Umahi, who is also the Governor of Ebonyi State, said this when he appeared on Channels TV’s breakfast show Sunrise Daily on Wednesday.
The governor was speaking about the security situation in the South-East, the activities of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other issues, a day after governors of the region announced that a security outfit “Ebube Agu” will be established in the five states that make up the region before the end of the year.
“At the initial time, it was an issue of ‘look, we are being marginalised. A lot of people keyed into that,” Governor Umahi said of the initial agitations in the region.
“Then, along the line, it developed into violence. And then later, the same agitation has been hijacked by criminals, bandits and kidnappers.”
The Governor explained that the grievances of people in the region over the years had led to support for IPOB, which had said it was fighting against the marginalisation of the region.“A lot of people keyed in,” he said.
“If anybody had grievances with the centre (Federal Government), the person became a supporter of IPOB. If you sort anything at the federal level and you fail to get it, you become a supporter of IPOB.
Those in the diaspora that went for greener pastures and they failed to get such become very bitter with the Nigerian society. And so, followers kept growing.”
According to the governor, the situation worsened when the conflicts with herdsmen came up.
“They were a couple of killings in the South-East and the people were a bit helpless and felt the governors were not protecting them,” he said, adding that though the governors did a lot to ensure that there was peace between the herders and people, residents were not satisfied.
“You see, some uninformed elements felt that the only way to solve the problem between us and herdsmen was to ask them to leave the South-East.”
The preferred option for these elements, he explained, was not nationalistic because people from the South-East also live in the north.