Governors in Nigeria’s south east have written to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to delay the closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, and act against insecurity in the region.
The South East Governors Forum also asked the president to approve its earlier decision banning herders who have no cattle, as well as the movement of cattle by foot in the region.
Coming three days after a senior politician from the region, Ike Ekweremadu, was attacked in Germany, the governors said they were making the letter public to assuage public allegations that they were not doing enough to check growing insecurity in the region.
“We plead with Mr. President that we publish this letter to assuage our people’s feelings who erroneously think that no efforts are being made by the leaders of the South East to tackle insecurity and economic challenges facing the zone and to let them know that her leaders before now have been working very hard without making noise as issues of security must not be discussed in the public,” the letter signed by signed by the chairman of the forum and governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, said.
Mr Ekweremadu, senator and former Senate deputy president, was mobbed and manhandled on Saturday by members of IPOB, a secessionist group in the region, who accused him of not rising in defence of South East people against insecurity.
The group threatened further attacks on other leaders from the region.
The letter to President Buhari said the postponement of the closure of the Enugu airport will allow adequate arrangements to be made for travellers.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, had on Saturday announced that it will close the airport’s runway for major repairs.
But the governors said the closure was prompt and will not give them any time to make security arrangement for the convenience of the people, and visitors to the region who would be travelling long distances to alternative airports where flights would be diverted to.
The governors called on the president to direct aviation authorities to provide immediate palliatives in form of transportation with armed escorts and helicopter services to prospective passengers from alternative airports that connect the zone.
The governors said the federal Ministry of Works in collaboration with the South East Governors’ Forum should carry out repairs on major roads leading to the alternative airports as well as clear all the bushes along the routes for better view of road users.
They asked that 24-hour joint security patrol be provided for the safety of the people and visitors to the South East who will be using the roads day and night through the alternative airports.
“Your Excellency, in our letters to the respective ministries, we observed that the notification of the closure was prompt giving us no time to make adequate arrangement for the security and convenience of our people and visitors to the South East who will be travelling long instances to alternative airports where flights will be diverted to,” the letter said.
This governors also asked the president to approve their earlier resolution banning herdsmen without cattle and movement of cattle by foot in the zone.
This, they said, is to eliminate increasing cases of killing, maiming, raping of women, kidnapping of the people and destruction of farmlands mostly carried out by “foreign herdsmen” with the backing of some compromised local herders.
“That Mr. President do approve the earlier resolution of the South East Governors banning herdsmen without cattle and movement of cattle by foot in the zone to eliminate increasing cases of killing, maiming, raping of our women, kidnapping of our people and destruction of our farmlands mostly carried out by foreign herdsmen and in most cases with the backing of some compromised local herders.