Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe representing Abia South has lamented the lack of unity and coordination among the present crop of South-East Governors, saying that the zone is like a rudderless ship without a captain.
Abaribe who made the observation in his presentation as Keynote Speaker at the maiden edition of Ikengaonline monthly Town Hall virtual meeting, noted that it had never been this bad.
The former Senate Minority Leader regretted that the failure of the Governors as the political leaders of their respective states to take charge of the leadership of the zone was the reason non-state actors seemed to have taken control of the zone, a sad development he said.
He recalled that in the past, Governors and the political elite met from time to time to review issues as they affected the zone and took common position for the good of all.
“The political leaders are the Governors of the states. But unfortunately for the past six months or more, I have not heard of a meeting of South-East Governors and the rest of the leadership of the zone.
“The South-East now is just like an area that nobody knows who is in charge because everybody is on his own.”
The former Abia Deputy Governor noted with concern, that the general populace in the zone have a distrust of the political leadership of the zone.
Abaribe further said that the continued incarceration of the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, had remained the major cause of instability in the zone, while urging the Federal Government to heed the clamour for his release.
“The big elephant in the room which is the incarceration of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has continued to to put a dampener on everything concerning the South-East.
“Why will our people now every Monday decide to sit at home? Those who try to come out get attacked by misguided elements? Government can no longer control the people on Mondays.
“This continues to make the South-East a place that nobody is willing to invest in.”
Abaribe pleaded with the youths and people of the South-East not to contemplate boycotting the 2023 election to avoid miscreants taking over the position of leadership in the zone.
He strongly condemned unwarranted attacks on the facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in the zone, saying that those behind such attacks are not working for the interest of the zone.
“Sometimes misguided elements attack INEC offices here. What’s the motive behind such attacks? To disenfranchise our people? How did we get here?
“We won’t say we won’t participate in the elections because if we stay away somebody else is going to participate, and whatever they give you is what we take.”
He harped on the need to elect credible leaders based on their individual capacities and antecedents and not party affiliations.
“We urge people to no longer look at party but individuals.
“People should understand that what you collect today to vote for the wrong person, you pay for it tomorrow with the lack of amenities and infrastructure.
Abaribe regretted that despite public outcry, the Federal Government had refused to appoint Igbo as head of any security agency, a situation that makes South-East under represented in the Security Council meeting of the country.
“How long shall we continue to talk of injustice? Today (Thursday ( there was a Security Council meeting and the sole Igbo man in the meeting was the Minister of Foreign Affairs. How would he make his views known?”
Providing insights earlier on the goal of the Ikengaonline Town Hall meeting, Co-Publisher of Ikengaonline, Dr Osmund Agbo, said it was intended “to discuss topical issues that affect the South- East zone in particular and Nigeria in general.”
The series according to him, are also intended to delve into the socio-cultural and political issues that plague the South-East zone, regretting that the zone is almost now overrun by unknown gunmen and a garden variety of non-state actors.
Dr Agbo further noted with worry, that several months after IPOB formally rescinded the Monday sit-at-home order, residents are still being restrained from going out on Mondays.
“What we plan to do in this forum is to start the discussion of how to go about redeeming our place. We believe in our God-given innate ability to take our destiny in our hands.
He further explained that the Town Hall virtual meeting series expected to hold every last Thursday of the month would feature resource persons and discussions will centre on changing the narrative for the zone.
He also said Ikengaonline is a publication of Ikenga Media and Cultural Awareness Initiative, IMCAI, a non-profit organisation which seeks to promote good governance and public accountability.
According to him the online Newspapers is an investigative media outlet with special focus on South-East, adding that very soon Ikengaonline TV will be making a debut.
The Town Hall meeting which drew participants from across the world including Ohanaeze chieftains and Ndigbo in the diaspora, was co-hosted by a veteran Journalist and Co-Publisher of Ikengaonline, Dr Chido Onuma.
Participants poured encomiums on Ikengaonline for the initiative, promising their continued participation.