For a section of Nigeria, the formation of the South East’s regional security outfit “Ebube Agu” was too little too late. This is also a view shared by many people who have grown disillusioned with the slew of instability in the country. However, what this translates to is the near total balkanization of Nigeria. That the various geopolitical zones are forced to resort to creating homogenous vigilante services centred on preservation of their ethnic demography is the stuff of nightmares that should keep any sane person awake.
But in the same trepidation lie a glimmer of hope–hope dependent on your position on the proliferation of these armed groups. When the South Eastern governors met and announced the formation of a regional security outift which they named “Ebube Agu” last week, the sensational way in which it was launched voided important questions. The exact recruitment process was not known. The window for recruitment was not given. There was no mention of structure and operation. For anyone with a keen interest in events happening in the South Eastern part of Nigeria, this is alarming for many reasons.
First, the duplicity of the governors is a slap on the faces of people who live and work in these states. It is as though the governors finally bowed to pressure and decided to do something along the lines of Amotekun in the South West in order to show “workings” without actually showing any working to match. It is the actions of verbs without the visible substance of action as means to calm frayed nerves, but how long these nerves would be calmed is anyone’s guess.
While acknowledging the validity of some of the grievances of secessionist elements in the region, the governors failed to mention what would be done to avoid a clash between members of Ebube Agu and fighters from the IPOB created Eastern Security Network. Nnamdi Kanu’s statements in reaction to the formation of Ebube Agu gives one an insight into the attendant issues that would come up if these are not considered.
Furthermore, the statement of the governors in setting up the security outfit for some curious reason, did not raise umbrage at the federal government which is known for its iron fisted approach to anything from the South East it regards as a threat to its authority. The presidential media advisers are yet to respond, which is in stark contrast to the way the FG responded when Amotekun was launched. Is it not also interesting that the Crocodile did not smile in the South East? What happened to the legs of the python? Why is it not dancing? The silence from the Centre is defeaning, which should not take a discerning mind to know that the federal government is very cool with the empty statements of intent from the regional governors.
The fact remains that a proliferation of security outfits that rival the established police and government authority is a worrying sign of a failed state, which Nigeria currently is. The Bakkasi Boys phenomenon was a gory stain on our history a mere two decades ago which victims who lived through the horrors still bear the scars.
It does not help any one’s cause that the likelihood of a showdown between members of ESN, Ebube Agu and the military is high. There are structural and existential issues that must be addressed with honesty and pragmatism among the political elites in the region which ordinarily should not exclude dialogue but should also realize that there’s a window of opportunity for every crisis which once passed over, impassioned pleas for a retreat becomes a rallying cry for the baying for blood that is fast becoming an everyday feature in Nigeria’s life. And when this happens, there’s no guarantee that the remaining people who are stuck in the crosshairs would have the time to watch it on television.