By Tony Ezike
Periodic sit at home orders in the South East region has accounted for the zone’s economic decline since August 2021. The orders which was introduced by the proponents of Biafra struggle seems to have gone into the wrong hands, considering the attendant loss of life and property that trails the exercise every week.
Statistics from an independent investigation conducted by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), micro businesses in the zone lost ₦5.4 trillion ($12.2 billion) between August 9, 2021 and December 19, 2022 by sitting at home for 71 Mondays.
This shows that the region has actually lost much more than that in 2023 as the period under review has gone up to over 100 Mondays and other public and private investments not captured by the ICIR investigation constitutes significant portion of the man-made loss.
Can a region actually attain freedom or territorial emancipation from marginalization or bad governance by killing, maiming, destroying property and impoverishing its populace for not complying to stringent orders? Your guess is as good as mine.
Actions already taken by some southeast leaders like Govs Peter Mbah, Chukwuma Soludo and Hope Uzodimma are commendable. The outspoken Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe, Uche Ekwunife, Ifeanyi Ubah and other prominent personalities are equally commendable efforts, but more needs to be done to save the region from palpable collapse.
Time has come for all political, religious and traditional leaders from the zone to invoke the doctrine of necessity and take the bull by the horns. They should convene a regional conference involving the entire South East governors, legislators, the clergy and traditional rulers.
Such conference could be held at the International Conference Center Awka or any other conducive venue within the southeast region where they would discuss and come up with strong resolutions condemning the growing spate of insecurity in the zone, while suggesting ways of bringing it to an end.
The meeting should send a powerful delegation comprising many prominent leaders of thought in the zone to Abuja for a meeting with Mr President. The delegation must present a position paper that will reflect the feelings of the region and be capable of driving the conversation to the people’s advantage.
Prominent among their pleas should be negotiation for immediate release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, noting that he has been set free by competent courts but was denied freedom in each case for reasons best known to government.
The prevailing insecurity in the southeast by the people who declared that peace will never reign in the region until Nnamdi Kanu is set free has proved that his continued detention is invariably an impression that government is not considering the plight of the innocent people dying and those suffering as a result of his continued detention.
Going to meet President Bola Tinubu individually is a welcome idea but has so far proved to be ineffective. The need to restore peace within the southeast region in view of the military order to crush the target group should be a collective responsibility.