From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, following the resurgence of insecurity in Imo State, summoned Governor Hope Uzodinma on Monday to apprise him of the security situation and factors militating against the return to peace in the area.
The summons comes with the president approving the deployment of more security personnel from the Nigeria Police Force, Department of Security Service (DSS) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps with additional arms and ammunition.
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The Imo governor was summoned following the latest armed attack in Imo targeting the home of Prof. George Obiozor, President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo and some police assets.
Fielding questions from State House Correspondents, Governor Uzodinma confirmed that the meeting was on the insecurity in his State and the South East.
‘Generally, it is the subject of insecurity in the South East and what is required to ensure that is properly controlled,’ he explained.
‘We discussed that and he took seriously my recommendations and indeed I tell you, he immediately gave approval to all that which includes an increase in manpower of security agencies and then logistics supports ranging from additional arms and ammunitions.’
Regarding his efforts to meet aggrieved parties as promised, he said his administration has continued to reach out to aggrieved politicians in the state in a bid to carry them along so that they can contribute their quota to the growth and development of the state.
‘Since January 2020, when I came to office, one of the things I initiated was quarterly stakeholders meeting. As a matter of fact, I have had six stakeholders engagements. And the purpose of that engagement is to create a platform where the stakeholders will meet and will also act as an opinion poll to involve people in governance and that has yielded a lot of positive results,’ the governor stated.
‘Arising from that, we have also done one on one engagement with some critical stakeholders.
‘For those who are aggrieved, I don’t know if those grievances are against the government or against individuals.
‘But those who think are part of the political system that are not contributing positively to the current administration, we’re also reaching out to them. Of course, I know if anything is to go by, some of the reasonable ones have started coming back.
‘If you have been following the politics of Imo State as of late, given the evolution we have just deployed to rescue the infrastructure that was almost absent and our achievements so far, it has attracted a lot of support from our people.
‘Leaders from Imo state are together and united in commending our efforts. And if you can go to Imo State and be on the ground, apart from some dissenting voices that are on your social media, I think the state is almost recovered and we’re doing very, very well.
‘So, there’s no need at this point in time for people to be aggrieved over what is not in existence. All I urge people to do is to be part of the growing concern, contribute their quota towards the development of the state and support the government of the day to deliver democratic dividends to our people.
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‘All these grievances here and there, what is the origin of the grievances? Why are people not able to look at reality on the ground. And I know that at this point in time, globally speaking, we must not be left behind as a country, we must also not be left behind as a state.
‘We need to unite ourselves, we need to be realistic with ourselves, we need to be proactive in making sure that our tomorrow is better.’
On allegations that he was culpable in the insecurity in the state, he argued that his administration with all the paraphernalia of office does not engage non-state actors in its attempt to keep the peace.
‘Well, thank God that you called us government. And I don’t know how a government with the paraphernalia of office, the Air Force, the Navy, the DSS, the Civil Defense will now go for non-actors to be used for governance,’ the governor stated.
‘So, as civilised people, you also represent the elites, so you should be able to advise such minds to reason well and think well. Because the only person that officially has the power of cohesion is government.
‘If anything is to go by, we are a God-fearing government. That is why we have not used force as the only way of controlling the violence in Imo State.
‘I just told you that we initiated the involvement of vigilante, where community leaders will get involved. As a government one man, I sit there in Owerri looking at things and doing my work, but at the remote villages, where most of these things are happening, every community has been modelled in a manner that if they are together, they will defend their land.
‘So community by community, leadership by leadership, they will be able to defend themselves come together.
‘Even before this time, we are known from that part of the world, we come from East, we believe in the town union system. This town union apart from the traditional institutions, leaders come together, set up a town and the purpose of this union is to attract development to the community.
‘It is not to allow the only government to be the one providing developmental projects. Through community efforts, a lot of projects have been completed in the southeast. Ranging from town halls, rural roads, electricity health centres.
‘So, it will not stop now. All we can do, any reasonable government is modify and encourage such partnerships to be able to have an optimised result. So, those people who are of that thinking, they need to renew their thinking and think right.’
Asked if an arrest has been made of those that attacked the home of the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, he said: ‘Yes, I would have left this for the security agencies but to the best of my knowledge, you know the second day they tempted to also burn a police station at Omuma and they were repelled and they made some arrest. So it’s after an interrogation that the Security agencies that we will know.’
Asked if he knew why President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s home will be attacked, considering he is not a politician, Uzodinma stated: ‘Ohanaeze Ndigbo, you know President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, that is the apex of the socio-political organisation of Ndigbo and is a position that comes with envy. In fact, it is when you succeed in life that, you know, if you don’t take time, the first enemy you will have will be your closest close friend, because of envy and unnecessary rivalry. We will do our best to use the security agencies to arrest those who did the arson and to see what security will be able to extract from them in terms of information. But until that is done, unless there is any prophesy from any of us to be able to tell us this is the exact thing that led to this, let’s what for the investigation report. At least the preliminary investigation report will have to come out before we can discuss the matter.’