There are many who believe that a new Nigeria is possible only if the South unites. Those who hold this view maintain that the distrust between the Igbo and Yoruba is responsible for the political domination by the Hausa-Fulani, which now hurts everyone. If you agree that the unity of the South-East and South-West is the elixir Nigeria desperately needs, then you will be concerned about what happened in Enugu, recently, during a meeting of the 17 Southern governors.
We commend those who organized the meeting and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State who hosted it. We salute those who set aside their political differences and private interests to attend. For those who stayed away, we ask why? If it is selfishness, sycophancy or fear of losing the political support of the powers that be from the North that caused them not to attend, we remind them that the only permanent thing in life is change. “Soldier come, soldier go but barrack remains,” is a popular saying. Because power resides in the people and not in any individual or group, any governor, who cannot see beyond his nose with all the happenings within and around us, is a leader we don’t need.
The Enugu meeting, where the governors of the South-East literally stunned their colleagues from other parts of the South by not attending, as they should, is worrisome. As someone observed, the event was not an emergency meeting. It was well thought out, planned and fixed for September 16, 2021, after a similar meeting was held in Lagos on July 5. A reminder was duly sent, in which case the leaders were well informed. Why then did the South-East governors not attend?
Why did they send representatives to such an important and defining engagement? Apart from the host, every other South East governor sent a representative, and we know such representatives can only convey issues to their principals and cannot take decisions. Even more disheartening, Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano could not even dignify the meeting with a representative.
We know that northern governors have been meeting for ages. The south is now learning to walk or trying to build bridges within its area. Some leaders are working hard to see if a handshake across the Niger could be possible. We commend them. But who is afraid of a united South?
When we recall that the governors’ first meeting in Asaba on May 11 produced great results, we call for more of such meetings. The laudable decision to ban Open Grazing of cattle in the region came from that meeting, which reportedly angered the Presidency. Any leader who does not yet see the value of a united South is a mercenary, or perhaps a northern “hireling.”
We are concerned that our governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, did not attend the Asaba, Lagos and Enugu meetings. We are concerned that he has distanced himself from the outright ban on open grazing. We urge him to endeavour to write his name in gold by becoming one of the instruments to forge unity in the South.
We think it is high time politics of selfishness and individualism gave way to politics of inclusion and representation. It is time also for our governors to feel the people’s heartbeat and put their interest first.