The Anambra State Governor, Charles Soludo, on Thursday, told members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Eastern Security Network, and Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, that Igboland cannot achieve desired development by violence and killings.
The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria stated this during his inaugural address at the Government House, Agu-Awka, Awka, the state capital on Thursday.
According to him, besides the environment, a fundamental existential threat to our state and indeed Igboland is that of peacebuilding and law and order.
Educating the agitators on the effect of violence and killings, Soludo noted that the recent upsurge in criminality poses a great threat to the future of Igboland and generations yet unborn.
He said, “We can’t build this homeland by turning the sword against each other. Ndi Anambra love their homeland but the recent upsurge in criminality poses a great threat. My heart bleeds to see and hear about our youth dying in senseless circumstances. Every criminal gang—kidnappers, wicked murderers, arsonists, rapists, thieves— all now claim to be freedom fighters.
“Criminality cannot be sugarcoated. This must stop. All the stakeholders must now review both the narrative and the action plan. 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.
“To IPOB/ESN, the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), as well as the disparate armed groups in the forests, it is time to interrogate both the purpose and means of your campaign. To the politicians playing politics with the insecurity, you are riding a tiger. The current trajectory is a road to desolation. Let us 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.
“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.
“I hereby challenge any of the disparate groups that claim 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.”
Giving insight on how the civil war affected his family and growing up, Soludo said, “For me, this issue is personal and emotional.”
He added, “My mother died during the civil war; our last born, Chukwuemeka died during the war; my father bore a bullet inside him for years; my elder brother – at 16, was in the ‘Boys Company’. At 8, I became the “man of the house”, with all the men at the war front. My uncles, cousins, etc, died during the war.
“This is 2022, and there are certainly far better ways to protest than shedding the blood of the innocent or resorting to criminality. 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.
“Yes, we have heard every genuine agitation for fairness, justice, equity, and equality in the Nigerian Federation. No, we refuse to turn our homeland into a crime scene and all manners of criminality. No group has ever succeeded in any struggle in history by turning the sword against themselves.
“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.”
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