“The South-East governors are handicapped. But we are trying our best,” Mr Ikpeazu on Sunday.
The governors’ failure to counter IPOB’s order was due to lack of control over the police, inadequate, ill-equipped, and underfunded police system in the region, the Abia governor told Vanguard.
“That is why when IPOB gives sit-at-home order; the governors are unable to counter effectively because they do not have control over federal police, which are neither adequate nor well equipped to deal with security challenges,” he explained. “If you call governors the chief security officers of their states and they cannot determine the number of policemen they can deploy and the kind of equipment to use, then it becomes extremely difficult for governors to take control of security issues in the South-East.”
Mr Ikpeazu also lamented the security challenge in the region was compounded because of the proliferation of arms, expressing the belief that President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime could resolve the IPOB issue via negotiations.
The governor argued that there is an “ideological sense” in the agitations of the group, even though it is unlawful to carry arms.
“We must engage with IPOB. Yes, we must find a way to talk about the issues at stake. These people are not as bad as the ones in the North-East or North-West who go to schools and seize the whole population of teachers and students or invade the mosques and churches and kidnap all the worshippers, and nobody can find them until a ransom is paid,” he noted.
Mr Ikpeazu stressed that the need for confidence-building among ourselves rather than use words that we should not use even as leaders, adding that he was prepared to engage in negotiations to resolve the issue.
“I regard Nnamdi Kanu as my citizen but not as the leader of IPoB because I am the governor. I am prepared to engage to resolve the issue. I care about his welfare, and I care that he should be tried in a just and fair way,” stated the Abia governor.
He added that he would not want IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu to be treated as a convict.
“I am happy that they want to bring justice to bear by looking at the allegations against him and trying him fair and square,” Mr Ikpeazu pointed out. “But I would not want him to be treated as if he was a convict when he has not been convicted. Not until otherwise, he is still my citizen, and as his father, it behooves on us to care for him after all the prodigal son had a father.”
The South-East governors, during a meeting in Enugu, last week condemned the “sit-at-home” order.
“We condemn the ‘sit-at-home’’ order by IPOB issued mostly by our people in the diaspora who do not feel the pains,” they said in a communique issued at the end of the meeting. “The meeting resolved that governors and people of the south-east will do everything within the law to ensure that there is no further sit-at-home and people are allowed to move about freely.”