Obiano’s imprints on security

NIGERIA is a country of surprises. Each time things seem to take a turn for the worse, some surprise development will occur to raise hope in the future of our country. This has happened over and over again in our tortuous history.. The recent surprise turn around in the state of security in Anambra State approximates one such development. The security miracle in Anambra State is taking place at a time the nation has virtually lost hope in the face of widespread threats to lives and property in Nigeria by a wide range of criminals some of whom have directly and successfully challenged the Nigerian state in armed uprisings that approximate to a civil war.
Beginning with the OPC challenge of the late 1990s in the South West, to the Militancy in the Niger Delta, the Boko Haram terror group and Herdsmen have taken the nation by storm, killing, maiming and destroying lives and property across the country on a regular basis. The IPOB recently joined in the mayhem, even as commercial kidnapping spreads from the South East and South South to the North and the South West. In the North Central and North East Herdsmen have turned whole geopolitical regions into a theatre of war and bloodshed. Southern Kaduna has witnessed a sustained bloody war between Herdsmen and indigenous communities, while Zamfara has become a theatre of bloody attacks by cattle rustlers year in year out with horrible tales of bloodshed and destruction of entire communities along the border with Niger Republic. While most governors keep running to Abuja cap in hand to beg for federal intervention, Governor Willie Obiano, a fresh hand on the job in his first term as Governor decided to take the bull by the horns: He won’t accept the fate that had befallen Anambra for almost two generations as the most crime infested state in the South East of Nigeria. Name it: Kidnapping, armed robbery, MASOB violence, cult wars: All combined to make Anambra a true hell in the South East. Suddenly even Ndi Anambra began to flee the State, while annual Yam festivals and Christmas holidays witnessed fewer and fewer people coming home! The economy nosedived into prolonged stagnation as the highly industrious and commercial people of Anambra moved their businesses to other parts of the country. Believing that he must take the destiny of his people firmly into his own hands, Governor Obiano decided to prioritise security as a number one programme on assumption of office in 2014. building on the initial work of his predecessor. Obiano engaged the security sector through a well thought out and well funded intervention, working through the Police and all the other Security Agencies. Through consistent visioning, planning, partnership and supply of equipment, funding and motivation of the security agencies, Obiano gradually and firmly turned the tables against kidnappers and other armed criminals who had made Anambra the epicenter of their nefarious and destructive operations for decades. He followed this up with community policing and awareness campaign backed by consistent leadership. Within two years of his tenure: the impossible began to happen: all the hardened criminals and their networks began to relocate from Aanambra to other parts of the country! Onitsha, Awka and Nnewi began to witness calm and serene peace. Today bank and shop robberies have abated. The high ways are safer. Neighbourhoods now witness less and less crimes and night life has actually returned to Onisha of all places! The State has started to witness a new lease of life. Ndi Anambra can testify that coming home now is done with more confidence. The result is the huge dividends being recorded in sharp upsurge in economic growth in the last few years. Gradually Anambra has become a leading destination for inflow of foreign direct investments in commerce, industry, agriculture, manufacturing, and air and land transportation. Even as Nigeria roiled in one of the most disastrous economic recessions in the last three years, Anambra witnessed high annual GDP growth of between 12 and 16 per cent in the Obiano years. Not only has Anambra taken the lead in rice and vegetable production, it has become a modest earner in foreign exchange from the export of vegetables. The State has continued stable growth in investment grossing $7 USD in three years. Hotels in Awka and Onitsha are filled up on daily basis as business continues to boom in Anambra State. Internal revenue generation also continues to witness steady growth to the extent that from last September, Governor Obiano started paying salaries and wages without waiting for allocations from the Federation Account. This in spite of the fact that he rejected all the bail out loans offered by the Federal Government to other states to pay backlogs of salary arrears. He owes no worker or pensioner a dime in Anambra State. The icing on the cake of the investment dividends improved security and business environment have brought to Anambra State was the recent announcement by Chinese investors to build an international Cargo Airport City in Anambra State worth 2.6 Billion US Dollars. The Airport which groundbreaking ceremony was performed a few weeks ago will be the biggest in West Africa on completion, and all without a dime from Anambra State treasury. In just three years Governor Obiano has proven that State Governors can, and indeed have a responsibility to provide their people with security of lives and property. He has also demonstrated the maxim that security is the foundation of economic growth and prosperity. The Obiano security model shows clearly that absence of leadership at the State level is largely responsible for the insecurity in Nigeria. As Anambra returns to the polls on November 18 to choose who among the 37 candidates will lead the State in the next four years, incumbent Governor Obiano has proven in three years that fixing Nigeria’s security crisis can indeed be done within reasonable timeline. The missing link is focused leadership, the right priority, funding and the motivation of our security agencies to do the job! Governor Obiano has restored our hope: That a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria is indeed possible if our leaders at all levels are willing to do their job with focus, patriotism and commitment.
Kenechukwu Ezenwoke, wrote from Awka, Anambra State.