From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APC) governorship aspirant for November 6 Anambra election, Hon. Sir Azuka Okwuosa has ex-rayed the major causes of high profile insecurity in the country and subsequently proffered solution to it. He counselled against giving amnesty to bandits when they have not shown remorse and ready to repent.
He emphasized on job creation as one of the antidotes needed for crime control and prevention with the adoption and implementation of the former premier of Eastern Nigeria, the late Dr Michael Opkara’s agricultural policy, promising to replicate the same in Anambra State.
What do you think can be done over rising insecurity in the country and the Southeast in particular?
I know security is one of the perennial problems we have in Africa today and Nigeria as a country. This problem has been there for decades ago. It’s not a new issue. It has been a recurring decimal in Nigeria. To a large extent, you have to understand what are the immediate and remote causes of insecurity in the nation. You can trace it back from the First Republic. There has been ethnic and religious clashes that lead to insecurity. There is also poverty-related problems that can lead to insecurity. So, you need to go to the root cause of the problem. Do a proper analysis and you begin to tackle it from there. The issue of tribal clashes can be solved through what I call national re-integration, trying to build bridges across some water, let people understand one another even when you have inter-tribal issues you go to a round table and resolve it. On the issue of religion, there must be religious tolerance in this country. One of the things I believe that can solve it is to call religious leaders and then have a riot act and get them engaged to sign a pact with the government to be a kind of working document. In any violation to that you know the people you hold responsible. That is as it affects religious crises in the country. Then the most worrisome is the problem of hunger and deprivation in the system. When the system is not functioning very well, it creates imbalances that result in high rate of crime within the society. That one can also be looked at through tackling that aspect with job creation to make sure that people are gainfully employed. Then if you look at the blueprint, it is self explanatory. These are the ways through which hunger can be tackled as a major problem in this country particularly as it affects Anambra State and beyond. So, I believe that it can be solved through job creation. You know what Chief Michael Okpala, the first premier of Eastern Nigeria did? He created a lot of farm settlements in the region and then there was food for all and at the same time he created employment for a lot of the unemployed population. We need to get a similar situation. Once you create job you reduce the level of unemployment. They can now be narrowed down to a manageable prism of insecurity which you know cannot be completely eradicated. It can also be tackled through communication. When you go to a developed nation, for example, Europe and America, they have the same law we have in Nigeria here. But the problem we have here is whereas over there, they enforce their laws and execute it to the letter; over here the reverse is the case. Corruption comes to act. So, I believe that we also are going to enhance the status and there is need for a better remuneration for our security agencies, the police, the army and para-military agencies. Their job should be made lucrative, give them enough protection, give them assurance. You see most of the time what happens when a police or army officer dies. Immediately after death they are forgotten. There is need for a good welfare package for the police, the military and para-military agencies. You must have a way to interface with the authorities to make sure you create an enabling environment to support their work and that can be replicated at the national level to make it holistic. So, these are the areas. Certainly, the particular issue of solving crime is through implementations of the law. For example, people who are culpable, you get them arrested, prosecuted and convicted. Another one is also through communication. In America and United Kingdom, they don’t have burgled protectors as we have here. Once there is a crime the camera will pick you. If you commit a traffic offence, for instance, the camera will pick you and you don’t need a police officer to chase you around. The necessary steps will be taken having been picked by the camera and the law will take its course. You can lose your license and if you don’t have license, you cannot drive because the cost is so high. So, if we can implement our laws in line with modern technology automatically, it will reduce crime. With CCTV and all that crime can be drastically reduced with the right application. When you make crime very expensive and unprofitable venture for the criminals, they begin to think right and know that it’s not a venture for the boys. So, you need to create that enabling environment through which these things can be perfectly handled, making gadgets available and all these things. That will help us to reduce crime and criminalities, even though we all know that crime cannot be eradicated completely in society. But it can be reduced to the barest minimum. These are the holistic angles they can be tackled.
Are the governors of the Southeast doing what they should do security-wise to save lives and property in the zone?
Well, I don’t intend to sound judgmental as far as this case is concerned because the issue of whether they are doing well cannot be determined holistically. But if you look at them individually, state by state you can begin to appraise an individual governor according to security challenges within his own domain. But I think the most important thing is that we shall look at it nationally. Security problem is a perennial problem and recurring decimal. Use Anambra as an instance. We have seen the resurgence of crime in Anambra now. But prevention or control is not what you start today and it will stop automatically. It has to be a continuous process. So, you can have ups and downs. I believe that the situation in Anambra at present is very worrisome. We see situation of kidnapping coming back. Even not long ago a governorship aspirant was kidnapped and subsequently released. I believe that there is need to do more in order to bring these things to the barest minimum and that is the essence of our quest coming out to govern Anambra State to change the situation for better because we believe there are certain things we can do to be able to solve the problem to a manageable proportion. Let me tell you, security is a major issue and is one of the cardinal points. Every government owes the citizens a duty to tackle that. If that cannot be done, then there is a big question mark regarding that particular government. So, my take to it is that as it stands now, I believe something can still be done to improve the situation. That’s why we have come out.
Can you comment on the military engagement with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) at Orlu, Imo State?
Well, I’m not conversant with the facts. I will get the facts, analyze them and possibly be in a position to comment on the incident. But my take is that there is every need for us to have peaceful co-existence. We don’t have any other country except Nigeria and we have no other state except Anambra. So, what you are talking about happened in Imo State. I will comment when I got my facts right.
Is it not right to grant amnesty to IPOB?
Ehmm, I believe in amnesty, but amnesty is one aspect while another thing is to get to the root cause of the problem. There are certain problems that can be solved through dialogue. The essence of amnesty is through dialogue. If people can have a change of heart then in the course of that change of heart there is what I call a kind of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the government and a particular group. In addition to that, you know there are rules and regulations guiding every society. You can now say what about people offended in the past; will the law take its course? That is where amnesty will come to say okay let bygone be bygone. Amnesty is not the end of the road. It is better to solve the problem constructively. For instance, the issue of Boko Haram has been a perennial problem. It has been there from one administration to another. Before you give somebody amnesty you make sure that the person believes that what he is doing or has done is wrong. But if you don’t do the needful and jump into amnesty, that will be wrong. Can you give amnesty to an armed robber without first and foremost getting him to repent to understand that crime is not good. It is only when you have remorse that the government can now say okay I have forgiven you and you will be reintegrated into the system. The issue is constructive engagement before amnesty, if necessary. I also believe that the issue of IPOB also calls for constructive engagement so that the government can interface with them. It is not only IPOB. Every group we have in this country, including Fulani herdsmen. It is constructive engagement that will solve the problem, talk to them and when the government gets them to know that what they are doing is wrong they begin to leave it and they can now be forgiven by the government through amnesty.
Since poverty and unemployment are among the major things that cause people getting involved in crime, if you become the governor of Anambra how many jobs will you create as soon as you assume office?
Well, the issue of how many jobs, I cannot give you a statistical data, but I can give you a percentage ratio. I know that unemployment is at an alarming proportion in the nation. So, if I’m the governor of Anambra State today, the areas I will intend to tackle are unemployment through job creation in agriculture. The agricultural sector remains underdeveloped. The emergence of oil into the economy of this country has ruined the nation beyond redemption to the extent that we jettison agriculture in our society. So, today, I hope to replicate what Dr Michael Okpara, the first premier of Eastern Region, did in the ‘60s. In his own time he created farm settlements at Igbariam in Anambra State, the same in Imo State, farm plantation, rubber plantation and so on. He was able to turn the economy of the Eastern Region as the fastest growing economy in Nigeria and the whole world. So, with agriculture job creation can be taken care of by over 50 per cent. Mechanized system and use of co-operative society can conveniently solve that. Massive engagement in agriculture is key to solving this problem. Our industries have disappeared because of structural defects. No adequate power supply. You now discover that most of these industries depend on diesel to power their heavy generators in order to produce. And by the time they finish, how could they meet up with minimum cost of production to make profit. They are frustrated. But we are going to revive those industries. We will provide the enabling environment and provide energy. We have gas in Anambra. We have gas at Amansea, we have it in Anambra North, Ogbaru and other places in the state. We will partner with some international agencies to develop these natural resources, lay pipelines to explore and produce them for our industries, reticulate it to Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka with spur to other areas. This will lead to industrial revolution in the state. Old ones will be revived and new ones will spring up, then a lot of job opportunities will be created which will lead to a drastic reduction in crime. These are some of the things I’m coming to do in Anambra State as a governor. There are lots and lots of other programmes that will be put in place for the benefit of our people when I get to the Government House, Awka. This is not a campaign because I know there will be time for that. When that time comes, I will release in fullness what I intend to do to salvage Anambra State as a governor.