By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha has advised the incumbent Governor of the State, Hope Uzodinma to tow the path of consultation rather than confrontation in solving the security challenges in the State.
Okorocha, who is now a serving Senator said despite the challenges of IPOB and other agitators during his tenure as Governor, he was able to keep the State peaceful because he consulted widely with relevant stakeholders.
Speaking at Kuru, Jos South local government area of Plateau State while on a condolence visit to the family of late Mrs. Felicia Biskanga, the Senator emphasized that except justice is allowed and poverty stamped out, the workload on the military and the Police Force would yield little or no results.
His words, “I came to Jos for the burial of Mrs. Felicia Biskanga who was a very close family friend because she saw me growing up here in Plateau State.
“She encouraged me a whole lot during my days of struggle especially when I opened St. Joseph Primary School, Vom here in Plateau State. I recall the encouragement she gave me, how she had to go to Ministry of Education to help me sort out some document issues, her demise is really painful to me.
“The security situation in Imo State, the security situation in Nigeria as a whole, the security situation in all nooks and crannies of our society is not palatable. We are passing through a very difficult moment in the history of our nation.
“The recent attack on the Police headquarters and the Correctional centre in Imo State, the unending herdsmen crises, the banditry, the unending Boko Haram, kidnapping, these are all products of poverty and injustice and I think time has come for we political leaders to tell ourselves the truth and address this ugly situation and help our men and women of the Armed Forces and the Police who are currently fighting the symptoms and not the disease of poverty and injustice.”
Speaking further, he added, “…While I call for peace, I call for understanding, we have a duty as leaders to correct these ugly issues of injustices and poverty which is ravaging the country. During my time as a governor, Imo State was very peaceful and this security issues, agitations were on.
“Even IPOB seemed to have been very strong during my own time, they were ready to engage government but we applied wisdom in the sense that we talked with the traditional rulers, the youth leaders and made them to see reasons.
“That is the way to go, engaging them with issues but this idea of bringing in Airforce, army as a first measure, whoever is saying politicians are involved is trying to politicize the whole thing. I don’t think that any sane politician will go and ask youths to shoot at the Police headquarters and all that.”
He however advised, “What I will ask Imo State government to do is the location of the prison is wrong and the Police headquarters is wrong and I had built the best prison or Correctional centre command, I built the best police command in the federal republic of Nigeria but they left them there to lie waste, they are not being used.
“If people were there, these people wouldn’t have had that kind of access, it has a large expanse of land, staff quarters, the capacity for inmates there is 3,200 as against the one where they are which has about 1,200 where they squeeze 10 in a place.
“My message to him is that he should face the challenge of leadership and consultation at this time is very important because if the governor consulted me and said how did you handle IPOB during your time that there was peace in Imo State, how did you handle the issue of kidnapping, how did you handle the issue of agitators? I would have told him.”
“During my time, we collected more than a 100 AK47 rifles from the youths who came for exchange willingly just by talking to them. We must always understand that these children are our children.
“We are overloading the military and the police in trying to help the situation when we have not tackled the issues of injustices in this country and the issues of poverty.
“As long as these continue in the form and shape it is going on, and as long as young men wake up in the morning and there is no job and poverty ravaging the system, there is little or nothing the armed forces can do because it is a growing thing. The young men are coming out of schools, they are not getting jobs, we must address that.”