Okowa: Nigeria’s Insecurity is Result of Widening Poverty

•Country’s indivisibility claim laughable, says Ozekhome

David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka

Delta State Governor and Vice-Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has said the insecurity currently plaguing the country was as a result of bad seed the nation sowed a few years back.

Also, a constitutional lawyer and right activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, has described as laughable claims that Nigeria was indivisible, saying those with such views should better learn from the breakaway Republic of Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia, among others.

Ozekhome and Okowa were in Anambra as guest lecturer and special guest of honour at the 11th Zik Lecture Series held at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, in honour of former president of Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.

Okowa, while declaring the session open, described the security situation in Nigeria as a hydra-headed monster that has undermined public safety and threatening the continued existence of Nigeria as one united, indivisible country.

“The surge in mass kidnappings, insurgency, banditry, herder-farmer conflicts, ritual killings, and other acts of terrorism is, to say the least, frightening. With the advancement in technology, the terrorists are becoming more sophisticated in their operations, using more advanced technologies, including drones, GPS systems, and encrypted messaging services to spread propaganda and recruit others into their network.

“It is my considered view that Nigeria is reaping the harvest of the bad seed it sowed a few years back by obliging kidnappers with ransom payments. It was a fatal mistake that has spawned a huge industry in kidnapping.

“There is also a strong link between increased terrorism and inequality and inequitable distribution of wealth. The widening gulf between the rich and the poor in our country is alarming.

“Equally alarming is the poverty rate, which stood at 40 per cent in 2021, and is believed to be around 45 per cent in 2022, which translates to 90 million citizens living below the poverty line. This has led to disenchantment and feeling of alienation among our teeming youth population, leading to rise in cybercrimes, kidnappings, ritual killings, and other violent acts that undermine our national security,” he said.

Proffering solutions, Okowa said, “Going forward, we need to urgently draw up a holistic plan to address our security challenges in the short, medium, and long term. Aside from a modern security architecture anchored on technology, we must muster the political will to deal decisively with criminals, regardless of their ethnic groups, religions, or status.

“This is imperative to tackle the problem of herdsmen/farmers’ conflict, which is fast becoming the greatest threat to our nation’s unity and economic well-being. The nomadic Muslim Fulani pastoralists and the largely Christian farmers of various ethnicities have continued to clash resulting in loss of farmlands, economic crops, cattle, and lives. 

“This threat to our country’s stability and unity needs to be tackled urgently to reduce the level of insecurity and to ensure food security. It is my considered view that ranching and cattle colonies with support of the federal Government is a way out of this quagmire. 

“Furthermore, criminal herdsmen must be apprehended and made to face the law, and Internally Displaced Persons need to be quickly resettled in their homes.”

Speaking about the forthcoming election, Okowa said, he was optimistic that in line with the guidelines of the new Electoral Act, which compelled Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and electronic transmission of results, hijacking of ballot boxes and other election-related violence would reduce.

He added that as much as Nigeria needed a strong leader, it also needed to build strong institutions, adding that, Nigerian institutions that need to be strengthened included the police, media, judiciary, legislature, and INEC among others.

Ozekhome, speaking on the perceived indivisibility of Nigeria, regretted that successive leaderships had taken the nation’s unity, indivisibility and indisolubility for granted, stressing that the indices that guarantee unity must be nurtured.

“I heartily guffaw at times, when I hear Nigerian leaders mouth moral platitudes and ineffective liberal disquisitions about the indivisibility and indisolubility of Nigeria. I roar with laughter, because, old Soviet Union made the same historical mistake. It was forced to dissolve on December 26, 1991 by declaration No. 142-H of the Soviet of the Republic of the Supreme Soviet,” he said.

According to him, Nigeria’s trouble was squarely leadership failure, adding that followership constituted another major outstanding challenge confronting the nation.

He canvassed for total scrapping of what he termed 360 behemoth lower green chambers of House of Representatives as one of the panacea to Nigeria’s problem, while 109 Senators would be left to represent the country.

Speaking on the detained leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, Ozekhome called for his immediate release, insisting that his protracted detention would further aggravate the insecurity in the southeast.”

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