OPINION: 100 days in office: Rethinking Enugu state security architecture and Gov. Ugwuanyi’s timely response

By Prince Ejeh Josh.

The recent wave of insecurity in the country has opened up a new discourse on the need to expedite action towards a total overhauling of the security architecture in Nigeria so as to meet with the reality of our time.

It is no longer debatable that the entire security architecture of the Nigerian State has gone moribund, and begging to be addressed and possibly redressed.

Not a single state was unaffected in this security impasse that has bedeviled the country. While the federal government seems to be evolving means to tame this hydra-headed monster, a number of states are not sleeping on this. They have also come up with concerted efforts, based on each state’s peculiar challenges, to measure weight and perhaps, surmount this unpleasant cancer.

Enugu state, under the sterling leadership of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, is one of those few states that have put in place workable and proactive measures to ensure lasting peace in the state. While the state has come under attacks by suspected herdsmen and kidnappers, the Governor is also working round the clock to see that these menaces are flushed out, and guarantee the security and well-being of the citizens.

Perhaps, a number of tactical measures and operational policies evolved so far by the Ugwuanyi administration would attest to this giant stride. These steps towards achieving a resounding reform in the security circle have been lauded by security observers and analysts who have been watchful of the dimensions insecurity is assuming in the country.

As a way of reassuring the people of Enugu state of his commitment to stamp out criminal elements and their vestiges out of the precinct of the state, the Governor has not only reached out to every community stakeholder(s) and even visited a large portion of the communities that make up the state, he has also put in place feasible measures that have shown a far-reaching audacity of hope for the law-abiding citizens of the state.

Indeed, this has reactivated their confidence in the Governor’s ability and capability to drive the state towards achieving the goals of its founding fathers. These measures, without mincing words, have equally received commendations across the country, more so, when many states are wrangling in quagmire as to go about taming this widespread plague.

What enthused many were the timeous actions taken by the Governor, and how all those kidnapped were rescued. He immediately deployed deterrent measures that would forestall future occurrence. This, to observers, and the people of Enugu state in general, is a welcome development. It’s a right step in the right direction. These marauders and criminal elements, having seen what is on ground, and how uncomfortable the Governor is making the state for them, are now taking to their heels, fleeing elsewhere.

Succinctly looking at the security reforms taken by the Ugwuanyi administration recently, one would not be surprised why the government has been succeeding. The course charted by Ugwuanyi only depicts a masterstroke of a visionary leader. Foremost amongst these reforms and measures were the Security Reform Committee, empowerment and training of the state’s Neighborhood Watch, employment and tactical training of the Forest Guards, and series of meetings held with communities’ stakeholders.

When Governor Ugwuanyi hinted on the urgent need to reform the state’s security architecture, not many believed that such idea would have a far-reaching implication on the way the state would be distinguished from other states since, to them, recent security lapses were nationwide. But to the surprise of doubters, the calibre of personnel drawn by the Governor as chairman and members of the security committee made them to start having a rethink towards a new direction, and many even indicated interest to key into this agenda.

The Governor had drawn men with invaluable wealth of experiences in and outside the security corridor to look into the moribund security structures of the state, decipher their inherent defects, critically analyse security threats as they are now in the country, in the South East shore, in Enugu State and the local government areas of the state with a view to proffering an enduring panacea.

A month was given for the submission of findings and recommendations for this daunting job. It was, however, not surprising that the committee would meet up with the time-frame since the people that constituted the committee were all distinguished as renowned security experts both in the theatre of war, intelligence gathering, investigations and crimes prevention who have worked in and outside the country for security mission, and have also earned their pride of place in Nigeria. They also included security analysts with prerequisite intellectual prowess especially when it has to do with the understanding of our terrain.

Although, security recommendations are mostly shrouded in secrecy and classified, the declassification of this information is basically seen in the manifestation of the implementations of the recommendations by the state and the security agencies. With this lofty measure on board, appointments of virile and competent experts have been made to see to the implementation of the recommendations. For the public, this flow of events should, at best, be regarded as the placement of a round peg in a round hole. What more could be said of a man with zeal and uncommon vision to salvage his people from criminals and give them reasons to smile!

In addition, as a way of curtailing, and possibly, flushing out the movements and activities of criminals in rural areas, the Governor took a decisive step by engaging the services of hundreds of Forest Guards. These Forest Guards, well-trained and equipped, would be working round the clock to make sure that law-abiding citizens would go on doing their normal businesses without fear of intimidation and harassment. Indeed, this project has been variously described as “Operation Make Enugu Safe”.

To me, I think the project transcends the sobriquet to a more phrasal adjective such as “Making Enugu Safer for All”. With this new development, the good people of Enugu State can now go to their work places, till their farmland, and even have their doors ajar without quiver.

The above, coupled with the services of the Neighborhood Watch, have made Enugu State a pace-setting state in functional security architecture and good governance. The Forest Guard would complement the laudable projects of the Neighborhood Watch especially as the state aims at achieving a security synergy amongst all the security agencies operating in the state.

It is quite impressive that these guards were not recruited from the moon. They are part of the system that understand and appreciate the security nature of their communities, the terrain, and are also familiar with most people residing in the communities. This would help to easily identify strange faces and movements within their vicinity.

The Neighborhood Watch has been doing relatively well in fighting and preventing crimes. The only push they need is what the Governor recently supplied them: reinforcement, encouragement, empowerment, commendations and recruitment of guards.

With this audacious determination to deal a fatal blow on criminals, community leaders were mobilised by the state government as it is believed that every community leader is a chief security officer that must make sure that there’s a working synergy and cordial relationship among their people.

Indeed, to achieve a lasting peace and make the environment conducive for living, everybody must be part of the new security architecture. With this, one would readily be convinced that the pragmatic state’s objectives and total overhauling of the security architecture is weaved around the people. This new mechanism places the people as the epicenter of the state security architecture.

This is a new innovation modeled towards what is obtainable in the developed climes with a blend of our local needs. The implication of this gesture entails preempting attacks no matter how coordinated. Information, it is asserted, is power.

This innovative foundation laid by the administration of Governor Ugwuanyi will go a long way in altering the security structures of other states such that the entire South East zone would key into this laudable working policy. The willingness of other states to identify with and assert these measures would not only create a serene environment for the economy to thrive and attract foreign direct investment, it would also measure up with best global practice.

Primarily, it is only an atmosphere of peace that could engage the interest of investors and encourage rapid developments. This is what the Governor is doing; to make Enugu State a smart city and economic hub of the East.

On the final note, the Ugwuanyi administration has fascinated us with his spirit of quality leadership. The investment made thus far especially in the policing system would continue to be remembered as a reference point and landmark achievement for others to emulate.

The conventional security agencies such as the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Army, and Nigeria Civil Defence Corps to mention but a few, in the state have been heavily mobilized by the state government with necessary logistics which include hilux vans, small and large operational vehicles, to crush and conceivably annihilate all criminal activities in and around the environs.

With this timely response, particularly at a time like this, it will be ungrateful of us not to commend the visionary, farsighted and in-depth efforts of this assiduous administration. All that is needed and expected of us is to support the administration as it moves towards lifting the state to an enviable height.

Prince Ejeh Josh
nim, B.Sc, M.Sc, LL.B


DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on our opinion page are those of the writer and do not represent the position of INSIDER or any of its reporters/editors.

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