However, time went by, the outfit was yet to begin operations when the region was engulfed by crises with scores killed and hundreds maimed – Ebonyi being the worst hit. While the killings continued, Ebubeagu was nowhere to be seen, except in Ebonyi State where there is skeletal operation of the outfit. The governors could not offer any tangible reason for the delay in inaugurating Ebubeagu. The attacks escalated, insecurity generally worsened, yet no hope in the horizon for the helpless citizens of the region.
However, while the people were still waiting for their Ebubeagu, they were shocked to receive the news of resignation of the chairman of the security committee, Gen. Umahi on the grounds that the committee was not being funded. Shocked, South-East people wondered if their governors have all along been deceiving them on the issue of security. General Umahi’s resignation exposed the underbelly of the South-East governors and the way they run their forum.
The content of Umahi’s letter of resignation showed that abinitio, the governors never had any serious intentions and programme to set up any regional security outfit to protect their people. There was no fund for the committee to operate with, there was no office to operate from; there was general unconcerned attitude from the governors, a situation that frustrated the chairman. And with his surprised resignation, the fate of Ebubeagu now hangs in limbo.
As a retired general of the Nigeria Army who had left some good records behind, Obi Umahi, it was learned, felt it was better for him to leave so as not to be associated with the failure staring the yet to be unveiled Ebubeagu in the face as his professional advice were said to be ignored by the governors, including the fact that the security outfit be launched jointly in all the five states of the region the same time.
South-East Voice also learned that the nonchalant attitude of the governors extends to how the secretariat of their forum is run. Their secretariat is a small apartment at the Enugu State Government House. The Director- General of the Forum is the Secretary to the Enugu State Government. Citizens of the region wonder how a secretary to a state government with loads of daily responsibilities facing him will be able to properly manage a regional governors’ forum secretariat. It does not show that the governors have interest in their coming together, hence the reason why they hardly agree and successfully work on common issues.
Of the five directors from the five states appointed to manage the Forum’s office, another one, apart from the DG is a serving commissioner in Ebonyi State, who is engrossed in his huge responsibility and therefore no time to oversee the affairs of the forum. There are no ancillary staff to assist them; it is an indication that the governors do not attach any importance to the forum; there is not even a utility vehicle attached to the office. Worse, these workers who run the forum’s secretariat were said to have been paid last in January, leaving arrears of four months.
Things, it was learned, became worse when an elder statesman and foremost Igbo leader, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, said that the South-East Governors’ Forum missed it when they connived with the Federal Government to fight the Indigenous People of Biafra and its security arm, the Eastern Security Network, ESN, without first knowing their mode of operation.
He said it was the same mistake they made by first disowning and proscribing IPOB, before the Federal Government took a queue, and it has been very difficult to correct the mistake till date.
Amechi said that he was not surprised that the Ebubeagu security would not work because it was formed out of ill-feeling, envy and not with good intention but to challenge ESN which they hated not because the outfit is not capable of doing the security job of protecting the South-East, but because of who is behind its formation.
“I expected them to meet with the leadership of IPOB, when they announced the establishment of ESN, to know what plans they have for securing South-East and the mode of operation of the ESN so that it would synergize with Ebubeagu which was still in the pipeline when ESN has already been announced by IPOB.
“After all, the two organisations are pursuing the same objective, they are playing into the same goal post; the governors of the South-East were jittery in forming the South-East Security outfit after the South-West governors formed Amotekun. They wanted to please the powers at Abuja, they did not act immediately and when South-Easterners were being mowed down every day, IPOB formed their own security outfit, ESN, to protect Ndigbo who are being killed by Fulani herdsmen and trained militia sent down from the North deliberately.
“Now, until there were attacks, serious attacks that touched the hearts of some of the governors, then they woke up from their slumber and formed Ebubeagu, but the two organisations are fighting the same cause, so I think there should have been synergy between them, none should be against the other, they are fighting the same cause – to protect and defend the people of the South- East region. I do not see the reason why the governors or IPOB, Ebubeagu or ESN, should fight each other because they are not enemies, unless they are not sincere.
“So the two organizations should have worked in tandem and in collaboration to protect South-East. But now, one seems to have collapsed or nonexistent as revealed by the resignation of its Chairman. The South-East governors should be serious about rehabilitating it or join forces with ESN by getting the Federal Government to stop hunting them because they are not criminals but youths working to protect the South-East after waiting for the governors who disappointed them in coming up with something similar to Amotekun,” Amechi said.
He called for support for the ESN, saying they are doing a good job. They are not disturbing anybody on the streets and roads of the South-East but in the bushes securing South-East forests that were before now taken over by violent herdsmen.
The traditional ruler of Abriba Ancient Kingdom, Enachioken Abriba, Eze Kalu Kalu Ogbu attributed the unwillingness of the South-East governors to fund Ebubeagu to lack of political will. The monarch said the governors have no justifiable excuse not to fund the regional vigilante outfit but noted that political interest might be responsible for their reluctance.
Eze Ogbu who noted that his initial worry about the floating of Ebubeagu was funding, said it was not proper for the governors to renege on their responsibility of funding Ebubeagu after appointing a former military general in the mold of Gen. Obi Umahi (rted) to head the security committee.
“Apart from the funding, I suspect the issue of political will among our governors. It is like some of them will say something in the public and say another thing in the house. If they mean what they say, this is the time to walk the talk.
“There is no way you can bring our brother, General Umahi to superintend over an Ebubeagu without a funding outlay that is clear and unambiguous,” the monarch said.
“He bemoaned the fate of Ndigbo in the midst of growing insecurity in the South-East region and advocated the involvement of the private sector in funding Ebubeagu.
“Addressing insecurity challenges in the South-East should not be left to the governors alone. The various governors should immediately involve the private sector to work out a funding plan for the security outfit. When they canvassed for Ebubeagu, I was really concerned about the funding of the outfit,” Eze Ogbu noted.
Elite Igbo body, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, said it was not surprised that Ebubeagu was not rolled out, attributing it to what it called “the poverty of leadership in the South-East Governors’ Forum.”
Speaking, ADF’s Chairman, Media and Publicity Bureau, Chief Abia Onyike, said the inability to roll out the security outfit was part of the governors’ “unending antics over the security issue in Igboland,” saying it was what its President, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala saw from the beginning and had to resign as a member of the Security Advisory Committee. He said that the governors were never prepared to float a regional security outfit.
“This development has sealed off expectations that the South-East governors can effectively brace up to the challenges of insecurity in the region. It also means that the people may have been abandoned to fend for themselves since the so-called Ebubeagu Regional Security outfit which the governors claimed to have created, only partially started in Ebonyi and yet to commence in the other four South-East states.
“What is required now in Alaigbo is not a foreign-based security outfit but one that is indigenous and guided by the experience and wisdom of the stakeholders and patriotic elders in Alaigbo and whoever say we don’t have such men in Alaigbo, must have their heads medically examined,” Onyike said.
Nnewi-based industrialist, Chief Ajulu Uzodike, in his opinion, said he has a different view about Ebubeagu or even Eastern Security Network, saying that it is laughable when people expect state governors to provide security for their people.
According to him, the governors are trying their best in view of the fact that they are operating a Constitution which he said is “upside down, where everything about enforcement of security is in the hands of the Federal Government.
“You cannot have everything about the enforcement of security in the hands of the Federal Government and still expect the governors to be responsible for the security of their states. It is a very funny situation, yet the state governors particularly the South- East governors are trying.
“When you talk about Ebubeagu, I do not know why we are waiting for it, we always had it; at least I know in Anambra State, we had Anambra State Vigilante Group that made waves in the country. I know that during the time of Mr. Peter Obi, it was very effective and very strong. I know that at that time, a law was passed backing the Vigilante Service.
“When the governors were talking about Ebubeagu, I said we had the Vigilante Service with an enabling law, and if we have been nurturing them, like the Anambra Vigilante Group, by now it would have been much stronger and we may not need Ebubeagu.
“Even Imo, Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi states had their vigilante groups and if they were serious with them, there would not have been any need for Ebubeagu. If Anambra State, government had continued to make their vigilante stronger, they can help Imo and others and all this question of waiting for Ebubeagu would not have been necessary.
“Since Peter Obi left, the governors of the South-East have not been united. However, South- East governors should revive their respective vigilante groups if they want to secure their states, a united South-East Vigilante run jointly will not work due to obvious reasons,” Uzodike said.
In his opinion, a legal luminary and former Commissioner for Environment in Abia State, Okechukwu Osuoha noted with shock that the governors could not provide funding for the security outfit considering the importance of security.
He urged the governors to “go and look for funds where ever they can find it and make sure the security outfit is properly funded” as security remains a priority. He said the governors should not toy with the security of the zone.
He said that South-East had been rendered vulnerable and needed a formidable regional security outfit. He tasked the South-East governors to inquire from their South-West counterparts how they had been funding Amotekun and apply the same method.
A retired Chief Superintendent of Police, Mr. Joseph Ndianaso said Ebubeagu was built on a weak foundation and therefore could not stand. According to him, for a security outfit to operate effectively, there should be properly outlined recruitment and training programmes, saying that he was not sure that these were in place in the case of Ebubeagu.
He suggested that those to be recruited into the outfit should undergo a training programme similar to that of the police academy so as to equip them properly.
Former Director of Communication to President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Jackson Ude, wants the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, to take over Ebubeagu from the governors if it wants to achieve the objective it was established for.
According to him, Ohanaeze should reach out to all Igbo people, at home and in Diaspora, to help fund Ebubeagu to protect Igbo land, stressing that nobody, no matter his status, should be allowed to play politics with the security outfit.
Ude insisted that the governors have never shown seriousness over Ebubeagu, but only created the outfit out of shame after their South-West counterparts came up with Amotekun.
“Ebubeagu was supposed to protect our people from armed herdsmen who have invaded our lands, killed, raped and destroyed farmlands.
“But instead of the governors to vote in funds and make it effective, they abandoned the outfit because it doesn’t soothe their political calculations. They are all looking for a presidential ticket or a vice presidential ticket and as a result, would rather have our people killed by armed herdsmen.
“This is the reason why they have abandoned Ebubeagu. Ohaneze Ndigbo should take over the outfit and solicit for funding from well meaning Igbo at home and in Diaspora to keep the outfit running. Otherwise, we will all wake up one day and discover that the Fulani herdsmen have taken over our land and appointed Emirs in Igbo land. This is part of the plot. We are seeing a jihad coming.
“South East governors are all sellout. They betray our people and cannot even uphold the constitution they swore to protect the lives and property of their citizens.
In his own view, the former President General of Onitsha Market Amalgamated Traders Association, OMATA, Chief Ozoh Anaekwe, said that Ebubeagu never existed in the first place in reality but existed only in the televisions, radios, and newspapers, and in foreign media organizations out of jealousy to stop Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB from establishing Eastern Security Network.
“There was no time Ebubeagu was really established by South East Governors; it only existed in televisions, radios, and newspapers. Ebubeagu only exist in the air. If you want see Ebubeagu outfit officials go to televisions, radios, and newspapers, even in BBC.
“What actually happened was when herdsmen were killing people the governors turned their eyes away from their heinous activities in Ebonyi, Enugu, and Anambra State, but when Nnamdi Kanu, established, ESN, to my personal opinion, out of envy and jealousy and in order to please the powers that be, they set up Ebubeagu in television and newspapers to secure South East.
“They know that no reasonable Igbo youth will follow them to fight ESN and my advice to them is to follow the majority, the majority of Igbo people are with ESN in securing the South East. The Governors should support the ESN instead of instigating Federal Government against ESN”, he said.