GOVERNORS of the South-East, Nigeria, during their last Security Summit with heads of security agencies in the zone, on Sunday, decided to float and maintain a regional security outfit. The new cross-boundaries joint vigilante operations organisation is named, ‘Ebubeagu’.
A COMMUNIQUE issued at the end of the meeting states that the joint security outfit, which will have its headquarters in Enugu, will coordinate vigilante groups in all the five states in the zone. The governors also resolved to set up a committee comprising security personnel, government officials and other relevant stakeholders to monitor the operations of the security outfit, among others.
THIS development has since its disclosure, generated mixed reactions . While a good number of people are excited, hopeful and grateful to the governors for putting aside their political differences for the common good and security of the people, others have resorted to calling them names, arguing that the action is belated.
WHILE National Light views the formation of Ebubeagu as a welcome development and a bold decision by the governors to work as a team in unity to secure their people, it is pertinent to state that Ebubeagu is not in any way comparable to any other emergency security outfit set up by any region in Nigeria. Rather, it is a coalition and collaboration of various vigilante and security agencies that have already been in lawful operation within the geopolitical zone.
EBUBEAGU as a name for such an establishment comes as very apt because it draws heavily from Igbo world view and takes the mind of anyone who knows the people to the power, might and myth captured in the concept. Ndi Igbo, from the days of yore have a saying, ‘Ebube agu na-eche agu’, (the tiger’s might guards it).
Beyond this showing that the Igbo political leaders are not out to introduce or import anything new into the system or are keen on any other regional security outfit, it shows a smart throw back to the roots to draw from an expression that Igbo societies use to guard their domains.
Of course, it’s obvious that ndi Igbo have always had some forms of vigilante outfits in various communities known as ‘nche’ or ‘ndi nche’ through which adult males gather and voluntarily or communally guard and protect communes.
This scheme was later adopted and approved by some states like Anambra, through the Anambra vigilante Network; Enugu State, through her Forest Guard Scheme; Ebonyi, through vigilante, among others. All these are legally recognised security outfits backed by law in the various states to work with the police and other law enforcement agencies to prevent and fight crimes.
BASED on this, Ebubeagu is a smart initiative backed by legal instruments and policies. The fact that South-East governors arrived at it the way they did shows dexterity and tactical approach to tackling the growing wave of insecurity in the region without ruffling feathers unnecessarily.
The security outfit and how it came to be should be celebrated by ndi Igbo and emulated by other zones as a better source of response to the present security situation of the country. Yes! The formation of Ebubeagu is an action in the right direction as terrorism and banditry are becoming the order of the day in the entire nation, while the South-East is witnessing a growing wave of attacks on security apparati along with increase in cult clashes.
IT is clear and incontestable that the governors waited patiently; resisting all temptations and ridicules made of them to push them to play to the gallery and chose to respond at a time when there is a growing apathy of law enforcement agents across country. Their response, therefore, is a smarter way of going about establishing regional security ventures because they utilise already existing vigilante operatives which can be traced down to our forefathers.
THEIR ability to wait till it became so clear that the centre can no longer hold in relation to security issues instead of responding when other zones appeared to be exploiting the security nightmare for their political goals is very commendable as the action came when it will not be misunderstood.
It portrays them as leaders who act when the time is ripe and they should be hailed and not mocked or dubbed lily livered leaders like some self bouge jingoists opt to call them.
HOWEVER, since the Ebubeagu initiative came at a time almost all the South-East states have cleared their budgets, the states must make concrete arrangements to fund the outfit to avoid dashing the peoples’ hopes.
ALSO, legislators in the five South-East states must ensure they make necessary laws to back the outfit since it is not just enough to make pronouncements or to take off without the necessary policy instruments and legal backings explicit with the Ebubeagu name..
IT is equally important that the authorities of security agencies like the police will work with good understanding with Ebubeagu since it appears the people are more favourably disposed to such initiatives.
This is because the masses are not only confused on which security agency between the federal government’s police, Civil Defence, Peace Corps and others to run to when they have issues but the police itself is kind of complicating matters by having defacto duplicating structures in operation in their states, for example, it can have a Deputy Inspector Generals of police operating in states. This leaves the people more confused on who among the police hierarchies gives the orders and who handles their cases.
WHILE the governors and the leadership of Ebubeagu should of immediate priority, tackle the challenge of reigning in the various energised security groups like MASSOB, IPOB, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) and others already operating in the zone for better operation , we urge the federal government and various political, religious, community and group leaders, among others to give them the necessary support and encouragement to enable them succeed in their mission.