Enugu State, once again, lived up to its rating as one of the most secure and peaceful states in the federation during the yuletide.
The constitution expressly provides that the security of lives and properties of citizens and their welfare shall be the primary object of government and the incumbent administration in Enugu State never shirked this responsibility from the outset. Not only did it commit Enugu into the hands of God at the outset, the Governor, in his 29th May 2015 inaugural address, committed to employment generation, enhanced social services and good governance, rural development, security, and justice. He committed to the deployment of government services to create fair and equal opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, educate their children, and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment.
Walking the talk, the administration has continued to invest heavily in security of lives and property, building synergy with various security agencies, providing massive logistical supports to them, launched the Enugu State Security/Neighbourhood Watch Endowment Fund, and inaugurated Neighbourhood Watch associations to operate in our communities under the supervision of the federal security agencies in keeping with extant laws. Little wonder Enugu was not only continually rated by various organisations, security experts, and heads of various national security agencies as a high-flying state in terms of security.
Continuing on the same trajectory, the Governor, would not relent in the second term of the administration. Said he at his second inauguration on 29th May 2019: “Security remains our utmost priority. We will continue to invest state energies and resources to improve security in Enugu State. The Neighbourhood Watch will remain an important component of the State’s security architecture. We will continue to vet, train, retrain, retool, and rejig them to boost their capacity and effectively address their local peculiarities”.
However, as though to test the resolve of the administration and dent its security credentials, daredevil criminals had embarked on random kidnappings and isolated violent crimes mid 2019. Expectedly, the naysayers would cash in on the rather surprising spike in criminalities to attempt to run down the administration. But the rapid response of the administration was enough warning that Enugu was not ready to lose an inch of its place as a state secure in the hands of God. Marathon meetings with security agencies and key stakeholders like council chairmen, traditional and religious leaders, town unions, resulting in the introduction of additional security measures such as air surveillance, additional joint patrols of security services, joint service checkpoints, and investment in intelligence, soon brought the situation under firm control.
Also notable is the fact that the Governor personally led operations into the thick forests, tunnels, caves, and hills used as criminal hideouts and launch pads around Ihe, Agbogugu, Ogugu, Agbudu, Ogbaku, and Isu-Awaa axis, ensuring also that the forest covers were cleared.
To further improve security in the State, the administration not only increased the number of the Neighbourhood Watch personnel to 5,200, but also introduced monthly stipends and additional training to boost their morale and effectiveness. The State also blazed the trail in the recruitment and deployment of 1,700 Forest Guards in line with the resolution of South East Governors Forum. These were vetted and recruited by the Department of State Security, while the Neighbourhood Watch and Forest Guards are also trained by federal security agencies.
The logic behind the forest guards is simple: Since criminals have resorted to plying their trades and launching attacks from the forests, the war against them must be taken to the forests. The introduction of Forest Guards was particularly applauded for the obvious reason that their presence in the forests would help to reassure the farmers and make the forests inhabitable for criminals.
Commending this novel move, a Political Economist, broadcaster, and presenter of Political Platform on Raypower Radio, Dr. Amechi Anakwue had described the Forest Guards as “a good example of thinking out of the box, which others should emulate”, noting that “Unlike in other places where nothing changes after the wailing over killing, the Governor of Enugu State has excelled in additional security measures and this is the only hope that things will change because you cant keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result”.
On its part, the Enugu State chapter of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), in a statement by the Chairman, Hon. Adonys Igwe, and the Secretary, Chief Cesar Mbaonu, said that the introduction of forest guards showed that the “governor is highly determined and committed to nipping in the bud the monstrous activities of these hoodlums, who are terrorising our people, especially in the rural communities”.
With these measures, in addition to added logistical supports such as 260 patrol vehicles and 260 motorcycles, communication gadgets for optimum performance as well as 100 units of Innoson Motors patrol vans for use by the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Force and Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, among others, it is not surprising that Enugu enjoyed a hitch-free and incident-free Christmas and New Year holidays. Nightlife was also at its best as indigenes of Enugu and defunct Eastern Region flocked the State to pamper themselves and unwind after their yearlong hustles.
If truly investments go mostly to where there is security of lives and properties, then it is unarguable that the State’s ever-increasing profile in the security of lives and properties would also continue to rub off on its economy, sustaining it as the investment destination and tourism hub East of the Niger and the nation as a whole.
As a forward-thinking government, the Enugu State government is expectedly investing huge resources in the Hotel Presidential, Nike Lake Resort Hotel, and the Completion of the ultra modern Conference Centre in the 2019 budget of Enugu State to absorb the rising investment and tourism pressure on the State. This is leadership. This is delivering on promise beyond rhetoric and this is a time to be proudly Enugu.