IPOB Vs Nigerian Army: Could Gov. Ikpeazu Have Done More?

By Ikenga Chronicles September 18, 2017

IPOB Vs Nigerian Army: Could Gov. Ikpeazu Have Done More?

Over the past one week since the military face-off between members of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), and the Nigerian Army began,so many people have chimed in with their own views of how that confrontation could have been avoided, and the best possible way it could have been handled. Of course, for those desperate for power, it became an opportunity to puncture holes on the way the Abia State government handled the situation, so that they can buttress what they have since concluded (albeit without concrete proof) to be leadership incompetence in the state.

While some say that the Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu PhD was not proactive enough, others say he and other South East governors did not “stand up to the military” (whatever that means), and yet some others believe he had ample warning of what was to happen and refused to act on it. Once a very objective critic brings all of these positions to closer scrutiny, he immediately finds out that they are all baseless and given breath by the desire to twist facts in order to deceive the people; emotions speaking over reasoning; and sheer desire to rant so that one’s paymasters can be happy.

For starters, Nnamdi Kanu has been in Umuahia, the Abia State capital for months now since his release from detention. In all of these months, he had lived very close to the Abia State Government House. And in all of those months, there was never any reported case of his group having any face-off with the government. That was because as a smart leader, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu knew that the issue of Biafra was a very sensitive one for the Igbo. He realised that Kanu was fueling his ambition by playing on the people’s emotions. Thus the smart and proactive thing to do was to avoid him and not give him unnecessary publicity which will enhance his powers. Dr. Ikpeazu succeeded with this plan until President Buhari, ill-advised, and still wielding the overall power in the country decided to make the army confront Kanu in an unnecessary “show of force”. That the incidents happened was simply because Buhari failed as a leader, where Ikpeazu had dexterously succeeded. That is something those willing to play politics with people’s lives will not say.

Again,when these altercations began,Governor Ikpeazu was out of the country. He immediately flew in, to focus on resolving it. Since then, he has had countless meetings with the Army, Traditional rulers, and several other stakeholders in order to deescalate the situation. That is what is expected of a competent leader. At that point in time, conflict sensitivity was very necessary and Ikpeazu displayed this to the highest possible level. That was exactly what helped deescalate the situation, and consequently saved many lives.

Now, there are a few emotion-driven people who feel that the governor was supposed to takes sides with “his people”(his people here being IPOB). Really? Ikpeazu’s responsibility is to protect the lives and properties of Abians and others resident in Abia. IPOB members do not make up majority of these people. In fact, as the governor of a state in the sovereign state of Nigeria, there is no way Ikpeazu would support the division of the country. If he wants that, then, he might as well step down as the governor. As the governor of a state in Nigeria, he is bound by the constitution of the country. Everybody should know this, and those asking for something else are only letting their emotions dictate what should be done. Unfortunately for them, governance is not about what your emotions say, but what the law says, and what is best for the majority of the people. That some elements will begin to play politics with this only shows that they either know nothing about governance, or just want to deceive the people in order to gain their trusts and votes. Either way, the people should never trust such people and their supporters.

It is on record that during the meeting of South East governors with the Nigerian Army,Governor Ikpeazu was the one who spoke bravely about the need for the military to reduce its presence in Abia State. Such bravery shows a man who puts the interest of the majority of his people first. He knows that continuous military presence (of the manner that led to the altercation) will lead to more confrontations and impact on the economy of the state which he is trying to improve.

If everybody is telling themselves the home truth then,Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu effectively and efficiently handled the situation between IPOB and the Nigerian Army. Those who expected him to “order the army to vacate Abia State” only reveal their ignorance as Ikpeazu does not have such powers. The Nigerian Army answers to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, who is President Muhammadu Buhari, and not state governors.

Considering therefore the highly sensitive and delicate situation Ikpeazu found himself in, he did not only handle the situation well, he proved beyond doubt that he is a smart leader.