The Nigerian public is expecting the 12th Biennial Police Games, which will start on Saturday, February 29, to be the best ever. Why? The event is holding in Anambra State! The state has in the last few years become synonymous with excellence because it has emerged the most competitive in the whole federation. The state is now leading the country in various areas, including, of course, security and social harmony.
Over 5,000 police officers are taking part in the 12th biennial games, which will last one week. The ceremonies will kick off at Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka. Different games will hold in such places as Otuocha Stadium in Anambra East Local Government Area, though the majority will be at Rojenny Holiday Resort and Games Village, Oba, in Idemili South Local Government Area, which is a stone’s throw from Onitsha.
The police force has contributed immensely to national sports development, but for some reason the contribution is not always acknowledged. Chioma Ajunwa, who in 1996 emerged the first Nigerian Olympic gold medalist, was a police inspector who has now risen to the rank of chief superintendent of police and is commanding a key division in Lagos State. The late Sunday Bada, who won a silver medal, which has now been upgraded to gold at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 because the original winners of the 4 by 4 race tested positive to a banned substance, was a policeman. Esene Ikpoto, who represented Nigeria at different prestigious competitions, including the Olympic Games held in Christchurch, New Zealand, is a police officer.
Why are the police holding the 12th biennial games in Anambra State? After all, the state is reputed for excellence in fields like education, agriculture, manufacturing, technology, security and entrepreneurship, but not sports. It would seem many Nigerians often forget that some of the best sportsmen and women ever from Nigeria are Anambra indigenes. Take Mary Onyali, an Olympic medalist. Take Innocent Ejima Egbunike, another Olympic medalist. Or Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna, the first Nigerian to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games. How about Emmanuel Okala, Nigeria’s greatest goalkeeper? Or Power Mike Okpala, the undefeated world heavyweight wrestling champion? Who can ever forget Ben Lionheart Okpala, the African heavyweight wrestling champion? Or Ngozika Ekwelum, the national boxing champion? No one can forget that Christ the King College, Onitsha, made history in 1977 when it became the first secondary school in Africa to win the World Secondary School Football Competition held in Ireland.
Let us repeat an obvious fact: even if Anambra State did not have a longstanding robust record in sports, the police authorities would have gone out of their way to make the state government a partner in the 12th Biennial Police Games by hosting the games. The reason is simple: the Nigeria Police Force cannot possibly ask for a better partner in preventing and fighting crime than the present Governor Willie Obiano administration. The police will remain grateful to Governor Obiano for many years to come.
Anambra did not emerge Nigeria’s safest state overnight. Plenty of solid thinking, planning and resources went into the current excellent security architecture. For instance, last October 11, Anambra became the first place in Africa to have the super smart Mobile Surveillance System (MSS) from the Cambridge Innovation Centre in Massachusetts, United States, the latest technology in fighting sophisticated crime, which was used to detect the Marathon Bombers in Boston in 2013. At the launch of Operation Kpochapu 2 in Awka, where the MSS was unveiled on October 11, Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu admitted that he was expecting something big when he was coming to the state but nothing on the grand scale he was seeing.
Watching the armada of 111 state-of-the-art security vehicles plus three Durapatcher vehicles from the United States, Deputy Police Commissioner Frank Mbah, the brilliant head of the public relations team at the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, who could not control his emotions, began to scream: “I am proud to come from the South-East. What we all are seeing here is dazzling! Thanks to the Anambra people and their governor for assisting the police to keep the nation safe and happy in a most impressive way.”
But Governor Obiano was not yet done. Two months later, he presented 40 vehicles to intelligence and security agencies in the state as well as the Anambra State Fire Service. This was in fulfillment of his pledge on Thursday, March 29, 2018, when he gave out 60 patrol vans to the security community in the state to increase the number to 100. The IGP was on this occasion represented by the then Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Val Ntomchukwu.
As Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, Nigeria’s foremost female civil society activist and leader of the Centre for Change chaired by Wole Soyinka, remarked on Monday, February 17, while presenting an award of security excellence to Obiano, the only government official in the country to be honoured by her centre, all states in Nigeria and the Federal Government should come to Anambra to learn security administration. She added that Anambra’s excellent security nexus was responsible for some $5 billion in investments in the state in the last five years.
Mrs. Odumakin’s advice should be taken seriously. Not because she is the only West African to be honoured in the last 10 years in both the White House and Department of State in Washington, DC, at the highest levels for her democracy and human rights activism. Anyone who has been to states like Zamfara and Katsina where governors, in the presence of police commissioners and army generals, plead in public with bandits to stop terrorising the people can appreciate Gov. Obiano’s foresight in providing his people with the best security arrangement in West and Central Africa. Rather than allow Anambra to remain an oasis of safety and security in the country, the Federal Government should work in collaboration with other states to replicate the Anambra magic all over the federation.
Meanwhile, the police leadership deserves kudos for choosing to hold the 12th Police Biennial Games in Anambra, Nigeria’s safest state and the most friendly state to the police and other security agencies in the country. God bless Anambra State, the Light of the Nation.
•Adinuba is Commissioner for Information and Public
Enlightenment, Anambra State