November 20, 2023

Insecurity in S-East and the PISE-P solution




THE staggering wave of insecurity has since benumbed the quietude of the whole place, consequently crippling the economic and social activities and causing a miasma of despair. In the region, joy has been seriously compromised. Though, there is no exactitude as to the genesis of this ugly trend, what is cruelly conspicuous is that the insecurity of the place has affected both the poor and the rich in no small degree.

Unfortunately, this is the South-East region which is hitherto, the safest zone of the country when the North-East was ravaged by insurgency and terrorism, when the North-West and North-Central were in the grip of kidnapping, when the South- South was enmeshed in the orgy of militancy just as the South-West suffered under the siege of kidnappings, armed robbery attacks and ritual killings. This is the South-East where interstate travels used to be a piece of fun. A place nightlife! But not any more?

From the hilly spheres of Enugu State to the plain lands of Anambra State down to the wetlands of Imo, Abia and Ebonyi states, the story of insecurity goes chilly, corrugated and winding.

While controversy surrounds the howabouts of the malady and suspected masterminds, of much concern to everyone now is the sit-at-home conundrum. It is no more news that there is a total shutdown of economic activities every Monday in the region as human and vehicle movements are restricted.

Granted that it is subsumed in the measure of protest against the continued incarceration of the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, the worry however borders on its handling by non-state actors some of whom may have untowered interests away from the nobler cause of pursuing political inclusion and a sense of belonging in the national equation for the South-East zone.

But there is no gainsaying that the agitators have no genuine reasons in the mix when critically analysed; but, again, the modus operandi betrays their nobler intentions and portrays the region as one that scares people from other parts of the country.

While these controversies rage, here comes a mechanism well articulated to profer solutions to the turbulent issues, resolve the matter and calm frayed nerves in the region. Simply put, the measure is called Peace in the South East Project, PISE-P.

The PISE-P was initiated by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Okezie Kalu and endorsed by all the Members of the National Assembly from the South-East region.

The thrust of the project is basically to birth an ideological framework that will ultimately combat the hydraheaded monster of insecurity and the sit-at-home conundrum.

Essentially, the programme is designed to speak directly to the consciences of the people of the South-East, especially, the non state actors with the hope of changing the subtleties of hate and marginalisation perceptions in the region.

PISE-P is also tailored towards building requisite infrastructure, giving empowerments, reorientating the people, dissuading their minds on violence, galvanising them with the aim of ultimately enhancing national cohesion and integration.

Already, this non-kinetic measure of tackling the insecurity in the South-East has received the buy-in of the political, traditional leaders, the business class and indeed, the people of the South-East region principally, in the light of the recognition given to many Ndigbo within the political hierarchy of this country, among whom is the Deputy Speaker of the House.

Speaking about the project last week when he received the Resident Programme Director, International Republican Institute, IRI, Santiago Stocker, who paid him a courtesy, the Deputy Speaker itemised the apparent causes of the issues, submitting the objectives of the project.

“But a deep dive in on the causes of all these issues, like you’ve mentioned, one is identity crisis, and finding a way to navigate around that may profile a sustainable solution to end the calling the military, the police; what are the sociological needs? Are there any sociological needs with regards to the causative factors around this issue? Did anything prompt you? Who can tell us? Is it infrastructure decay?

“In my area, where I come from, some things they are saying are, we are marginalised. We are not recognised. Are we part of this identity crisis? Are we part of Nigeria? We are not part of Nigeria? Why are they asking those questions? Is it that the infrastructure is not sufficient? If you go there, you find out for yourself that infrastructure is not sufficient. This is a fact. I couldn’t travel from one town to the other for 11 hours. I met about six feet pothole on a federal road, six feet on a major highway. So if you’re bringing your goods, you will not pass through three days, four days.

“It breeds frustration. It breeds confusion. It gives you a sense of alienation from the commonwealth that’s supposed to stimulate national cohesion, national loyalty. So, it depletes national loyalty. And once national loyalty is depleted, it affects national cohesion. And that is where you have the pockets of all those non-state actors. So, we should look into those areas and see what are the non- kinetic area solutions to it.

“We have come up with a programme called Peace in South East, PISE, project. This is being anchored by the members of the parliament, both House of Representatives and the Senate, especially members from that area. I founded that project, and it has the support of other members. So, what we want to do is: how do we bring in peace, not war? How do we calm the nerves of the people? Can we do that through our constituency projects, to put more facilities for our people? Do we do that through more empowerments? Do we do that through more establishment of Federal Government institutions around the area? These are non-kinetic approaches and we are using legislative intervention to see how we can push it.

“I want you to drive that conversation as well because all we are looking for is solution that will bring peace. And that is why you have peace and unity,” he said.

The official unveiling of PISE-P is envisaged to happen on the sidelines of the grand civic reception of the Deputy Speaker slated to hold in December at Bende, Bende Local Government Area of Abia State. 

Nwabughiogu is CPS to the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Benjamin Okezie Kalu