Commonwealth’s inequitable distribution fuels insecurity – Okowa
Delta State Governor and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) vice-presidential candidate in the 2023 general election, Ifeanyi Okowa, has said that it is this nation’s inequitable distribution of wealth that fuels the insecurity in the country.
He also said that the farmer-herder conflicts that are rampant across the country threaten the continued existence of the country.
Okowa, who spoke as a special guest at the 11th Zik Lecture Series held at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, pointed out that the current violent crimes in the country including terrorism , banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery, had been sown for several years now because of bad leadership.
He said that although the nation needs a strong leader to reposition the country on the path of progress, there is also a need to reform some of the instructions, including the police, the media, the judiciary, the legislature , as well as the electoral arbiter to make them stronger for optimal performance for national development.
Okowa described the security situation in Nigeria as a hydra-headed monster that has undermined public safety and threatened Nigeria’s continued existence as a united and indivisible country.
The event brought together high dignitaries, including a former Chief of Defense Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd); Senator Ben Obi, a legal luminary, Mike Ozekhome; owner of United African Airline, Prof. Obiora Okonkwu, and the host, Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, UNIZIK, Awka, Prof. Okechukwu Osimone, etc.
Okowa said, “The upsurge in mass kidnappings, insurgency, banditry, herder-farmer conflicts, ritual killings and other acts of terrorism is, to say the least, frightening. With advances in technology, terrorists are becoming increasingly 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.
“I am of the view that Nigeria is reaping the bad seed it sowed a few years ago by forcing the kidnappers to pay a ransom. It was a fatal mistake that gave birth to a huge kidnapping industry.
“There is also a close link between the increase in terrorism and inequalities and the inequitable distribution of wealth. The growing gap between rich and poor in our country is alarming.
“Equally alarming is the poverty rate, which stood at 40% in 2021 and would be around 45% in 2022, which translates to 90 million citizens living below the poverty line. This has led to disenchantment and a sense of alienation among our large young population, leading to an increase in cybercrimes, kidnappings, ritual killings and other acts of violence that compromise our national security.
Okowa said other contributing factors to the current state of insecurity in the country include the lack of a modern security architecture; easy access to weapons by citizens, imbalance in power sharing, religious fanaticism and intolerance; and the government’s lack of respect for basic human rights of citizens.
Offering solutions, Okowa said, “Going forward, we urgently need to develop a comprehensive plan to address our short, medium and long-term security challenges.
“In addition to a modern security architecture anchored on technology, we must muster the political will to decisively deal with criminals, regardless of their ethnic groups, religions or status.
“It is imperative to address the issue of herder-farmer conflict, which is fast becoming the greatest threat to our nation’s unity and economic well-being.
“Mobile Muslim Fulani herders and predominantly Christian farmers of various ethnicities continued to clash, resulting in the loss of farmland, economic crops, livestock and lives.
“This threat to the stability and unity of our country must be urgently combated in order to reduce the level of insecurity and ensure food security. I am of the opinion that ranching and colonies of cattle with the support of the federal government is a way out of this quagmire.
“Furthermore, criminal herders must be apprehended and brought to justice, and displaced people must be quickly resettled in their homes.
Regarding the 2023 general election, Okowa expressed optimism that, in accordance with the guidelines of the new electoral law, which mandates the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) and electronic transmission of results, the hijacking of ballot boxes and other election-related violence will reduce .
Okowa added that while Nigeria needs a strong leader, it must also build strong institutions. He mentioned Nigerian institutions that need to be strengthened to include the police, media, judiciary, legislature, INEC, etc.