Barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari threatened to place tougher military sanctions against seccessionists, a delegation from the South East with some of their leaders met with a delegation from the federal government to discuss insecurity and other salient issues affecting the Eastern region of Nigeria.
In the closed door meeting that lasted several hours at the Enugu State Government House, the South East leaders tabled several misnomers affecting the region, including marginalization and countless killings and destruction of property by Fulani herdsmen.
The federal delegation was headed by Defense Minister, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd).
Magashi assured the South East delegation that it was expedient to treat the herder crisis like the national issue it was. He went on to give the leadership of the Southeast and the Federal Government delegation the assurance that they would take seriously, the issues raised by them and also try to proffer solutions.
Hear him: ‘Having told them the purpose of being here and having listened to us, we discussed the issue and agreed on the following:
“That the South-East and South-West governors are committed to the unity and stability of this great country. And we are giving them the assurance and confidence that this commitment will be relayed to the Federal Government and, in fact, the Commander-in-Chief.
Issues raised included the instability and criminality affecting the country in general. And we were happy to discuss the ones that are peculiar to this part of the country. We have agreed that there are fundamental issues that need to be addressed. I will just mention one or two for your consumption; one, the herders’ conflict should be seen from the perspective of national interest that should be given the necessary accord to stop the menace all over the country.
Second, we discussed the problem of marginalisation which I think was well accepted. But further discussions will continue after we have met with Mr President to study the grievances and after the governors articulate their positions, then we can hold further discussions on it. We have also talked about community policing which is invoked now in Nigeria by state governments and we are of the opinion that community policing by the South-East governors should be encouraged because we have already set precedence in Amotekun in the Western part of the country’, he concluded.
The Chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum, and Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, lauded the delegation and described their meeting it as a new dawn for the country.
The Ebonyi State governor further stated, ‘Our people are very much excited with this commitment and we are very much satisfied. It is a new dawn, not only in the South-East, but also in entire Nigeria. We discussed the issue of the ban on open grazing and, of course, this delegation is in support of the ban. We also informed this delegation that each of the states of South-East has laws in this respect. The Federal Government has committed towards addressing all issues pertaining herdsmen matters in the South-East. We have also agreed to articulate our grievances, our concerns and position of Ndigbo as spelt out by Ohaneze for further discussion’.
He maintained that ‘the Ebubeagu security outfit is the only recognized local security outfit in the South-East,’ adding, ‘no other security outfit is speaking for South-East and this is the position of Ndigbo.’
He opined the South Easterners were fully devoted working towards a united Nigeria where justice, fairness, equality of freedom and equity are given pride of place.
The meeting was attended by the governors of Abia and Imo states, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu and Senator Hope Uzodinma, respectively; Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr Nkem Okeke; the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uchechukwu Ogah; President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Amb George Obiozor; former President of the Senate, Senator Ken Nnamani; Senator Ike Ekweramadu; Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu; Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Edward Ubosi; former governor of old Enugu State, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo; Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyawu; Chief Nnia Nwodo; and the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, South-East, Bishop Goddy Okafor.