By MAZI OMIFE I. OMIFE
Awusa Abata Awka!
The chickens have come home to roost.
When we said it before, some of our Igbo governors called us mad.
Today, who is mad? We or the governors?
1. During the Covid-19 lockdown in Nigeria two years ago, and long trucks were alleged to be conveying thousands of Fulani youths to the South East and South South from all directions, we raised alarm.
No governor said or did anything, except Gov. Wike who ordered the Fulani youths who came to Rivers State to be transloaded back from where they came.
2. When young Fulani cobblers and shoe shiners in South East capital became new brand Keke owners and drivers overnight, we complained but nobody gave us a listening ear.
3. When it was discovered that Fulani herdsmen had taken over our forests in all South East States, and could trek through the forests from Nsukka to Onitsha without missing or asking anyone for the road, showing they have mastered all terrains in Igbo land, we complained again.
The governors asked us whether Igbo people live in forests and told us to leave Fulani alone in the forests. Nobody took us serious until the Methodist Prelate, Samuel Kanu-Uche who was kidnapped by Fulani people at Umunneochi confirmed that Fulani people were now the landlords of our forests.
Even when it became obvious that Igbo land was on fire.
*Somebody was busy at Umuahia dancing and drinking all day long.
*The other person was at Abakaliki planning how to abandon PDP and defect to APC in order to succeed Buhari in office.
*Another person was at Awka nearly choking himself with brandy.
*Another one was at Enugu grabbing land here and there.
*The one at Owerri is a write-off. Not worth any comment.
I wish Prof Charles Soludo was there at the time. It would have been different.
We hear of South East Governors Forum. Do we really have such a forum, that is supposed to canvass the interest of Igbos?
When last did the forum hold a security meeting? Did they hold it in secret? There is nothing to show.
*Does it mean Igbo governors did not hear of the terrorists attack on Nigerian soldiers at Zuma Military Check Point in Abuja?
*Can it be that Igbo governors have not heard about terrorists attack on Kuje Prison Abuja where they released over 600 terrorists?
*Do we take it that Igbo governors have not heard about the killing of six members of the Presidential Guard Brigade at Abuja?
And that they did not hear about the government closure of all schools in Abuja AND NASSARAWA
So all these incidents make no meaning to Igbo governors?
How many hours drive is from Abuja to South East?
Are Igbo governors telling us they are not aware of the daily kidnapping by so-called Fulani herdsmen along Enugu- Umuahia express road and every part of Enugu, Anambra and Imo States?
Yet Igbos and their governors are sleeping.
Attention all Igbo Governors irrespective of party.
Attention Ohaneze Ndigbo.
Attention all traditional rulers in Igbo land.
Attention all serving and past Presidents-General in Igbo land.
Attention all religious and women leaders in Igbo land.
Attention all youth leaders in Igbo land.
Attention all community vigilantes in Igbo land.
Attention every Igbo man and woman at home and abroad.
There is no time to waste.
There is no time for long talk.
Fulani herdsmen are all over us. Not only in our forests but also all over our urban and rural communities.
Go to Owerri Road Enugu Mosque today.
You will shudder.
Go to Umuahia
Go to Aba
You will see over 2000 Keke vehicles parked all over the Mosque and its vicinity, most of the time blocking traffic with reckless abandon.
Nobody is talking.
A few years ago, if you pass through any of the mosque roads in any Igbo State, all you see are scores of Hausa Fulani cobblers and manicures huddled in different groups doing their trade.
Today the story is different. And we are looking for a prophet to tell us who and who are the kidnappers. Just like the Federal government is still looking for the terrorists location in the North. Yet Gumi goes to the forest to see them.
If the federal government is serious why can they not arrest Gumi to get their contacts or even seized Gumi’s phone and get the full contacts and start from there. Fools! Who is deceiving who?
I am making a clarion call on Igbo governors to take immediate action to protect Igbo land.
I am saying that Igbo governors should enter the forest and clear it before they are turned into full scale Fulani strongholds.
Let them not forget the revelations of the Methodist Prelate, Samuel Kanu-Uche who was kidnapped by Fulani people about two months ago at Umenneochi town in Abia State and taken into a forest in our own land and had to pay one hundred million naira as he said, before he was allowed to go.
Another woman who was kidnapped at Isuochi recently coughed out millions of naira before she got her freedom from the herdsmen.
They were lucky, yes very lucky because many who were kidnapped did not come back alive to tell their story.
Igbos now spend millions of naira and dollars almost on daily basis as ransom to secure their bail from the clutches of their Fulani hosts in our own land.
The one that annoyed me most was the recent kidnap of my very good friend, , Clemson Cornel, a popular Nollywood actor and his female colleague, Cynthia Okereke at Ozalla, Enugu State where they went to shoot a film.
I just heard they were released today or yesterday but I have not confirmed the report which I intend to do shortly and know how many millions they paid as ransom.
While we are waiting for Igbo Governors to act, if they will, as the National coordinator of Association of South East Past Presidents-General ( ASEPP), I hereby call on the leadership of all Town unions in Igbo land to apply all security measures at their disposal to protect their people from the real danger to lives and property including:
1. Strict monitoring of strangers and their movements and report any suspicion to the police through the community vigilante.
2. Keep 24 hours security by vigilante groups, other able bodied youths and age-grades especially in the nights or very early in the morning when people are still sleeping, especially now that our forests have been occupied by Fulani, learning from the experience from States like Benue, Zamfara and Taraba.
3. Daily monitor of all local beer parlors and eateries for any strange or suspicious faces/movements.
4. Mount check points at all community boundary spots to check entry of new stranger elements into the community and their mission.
5. Compile and monitor a database of all strangers in the community specifying their places of origin, occupation, residence/landlord and other relevant information.
6. Ensure that property owners do not allow more than two adult male stranger tenants in one room and not more than five stranger tenants in his/her house.
7. Ensure that landlords with stranger security guards account for their identities and take full responsibility for the activities of their workers.
8. Organize regular self-defense lessons for members of the community including women and children.
9. All urban and rural motor park operators should search all incoming vehicles for arms and ammunition or suspected terrorists.
Before I end this message, I once again call on South East governors to take the following measures immediately:
Stop the movement of cattle on foot just as South West, and make it mandatory for all cattle to be transported by vehicles to the various selling points. This will reduce the disturbing incidence of widespread destruction of people’s farms by cows coupled with killing and raping of women by herders.
Every House Assembly should enact a law proscribing herders from building residences in the forests and for them to secure houses within the residential areas as other non-indigenes do.
As it is now, it is suspected that many of the Fulani youths have already gained entry into Igbo land and many of them may have joined their people living in our forests. All those living in the forests should be asked to come out and hire houses among the people like so many northerners, so that their identities and activities can be checked and controlled.
Relocate all cattle markets at the adjoining State border areas in Igbo land such as Ugwuoba in Enugu State, Amansea in Anambra State, Lokpanta in Abia State and other state boundaries to the hinterland. Such adjacent border locations of cattle markets make it difficult to check infiltration of criminals to and from one State to another.
Establish their respective Forest Guards as Gburugburu did as an urgent interim security measure to enforce the above laws while they complete arrangements for regional security.
Other urgent actions Igbo governors should take include:
. Take immediate step to cross check and re-examine the Federal Waterways Bill which aims at taking over our rivers by the Federal government for reasons that are unclear and suspicious and take all necessary and urgent steps including going to court to prevent its passage.
I am at a loss why the Federal government is much interested in appropriating people’s ancestral land across the country. They tried RUGA and Nigerians rejected it. They tried National Livestock scheme, it failed. They are now coming back with Waterways bill, less than a year to the end of the present administration, which makes the move very suspicious.
2. Ensure attendance to every Southern governors meeting to be able to speak with one voice with other Southern governors since Igbo governors have shown to lack the courage to speak out to the Federal government on their own on issues affecting Igbos.
3. Be courageous for once like Wike, Orthom etc to fight for the inclusion of South East representative in the national security council to enable the South East zone know what is happening in the country, security wise.
4. Discuss with the Inspector General of Police on the urgent need to appoint Igbo Commissioners of Police in the South East for more effective local policing as against the present preponderance of non-Igbo police commissioners in the South East, unlike the north where there is hardly any Igbo police commissioner.
5. Take immediate steps to discuss with relevant agencies on the lopsided leadership of military formations in the South East to the total exclusion of South East personnel
6. Take steps to look into the involvement of Igbo youths in the wave of killings in Igbo land. Igbos are not known for killing themselves or others. Igbo governors should make a move to canvass the setting up of a panel for the de-radicalization, reorientation and rehabilitation/training of Igbo youths locked up in various cells across the country, just as the Federal government does to arrested Boko Haram members in the north.
Finally, I advise Igbo governors to deemphasize politics and scramble for political positions and face the challenges of insecurity. Igbos have to be alive before politics.
*They should dissolve Ebubeagu security outfit which is unpopular among Igbos and replace it with another outfit that Igbos will like to work with.
Better still, they should hand over the operation of the outfit to Ohaneze youths for full effect.
I once again call on Igbo people everywhere to rise up to the challenge of protecting themselves from any eventuality.
I use this medium to call on our members in all the communities to liaise and give full support to serving PGs in their respective communities in ensuring maximum security and vigilance.
A stitch in time saves nine.
Mazi Omife I. Omife
National coordinator Association of South East Past Presidents-General ( ASEPP)