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Nigeria: Southeast Leaders Send SOS To Tinubu, Seek His Intervention To Combat Insecurity 

Imo Governor Uzodinma delivered the zonal leaders message to the President.

The worrisome rising level of insecurity in the South Eastern part of Nigeria has received the attention of leaders from the zone as they have sent a Save Our Soul (SOS) message to President Bola Tinubu.

To this end, in their quest to restore peace and security to their region, a forum of political and socio-cultural leaders of the Southeast region, have called on the President  to urgently step in.

The zonal leaders sent an emissary, in the person of the Imo State governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, to President Tinubu on Thursday, requesting an urgent meeting to discuss issues surrounding security and development of the region.

Addressing newsmen Thursday at the State House, Abuja, after meeting with President Tinubu, Governor Hope Uzodinma, said the leadership of the region had seen the need to lean on the federal government to solve the security crisis.   

His words: “I visited the President on behalf of the people of Southeast of the country. If you’ll recall, a few days ago, we had a meeting of the leadership of Southeast political and non-political leaders, in conjunction with the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo, and among the resolutions from that meeting was to visit Mr. President to support and intervene in our resolve in addressing the issue of insecurities.

“The Southeastern part of the country has been bedeviled with this high level of security ranging from banditry, kidnapping activities of unknown gunmen, to the extent that most of the states, out of the five states in the Southeastern part of the country, a lot of resources have been expended, community efforts have been invested, yet the problems seems not to be abating. 

“So the leadership of the zone met and agreed that working with the forum of governors from southeast that we will come to Mr. President to formally request his intervention and additional support from federal government to ensure that there is peace in the Southeastern part of the country.

“The people of Southeast believe in the unity of the country and that’s an integral part of the Nigerian project also needs serious attention in terms of provision of security for our people to go about their businesses”, he said.

He, however, refused to give details of what the Southeast leaders would be demanding from Tinubu when the meeting holds, but lamented that non-state actors have utilised fear and indiscriminate killings and brigandage to enforce an illegal sit-at-home on some days in the region.

According to him, the problem had also become an issue of “perception management”, even as he pointed out that international diplomacy, which is also part of the solution, is beyond the purview of state governors.

Uzodimma, who claimed he does not use the controversial ‘Security Vote’, advocated that state governors to be granted more flexibility and authority to address security challenges at the sub-national level, even though the country is a federation.

He noted that despite not having a security vote at his disposal as the ‘Chief Security Officer’ of Imo State, he employs a combination of kinetic and non-kinetic approaches to effectively tackle security challenges within the bounds of the law.

The Imo Governor underscored the importance of granting governors more autonomy to efficiently fulfill their duties and responsibilities in serving the people.

“On security vote, I’m not against it, but I don’t operate it in Imo state. Again, you should find out from my parliament, I don’t operate it in Imo State but I still think that governors should be given a headroom, governors should be allowed a window to have funds they can use to manage security issues.

“As I speak to you, we are not addressing the problem of insecurity in Imo state through kinetic means alone, we have adopted both kinetic and non kinetic approach. We also procure intelligence that will help security agencies function effectively and efficiently. 

“All these are intangible aspects of security control measures. So it is then important that governors who have been elected, sworn-in to manage the resources and the mandate of the people be given latitude to operate so that they’ll be able to provide results”, he said.

On the possibility of having a military operation in the Southeast and if it will be welcomed by the people, Uzodinma said “well, in the first place we have only one United federation. Like the other gentleman asked, we have activities at the sub national level and we have activities at the federal government level and the 1999 constitution as amended, provided and accommodative some issues and projects exclusively for the federal government to handle, security being one of them.

“Second thing is, whereas, we as governors are called chief security officers at the sub national level, we rely solely on the security logistics and equipment and services provided by federal government under the doctrine of federalism, so we are only federating unit. On the other hand, at the sub national level, we don’t have the right to choose or reject security measures from federal government being a part of the federal government.

“You know, this trouble when it started at the initial time. Some people decided on their own to politicize it. And in the process, what we’ve got was a cocktail of issues. That today is very clear that these issues must be resolved. If we will now begin to embark on investigation to find out what happened or what didn’t happen. We will have further elongate the problems.

“Federal government has been there, the Nigerian army has been working, the Nigerian police has been working. All the security agencies have been working collaboratively with the local authorities because at the end of the day, federal government security officers must also work with local input in terms of local intelligence gathering, community vigilante and all sorts of things. So it is going to be a collaborative effort”, he further said.

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

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