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Imo State Government and The Fight Against Insecurity — By Kenneth Uwadi

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The Governor of Imo State Hope Uzodimma on Sunday handed over eleven refurbished Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and 32 operations vehicles to the Police command in the state to assist them fight insecurity. This is not bad. The attainment of a peaceful and secure environment is a precursor to economic growth and development as investors and entrepreneurs require an enabling environment to reap returns on their investments.

Policing as a concept is not the business of the Nigeria Police alone, but the cooperation with other institutions and agencies, as they play a crucial role in public safety. Everyone has a stake in ensuring security and peaceful co-existence in the state . This can only be achieved through a whole-of-government and a whole-of-society approach.

Efforts made at improving the capability of the Nigeria Police in prevention and detection of crime, preservation of law and order, apprehension and prosecution of offenders, enforcement of all laws and protection of life and property are welcomed.

While I commend Uzodinma for trying to improve the capabilities of the police in fighting crimes in the state, we should know that equipping the police is not the only solution to insecurity in the state. What are the other efforts of the government in proffering solutions to insecurity?.

I still remember the musician Lucky Dube. Dube had a larger than life image and meant different things to many people. He was a constant audience toast wherever he performed personally or his music was played. It became necessary for Dube to sing “they won’t build schools anymore; all they will build will be prison, prison”.

Equiping the police to fight crimes without making efforts to tackle the root cause of insecurity is what Lucky Dube was singing. Deterioration of governance and democratic accountability is one of the causes of insecurity in the state. Poor governance has produced unemployment and poverty, ineffective policing and weak criminal justice system.

Governor Uzodinma has performed poorly in wealth creation and job creation. With no local government system in place in Imo for five years, our LGA’s lacked the effective security the council areas would have provided.

What is the government doing about education in the state? Education is the bedrock of any society that wants to leap into future greatness. This is because education breeds an enlightened citizenry with bright ideas to develop the state and create self-empowerment in order to increase the growth and development of the economy. Thus, free and compulsory education is important to address the challenge of lack of universal basic education. What happened to free education in the state?

The education sector in Imo is completely in rot, underfunded as dry laboratories; rotten classrooms; poor conditions of learning in schools; are the order of the day. The handwriting on the wall today is clear that the Uzodinma’s government toed the path of austerity policies. Schools in Imo today cannot afford to provide ordinary chalks and printed examination questions for its schools. The government deliberately underfunded public schools in Imo. Public resources that were in the past budgeted for social amenities have now become fair games for treasury looters and corrupt politicians.

Imo State is facing high rates of crime. It can be argued that indices such as high rates of unemployment and poverty are factors that promote incidences of crime and insecurity. Unemployment and poverty rate in Imo are high. What is the government doing about unemployment and poverty? The zones with the highest cases of unemployment are also recording the highest cases of insecurity.

One solution to the current insecurity in Imo is the creation of employment and reduction of poverty at various levels. Where are the jobs in the State? Even our LGA’s that should have produced jobs are in comatose.

Efforts at creating jobs should be done in order to reduce the rate of poverty. A reduction in poverty rates will reduce the ‘pull factors’ that lead youths into violent crimes.

What are the efforts of the state government on effective control of small arms and light weapons in the state? The proliferation of small arms and light weapons is one of the major enablers of security challenges currently facing Nigeria. The trafficking and wide availability of these weapons fuel communal conflict, political instability and pose a threat to security and sustainable development. A successful resolution of the problem of small and light weapons requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying factors creating the demand. An effective approach requires coordinated and sustained legislative, administrative and judicial strategies that will address the factors encouraging demand for arms.

Without doubt, Uzodinma and his APC are responsible for the current insecurity in the state. Their choice of harsh neo-liberal, anti-poor and pro-capitalist policies are the reasons we are in this mess today.

The living standards have fallen drastically as the majority of the citizens cannot meet basic needs. Social services like education and healthcare have been priced out of the reach of the majority, while where they are available at all, the quality is poor. This has meant that a significant proportion of the income of the working people and poor goes to paying for these services that should ordinarily be social, goods provided and adequately funded by the government. This coupled with lack of opportunity for the majority of young people in terms of jobs and ability to fend for themselves has led people to seek desperate means to meet basic needs of life. Save us oh God.

-Kenneth Uwadi lives in Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State, Nigeria and can be reached via 08037982714

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