On Saturday, February 15, I set out from my house in Ajah in Eti-osa Local Government Area for my son’s school in Epe, also in Lagos State, to bring him home for the mid-term break. While approaching Ibeju Local Government Area, a police team on stop-and-search duty flagged down my vehicle and asked me to identify myself. I mentioned my name and quickly added “a journalist and now Commissioner for Information”. The team leader inquired if I was a commissioner in Lagos State, and I responded “No, Anambra State”. The team leader enthusiastically responded, “Correct state!” And the other team members said separately, “Your government is very good”, “We are proud of you”. It was a humbling experience for me and all the passengers in the car. Another proud moment to be from Anambra State.
My cousin’s wife, whose son is in the same school as my son and whom I had never heard discuss politics, turned to me and in a solemn voice said: “I hope ndi Anambra State will never give either the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or the All Progressives Congress (APC) even a mere foothold in our state during the next election. We want to continue to enjoy peace and rapid development. The PDP and the APC represent chaos and uncertainty. See the mess they have made of Imo and Bayelsa states. Once one wins an election, the other begins to plan how to sabotage it from behind, even if it means destroying the state”.
The stability and impressive progress in Anambra which even junior police officers on patrol duty in far-away Lagos acknowledged were brought to the fore last Saturday at the party Governor Willie Obiano organized for visiting police chiefs across the nation who attended the opening ceremony of the ongoing Biennial 12th Police Games which started in Awka, the Anambra State capital, last weekend. It is the first time the biennial games are holding in the Southeast.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations, Abdul Ali, summarized the feelings of the police hierarchy about Anambra State when he got up to speak on behalf of Inspector General Mohammed, who returned from France the previous day for the opening ceremony and had to travel to Abuja a few hours later to attend a crucial meeting. “I know the people of Anambra State, having worked in old Anambra State. In fact, two of my children were born here, including my son who was born in Nnewi and he may take the title of Ikemba the Second!”, declared Ali. “They are industrious, hospitable, cooperative and neat. But I have never seen them so happy and proud of their state as now. They are obviously happy with their government. The progress we have seen now is amazing”.
All former police commissioners who served in Anambra State and are still in the force made effort to attend both the opening ceremony and the party. They included Assistant Inspector General of Police Bashir Makama, Police Commissioner Mustapha Daura and Police Commissioner Garba Umar. Makama, Daura and Umar were happy to be introduced as sons of the soil. When someone joked if AIG Makama “is Makama Bida of Niger State”, he quickly retorted, “No! I am Makama Awka!” He did not stop to dance for a minute, telling everyone within earshot how he worked so well in Anambra and would ever love the people and their government. Celestine Okoye, Deputy Inspector General in charge of Information Communication and Technology, was walking six feet tall throughout, a proud son of the soil. Outstanding in brilliance, DIG Okoye displayed rare dancing and singing skills, a trait he developed probably when he was in the 1970s neighbours in Aba, Abia State, with Soki Ohale, composer and singer of “Oto n’uburu”, a hit in Eastern Nigeria in those days.
It is axiomatic that both senior and junior police officers are proud of their relationship with the Anambra State government. The state government goes out of its way to provide them with numerous state of the art vehicles well equipped with security gadgets as well as with the most advanced technology in the fight against crime. What is more, the government provides them with generous allowances which incentivize them in intelligence gathering and other critical areas of their work. No wonder when Chief Tony Frank Igboka, President General of Nimo Town Union, was assassinated by cultists last April 16 and Governor Obiano directed the police to fish out the killers within two weeks, the security agents were able to arrest the culprits in three days. It is also not surprising that anytime a person calls the police emergency number in the state, the police respond promptly. The result of all this is that Anambra is Nigeria’s safest state, and the high level of safety, peace and order has attracted investments in the last five years worth between four and five billion dollars.
Much as the Nigeria Police Force is recognized as the lead agency in the maintenance of internal security, law and order, Anambra State acknowledges the immense contributions of other security and intelligence agencies like the Department of State Security, the Army, Navy, National Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Anambra Vigilante Group. Hence, when the government donated 60 vehicles on March 29, 2018, and 111 vehicles on October 7, 2019, to security agencies to help in the fight against crime, it extended the generosity to even the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Correctional Service and Nigeria Immigration Service. There is a high level of cooperation among these agencies in Anambra, unlike in some other states where there are debilitating rivalries among them. The other governments in Nigeria should therefore learn from the Anambra success in getting all relevant security and intelligence agencies to work together as a team in the national interest. After all, there is today emphasis in leadership and management studies throughout the world on such issues as collaboration, coordination, integration, synergy, teamwork and solidarity.
Anambra State has set a standard in security management which should be emulated by all the governments in the Nigerian federation.
Adinuba is Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment, Anambra State.