Newly inaugurated Governor of Anambra State, Professor Chukwuma Soludo has called on the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB and its armed group, Eastern Security Network, ESN, to come out of the forests and join him deal with the problem of unknown gunmen, if they are not part of them.
Soludo was speaking in his inaugural speech after he was sworn in as the governor of Anambra State at the State Government House, Awka.
Soludo takes over from former governor Willie Obiano, who leaves office after 8 years.
The Anambra governor noted that besides the environment, a fundamental existential threat to Anambra state and indeed Igboland, is that of peace building and law and order.
He maintained that the state cannot build a prosperous and livable homeland by turning the sword against each other, adding that Anambra people love their homeland but the recent upsurge in criminality poses a great threat.
According to him, every criminal gang—kidnappers, wicked murderers, arsonists, rapists, thieves, all now claim to be freedom fighters, warning that criminality cannot be sugarcoated.
Soludo noted that all stakeholders in the state and the Southeast must now review both the narrative and the action plan for the secessionist agitations.
“For starters, I endorse the recent statement (March 7, 2022) by the Joint Body of South East Council of Traditional Rulers and Bishops/Archbishops on Peace and Conflict Resolution, requesting for a tripartite discussion between them, the Presidency, and South East governors to deal with the conflicts in the South East, especially in relation to Nnamdi Kanu and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
“There is no conflict that dialogue, in good faith, cannot resolve.
“Our government is determined to urgently restore peace and security in Anambra, and we will seek the active cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders,” he said
Soludo advised the IPOB/ESN, the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), as well as the disparate armed groups in the forests, that it is time to interrogate both the purpose and means of their campaign.
He also warned politicians playing politics with the insecurity, that the current trajectory is a road to desolation, harping on the need to get around the table and talk.
“Let the elite in the closet come out, and let’s debate our future and forge a consensus.
“The conspiracy of silence by the elite and some community leaders must end.
“If you see something, say or do something!
“Securing Igboland and Nigeria must be our collective responsibility.
“Let those in the forests come out, surrender their guns and let’s work together to rehabilitate and empower you to contribute positively to the peace and prosperity of our homeland,” Soludo suggested.
On the Monday sit-at-home, the Anambra governor said the state loses an estimated N19.6 billion every week to the action, not counting the deprivation of academic hours which school children suffer.
Noting that there is need for genuine agitation for fairness, justice, equity and equality in the Nigerian Federation, the governor pointed out that Igbos must refuse to turn their homeland into a crime scene and all manners of criminality, opining that no group has ever succeeded in any struggle in history by turning the sword against themselves.
“A significant part of our state economy is powered by artisans, keke drivers, vulcanizers, hairdressers, cart pushers, petty traders, bricklayers, women frying akara, and all those who depend upon daily toil and sweat to feed their families.
“Every day, there is a “sit at home”, these poor masses lose an estimated N19.6 billion in Anambra alone.
“Due to the protracted breakdown of law and order, businesses are relocating outside Igboland, with growing unemployment, and traders who used to come to shop in Onitsha, Aba etc are going elsewhere.
“Who is losing? By forcing our children—the future of Igboland—to stay at home instead of being in school, while even the critically sick people (including pregnant women) cannot go to hospital, we harm our future,” he emphasized.
Soludo continued; “I hereby challenge any of the disparate groups that claims that it is not part of the senseless killings and kidnappings to step out and show leadership by joining hands with us to DO something about it.
“If you love our homeland, there is no place for bloodshed. Our Lord Jesus Christ admonished in Matthew 26: 52: “put your sword back in its sheath, for all who live by the sword will die by the sword”.
“In the traditional religion, the land places a curse upon those who spill the blood of the innocent.
“That is why I call on all of us today to join hands with me to execute the real agenda—a livable and prosperous homeland of opportunities and jobs for our youth while maximizing the benefits of a united Nigeria/Africa.
“With Ohanaeze’s estimate that some 11.6 million Igbos live in the North and over 7 million in Lagos state and over 70% of our non-land assets scattered all over Nigeria and the world, we need Nigeria and Nigeria needs us.
“We need Africa and the world and they need us.
“I promise to work hard with other governors and leaders in the South East and others to take your agitations to the table of all Nigeria, and we hope to bargain for a win-win solution for all Nigeria.
“I will engage all parties to the breakdown of peace and order in Anambra from a point of determination to solve problems and resolve disagreements with openness, integrity, equity and justice.
“I will absolutely invest my political capital within our State, our South East and with the Presidency, Federal Government and its establishments as a matter of topmost priority.
“With good faith and hard work by all parties, I am convinced that justice, peace and order will return to Anambra and the South East within the shortest possible horizon.”