Abia still the safest state in Nigeria
Recent high profile kidnappings and security threats in other parts of the federation as evidenced in Boko Haram, political/communal violence and extremism, the Niger Delta, maritime security and transnational crime, when put together tends to pose a serious threat to Nigeria's viability as a nation.
As we wonder, who is going to be the next victim? it is poignant to fashion out appropriate responses to confront these challenges given the success of the Abia security template; a multi faceted strategy which targeted body snatchers, bandits and perpetrators of violence in a way that did not inflict civilian casualties or collateral damage to human rights. We believe that it needs to be embraced as a veritable architecture of a national security format for sustainable peace.
Recall that in 2009, in response to the national malaise of kidnapping, robbery, banditry and urban terrorism which spilled over to Abia from neighbouring states, His Excellency, Governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji mapped out an inimitable and well thought out security blueprint to confront the menace that was almost spiralling out of control.
Enyimba city experienced a near holocaust as foreign and local businesses fled the towns and relocated to other climes. The circle of poverty and unemployment grew larger in the land. For close to three years, Abia citizens lived in fear of kidnappers, as people went into hiding.
In spite of all the odds, governor Ochendo engaged the services of indefatigable and hard boiled veterans, in counter insurgency methods, weapons and tactics, to firm up game plans that restored Abia back to its primordial and unassailable domain of safety. This feat recently earned him the accolade of the best security conscious governor by Africa's dominant security watchdog SECURITY WATCH in Accra, Ghana.
This achievement did not come as a fluke but through an integrated approach of security framework that focused on maximum policing, military force, improvement of the welfare of citizens, application of judicial and correctional measures, application of the rule of law andcollective participation of the stakeholders in issues of conflicts, he was able to restore peace and sustainable security in Abia.
Reduced to brass tacks, the logic of Ochendo template was threaded through these methodologies. First he re-united the divided political elites of the state, both within and outside and renewed their confidence and trust in Government. He insisted on inclusion of all citizens in the affairs of the state, based on equity in the sharing of State legacies, devoid of interventions of godfathers.
Dr TA Orji then adopted dialogue as a security approach, by engaging kidnappers and all those involved in criminal violence and called for the trading of kidnappers' weapons in exchange for money, and eventual amnesty, re-training and re-integration into the society.
Ochendo collaborated with all stake-holders in the society, including traditional rulers, religious organizations, active youth groups, the police, the military and other security agencies, through the sharing of intelligence information, and monetary rewards for information leading to arrest of kidnappers and violent criminals.
Furthermore, he embarked on inter-state collaboration in the monitoring and tracking of kidnappers and other criminals, with the aim of isolating them, for apprehension and legal prosecution.
He went on to apply social reform in the to check gun production ad weapon running, popular in some areas, and assisted them to find other areas of gainful employment and embarked on massive developmental projects that targeted the youths for self employment, and creation of recreational facilities to engage them to re-invent their energies.
When the need arose for an iron fist approach the governor, adopted the collective use of Federal military force in dealing with an unacceptable security threat especially when 15 innocent and vulnerable pupils of Abayi International School in Aba, were kidnapped. A decisive attack on all the known dens of kidnappers and violent criminals, was launched successfully, capturing many of them, while the most notorious kingpin 'Osisi ka'nkwu', died in the process.
Ochendo's administration directly contributed and is still funding the Nigerian Police in the state, by providing equipment and logistic supports in vehicles and other movements. These have contributed to the maximum policing of our State and improved joint surveillance of both police and military detachments.
We are proud to say that both local and foreign investors have returned to our state, and economic activities, including night life and hospitality industries are now booming in AbiaState commercial cities, which were dreaded areas in the past. Today, and for close to three years, Abia State is ranked as the safest state in Nigeria as it now rewarded as the fastest growing economy in Nigeria, with growing internal and external inflow of investments. The confidence has been renewed in the belief that peace and security must necessarily precede, and re-inforces sustainable development of any entity.
Today, and for close to three years, Abia State is ranked as the safest state in Nigeria as it now rewarded as the fastest growing economy in Nigeria, with growing internal and externalinflow of investments. The confidence has been renewed in the belief that peace and security must necessarily precede, and re-in forces sustainable development of any entity.
The governor's service delivery to the people of Abia State, especially the youths, has wired them up as the guardian-angels of the new security. He continues to work hard in stream-lining and refining the politics of the state, into a merit based standards, where all citizens can aspire to the highest positions in the state, without mortgaging their conscience to godfathers' support.
The merit based system in the state has marked it out as the pillars of support for democracy and security in Nigeria, and attracted support of all stakeholders of the PDP. Today, Abiastate is the number one safest state in Nigeria, a complete 360 degrees turnaround from three years ago.
•Chinyemike Torti is a public policy analyst and management consultant.