Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Former Senate President, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, has warned that the South-East geopolitical zone is fast losing both political and economic relevance in the country as a result of festering insecurity and continued sit-at-home by Biafra agitators.
The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation who spoke at the on-going South-East Security and Economic Summit in Owerri, decried the adverse effects of both monsters and called for a rethink.
“In the last four years, every Monday has been declared by some non-state actors as sit-at-home day. The enforcement has been brutal, leading to enormous loss of lives and property.
“It is estimated that hundreds of lives and hundreds of billions of naira have been lost to the sit-at-home order,” Anyim said.
He regretted that many resourceful persons in Igboland are being targeted for kidnapping for ransom by criminals or assassination in some instances.
“Life has become very difficult in the South-East and almost every successful person in the South-East is in self-exile. If care is not taken, very soon, none of us will come home, no matter the number of security personnel you carry.
“Social and economic activities have been dislocated, businesses have collapsed, no social activity can any longer simply take place in the zone and no new businesses are being attracted. If care is not taken, very soon every means of livelihood in the zone may dry up.”
Senator Anyim further decried the militarisation of the political space in the zone, and warned of the dangers associated with that.
“Heavy arms and ammunition have become instruments of political campaigns, resulting in gross voter apathy. If care is not taken, very soon the South-East will lose national political relevance as votes from the South-East will no longer be of any consequence.
“Crime and criminality have become widespread in South-East because common criminals have taken advantage of the agitation to advance their evil enterprise.”
He appealed to promoters of Biafra agitation to restrategise as the zone is becoming endangered as a result of of either current approach.
“There is a nexus between the high level of insecurity in the South-East and the fact that some criminal elements are unleashing mayhem under the cover of agitation for Biafra.
“We must emphasise that the circumstance that led to Biafra agitation in 1967 is not the same as what is happening today. Therefore, we must endeavour to point out the difference in the present agitation.
“Today, we do not have anything that in any way approximates the situation in 1967. There is absolutely no consensus on the purpose, content, method, and boundaries of today’s Biafra agitation. I therefore call for a rethink by all those involved in this agitation. In rethinking the Biafran agitation, we need to honestly articulate what has been the outcomes or impact of the agitation so far.”
Anyim blamed South-East Governors for paying little or no attention to job creation.
He called for the revival of the enterprising spirit and ingenuity of the Igbo nation which made them excel in the early 1960s.
“I observed that in the 1960s, government officials and elected representatives struggled to make ends meet. But, today, the shortest cut to affluence and fame is to have access to government appointments or to be elected as an honourable member.”