SOUTHEAST: THE BLEEDING GEOGRAPHICAL ZONE
The current situation in the South-East is a humongous call for urgent action. The root causes of the insecurity must be addressed and those responsible for the wanton killings, abductions, and other forms of insecurity must be brought to justice. This has resulted in the loss of lives, destruction of property and displacement of people, leaving the South-east in a state of unrest.
The crisis has made the South-East a geographically bleeding region. This has had devastating economic and social impacts, from reducing the flow of goods and services to increasing the cost of doing business. This raises serious concerns about the security of the upcoming elections in the South-eastern region, Nigeria’s former bastion of peace. This has led to a sharp rise in insecurity, with criminality, armed banditry, kidnapping, and other crimes increasing in the region, resulting in a humanitarian crisis.
The southeast, once considered one of Nigeria’s safest regions, is now shattered by the deteriorating security enigma plaguing the state thereby making the region a 'Bleeding Geographical Region'.
Sadly, the government has adopted an oppressive stance on the issue, resulting in civilian deaths and mass arrests. Reports note that at least 115 people were killed and more than 500 were arrested in the space of three months due to security force raids. Amnesty International has recorded at least 115 fatalities caused by security forces and more than 500 arrests between March and June.
The Southeast based on computations has lost an estimated N75.704 billion to the sit-at-home enforcements on nano and micro businesses. This was disaggregated as follows: Anambra, N38.140b billion, Enugu N9.334 billion, Imo N13.739 billion, Ebonyi N4.079 billion, and Abia N10.412 billion. The above statistics show that at least 4trillion naira have been lost to the sit-at-home, a significant impact on the Southeast Economy.
The organization has noted the increasing police and military raids in response to the increasing violence in the South-east region.
Since the beginning of 2021, the region has been the site of numerous clashes between the government and pro-Biafra advocates, resulting in a significant increase in violence.
The government must also ensure that the different security outfits in the zone are better coordinated, funded and managed. To this end, the government should ensure that the South-East Governors come together to agree on a common security outfit that will help tackle security issues across the geopolitical region.
The South-East of Nigeria is in dire need of a holistic approach to tackling the insecurity that has plagued the region for too long. It is essential that the government, security forces and the people of the South-East work together to address the issues of insecurity and restore the region to its vibrant former glory.
Businesses lose every Monday of the week to the sit-at-home protest, which means the sit-at-home approach has led to the loss of some working days in the month.
The sit-at-home affect not only a whole day but tends to have a spillover effect on the other days of the week with residents of the region losing side jobs and secondary businesses as the reduced working hours and time makes it hard to keep a business or job.
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In addition, customers outside the region are forced to find alternatives as the South-East has trade relations with neighbouring towns. Apart from traders who used to travel to nearby markets to sell their wares, those who had their customers coming into the region said their customers have reduced and are finding alternatives even in other places like Lagos.
The violence and protests in the region have also increased the cost of service delivery for businesses. Businesses trying to keep up with customers outside the Region have to include logistics and bear the risk, but only big businesses can afford this. As a strategy for keeping their customers, some companies have to add delivery services.
They organise logistic vehicles and transport the goods to their customers’ destinations. Interstate transporters break long trips of 11-12 hours into two and continue in the morning.
When Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, representing Anambra South Senatorial District in the National Assembly drove into Enugwu-Ukwu Community in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State with his convoy, on Sunday, September 10, 2022, little did he know that he had entered a carefully prepared kill-zone.
Heavily armed, “unknown gunmen,” presumably assassins sprung a commando-type ambush and opened withering fire on the convoy. Three police officers and two aides of the senator were killed in the incident while Ubah escaped by the whiskers, with the aid of his bullet-proof vehicle.
Following incessant violent attacks and assaults on INEC personnel, candidates and offices of the Electoral Commission, Concerns are growing about the security of Nigeria's upcoming elections due to the several attacks that occurred recently in the Southeastern part of the country, which is the stronghold of the Indigenous People of Biafra, a group that seeks to create an independent state of Biafra.
The five South-east Zone constituent states – Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo were considered Nigeria’s safest for many years out of the six geopolitical niches. But today, it’s a different story.
The deterioration of security across the region comes amid a growing campaign for Biafran independence staunchly championed by the IPOB, led by Nnamdi Kanu, with a huge following of young people born after the Nigerian civil war. Their desire for an independent Biafra state is fuelled by a feeling of marginalisation and historical grievances against the government.
Regrettably, the government has responded to separatist agitation through iron-fisted, aggressive militarisation, security crackdowns and mass arrests of supporters and youths. This approach provokes further extremism.