David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
Mr. Nonso Smart Okafor is the youngest legislator representing Nnewi North Constituency in Anambra State House of Assembly on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). In this interview, he takes a critical look at what should be the position of lawmakers in all the five states in the South East over security challenges facing the zone. He said that people of the zone need not copy the Yoruba Amotekun but to come up with a security architecture that would suit the peculiarity and needs of the area.
He talked about the dangers in neglecting youths development and other diverse issues.
What do you think should be the position of Houses of Assembly across South Eastern States over security challenges in the zone?
I think the contribution of the Houses of the Assembly in the Southern Eastern states should be to back up our governors in their determination to make sure that we have adequate security in the South East. Of course, like you mentioned, the Yoruba already have their Amotekun and we should also have our own kind of security arrangement in the South East. It is the duty of the House members to make sure we give it a legislative backing. And we are very much ready to make that happen especially those of us in Anambra State because we believe so much in security.
We believe that without security, nothing will be achieved. The 7thAssembly will do all it can to ensure adequate security because it is paramount. And I believe that our colleagues in other states will also toe that path. If there is any regional security arrangement agreed on, we will make it happen by giving it a legislative backing.
Then again, as lawmakers, we will keep also pushing to make sure that the executive step up the desired security arrangement. So far, so good. But we know that more needs to be done to have a befitting security architecture for the states. And we are determined to have that done.
People observe that there is an influx of Fulanis and other non Igbo into the South East zone and many see that as a security risk. But people in government do not seem to bother about that. Why?
I don’t think that is entirely the case because I know that some days ago, there is a South East security summit in Enugu. And I am sure that one of the key discussions is how to tackle the security challenges in the South East. And we also have a way of protecting ourselves. You know one of the greatest things any people or group of people need to do is to protect themselves against external invasion.
Of course, we know that there is an influx of the Fulani but I also want to believe that it is not every Fulani in the South East that is on a very bad mission. Some of them are here to do their normal businesses even though some of their businesses are not in line with international standard especially the one of cattle hustlers who use their cows to destroy other people’s farms. So, security wise, I don’t think the South East is being carefree about it. I believe the zone is doing the much it can in that regard. At least this security summit is a step in the right direction and I also think there will be a follow-up.
For those of us in the legislature, one of the things we need to do is through motions and all that keep government on their toes and to implement what needs to be implemented security-wise in the South East.
South East governors adopted community policing approach in the last security summit, don’t you think a more pragmatic approach is rather necessary?
You know, there is uniqueness in culture. This is dynamic. Of course, there is no how we can copy exactly what the Yoruba have done. We can make it better, you know. I’m not saying what Yoruba have done is not good. In their own peculiar nature, it is best for them. And I think that, of course, what took place at the Enugu security summit is not a one-off discussion. It is just a starting point; I think that the decisions and resolutions arrived can also be improved upon. I believe people will yet go back, get reactions, get feedbacks and improve upon it. One thing I am sure is that by the time whatever security architecture we are working comes on stream, it will be something very good and worthwhile.
Don’t you think that the security architecture being put in place is supposed to be independent of the police control?
I’m sure that the governors of the South East are trying to be careful not to go against the already existing security agreement in Nigeria. Of course, you know that as at today, officially speaking, that except you change the constitution of Nigeria, you don’t have right to do some kind of policing arrangement. The police is under the Exclusive List; that is, it lies with the Federal Government. So, I believe that one of the things the South East should do, in my own opinion, is to adopt the community policing. This is not just all about using the official police of Nigeria. Community Policing is ideological. It could be where you and I have a way of connecting each other to be able to know that we are on red alert. Villages could have their own vigilante security operatives who are trained and empowered to make sure that the local communities are protected; that is bottom up approach. So, it depends on the implementation or the idea behind it. The letters of the law could call it community policing but the spirit of the law has deeper meaning than that. So, what I believe is in implementation, we could call it community policing, it could even be called community army or whatever nomenclature but the fact remains that at the local level, we could do a bottom up approach instead of having a security arrangement that is centered at the State or at the region. Now, we can have security arrangement that is located and groomed from the villages because people from the villages will know better. For instance, if I see a strange face on this street, I will know that this person does not belong here, not from this community. So, it’s easy for me to mount my suspicion searchlight on him.
So, I think what the South East governors are trying to do or work on could be good depending on the implementation. Let’s not be confused about that nomenclature, community policing. It could be deeper than that or as it appears.