By Ejike Ikezuagu
In what seems to be as usual when government uses public pronouncements to douse public pressures over any troubling issues, the South East governors last Saturday released a communique to reassure the people of the south east that the security of the zone is paramount to their call and they have agreed on certain measures to ensure their farmlands in the south east are adequately protected.
Though certain sections of the people of the zone were elated with the decision, however, prominent Igbo groups had frowned their face on the decision which they described as a pronouncement to “douse the public pressure” against the government uncountable failures in safeguarding the life and properties of people of the region.
Interacting with Ogene Ndigbo Newspaper, during the week, the Igbo Farmers Progressive Union, (IPFU), a new face of Igbo farmers said through their National Chairman, Chief Maxi Okwu that they have resolved on modernizing their farming methods and productions, highly committed in protecting their lands and farms.
IFPU said, they will protect their people against Fulani herdsmen terrorism and expansionist agenda.
While commending the south east governors on their decision to protect their farmlands, however, the group felt very disappointed with the manner in which the matter is being handled by the governors.
While frowning their face on the governors, they said, they are encouraged that suddenly their political leaders are seemingly waking up to the deadly menace constituted by the herdsmen terror on their people; destruction and devastation on their lands and farms.
They said, the communique released seems to “hinge on pious hope and not backed by legal deterrents”, stressing that, so long as there is no positive action by way of legislation through the five State Houses of Assembly, all the measures will end up as another paper tiger, the group warned.
They recalled on 28th July, 2019 where a communique was issued over chain of events where lives and properties were destroyed, but that communique did not curb the problem. They said, it kept on happening.
On the announcement of Enugu state’s establishment of the Forest Guard initiative, the group argued, saying it is a mere surplusage as these corps already exist in the forestry commission of the Ministry of Environment of the state. What happened?, they queried and maintained that the herdsmen terror in Enugu state, rather than abate, but increased.
They warned, stating that, what was lacking was the legislation to give it a legal backing, for instance, the Anti-Grazing Law, expanding the mandate of the Forest Guards and giving them legal teeth to tackle the herdsmen, not the trees, they said.
According to the Chairman of the group, Chief Okwu, discussing with the OgeneNews’ reporter, he said.
“We have already prepared a draft bill which we believe is comprehensive and would be forwarding it to the governors as our little contribution to a resolution of this menace”, recommending a timeline for all states to enact necessary legislation to enforce the resolution, otherwise it will end up as the earlier communique of 28th July, 2019, he said.
In his words, he further recommended that the interstate security committee must also be backed by an MOU that would articulate a security template for Ala Igbo.
However, he said, they are aware that the Federal Government has total operational control of the security apparatus of Nigeria, but he maintained that the governors must in tandem with the Igbo National Assembly caucus, lobby the President and extract a firm commitment that the security agencies deployed to Ala Igbo must be reflective, sensitive and friendly to the security needs of the area.
As it stands, he said, “we were in no way encouraged when we read the ethnic slant of the top security personnel invited to a meeting in Ala Igbo and there was no top officer from our area”. He regretted and demanded it to be redressed.
On the closure of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, they sadly observe that all the requests made to the President in the communique of 28th July, 2019 were not acted upon before the closure of the Airport. They recalled all the proactive steps taken by the FGN when the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, was shut down for repairs. According to him, none was done in the present case, he said, another reminder that they are the 5%.
While noting the presence of the Minister of Aviation at the meeting, the group advised the governors not to wait on the FGN, but to take steps to protect the interest of their people by pooling resources and engaging in self-help for which their people are known for. ‘Onye ajulu aju anara aju onweya.’
Finally, they noted the repudiation of Operation Python Dance, “Egwu Eke” by the governors, saying it is a little too late, but better late than never, he maintained.
No part of this publication should be republished without written permission of Ogene Ndigbo Newspaper.
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