My resent visit to Anambra state my dear home state was a wonderful one caressing the tails of nostalgia which I believe will soon come to reality. I entered the city late around 8:30pm, the very period millions of visitors will dare not think of entering the city. One of the strangest things I noticed was the fewer persons walking around ever busy Upper Iweka which surged my curiosity to knowing if it is well with the city of Onitsha. Saying that I was surprised is the mildest adjective to describe the state of my nerves at the time as I didn’t hear or read on the news about any problem steaming in Onitsha even being an ardent follower of news stream.
I fired a probing question to the taxi driver taking me to my destination when I asked him, “why are there fewer people at Upper Iweka and it is unusually quiet” his response reminded me of recent security news coming out of Anambra state. “Upper Iweka is like this because that is what the weather gives at the moment” he retorted. I immediately grabbed his argot having been born and bred in the city where usage of slang is badge of identification for residents. I pretended not to understand which made him to expand and explain with different examples of what has been happening and who is behind it. According to him, he said that the new Governor of the state Mr. Willie Obiano is an “obiakpo” to criminals and miscreants. “Obiakpo” is a local government in Rivers State but in Onitsha glossary, it means a mean and strict person even when unnecessary. He told me that unconfirmed report from rumor mill had it that the governor himself was robbed in the past at the same notorious Upper Iweka while coming back from abroad to his home state. Whatever is propelling the governor toward tackling insecurity in Anambra state is a wind that is blowing well and in the right direction.
However, after my encounter with the taxi driver, I recalled during my days at the University of Jos when former Governor Peter Obi newly came to power, he started with the same inclination of tackling insecurity. I remember coming back from Jos on one occasion and met almost empty Upper Iweka with soldiers from 302 artillery regiment Onitsha patrolling every nook and cranny of the city, fishing out members of MASSOB and other miscreants and criminals who were terrorizing the whole state at the time. Obi’s government action was received with fanfare and great support from the people of the state but his government did not sustain it and like biblical demons, the criminals and miscreants came back with twofold hopping mad. The security of the state degenerated to extent of open intimidation and collection of illegal fees and the most painful of them took place in market places. Nobody could buy any thing that fills Ghana-must-go bag and or heavier than that and leave the market without paying to malefactors and low-lives terrorizing the markets. Nobody can discuss the height of Anambra security crisis without the mention of vicious horrible kidnappers who reigned supreme knowing no bounds or territories, operating without respect for clergy or traditional stools and in some barbaric cases, killing and collecting ransom from victims’ families. All these were upshots of relapse in the security formation of the state after former administration abandoned their effort on providing high level security which would have become institutionalized by now.
It is better not to start a policy than starting it without sustainability especially as we saw the backlash from lack of will to continue by Peter Obi’s government. Many residents of the state have attributed Mr. Obiano’s passion to weed Anambra state of miscreants and criminals to new comer’s frenzy, pro forma and media stunts and the onus is on the governor to invalidate this assertion by continuing and sustaining what he has started. It should be noted that the people of Anambra State are happy of present cleansing taking place in the security sector of the state as this will bring back influx of businessmen and women and lead to increase in investment and job creation. Creation of jobs both formal and informal and springing up of small and medium enterprises (SME) will greatly drive commercial state of Anambra to greater height but can only be achieved with good security network which I believe the governor is trying to build.
All the market union executives, vigilantes, guards and every other security outfits operating in the state should be captured in bio-data and those of them that are irrelevant and seem to constitute security threat should be disbanded. Collection of revenues should be digitized and done through the banks and appropriate agencies of government and root out criminals parading themselves as government officials, a method that is long outdated. The greatest legacy Gov. Obiano can leave for the state is continuity and sustainability of every policy he introduces especially all of them that have to do with security and wellbeing of greater number of Anambrarians. He should work towards institutionalizing good and acceptable policies as that is the only way of ensuring its sustainability.
Obi Ebuka Onochie