13th October, 2010
I did not realise that the siege on Aba is no tea party until I got home in Nnewi Anambra State on Wednesday October 6, 2010. My sister, Nkolika who lives with the family in Aba has relocated home with the children leaving only the husband in Aba . I was shocked into disbelief to hear the sordid tales of lawlessness and brigandage in Aba which used to be the pride of Igboland. Aba is known for her ingenuity and craftsmanship. Anything made in Nigeria that looks inferior is always said to be Aba made. Shoes, bags, clothing and many others are manufactured, packaged and conveyed to other parts of Nigeria and they get substantial patronage.
My sister narrated shocking details of how something that initially looked like a drama gradually graduated into a big time crime. She told me how the police and other security services personnel totally surrendered to the antics of the hoodlums. The one that broke my heart was the story of how the gangsters were raping Aba women with reckless abandon.
My mind went back to the civil war years when people left the cities to the villages because of the invading troops. Husbands and wives who were lucky came home with their children, property including chickens, goats, dogs, etc. This is the kind of scenario prevalent in a war situation. When I went out to make further enquiries, I discovered that almost all over our village our people who live and do business in Aba returned home. I was told that schools, banks, markets and even hospitals closed down when the siege became too much. I was told that policemen were killed helplessly without any serious challenge. Ah! My sisterâ€™s story rattled me and I ran away with the thinking that we now have two governments in Aba, the hoodlums (kidnappers) and the state government. From all indications, the government of the kidnappers sacked the government of Abia State led by Chief Theodore Orji. That was the situation until the truck loads of military men were deployed to the helpless state few days back to rescue the 15 abducted school children. The soldiers were deployed on September 30 and on October 1 the children were rescued. So what happened? So only the military can challenge the kidnappers of Abia State? If so why have we not deemed it fit to effectively use the military at peace times to complement police efforts in combating crimes in all troubled spots in Nigeria? Why are our policemen so vulnerable? Why are they so helpless? Why are they so weak in Nigeria?
The answers to these questions are not farfetched. We need to pay for security.Â We need to take practical steps to solve the problem of insecurity in some parts of Nigeria.Â Lagos, under Governor Fashola is a good example of how to deal with the matters of security in any state in Nigeria.Â Now, what did Fashola do?Â He saw security as a number one priority in Lagos.Â He sought advice.Â He networked, dialogued, engaged, issues were debated, and decisions taken to reach out to all stakeholders in Lagos.Â They are the eminent Lagosians, captains of industry, Bank Executives, Executives of Insurance Companies, Oil and Gas companies, Transporters, Police, Army, Navy, Air Force, Traders, Civil Servants, LGA Chairmen, etc.Â Lagos Security Committee was born and security Trust Fund raised.Â With the fund raised, Helicopters, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) AK 47s, Vehicles, Communication gadgets and other security equipment were bought.Â A combined team of Police and Military Personnel were raised and their remunerations increased and their lives insured.Â Motivated, the men went to work.
A combination of all these has brought about security in Lagos and it is no exaggeration to say that Lagos is the only state in Nigeria where security is guaranteed.Â The investment is there in Lagos for all eyes to see.
South East and other zones in Nigeria can borrow a leaf from Fasholaâ€™s Lagos-State.Â You do not need to reinvent the wheel. South East must engage our stakeholders, and funds must be raised and serious investment made in security.Â Life has no duplicate.Â Kidnapping and other crimes have been a bad advertisement for the South East.Â We must all fight this.Â Forces of darkness cannot overcome the forces of Light.Â We have a choice to make: to either leave the South East for hoodlums to take over or to fight to dislodge them and take over the land of our birth.Â The latter is the road we must all travel. South East governors must buy at least three helicopters each to fight crimes.Â They must also work intelligently with the Telecom Companies to get the information required.Â GSM technology is what we must utilise to deal with these challenges.Â South East governors should have an agreement with telecom companies for tracking criminals wherever they are.
I continue to insist that police should be the most important and most attractive job in Nigeria. Police should live in the best houses, paid the highest wages, their children should go to the best schools, and best hospitals made available to them.Â Nigerians must be hungry to join the Police Force of Nigeria!Â Investments have been made in almost every aspect of our national life except security.Â We must reverse the trend now and do justice to matters of security.Â Once security of lives and property is guaranteed, things will add up.
Again, the security challenges in Abia and other parts of South East have once again brought to the fore the need for a State Police.Â Governor Orji of Abia State was totally helpless in dealing with the problem until the soldiers came. The police in Abia may be the problem.Â The politicians may also be the problem.Â Former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu has been dislodged from Abia State.Â Former Deputy Governor Chief Akoma has been impeached.Â A combination of these forces may be the problem we are facing in Abia today.Â Those going down do not want to go it alone; they want others to go down with them.Â The situation in Abia is not normal.Â I guess some evil forces are at work.Â They are saying â€œIf we cannot be in control let the house go downâ€. Let us deploy SSS, DMI and NIA personnelÂ to unravel the mystery behind the scourge in Abia State . I repeat that this is not normal.
â€¢Joe Igbokwe wrote from Lagos.