Diaspora Affairs Opinion

Orlu Crisis: Why Imo Diasporans Must Opt For Propagation of Peace

By CELIA OSAKWE-HIBBERT

Let me begin by expressing my deepest sympathy with the families of those affected in the recent Orlu armed conflict. It wouldn’t be farfetched to assume that someone, somewhere, within the Imo Diaspora Community must have been directly or indirectly affected. 

I have been inundated with pictures, videos, calls from Imo Diasporans expressing fear, despondency, anger; I would love to again acknowledge your legitimate concerns. 

By any measure, this has regrettably been a bloody clash, according to reports update. It has cost us both the lives of civilians and our men in uniform. In the genuine spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood we all feel this pain. How tragic this is, to all of us! 

Whilst we grieve and wait for more answers to become available, I want to remind us of the need to not overly panic. As you may already know, Our Governor Sen. Hope Uzodimma has made a timely broadcast on this issue. He has also released a press statement and some of the highlights of his public communications are; the imposition of curfew in Orlu and it’s affected neighbourhoods.

I’m sure we all agree that this measure is extremely important because it will help to immediately arrest the situation. Restoration of tranquility through curfew should provide a degree of sanity not just for residents but for officials; they can now patrol more effectively, gathering needed intelligence in the background to hopefully solve this issue both in short and long term. 

In addition, this measure restores some calmness in a rather tumultuous situation. His Excellency in his public communication, also unequivocally assured Imo citizens of total commitment by his administration to unravel this menace.

He reassured us that every perpetrator involved in this armed conflict will not go “unpunished”. Consequently security briefings are ongoing and I’m confident that where applicable, the general public (including Imo Diasporans) will be updated with the outcomes of our Governor’s unwavering efforts towards restoration of peace and tranquility in Orlu and its environs. 

So let it be on record, that Sen. Hope Uzodimma the Governor of Imo State takes full responsibility for safety of lives and livelihoods of Imolites and will stop at nothing to continue to demonstrate his capabilities in handling this enormous responsibility, democratically bestowed on him by Imolites. 

Now to my dearest Diasporans, I’m one of you. And I remind us most solemnly that the responsibility of peacekeeping in Imo State also lies on our shoulders. You know, on a cool evening in September 2008, I set out to the United Kingdom to seek for greener pastures just like all of you! As time went on in my new country I began to open my eyes on more than just ‘greener pastures’… 

I learned what patriotism truly means. I learned about moral obligations; like not to stand by idle and watch things go wrong! I learned how not to incite riots, I learned to be tolerant and I learned to defend my belief but ultimately how to defend it nonviolently. As Desmond Tutu  once said, “don’t raise your voice, just improve your argument”…. 

Fellow  Imo Diasporans, I’m sure my journey isn’t alien to yours. I’m also sure most of you received this sacrament of social baptism that I received…. Therefore we must rise together and join hands with every Government of the day to seek solutions to our problems back home.

We must use our links back home to dissuade friends, families and general public from carrying arms in the face of tyranny. We must always encourage our people, Imolites who we are in touch with, that together we are stronger and that together, it is far easier to cultivate peace than to cultivate war. 

Ultimately, we are duty bound to promote peacekeeping in our homeland.

Surely, we can all work on this collective responsibility together. I can sincerely assure you my fellow Imo Diasporans, that our Governor’s aim amidst security challenges (be it previous, current or ongoing…) in Imo State, is to de-escalate tensions in order to reduce risks of renewed conflicts dividing our State both at home and abroad. His aim is for me, for you and for our families at home to live a free life, free from fear and intimidation, a life, free on all levels. 

Therefore at this juncture,  I want to particularly appeal to those of us who engage in whipping up hysteria on social media on the dangers of doing so. I want to ask that we reconsider the meaning of patriotism; I’m sure you’ll all agree with me that patriotism doesn’t involve poisoning the hearts of family and friends we have left back home.

If not for anything, we should remember that when those terrorising gunshots are released, the friends and family  members we have left thousands of miles at home, hear and feel this terror first hand and in situations like the one in Orlu, some even drop dead! And for some, even if they survive the particular battle, they live their lives everyday rebuilding what they could have had.

They  wallow through the vestiges of never ending penury and fear, they are left in stark mental and physical horror, to pick up broken pieces whilst in contrast we may be in our gardens watching birds, sipping coffee or just enjoying those little pleasures of life that has been denied our kinsmen and women. 

So, in trying to protect our tribes, our lands, our inalienable rights; in trying to realize our larger idea, the idea of a functional society, we must not fail to be constructive, patient and at least reasonably careful with our actions and inactions. Almost all Diasporans have someone back home who looks up to them, let’s use this as a positive tool and a potent channel to propagate peace not war. 

Finally, I make bold to state that my concerns aren’t simply because of my role as an Imo Government Appointee, nor is it solely about being a Diasporan. My concerns are far greater than all of these, it is born out of the quest for a brighter future for young women and men, coming behind us! 

Rest In Peace to all who have recently lost their lives especially in the ‘Orlu Armed Conflict’.

Chief (Cllr.) Celia Osakwe-Hibbert is the Special Advisers to Imo State Governor on Diaspora Affairs.

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