Traditional rulers and religious leaders in the South-Eastern part of the country on Monday laid the blame of worsening insecurity in the region on the doorsteps of the presidency and governors of the five states that make up the zone.
They also accused the presidency and the governors of refusing to have a dialogue with them on how to find a lasting solution to the challenges and ensuring a peaceful atmosphere in the region.
The leaders in a joint statement under the aegis of South-East Council of Traditional Rulers and Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops said the steps they took led to the successful conduct of the Anambra governorship election held in November 6, 2021.
They also urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors to grant audience as requested so that all hands can be on deck towards restoring peace and security in the region while improving the welfare of its citizenry.
The statement was signed by HRM Igwe Charles Mkpuma, Chairman, Ebonyi State Traditional Rulers Council & Chairman, South-East Council of Traditional Rulers; Most Rev. Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna, Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Owerri; HRM Eze Joseph N. Nwabeke, Chairman, Abia State Traditional Rulers Council, and Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel O. Chukwuma, Anglican Archbishop of Enugu.
Other signatories are Most Rev. Dr. Chibuzo R. Opoko, Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia; HRM Obi Nnaemeka Achebe, Chairman, Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council; Most Rev. Dr. Valerian M. Okeke, Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha; HRM Igwe Amb L. O. C. Agubuzu, Chairman, Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council; Most Rev. Dr. Uma A. Onwunta, Past Principal Clerk, Presbyterian Church Nigeria; HRM Eze Dr. E. C. Okeke, Chairman, Imo State Traditional Rulers Council, and Bishop Obi Onubogu of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria.
While lamenting the dangerous turn insecurity has taken in the South-East since late last year in which many traditional rulers had been killed, they said they are still “in pursuit of initiatives aimed at restoring the peace, security and robust enterprise for which the South East is known.
“Confronted with the escalation of insecurity in the South-East, and concerned that the responses of those in authority were failing to stem the tide of violence, especially in the run-up to the gubernatorial elections in Anambra State, the Joint Body of South East Council of Traditional Rulers and Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops issued a public appeal on Sunday, 30th October 2021, for de-escalation and suspension of the IPOB sit-at-home order.
“We undertook extensive behind-the-scenes consultations with all relevant stakeholders. This appeal was predicated on separate statements made by representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops, and by the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, on 7th and 18th October 2021, respectively.
“The response to the appeal by political actors in committing to a peaceful election, as well as by IPOB in cancelling its seven-day sit-at-home order, paved the way for the peaceful governorship election in Anambra State. The joint body wishes to thank all stakeholders for the respect accorded to it in this regard.
“In a bid to sustain the momentum gained, on November 3, 2021, the joint body wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari requesting an audience. The purpose of the request was to dialogue and explore avenues for peace-building, douse the tension in the South-East to ensure it does not result in a grave socio-economic burden on our people.
“The joint body fears that further delay or inaction on this request may have the unintended consequence of giving credence, albeit erroneously, to the belief by some groups in the region that restoring peace and stability is not the primary goal of the Federal Government.
“In the same vein, genuine efforts made through the Chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum to dialogue with South-East governors have so far also met a brick wall.
“Taken together, the shuttered silence gives room for suspicion and presents ominous portends if left unattended to. The joint body is not unmindful of the widely reported visit of a group led by the elder statesman, Pa Mbazulike Amechi.
“However, the absence of any discernible genuine effort at peacebuilding as well as the silence of the presidency on our request for constructive engagement would further seem to give credence to the suspicion in some quarters of a clear lack of strong commitment to peacebuilding and resolution of security challenges in the South-East.
“It has been three months since the letter was written and delivered to the office of the president. The presidency has neither acknowledged receipt nor responded to the letter.
“It is puzzling that the president and the South-East governors appear to be ignoring the demonstrated value of dialogue and consensus-building in finding a lasting solution to the region’s security issues. As leaders who are continuously required by our burden of service to interface with the populace, the joint body is desirous of confirming the sincerity and commitment of the Federal Government, in particular, to find a lasting solution to the security crisis.”