By Dickson Okafor
The traditional ruler of Ojoto in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Igwe Gerald Obunadike Mbamalu, Eze Oranyelu 1 of Ojoto the 111 has once again advised the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to send a bill to the National Assembly to recognise traditional institution as the fourth tier of government.
This according to the monarch will empower traditional rulers as chief security officers of their domain to help both the federal and state governments to secure the country and states.
He speaks on other issues.
The drum for secession is beating louder coupled with rising cases of insecurity and it seems both the federal and state governments are helpless; how can peace and unity be restored in the country?
In the past interviews I granted your paper, I said and I will repeat it, unless traditional rulers as the chief security officers of their communities are given constitutional role, insecurity especially in the communities will persist. In a situation whereby the traditional rulers are not backed by the constitution to secure their domain, and make us a toothless bull dog, we can only talk without action. But if we have constitutional powers, it is then we can be completely in charge of security in our domain. So, the only thing the Federal Government needs to do is to officially recognize the traditional institution as the fourth tier of government by sending a bill to the National Assembly to include recognition of traditional institution as the fourth tier of government in the ongoing constitutional amendment so that traditional rulers can have direct allocation from the Federation Account. This is necessary because you can’t talk about security without funding. Again, these angry youths listen to some of the traditional rulers who are transparent in their dealings with their subject. So, those of us who command high degree of respect among our subjects, if empowered will be able to calm them down.
The South-East which used to be peaceful is now a war zone; what are you doing with other royal fathers to restore peace in the region?
The only way out is dialogue with the aggrieved youths in the South-East. In as much as I don’t support secession, I advise both federal and state governments to entrench justice, equity and fairness in every area of governance. We all know that injustice breed agitation and restiveness and that is why our leaders must begin to right the wrongs. No amount of force will quell agitation and anger in the country. These angry youths have the same reason for their action, injustice, corruption and nepotism. The larger number of the citizens are abandoned or deprived of their right to job after school hence, they have no option but to take up arms against the state.
Apart from injustice what other factors can you say is responsible for insecurity in South-East that has been peaceful until recently?
Marginalisation and nepotism are some of the factors including inaction by government in the centre. Remember when suspected Fulani herdsmen were killing, raping women and destroying farm lands in the South-East, we cried out to the Federal Government, but when the victims of the herdsmen attack did not get any response from President Muhammadu Buhari, they felt government has abandoned them and they resort to self help that we are witnessing not only in the South-East, but in other parts of the country. In order to protect their people, the governors of Southwest formed a security outfit called Amotekun and their counterpart in the South-East recently formed Ebube Agu security outfit to also protect their peoples. Honestly, this was not the case few years back.
You didn’t mention Eastern Security Network (ESN)?
ESN hasn’t constitutional backing like those I mentioned above. It is alleged to be the security wing of the separatist, Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) which the governors and well-meaning sons and daughters of Igbo are not in support of. Majority of Igbo believe in one indivisible Nigeria, yet we are not happy with the way South-East geo political zone is being marginalised by the present government and past administrations. The way Igbo are treated in the entity called Nigeria is giving some of us concern. It is like an open wound which the government has continued to add salt on. Yes, it reminds us of the pains of the civil war. Only equity, justice and fairness will heal the wound. And I can tell you that, the reason for the Biafra agitation by some youths in the South-East is because Igbo is marginalised by the Federal Government. For instance, look at the table of appointments made by this administration, Igbo is sidelined. After the civil war, Gen Yakubu Gowon promised to Reconstruct all the damaged areas in Igbo land and rehabilitate our people, but that promise is yet to be fulfilled up till now hence, Igbo land is still in despair caused by the civil war.
The ESN members have been accused of being responsible for killing of security agents and burning of security facilities in South-East; do you agree and how can this menace be stopped?
If it is true that ESN members are responsible for the killing of security agents and burning of security facilities in the South-East, it is madness in the highest order and is condemnable. Those responsible for the dastardly act should be arrested and brought to book. As it stands now, there is no security in the South-East as police officers can hardly be seen in major cities of the zone. Come to think of it, the police and other security agents are Nigerians and some of them Igbo. So, what is the gain for few individuals to go about killing innocent security agents whose duties are to protect us and our relations. To me, that is madness in the highest order. I call on government to do proper investigation to fish out the culprits and bring them to book.
What is your take on the collective decision of Southern governors to ban open grazing?
That is one of the outcome of President Buhari’s silence over the outcry of the people in Southern part of the country especially farmers when their relations and loved ones were maimed and killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen and bandits. If the President had intervened earlier when farmers in the Southern part of the country were at the mercy of herdsmen, there won’t be need or reason for the decision to ban open grazing by the Southern governors. It’s unfortunate that insecurity is gradually engulfing all parts of the country; both the federal and state governments seem helpless until the coming together of these governors across party lines and took a collective decision that restored the confidence of those they govern in their leadership.
They also called for restructuring which did not go down well with the Senate President Ahmed Lawan who advised the Southern governors to begin by restructuring their states? Which of the divide are you?
We should stop playing the ostrich; the present system of government is not working hence, the reason for the call to restructure the country to sooth the present reality. There is so much concentration of power in the centre, thereby making the other tiers of government to depend on the centre for survival. I am on the side of the governors because except the Federal Government decides to devolve power, attention of all of Nigerians including state governments will be in the centre which is not good for our democracy.