In this dispensation, Imo State in particular, and Southeast zone in general, has not fared well. From one problem to another, Imo State remains a state in search of solutions – meaningful and peaceful solutions – to her seemingly endless problems, most of which are man-made and politically motivated.
Whatever the cause and justification, some of the problems can actually be prevented or managed in such a way that their effects would be minimal but this is not the case. We lost good opportunities to make maximum use of our challenges and things got out of hand.
Recently, the criminal activities of heartless enemies of the state had risen to a crescendo with life and property being randomly destroyed at ease. And the boldness with which the crimes were carried out with little or no resistance left much to desire.
Some of the dastardly acts had a semblance of terrorism – sponsored terrorism – so one can’t help but to ask: Who are the people behind the acts? What is their purpose? Why choose Imo State?
Imo State, a predominantly Igbo speaking state, located in the Southeast region of Nigeria is bordered by Abia State on the east, Delta State to the west, Anambra State on the north, and Rivers State to the south. Though an oil producing state, Imo State economy depends primarily on agriculture and commerce.
A very peaceful state popularly called the Eastern Heartland, Imo State is the home of Hospitality Industry with a good number of tourism sites. With different institutions of higher learning in almost all the local government areas, cottage industries in many communities and different markets across board, Imo State is an epicenter of competitive togetherness where people compete for education and developmental strides. The level of wealth distribution reflects in different beautiful mansions that dot the entire land space. Indeed every clan and every community has its own share of rich and wealthy people, and every senatorial zone has enough politicians and political gladiators. Imo State is a land of talents and greatness.
With the number of graduates the state has and the level of investments going on in every nook and cranny, Imo State has great potential compared to none. For instance, Imo State can become the Education Hub in Nigeria. Given the right environment, her uncommon cultural heritage and entrepreneurial people-driven economy, a lot has happened. Ndi Imo are resilient and can spring up surprises.
What the people need to do exploit is a peaceful environment with adequate provision of security. It is therefore worrisome that Imo State is now a crisis-ridden state turning into a war zone. The crises if not resolved and in time will create loss of economy, fear and suspicion, destruction of more lives and properties and scarce government revenue and other productive resources would be wasted.
While a visit to the state showed first hand pictures of a people in bondage; the subsequent feedback became too dangerous for silence. The crises going on in the state do not speak well of us. Businesses are dying at a geometric rate, making situations worse; life and property are being destroyed on a daily basis while the blame game lasts.
Most people in the state no longer sleep with two eyes closed. Everyone, including the right and mighty, lives in fear. As there is no freedom of movement and association, there is no comfortable living but hunger.
To avoid this, we must close ranks and stop the carnage. No sane person will like to live or operate in an unstable environment. Most businesses and markets hate uncertainty; and most investors don’t like crises. Terrorism of every type and magnitude does no one any good instead it hurts everyone and cripples economic activities. While the economic impact will be negatively huge, the human cost will remain irreparably devastating.
The lives of our people would be made short and miserable. Those not hit by bullets or cut down with machetes might become apprehensive and hypertensive. More people would become sick, and the sick would have no access to good and affordable healthcare. Life would become meaningless that more people would die from preventable causes, and there might be no one and no time to bury the dead. We don’t want this and must do everything to prevent it.
Those directly and indirectly fuelling the crises should have a change of mind before it is too late. They will not be spared at the end. The ripple effect is that many people will be affected in one way or the other. Even those outside the state might still be affected negatively.
Therefore, let us be vigilant and alert to stop every act with a negative impact. Let us be security conscious and monitor everyone in our neighbourhood. Let us report every strange movement to the appropriate authority. Let us be mindful of the fact that we don’t have any other place to call our home so as to go out to protect and preserve Imo State with everything within our reach. Let us do the best we can to maintain peace and order, at all cost, for there is no alternative to peace.
Criminals are human beings not ghosts and they live among the people. Those perpetrating the crises in Imo State can only operate successfully from the state. Therefore, to identify them and stop their destructive activities, all hands must be on deck. The youth, community leaders and governments should work closely together now.
This is no time for political correctness. This is no time for dirty party politics. This is no time for victimization and witch-hunt. The governor should be properly advised and encouraged to adopt workable multi prong approaches to resolve these problems.
Finally, the security personnel in the state should focus on maintaining peace and order and not take the laws into their hands as was revealed in some videos that had gone viral. The atmosphere is already tensed and the environment is hostile so the people might resist every form of abuse.