Winning Trust of Communities Vital to Security Efforts, Says Okowa

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Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, has harped on the need to intensify efforts to win the trust of the host communities, especially in the oil-rich Niger Delta region if the country’s desire to achieve a peaceful environment for investors is to be achieved.

Speaking when the Consul-General of the United States of America (USA), Mr John Bray, paid him a courtesy call at the Government House, Asaba, on Thursday, Okowa stressed that the cause of peace, investment and development would be better served if the host communities were carried along in the scheme of things.

The governor stopped short of saying that over-emphasis on the military option in curbing the spate of insecurity in the Niger-Delta is a double-edged sword.

He noted that much more could be achieved if mutual suspicion among stakeholders was eliminated or minimized and the people had more confidence in the companies, the government and security operatives in the region.

Since intelligence required by the military personnel for effective operation would remain scanty without the confidence and cooperation of the community people, surmounting insecurity challenges would become more arduous.

Okowa said, “The fact today is that the communities begin to worry about the government, the companies, the actions of the military. They are worried about the companies not doing much for them and that they are not carried along in the course of plans to engender peace and to that extent when they get alienated from us, we as a government may not get the best of intelligence and cooperation from them.”

The governor informed the USA consul-general and his team that his government recently set up a “high-powered Advocacy Committee” with Deputy Governor Kingsley Otuaro as chairman, in its determination to curb criminality, especially pipeline vandalism in the creeks.

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