Insecurity in Enugu State, Crowd Renting and The Conspiracy of Silence

By Fr. Ike Odigbo

On thursday 1st August 2019 Fr. Paul Offu was murdered in Awgu area of Enugu State, an event which sparked off series of events of unprecedented proportion. Fellow priests took to the streets in solidarity to protest the high level of insecurity of lives and properties in Enugu State. Earlier in March Fr. Clement Ugwu was murdered in his parish in Ezeagu. Another priest Fr. Paulinus Ilo was ferociously attacked by gunment. He is still in hospital.

It is not just about priests. Scores of men and women are being daily hunted and killed. We all get updates on social media from victims and eyewitnesses of the deplorable condition of security in Enugu. Just a day after Fr. Paul was killed news went round of the kidnap of the traditional ruler of Umuobom community in Agbogugu, the same axis where the priest was killed.

On August 8 2019, news and pictures floorded the internet of Traditional Rulers in Enugu giving a resounding vote of confidence on Enugu State Governor Mr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. It is only one week since Fr. Paul Offu was killed and hasnt yet been laid to rest when the so-called royal fathers are  displaying this show of shame. It is a conspiracy of silence by those who should rise to speak for their people.

Truth is that anybody who pretends that there is peace and security in Enugu is telling a huge lie. People are living on edge. Of the entire five States of the South East, Enugu is now the most insecure. No day passes without news of people being killed, robbed, kidnapped, hunted and raped. The governor knows this. The traditional rulers know this. They are merely on a shoddy game of face-saving. They are living in denial.

The action of these traditional rulers is a correct reflection of the shape of Nigerian politics. Rather than rise up to solve social problem, politicians spend vast amount of human and finacial resources to cover it up. They fail in their duty. Then they buy-out those who would speak out and then the problem incubates and grows to out of proportion. It is the same attitude in education, health, roads and now security. But because security is very sensitive, it is the most inflamable of all, because it is about life and death.

It is a shame that Governor Ugwuanyi prefers image laundering than rising to his duty. He has this irritating habit of renting crowds to sing his praise. Of course he knows, that everybody knows, that it is quite easy to assemble all the royal fathers in a giffy. Its very simple. Just dole out cash and get then to violate their oaths and compromise their integrity, men who should be honest and upright. But that has been his tactics in the last four years: with teachers, civil servants, pensioners. Traditional rulers are in the payroll of government, so naturally they lose their independence. Hunger and abuse have made our people, usually honourable, to lose their shame. He who pays the piper they say dicttaes the tune.

These traditional rulers are also under strict instructions by the governor not to 'disturb' the peace of fulani herdsmen who live in the bushes of Enugu State. They are to restrain their people from any possible confrontation with the fulani. Whoever fails to live up to this will be deposed. In other words, the traditional rulers are indirectly selling out their own people while pretending to defend them. News is everywhere of their dealings with fulani men. But thats a story for another day. Its the character of Nigerian politicians, the traditional rulers and town union executives now also have the virus.

Anyone who thinks what am saying here, that traditional rulers are under firm control of the governor, is fictitious should recall what happened in Nenwe months back. Nenwe youths mustered the courage to drive away fulani people and their cattle. The video was trending online. The next day, the traditional ruler of Nenwe in a press briefing at which the governor himself and representatives of the fulani cattle rearers were present, publicly denounced the action of Nenwe Youths. Governor himself spoke.

The impression being created is that everything is ok. But nothihg is farther from the truth. Had it been that the Nenwe example was not denounced and criminalized, that is, the eviction of troublesome fulani, it would have been a worthy template for other communities. But here we are, back to square one. But its good for the governor to know that indeed things are not ok. People of Enugu State and those who live and do business within it are in danger and the evidence is there for anyone to see.

It is arguable that next to Benue, Enugu has borne more of the brunt of fulani herdsmen attack. While all the states that are facing this insecurity problem are adopting a combative approach, Enugu is living in denial. Anti open-grazing law should have been passed. Same with anti-kidnapping law. Regular denunciation of herdsmen antics in strong terms and outright rejection of Ruga or related fulani gimmicks should be coming from the governor. He should copy Dave Umahi or Yesom Wike. He should speak out because it weakens the enemy and makes his own citizens strong and confident. Now, we are a laughing stock.

Gossip is making the round that the governor is intentionally towing the line of political correctness due to personal reasons. He wants to continue to the senate after his governorship, to complete his political round-trip. He doesn't want the harrasment of EFCC when he leaves office. His personal ambitions is not my problem, but the insecurity in Enugu. The way he is going, with rising insecurity in the land, I doubt if he will complete this second term.

This writeup is not a general assesment of the governor. It is strictly on security. The people want to be safe. Or at least they want to see the governor, the chief security officer, doing something tangible. Crowd renting does not solve problem. It worsens it by creating false hope. Its like dressing and bandaging an infected wound. What you get is puss and gangerine. When there is no security there is no peace and there is no rest. We as priests are on the side of the people and we live up to our duty when we remind the governor to do his job. But if the people cant get peace, why should the governor expect to have it?

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