WHENEVER the Christmas season approaches, the Igbos naturally look forward to it with great enthusiasm.
It is not just a time to travel home to be with the extended family members , but it also serves as the period to interact, organise community programmes and end of year parties and generally be at peace with one another.
But unfortunately, in the past few years, the fear of kidnappers and armed robbers and their cohorts, had haunted our society that most Igbos do not think it is safe and wise to travel home for the Yuletide.
However, last Christmas and New Year celebrations in AnambraState, for instance, were quite remarkable for Anambrarians. Based on newspaper reports and the testimonies of some who travelled, AnambraState was very save and conducive for the celebrations.
Those who were home for the first time in many years actually found time to savour the beauty and joy of Christmas because not only that security was in place, the government of Peter Obi was equal to the task.
With the dismantling of the kidnapping gangs and kingpins in the state, Governor Obi has shown that with the necessary political will, a good leader can set an enviable precedence for others to follow.
Before now, a gang of kidnappers led by Ofeakwu, a native of Oraifife in Ekwusigo Local government area of the state had held the whole state hostage. Ofeakwu’s exploits and those of his gangs were so grave and daring, that the governor quickly mustered forces with security agencies to go after them. His action was so decisive and swift that it took all by surprise.
The governor made it clear to the people of the state and indeed the nation that for one to fight criminals as organised and as rich as the kidnappers, the first thing to do is cripple and dislodge their economic and financial base.
This was what Peter Obi did and for the first time in the history of the state, bulldozers and caterpillars went to remote villages and towns pulling down houses built by criminals with blood and ill-gotten money.
This action has indeed led to the peaceful atmosphere that exists in the state today. If you want to catch a thief, like it is usually said in Igbo land, you have to be smarter than the thief. And if you can successfully puncture his ego and source of wealth and cage those who are behind him, the rest is history.
This was what happened all over the state when the government began to go from town to town based on security reports and information to fish out the criminals and chase themout of their hiding place. This approach shows that no single person or group of persons can be stronger than the state.
Obi must have taken a lesson or two from the tactics employed by former president of Brazil, Lula Da-Silva. When Da-Silva took over as the first democratically elected president in the history of Brazil in many years, the economy was in shambles.
Da-Silva went to work. He promised the people that he would cripple the economic powers of their generals who had impoverished the system for far too long.
As a political hawk and a no-nonsense leader, Da-Silva truly stepped on toes, very huge toes for that matter in the process of sanitizing the system. Many people kicked, while others attacked him, threatening to unleash terror on him for daring to go where angels feared to tread. But Da-Silva remained undaunted.
By the time he left office three years ago, Brazil had become the 6th largest economy in the world. All it takes to make a system work for the good of the populace is just the application of the necessary political will.
This is what Obi has done, but he needs to do more. He needs to go after the so-called untouchables and bigwigs in the state. Those super-rich people who are really the ones sponsoring crime and gaining from the socio-political and economic turbulence that prevail in the state, need to be taught a lesson.
No one can say exactly who these people are or where they get their money from which enable them to continue to torment the state.
However, Obi can equally rely on the same tactics he has been employing so far or something more superior to hoodwink these people. He has to find them wherever they are, uproot them so as to make Anambra totally free from their grip.
It was a good thing that Chief Tobias Okemadu, a prominent community leader in the state could travel home for Christmas for the first time in three years. “I went home due to the assurances given to us by Governor Obi. I must tell you that I didn’t have any regret. I had no reason to fear for my life or those of my household” he said.
In a place like AnambraState, a leader has to have a heart of stone to be able to rule and make the desired impact. Obi has such heart, and that is perhaps why a lot of people have chosen to call him Okwute.Okwute simply means the rock, a man with the heart of a lion.
In this fight to free the state, the people must collaborate with the government to ensure success;to make freedom and peace permeate the society.
Mr. EDOZIE UDEZE, a social critic, wrote from Lagos.