By Prisca Sam-Duru
Senate Minority leader and former Deputy Governor of Abia State, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe has said that there is a concerted effort to introduce alien culture- incessant killings and assassinations into the South East.
Sen. Abaribe who spoke during an interview on Arise TV on the recent South East caucus of the National Assembly’s meeting on the security situation in the region, stressed that Ndigbo are not known to kill their brothers.
His words, “We also think that there is an attempt to introduce into the South East, something that is alien to us which are, incessant killings and assassinations etc. It’s not us; our etho as Ndigbo is ‘onyeaghala nwanneya’- we don’t forsake our brothers. That brothers are killing brothers, we think its alien to our character and that’s why we feel that the sooner every other person comes in and we take out those who are doing this, the better for us in the South East”.
On the objective of the meeting of southeast lawmakers on recent developments in the southeast, he disclosed that it was across parties- the caucus of both the House of Reps and the Senate and, the idea was to look at what was happening, noting that it was necessary for stakeholders in the region to take a stance on the situation.
With particular reference to the continued sit-at-home in the South East, he said, “You could see from the communiqué we issued after the meeting basically that, “IPOB itself has said that they had called off the sit-at-home, and nobody knows exactly who is going around and saying that they were enforcing a non-existent order.
Sen Abaribe also accused the President Buhari-led federal government for the South East crisis, saying that IPOB and whatever they are doing now and the tag that they’re giving them is the fault of the federal government. “The idea that IPOB is proscribed and therefore you can’t talk to them is not correct. The fact is simple; they’re showing that there is sympathy for them. If you are in charge of a nation of diverse interest in the manner that we have, there must be a way for you to resolve issues without being unduly legalistic.
“I’ve said it before, IPOB and whatever they are doing now and the tag that they’re giving them is the fault of the federal government. How can you, I repeat how can you leave people who have been able to shoot down a Military Aircraft, and you don’t call them terrorists, and you now say Oh, these ones who are running around here are terrorists and you will never talk to them yet, you are talking to those who shot down an aircraft.
“That is where the problem is. If the government is interested in having peace in our land which is the first order of business of a government which is welfare and security of our people; it’s there in the constitution, you have to explore all options, you don’t have to write-off and say, you won’t do it; you write it off, the matter continues the way it is. Who loses at the end of the day?
The presidency of President Buhari he said, “will go into history whatever his fault…,there will always be a reckoning in history. If he wants to be seen as the man who led Nigeria into its disintegration, well, that’s his decision to take”, emphasising that South East stakeholders have always been ready to talk, and are ready for dialogue.
Wondering why the government has not made any attempt to dialogue with the secessionist group, Abaribe said “For us from the South East, something is very difficult for us to comprehend. You are very willing to go and talk to foreign Fulanis who are invading Nigeria and causing mayhem here, you’re very willing to talk to people you call bandits; of course I’ve always told you here that I don’t believe that they’re bandits, they’re terrorists… you’re willing to pay ransom, you’re willing to do all manner of negotiations with them and we saw it.
“Why is it that when it comes to the South East, you’re very unwilling; you want to bomb them? I don’t like us pretending that there’s no problem. We are in serious problem and we need to deal with it”.
Asked whether he believes his party still has a chance at the 2023 general elections considering the massive defections from the party; the latest being Femi Fani-Kayode, he stated that “Nobody in Nigeria today, can say that where we were in 2015 is where we are today in 2021. Are we better of? Capital no! So when we go to the polls, we would see how Nigerians are going to express their feelings about the government in power. So we are not bothered about a few people who decided to make their decision; it’s their personal decision”.