Have we forgotten that not too long ago, we faced one of the greatest existential threats in the history of mankind?  How our heroes fought and died together. Have we forgotten how in the post-war era, we built back together from just 20 pounds? Several decades later, the Igbo nation is flourishing once again, and is dominating the global arena in numerous respects. Out of our cloaks have come the finest political leaders, business moguls, professors, traders, civil servants, great athletes, and farmers.

As a people, we have always been indefatigable, relentless, and dogged, although meek and accommodating. Ndigbo are progressives, heavily invested in the common good and like Paul the Apostle admonished, always in pursuit of peace with all men. But we are also lions, fierce providers and fearless protectors of truth and justice. We have never shied away from taking the ultimate risk for our family and neighbours and defending our ancestral boundaries, culture, and heritage, much like the Soviet soldiers in the battle of Stalingrad.

Now once again, we must step up to stem the rising tide of insecurity in Igbo land. Security is the primary duty of government and in the Nigerian political eco-system; most of this responsibility is domiciled at the centre by perhaps intentionally flawed design. State Governors, Local Government Chairmen and traditional rulers are not adequately empowered by the constitution to fulfill this crucial obligation. The governor especially, regarded as the chief security officer of the state, has incredibly limited authority over the security architecture and agencies.

Despite this, Governor Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, in less than eight years, has relentlessly worked the system to sustain our environs in serene ambiance; leaving Enugu as the impregnable and unassailable fortress for Ndigbo. His strategies have been multipronged – education and economic empowerment of the youth to stem restiveness; socio-political re-engineering to root out violence from the political circle and engendering in its stead, a climate of accountability, goodwill, and conciliation; and supporting the security outfits in the state with tons of vehicles and gadgets.

The governor is a man whose aura is peace, and he has imprinted the character on Enugu’s political and socio-cultural milieu. In what was an unprecedented turn of events, and arguably unparalleled anywhere, the governor united long-time foes whose enmity and raging discord unsettled the state. He disabused Ndi Enugu of their ultra chauvinistic ideologies, restoring the spirit of brotherhood and unity upon which values and precepts the Wawa nation gained its emancipation. Under the leadership of Governor Ugwuanyi, politics has evolved from the repulsive “Do or die affair”, to what it was originally intended to be— an exercise in participatory and experientially consummate democracy.

Steadfast in his resolve to make Enugu a haven for residents to live, work and play, the governor has continued to partner with the security agencies in the state. Under his watch, the government has vigorously strengthened the security infrastructure of Enugu’s fringe enclaves with rejuvenated Neighborhood Associations and the Forest Guards.

Every action the governor has taken has been in the best interest of the greater majority to which power belongs. In spite of a few security breaches, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi leads from the frontlines. His measured attempt at decisively dismantling the latest incursions of insecurity in Eha-amufu, Isiuzo LGA is a mixture of military manoeuver, sustained dialogue, unification of warring stakeholders, restoration of traditional institutions and productive diplomacy. And he has done this with an uncanny, subtle, and deftly touch.

The world is replete with egotistic and narcissistic political “strong men” who ruled with iron-fisted impunity and leaders who conversely were too weak to take necessary hard stances for the greater good. Nigerian politics is swarming with the former; dictators camouflaging as democrats, desperately clinging on to power while offering nothing but cruelty to the hapless plebeians.

But Governor Ugwuanyi even in the face of hard choices offers a personality that is a perfect blend of grit bottled in subtlety, strength of character, bravery laced in diplomacy, yet knitted with a sense of justice, fairness, and empathy, especially for the downtrodden. Governor Ugwuanyi’s breed, which sadly is rare amongst the Oligarchs who have contrived to hold power for decades is astronomically shrinking in the arena of political morality. And there is no better person than Dr. Peter Mbah to consolidate on this legacy, judging from his resilient personae, godliness, unwavering character, and trail of achievements as captain of industry and a consummate public servant.

Insecurity in Nigeria is taking a horribly mutating dimension begging for concerted efforts. It is undeniable that the Southeast states and local governments cannot do it alone no matter how hard they try. So, all hands are needed on deck. Now is the time to vehemently and without sparing sentiments, denounce all forms of senseless violence in Igbo Land.

We must complement the efforts of security agencies to ferociously protect our borders against invading terrorists and smoke out the homegrown traitors living in our midst. A lot is at stake – lives, the future of our children, years of investments, our identity as a people, our heritage, cultural values, and posterity. The reanimation of the sentiments that fanned and fuelled the secessionist movement is seemingly justified in the face of sustained aggression against the people of the southeast.

Ndigbo in this Nigerian contraption have battled decades of systemic oppression, political under-representation, and economic strangulation. We have every right to be aggrieved and want to express it through self help, but as true sons of our ancestors who paid the ultimate price fighting for our freedom, it is self-defeating, counterproductive, predictably idiotic, and perhaps profound foolery to compound our woes by instigating destabilization within our own confines.

How do we benefit from asphyxiating our economies through multiple sit-at-home orders? Why do we fold our hands and watch a few renegades issuing orders from the Diaspora, berate, injure, and kill our men, women and kids, in the atrocious guise of fighting for our collective freedom while their children thrive in foreign schools? Quite chilling! The Federal Government must arise now to defend the territorial integrity of this country and innocent citizens eking out mere subsistence in their ancestral homesteads from unprovoked siege by marauding bandits.

No one could have more succinctly embellished my mind than the legendary Martin Luther King when he opined that “Non-violence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

With the unassailable credentials of Ndigbo as the nucleus of Nigerian economy, Eastern Nigeria, nay southeast geo-political zone would easily be turned into an oasis of prosperity with a little unity of purpose. Igbo should not allow herself to be reduced to a beggarly, disoriented, and lachrymal nation just weeping about marginalization and ruing her historical pedigree without first shielding her number one intellectual property which is overtly commerce.

How can we submit ourselves to an inciting nostalgia that is both defeatist and deadly because it continues to romanticize with the past while the future speeds away. Even the fiercest enemies of Ndigbo would easily agree that Ndigbo are unarguably the most industrious, capitalist, and egalitarian people under the face of the earth. It is therefore compelling to admit that we do not need the distractions of unbridled violence, incessant killings, restiveness, and all forms of sporadic but senseless crisis ravaging our homeland. They are merely diversionary. The purity and sacrosanctity of the Igbo blood are so fundamentally entrenched in our consciousness and inviolably engraved in our conscience as to be easily eviscerated by the benefits of secessionist agitation.

In the words of the poet Dinos Christianopoulos, “They buried us but they didn’t know we were seeds.” Countless times, they have conspired to bury us, and each time, we have sprouted shoots, flourished in the land of the rising sun and spread our tentacles to every corner of the world. The current spate of insecurity is becoming another apocalypse, like the Biafran war once was, and it threatens to destroy what we have labored to build and rob our kids of the glowing future they deserve. We must complement the committed efforts of the Enugu State Government, throw our weight behind the emergence of the highly transformational Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, and rise up together against this affliction. The cost of inaction will be a monumental trans-generational calamity.

Steve Oruruo is the Special Adviser to the Governor of Enugu State on Information

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