By James Eze (email@example.com)
As he marks his 3rd Anniversary, Governor Willie Obiano comes up strongly for reckoning among Ndi Anambra and Ndigbo for solving the forty-year old security dilemma of his people. Folks in and around Anambra who are familiar with the Igbo condition since the end of the Biafran War would easily testify that the commercial city of Onitsha has never known peace as intimately as it knows it now. Or perhaps more tellingly; that Upper Iweka has gone through a 360 degrees turnaround. Or that the whole of Anambra with its numerous bustling commercial towns has now come onto its own; thirsting for self-possession and expression.
Not quite surprisingly, the legend that drifted out of Onitsha a few months after Obiano stamped his authority on Anambra was that a prankster could drop his phone carelessly at Upper Iweka and come back the next day to pick it up right from the same spot he dropped it the previous day. Of course it is a hyperbole, but it is a measure of Obiano’s rating among the electorate on security. It is no hyperbole though to observe that even his most virulent opposition would give Obiano thumbs up for living up to the demands of his office as the Chief security officer of his state. But what exactly did Obiano do to earn all these plaudits?
When he took over the leadership of Anambra State, most residents could not sleep with two eyes closed. The lords of the underworld kept the nights awake with a blaze of gunfire. Kidnappers prowled the length and breadth of the state like snipers in search of targets to hit. There were so many underworld fiends jostling for space in the state…gunrunners, child traffickers, ritual killers, drug dealers and carjackers looking for someone with a slight loss of concentration. Anambra presented a fascinating mosaic of oddities that even Michelangelo would have a tough time trapping on a single canvass.
But today, Anambra is touted to be the safest state in Nigeria.
Obiano’s exploits in Security began with the Security Summit he held in April 2014 which was facilitated by an Israeli security expert Moshe Keinen. He also followed it up with a Regional Security Conference involving the five states of the South East and Delta State. But prior to the Regional effort, he had launched a joint task force on security known as Operation Kpochapu (wipe out) with a donation of 150 trucks to the police, 10 trucks to the Army and 5 to the Navy and 2 to NDLEA. He conducted a state-wide enumeration of all the trouble-spots and erected security tents on those locations with sandbags manned by well-equipped and motivated policemen. He pulled down the warehouses used by kidnappers to hold their victims in captivity while negotiating for ransom. His crackdown on kidnappers was so clinical that inspired the police to trail a suspected kingpin, Okechukwu Nnaegbo from Awka to Lagos where they picked him up from a South African bound aircraft. Indeed, he did not waste much time to announce to the underworld that a new sheriff was in town!
He donated a gunboat to the Navy and 25 Smart-cars to the Police. Then finally, he launched occasional helicopter surveillance across Anambra skies. The chopper team hovers up in the clouds, scanning the ground below and feeding their colleagues in the Smart-cars with vital information that keeps criminals on their toes. With these efforts, Anambra is firmly protected in the skies, on the ground and in the waters!
Of course, this has impacted on social life in the state. Ndi Anambra feel secure enough now to move around freely at whatever time of night or day. Revellers drive from Nnewi to Awka on Fridays to share a drink with friends in one of the many bars and nightclubs that are springing up every day in the city. They feel confident that their governor spends sleepless nights with the security agents, figuring out what government must do to keep its citizens free and ready to roll in pursuit of happiness!
Umu nnem, onye nwelu Willie Obiano nwelu mmadu!