Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has advised President Muhammadu ot open a dialogue with the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
He also said South-East governors can’t stop the sit-at-home orders of Kanu’s group because they don’t control the federal police.
The governor, who spoke in an interview with Vanguard in Abuja on Sunday, said they have limitations in determining the number of policemen to be deployed and the equipment to be used by the operatives.
“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. The Southeast governors are handicapped but we are trying our best.
“That is why when IPOB gives a 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”.
Governor Ikpeazu also recommended dialogue and negotiation as the best way to resolve the current face-off between the Federal Government and the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, stating that other means may stimulate more violence.
The governor who admitted that despite the issues raised against the secessionist who is currently in the custody of the Department of State Services, IPOB and his followers, said the agitators must be engaged in dialogue as a means of ending the lingering crisis.
“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 Northeast or northwest 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 ransom is paid.
“I believe that there is some ideological sense in what these people in the Southeast are saying. There is something to listen to even though it is criminal to take up arms against the state. There is a message they are trying to pass in the process. We need confidence building among ourselves rather than use words that we should not use even as leaders. Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder but the solution is not too difficult to find.
“I regard Nnamdi Kanu as my citizen but not as 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. I am happy that they want to bring justice to bear by looking at the allegations against him and trying him fair and square 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 behoves on us to care for him after all the prodigal son had a father.
“The scenario in the Southeast appears as if we are running away from the foundation of solving the problem of IPOB but you must recognize the fact that the apparatus of security lies heavily on the federal government.
“The problem is further compounded by the fact that there is a proliferation of small arms in the hands of people who should not have them. We also have an ill-equipped, inadequate and underfunded police system in the land”.