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The recent developments in the South East with particular reference to Abia State have explicitly unfolded the ideologies of various groups. The reactions that trailed the labelling of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group have reached a crescendo. Firstly, I will like to condemn the declaration of IPOB as a terror group. It goes against the ethos of justice and the laws that bind us together as Nigerians. This declaration can undermine the efforts at rapprochement that is currently ongoing and I call for a quick retraction of the statement by the relevant authorities.
Beyond this, there are other dynamics surrounding the current challenge in the State which surprisingly has been masterfully swept under the carpet. As much as we desire an end to this impasse between the IPOB and the Federal troops; we must not forget to address the root cause of these issues. Due to the focus on the security situation in recent times, little has been said about what I call – The Other Side Of Terror.
The first is the issue of poverty. The primary responsibility of the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu should be to ameliorate the suffering in the State. The number of unemployed youths or those who lack any form of skill has been on the rise. Also, we have witnessed the conscription of able-bodied men into nefarious activities because they have not been meaningfully engaged. We may keep chasing shadows but the common saying states that ‘’the idle mind is a tool in the hands of the devil.’’ There must be a concrete economic recovery plan in Abia State to help the people see a new light and improve their financial situation.
Another area which needs the attention of the Abia State Government is the improvement of our health facilities. It is sad that at this point in our State’s history, we cannot boast of a fully functional, government-owned, ultramodern health facility. When we look at the infant mortality rate, the number of women that are lost in the process of childbearing; it drives a deep source of concern in my heart.
In my understanding, terror goes beyond fear, dread and blood-letting that can be unleashed on any group of people. Terror has a subtle side which involves lack of infrastructure that makes life unbearable for Abians, a campaign of calumny that fails to point out where the current Abia State Government has failed. Ultimately, lives are lost as a result of poor governance of the State and this may not seem glaring but it remains the other side of terror.
Every day presents an opportunity for us to re-assess the performance of the Abia State Government. As a stakeholder in the quest to move the State forward, I believe that more can be done. Some of the current challenges that we face are tied to these root causes that have been mentioned above. Let us continue to press for a complete revamping of the current leadership style. With concerted effort, we can draw the line and deal with this other side of terror that is unleashing untold hardship in the life of Abians.
Once again, I reiterate that resolving the challenge with IPOB is just one side of the coin. We must look for lasting solutions to the key issues that determine how we live in Abia State. Let us say NO to anyone who wants to put us under a dreadful situation that does not adequately deliver the dividends of democracy.
Chief Mascot Uzor Kalu is a Prominent Investment Banker and Former Chief of Staff to the Abia State Governor