Kidnappings, Imo State and American Citizens – Kenneth Uwadi

Five days ago, the U.S. Department of State warned U.S. citizens of the risks of travelling to 7 states in Nigeria including Imo State because of kidnapping, robbery, and other armed attacks in these areas. This to me is no good news for Imo state and for  potential investors. A non-governmental organization based in Abuja, “Imo Vanguard” yesterday issued a press statement condemning the present leadership of the state  over US placement of  Imo as one of the 7 risked states in Nigeria.

My question is whether the occupant of Douglas House Owerri ,Owelle Rochas Okorocha is aware of this sad news. Does he browse the internet, listen to world broadcasting outfits and read some of Nigeria’s influential newspapers and magazines? A source at the corridors of power in Imo State informed me that the governor  has advised his aides and members of his cabinet to ignore all that are appearing in the press about his activities, saying that he would not be distracted by the huge press criticism of his government.It is really sad that Imo State has degenerated to this level. It is really sad because many Imo citizens who have open mind and clear head could still remember how Imo state was before the coming of this present administration. I must admit it that Imo state during the last administration was better placed, more organized and relatively peaceful than so many states in this country.

My brother called me from Cleveland, Ohio with the sad news about Imo State. He has been preparing this business trip to Owerri  for months now and his business associates have all agreed to make this trip to Nigeria, but few days ago  when he asked them to bring their passports for visa, they shocked him with refusal not to go again; the reason being the U.S. Department of State’s  warning to U.S. citizens of the risks of travelling to Imo state and other parts of Nigeria due to the rise of kidnapping and robbery. I raised my shoulders in disdain. For minutes, I did not utter a word. I was angry.

 I love my state  but if a serving Commissioner for Commerce and Industry  in the state ,Lady Chioma Ogoke can be so kidnapped in Owerri few days after the Operation Rescue was launched, then Imolites definitely are not save  as we approached Xmas. State security falls right on the laps of the governor and if the government  can’t provide security for its citizens then water don pass garri. Potential investors, will shun Imo state because of fear of being kidnapped and the state is the loser. Imo needs foreign investors, but who wants to be kidnapped for ransom.

People opt for kidnapping because of two major reasons: greed and lack of employment. There are two things that can cure all these mess: provision of employment and stringent laws but the present government in Imo State don’t see need for creating jobs for the jobless youths in the state. Unemployment remains one of the greatest challenges facing our nation. Rather than tackling unemployment, Governor Okorocha announced the suspension of 10,000 jobs created by the immediate past administration of Imo State. So tell me why kidnapping and armed robbery will not be on the increase in Imo state. A good governor ought to know that by sacking 10,000 workers ,he has pushed 10,000 persons  into kidnapping and armed robbery.

Kidnappers in Imo state are not terrorists. They are making kidnapping as a means of living because of the failure of government to offer them jobs in a state  that is rich in natural resources. So, although we condemn them for making kidnapping as a living, we can only blame the government for neglecting them. Removing food from the mouth of 10,00 persons is also removal of food from the mouth of  thousands of  family members and friends who depend on them for survival. So who is to be blamed for the rise of kidnapping in the state ?

Sacking workers in Imo state where the poor working masses literally rely on self-help to provide their basic needs (electricity, water, education, health care, etc) despite their low purchasing power, to say the least, is callous, provocative and inhuman. Moreover, it is highly insensitive to retrench workers in a situation when labour market is already over-saturated. More so, when no social benefit is paid to the unemployed as government continues to abandon its social responsibilities to the people. This is in spite of the abundant natural resources and fabulous wealth that accrues to Imo state from sales of crude oil, taxes, and other revenues..

It is also paradoxical for an Okorocha with his campaign promise to  create thousands of  jobs when elected to opt for downsizing of Imo workforce. We need not say here that the patience of Imo People appears to be running out and fastly too, worse the legislature which should be the watch dog on the executive is busy singing halleluiah vibes to the Governor. Save us Oh God.

-Kenneth Uwadi,Mmahu-Egbema,ImoState,Nigeria

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