How Obiano Won the War against Crimes
David-Chyddy Eleke looks at the measures taken by the Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano, to change a state that was almost a postcard for violence, to one now reckoned with by investors
Just months into his swearing in as Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano convened a security summit, in which he flew in an Israeli security expert, Morshe Kennan. The summit had representatives of all security agencies in the state in attendance. The agenda was to come out with measures to flush out all criminal elements in the state, and ensure safety of all residents of the entire state.
Close to four years of his administration, security has become one of the biggest achievements of the governor. The security summit gave birth to the formation of ‘Operation Kpochapu’, and Igbo word which in English means ‘clean up’ and was geared at cleaning up the state of all unwanted persons who have been committing crimes in the state.
The Operation Kpochapu team comprises of all security agencies in the state, including the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Nigerian Customs Services and even the vigilante, among others. Their mandate was to fish out drug barons, armed robbers, kidnappers and even petty thieves and all who engage in any activity considered not to be in the positive interest of the state.
This mission paid off greatly, and the song on the lips of many Anambra residents is that the governor has become the new messiah who has managed to keep the state safe, and devoid of the brazen robberies witnessed in the state previously, as well as the kind of daylight kidnaps which the state was almost synonymous with then.
Later, it dawned on the governor that as the armed robbers left Anambra, they took refuge in neighbouring states in the south-east and also in neighbouring Delta State. Apart from the threat robbers operating from these states posed to Anambra, Obiano thought this to be detrimental to the growth of such states, hence the need to convene a security conference for all the south-east states and Delta State, and get them to replicate what he is doing in Anambra by selling some of his strategies to them.
This culminated in the South-East, Delta States’ security conference of 2015 with the theme; Security; bedrock for governance held at the Anambra State governor’s lodge with several personalities including five governors in attendance. The conference kicked off with host governor, Obiano welcoming guests and stating that years of successive robbery had driven investors away from the south-east zone, and left constituted authorities looking helplessly. He said the time had come for all the participating states to toe the line of Anambra. This, he said explained the need to bring the states together and set a common agenda.
Obiano at the conference said, “We are here to ask how long we shall continue to fall to the barrel of the gun, pointed at us by our own people? Our ability to answer that question will determine how well we will live. Here in Anambra State, we have done what we should do by fighting criminals to a standstill. By doing so, we have secured the state and investors are happier coming here. We have attracted 2.4billion US dollars investments, and we have experienced liberty here, but our freedom will remain incomplete if the criminals we drive away here will find refuge in other states in the region.”
The visiting governors, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and Prof Benard Odoh, the Secretary to Ebonyi State government who represented Governor Dave Umahi all took time to appreciate their host governor and his thoughtfulness in convening the conference. They, speaking individually, agreed that security was the bed rock of good governance, and must be gotten right.
Two years after the conference, Anambra under Obiano is known to be one of the most peaceful states, as the kind of brazen criminality being witnessed in other states is almost inexistent in Anambra today. Security has become the most visible achievement of the Anambra State government, just as the hitherto inexistent night life has arrived, and new investments springing up in diverse places.
During a recent conference of the National Association of Law Teachers (NALT), a delighted Obiano said the state had achieved security using the law, while also advising the federal government to toe the same line to be able to provide security in the country. He told Acting President Yemi Osinbajo who was honoured by the association that, “Anambra is highly regarded as the safest state in Nigeria today. Anyone who is familiar with the Anambra narrative would remember that for decades, our beloved state was held down by lawlessness and insecurity which made all efforts at meaningful development impossible. At a point, Anambra could almost pass for a postcard for disorder and insecurity. But our story has changed in just three years. We have made rapid progress from being an address for lawlessness to an oasis of peace and a destination for wise investors.
“The very fact that this prestigious association choose to host the golden anniversary edition of its annual conference in Awka underscores the importance of what we have achieved in securing Anambra State. The idea of holding this conference in this state would have been inconceivable in the past. But we have changed our story, and we did it with the law. If we can do it, then Nigeria can do it even better,” Obiano said.
Security agencies in the state have also been testifying to the support they have received from the Obiano administration to ensure that they are up to the task of in the discharge of their duties. Former commissioner of police in the state, Mr Sam Okaula who recently proceeded on retirement had, in a press interview praised the Anambra State governor for acceding to the request of the command by procuring working aides for them to work with. Okaula said the successes recorded by the police in fighting crime was as a result of the support of the governor whom he said had not relented in his support to them.
The governor, had early in his administration procured over 100 security cars fitted with speed detector, speed gun and alcohol detector and other security gadgets for the police. He also donated other security gadgets which include walkie-talkie among others. Recently too, he also donated motorbikes to the command. The new commissioner of police, Mr Baba Umar while briefing journalists to announce his assumption of office said his predecessor, Okaula had briefed him of the governor’s support to the command, and the level of security so far achieved, while also pledging that he would work had to ensure that the same level of peace was maintained, and even more.
Featuring in an interview on Anambra Scorecard, Mr Stanley Uzochukwu, an investor and owner of Stanel World, a 24 hours one-stop shop consisting of fuel station, eatery, farmers market and car maintenance centre among others said he decided to bring home part of his investment having assessed the security in the state and found it good for investment. Uzochukwu praised Obiano for the secured environment in Anambra State, saying that he believed in the governor’s campaign for indigenes of the state to think home in looking for investment destinations.
Security has become the most visible achievement of the Anambra State government, just as the hitherto inexistent night life has arrived, and new investments springing up in diverse places.