The push for lasting peace in the South East with particular reference to Abia State went beyond party lines as there was a collective resolve by political leaders to stamp out disunity and violence among the citizenry. Beyond the call for collaboration among different State governments, security agencies and well-meaning Nigerians; a caucus of the Governors forum visited Abia State to assess the situation on ground and proffer solutions.
Six Northern Governors led by the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Kashim Shettima of Borno State paid a visit to the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu in order to confer and entrench their call for peace. Other Governors in the delegation include Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, Aminu Masari of Katsina State, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Abubakar Sani of Niger State and Simon Lalong of Plateau State. The visit which is as a result of the security situation in Abia State was also targeted at dousing the tension experienced by non-indigenes.
This move by the Northern Governors is a welcome development and further strengthens the dynamics that make for the unity of Nigeria. In a separate report, the South East Governors Forum talked about their discussions with their Northern counterparts. They said that everyone was working to ensure that there is peace and stability in the land. The fruit of the deliberations and proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by the Governors in the South East served as a prelude for the visit by the Northern Governors. One of the major decisions reached at the meeting was that all the Governors will keep working to ensure that they quell every form of violence and civil disturbance.
It is vital to reiterate that this visit is a positive development in the light of the efforts of the Okezie Ikpeazu led administration to restore peace in Abia State. As much as there could have been better ways to handle the situation before it got to this point; this visit shows a push to return the State to normalcy. The open arms of partnership that has been extended by the Northern State Governors will further help to build a stronger bond among the non-indigenes in Abia State. Also, this visit helps to calm frayed nerves in the light of the recent faceoff between members of the IPOB and the military.
One of the ways to achieve lasting peace in the light of the present challenge is to bring all the relevant parties to the table for dialogue. There is need for a proper understanding of the views of each group in order to arrive at an amicable solution. It is evident that every party is fighting for the good and well-being of its members. This should be the common ground to address any of their differences. There should be a short term and long term plan that will quickly restore sanity to Abia State.
Furthermore, the provision of basic infrastructure such as good roads, hospitals, schools and employment opportunities must be given prime attention. The offshoot of some of the civil disturbances is directly tied to lack of some of these amenities. It is vital to give priority to the projects that will impact on the common man on the street. As long as the economic situation in Abia State keeps improving, people will be in better frame to commit to working for the well-being of the State. A composite economic recovery plan can be drawn in order to forestall any tension that may arise based on the effects of hunger and poverty in the land.
Generally, there must be a civil way to accommodate people or groups that have opposing views. As long as there is mediation and dialogue; the security situation will not degenerate into a major crisis that will warrant the intervention of national and international bodies. The quest to lift Abia State to an enviable height must remain sacrosanct in everything we do. It is possible to achieve this goal if we do not get distracted as we work towards fully developing the State.
Chief Mascot Uzor Kalu is a Prominent Investment Banker and Former Chief of Staff to the Abia State Governor