The Federal Government has pledged to address the issue of marginalization of the South East geopolitical zone in the country.
The federal government delegation led by the Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi made the pledge during a consultative meeting with South East governors and stakeholders from the zone in Enugu on Friday.
The minister said that the meeting agreed that there were fundamental issues that needed to be addressed in the South East.
According to Magashi, we discussed the issue of marginalization; it is well accepted and further discussion will continue after we have met with Mr President to see the grievances.
The minister, accompanied by his interior minister counterpart, said that the governors would articulate the grievances to enable the government hold further discussions on them.He also said that the issue of farmers/herders conflict would also be given the necessary accord to stop the menace not only in the South East but all over the country.
“We are happy to have discussed the issues peculiar to the South East.
“We agreed that there are fundamental issues that need to be addressed which includes herders conflict which should be seen from the perspective of national interest and to find solutions that will stop the menace all over the country.
“Also, the problem of marginalisation which I think is well accepted but private discussion will continue, after we may have met with the President to look at the grievances,” he said.
The minister said that they also discussed community policing which was invoked now in the country by state governments.“We have the opinion that such moves by the governors should be encouraged and we appreciate all our discussions.
“We are committed to peace, unity and stability of this great country,” Magashi said.
The defense minister promised to relay the outcome of the meeting to President Muhammadu Buhari.
In his remarks, the Chairman, South East Governors Forum, Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi thanked the Federal Government delegation for its concerns toward insecurity in the South East.
According to him, our people are excited with this commitment and sacrifices and we thank you so much.
He explained that the stakeholders discussed issues of open grazing adding that the delegation was in support of it.
“We informed the delegation that each state of the region has laws in respect to the ban,” he said.
Umahi informed the delegation that “Ebube Agu, remained the only recognised security outfit in the South East and reiterated the region’s commitment to unity, fairness, equity, Justice and equality of freedom.
He thanked the delegation on concerns toward hate speech and urged them to advise some political and opinion leaders to check their utterances.
The chairman noted that hate speeches could plunge the country into crisis saying that those who did so from the region were not speaking for the people.
He said that South East leaders condemned the killings of security men, innocent citizens and burning of government facilities in the region.
“We are doing our best to ensure that normalcy returned to the South East,” Umahi said.
The meeting was attended by Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu and Hope Uzodimma of Imo while Anambra Governor, was represented by his deputy, Mr Nkem Okeke.
Other dignitaries were President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Prof George Obiozor, Rep Enyinnaya Abaribe, Toby Okechukwu and representatives of traditional rulers and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). (NAN)