Anambra State under Governor Willie Obiano seems to have internalized a lesson from Israel’s security experience. Arguably, the nation with the greatest security challenges, Israel’s dominance of its environment is not necessarily in the deployment of security infrastructure, but is to be found in the State’s inestimable regard of the citizenry. There is no nation without the people, so the highest premium is naturally placed on the safety of the citizens.
For Chief Willie Obiano, the people are indeed, the wealth of the State. It is a conviction held strongly so much so that we see the security issue receiving attention every time – right from the campaign for the first tenure in office. No surprise then that the Obiano administration held a security summit within two weeks of its inception in March 2014.
It is helpful to recall the compulsion with which Governor Willie Obiano set out to secure the Anambra society. In a broadcast to mark his one month in office, he made the following declaration: ‘…the war against all forms of criminality and lawlessness in Anambra has begun…I am determined to win this war…I say this to kidnappers, armed robbers and vigilante gangsters, in the name of God, give up your crimes or leave Anambra State for good. If you do not, the might of this government will find you. We are determined to rid this State of your criminal activities, whatever resources it takes.’
That earnestness has run through in the five years of the regime and before our very eyes, Anambra fast – tracked from a besieged state, a criminal’s playground to about the safest state in Nigeria. What changed?
From the report of the summit and other findings, an extensive security action – plan was introduced and continues to be intensively implemented. Starting from the provision of equipment, the police, army, navy, civil defence, Ocha Brigade and community vigilantes have all received logistic support from the State Government. Hundreds of pick – up trucks, smart patrol cars, motor – cycles, communication gadgets and other incentives were put at the service of the various security agencies. The Obiano administration has also provided the Navy with gunboats to ensure effective patrol of the State’s waterways. Acknowledging the immense contributions, former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris said: ‘The support by Governor Willie Obiano is unprecedented; it will enhance our operational capacity and aid our resolve to fight crime and criminality in all nooks and crannies of the State.’ [The Nation, Monday, June 5, 2017]
Beyond the usual support to security agencies with upgraded equipment, security has taken on a systemic approach that spans Intelligence gathering, synergy of operations and complement of food security. Hosea Karma, a former Anambra State Commissioner of Police sheds some light on the merits of the new formula.: ‘Governor Obiano has not only encouraged the security agents in the state, he has gone out of his way to ensure that all the security agents in the state work together….The unity that he has fostered among the security agents has gone a long way to achieving major results because instead of the security agents fighting each other, we now see ourselves as brothers.’ [Daily Sun, March 2, 2016.]
With the network approach driving the regime’s interventions in the state’s political economy, security finds expression beyond its formal space into other sectors and vice versa. The complement of food security is recognised in the street wisdom that a hungry man is an angry man. It is heart – warming to observe that the working Willie has followed up to his proposal shortly after assuming office: ‘We are well aware that if we replace the guns in the hands of our youths with employment letters and seed monies for small – scale businesses, Anambra would be freer from criminals and social miscreants…’
Accordingly, we find a simultaneous pursuit of crime fighting measures alongside skills acquisition and youth empowerment programmes. Not only does the agro – allied sub sector take a sizeable portion of the $5b investments Governor Obiano has attracted to the State, each of the four pillars and a dozen enablers of his programme has job creation links.
Indeed, nothing authenticates and illustrates the safety and stability of the Anambra society today better than the rebranding of its image. Anambra State is now the place to travel to, work and live in assured of peace and social safety valves. In consequence, the State’s economy has continued to grow; it is currently rated the nation’s fourth largest economy. A more visible index of the confidence in the system is the almost daily opening of new hotels and recreation ventures across the State.
Professor Pat Utomi has the last word. ‘I am pushing investors from abroad to go and invest in Anambra and Delta. I tell them that is where to go.’