By Sunny Ikhioya
LET us begin with the statement issued by the Chairman of South East Governors’ Forum, David Umahi, governor of Ebony State, on February 2, 2021. He said: “We are living in a dangerous time. Without patriotism to our nation Nigeria, it is difficult to have a peaceful time.”
He was further quoted as calling “on leaders and stakeholders of the zone to speak up and desist from playing politics with the security of the zone and nation.” As it is with the South East, so is it in the South West and South-South.
Can we say that leaders from the South have really served the interests of the South at these critical times? Have they put the interests of the people first, above their personal ambitions? If yes, why is there a grave silence over atrocities being perpetrated by foreigners in their land? Is their silence helping the situation or emboldening the criminals to increase the tempo of their activities?
One official of government carried his sycophancy to the ridiculous extent of asking the people to quit their land instead of waiting to be killed. Which one is better, to die defending your ancestral land or run away like cowards for foreign elements to take over?
The collective silence of the leadership from the South over the unpatriotic activities of their colleagues from the other side is a big cause for concern and a threat to the collective existence of the nation. Their refusal to assume leadership roles have now left the vacuum being expoited by all types of local elements.
Today, one Sunday Igboho is riding on the wave of popularity to embark on a mission to flush out criminal elements from forests in the South west. IPOB leader,Namdi Kanu, is also attempting to do same with his Eastern Security Network.
If the political leaders have been proactive, such scenarios will not be playing out. But as it is, it would appear that the leadership – all state governors in the South and other political leaders of Southern extraction – have abandoned their key responsibilities.
Instead of sitting together and looking at situations critically, our leaders are busy strategising and looking for ways to position themselves for politics of succession in 2023. Like it is now bound to happen, they will, through their foolishness, hand over the presidency again to the North on a platter of gold.
This is because they are not looking at the overall interests of their people from the South. The North has mastered the act of speaking with one voice when it concerns issues that affect their collective interests. But Southern leaders do not care. The issue of criminal elements in our forests is not even a thing of concern to them.
What is the purpose of government? Is it not, first and foremost, the protection of lives and property as well as the promotion of the well being of the people? Why are our governors and leaders not taking the initiative? What are they afraid of? A foremost leader of the South West in the person of Chief Olu Falae, was kidnapped by known criminal elements and his farm property destroyed, no positive action was taken by any of our governments to bring the perpetrators to book. The daughter of the leader of the Yoruba nation was killed and till today nothing was done. Instead the perpetrators were encouraged to carry out more attacks. Can this thing be tolerated in the North? Can a Yoruba man or Igbo man try this in Katsina?
The noise about the Amotekun take off is just noise. Apart from Oyo State, others are still planning. What a people!
Meanwhile, in the North they have their own local police, Hisbah, harassing the hell out of innocent citizens, with full powers on display. What is wrong with our Southern leaders?
The position of the South East and South- South is even worse. Unlike them, the Yoruba nation will not succumb to the desecration of their land without raising a voice of dissent or protest. The South-South, it would appear, has been colonised by foreign interests in every area of its existence.
Federal Government establishments that are set up in the South-South are being run by people that are foreign to the land, especially in the oil and gas sector. The resources coming out of the land are not even distributed equitably and yet the leadership keeps quiet at a time Northern leaders claim that the resources belong to them.
Go to all the farmlands in the South south, from Edo, through Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states today, you will find foreign elements ravaging the land and nobody is taking action.
The governors have become subservient to federal authorities and this makes us to sometimes wonder about the type of federalism that we are practising. Our mothers and daughters are being raped and killed in their farmlands, crops destroyed and we can’t have brave leaders to lead the resistance against these foreign elements. It is alleged that whenever these criminals are apprehended, our law enforcement officers get them released because they are from the same ethnic stock. If this allegation is true, what then are our leaders doing?
The South West governors response to the security challenges in their area is to introduce an outfit called Amotekun; what have the South-South governors done? How do we remove this yoke of foreign criminals from our land? It is only by the grace of God that we journey safely on our highways.
It is time for us to start choosing only leaders who will help our causes at the federal level; most of those there now have sold their conscience for porridge; they do not have the interest of the people at heart; so they should be allowed to exit the stage.
The nations of the South must begin to identify their position in this union called Nigeria. Is this how we are going to continue? What do we want to bequeath to the coming generations?
Are we satisfied with the current mass migration of our young, able bodied, educated and qualified youths out of our land at the risk of their lives? Are we ready to vacate our ancestral lands because we are afraid of bigger powers?
What kind of leadership should we put in place? Nigeria is a country of many independent nations; that was the foundation with which it was built. If it is tilting towards another direction, our leaders must be called to order.