Kidnapping in the Southeast as we approach the Christmas season.

As a concerned indigene of Owerri, Imo state and by implication a Nigerian, it would amount to suicidal of the inner-self and alienation of the self from ones indisputable facticity of life to hide in my shell without showing concern while the society is boiling.

Having known that at the national level, Nigeria is saddled with terrorist (Boko Haram) menace. Geopolitically within Nigeria, Southeast is confronted chiefly with kidnapping of which among its negative impact has transcended bot geopolitical and national boundaries and thereby aiding drops (-) of not only the economy of the states but also of the nation at large as the zone has been characterized as danger zone by embassies/consular officers of would have been investors.

To attestify to the fact of “No go area for investments”, I carried out feasibility studies in the Agricultural sector (livestock and vegetable farming) in Imo state and thereafter seek to lure foreign investors to come take the opportunities that abound therein. But I was highly disappointed with the responses I got from my contact man in Washington D.C. He told me his challenges in trying to convince investors who always down his offers on the account of what their consular reported about doing business in Nigeria. He went as far as putting me through to a certain investor who claimed he had $100,000.000.00 for investments but would not invest in the Northern, South East and South-South area of Nigeria but can risk such investments in Lagos and her neighbors. Upon hearing this statement from this foreigner, I felt humiliated and rejected.

It’s a known fact that population doubles if not triples in the Southeast during festive seasons, especially Christmas and Owerri remains the home/destinations of fun seekers as year in year out the quite numbers of Hotels and Restaurants in the city seems not enough to accommodate guests. But this may not be the case for this 2012 Xmas.

With the rate of reported and unreported cases of kidnapping which goes along with rapes, murder and humongous money lost in Imo state nowadays, then one is bound to conclude that the state is today, the worst hit with these evil and this thereby with-stalling developments, investments and possess threats to already existing businesses.

Having said that, there is no gainsaying that the administration of Governor Rochas is keeping calm on the matter rather he must be commended for increasing the patrol vans of the various security agents in the states amidst his effort to stand-tall community policing in which the Eze’s (Traditional Rulers) by implications assumes the status of chief security officers (CSO’s) of their respective communities.

Another approach taken by Gov.Okorocha in attempt to solve this challenge remains the acclaimed involvement of American experts but still the problem persists. What then is the problem? Could it be that the governor’s approaches are not the primary or substantial approach towards solving the problems? Whatever opinion you may wish to hold, mine remains that the Governor neglected to tackle the remote causes of the problem (primary approach) and also in away, gave the problem brethren space to gather more energy.

 

What then is this primary causes? Surprisingly, the answer is the high rate of unemployed youths as well as cultism’s in both tertiary and secondary schools in the state. Unemployment and the struggle to survive at this harsh economic era has remained the chief reasons why those who engages in this evil acts keep increasing day by day. Arguably, Imo people are not known with the act of doing business like their sister state Anambra, except Orlu area of the state that shares common boundary with Anambra and by so doing, they tend share from the do-business lifestyle and today, Orlu could be said to be not only the home of business tycoons of the state but also the home of Imo politics. Whereas the people of Owerri, where I emanated from, are known with education and civil services job of which the found succor with the saying “eat ugba, drink palm wine, those are building upstairs should continue”.

Before the year 2000, Imo State was equated with cleanliness and remains the citadel of education in the East. But today, our schools are now known with cultism and sects of criminals.

In a nutshell, the 2011 Police-Cadet ASP’s and Inspectors recruitments saw Imo State toping in thousands, the number of applicants among her sister states “Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu”. Owing to my involvement in the exercise, I made reference to this in one of my article titled “Challenges of Democracy: Across the Niger Bridge” published late 2011 in vol.5.no.8 of Revista-Magazine. A quote from the article states thus “… in Imo state for instance, not fewer than 8,500 applicants jostled for the 20 job vacancies while both Abia and Enugu also conducted interview for not fewer than 5,000 applicants.

On the other hand, Ebonyi and Anambra State received not less than 2800 and 4000 applicants respectively. This shows how youths are haunting for survival. Unemployment on the other hand, has its own contribution to the spate of insecurity among other social havocs in our nation today.”

Suffice it to say, the able bodied youths of Imo states are roaming round the metropolis, communities and villages without jobs and not ready to create jobs themselves as gone are the days of profession in animal haunting, palm-wine taping, carpentry and iron bending/welder, farming and what have you.

Prior to the 2011 general elections that saw governor Okorocha as Governor of the state; hopes were raised in the state of which my very person published an article in one of the editions of Revista-Magazine with title “Here comes the long-awaited Imo Messiah”. Okorocha came with his Rescue mission agenda, brandishing how he would make the state a heaven on earth in which ecumenical Centre, industries, 3 Five-star hotels and an airport hotel, new universities alongside Imo-Airline would be built. But today, these agendas and promises have remained saccharine to sweeten jokes by comedians.

In Thisday newspaper of 3rd May, 2012 back page, Segun Adeniyi, a popular Nigerian writer gave graphic details of the joke and comic going on in Imo state. According to Adeniyi, “In Imo State today, it is one day, one promise. Okorocha is going to build a megacity in Okigwe; he will build two palm oil plantations; he will construct a 25-storey hotel; he will build three universities for the state; he will construct an ecumenical Centre; and he has already taken over all federal roads in the state for which he has awarded contracts without any documentation!”

Furthermore, Rochas got it wrong by sacking the 10,000 youths workers employed by the Ohakim administration and also in his bid to fish-out ghost workers, he ended up removing some genuine worker’s whose bosses never liked their face. He also closed such government shops like Poverty Elevation Program (PEP) Centre’s that was working inline with MDG’s and thereby adding more to joblessness.

To combat crimes in the state, Rochas should engage in massive job creation and formulation of concepts like Youths intelligence gathering (YIG) as well as finding a lasting solution to his problem with ousted PDP LGA’s chairmen. Gov. Rochas ought to speak more in actions rather than words. He needs to invest in Agriculture as the Agricultural potentials of the state can generate 20,000 jobs within the next one year.

Honestly speaking, some quite number of youths in the state have embraced kidnapping as a must do business. Now hear this; sometime in the month of July, 2012, I visited Owerri, at about 7.pm near a joint around IMSU environ, I was sitting innocently on a pavement in front of a church while tweeting, about 12yards away from me were 3 young men that I learnt from their conversation are still observing the one year NYSC in Calabar and PortHarcourt respectively, they came to grace an occasion of their fellow alumni. While their chats were going on, they raised the issue of job and one of them said that upon completion of his NYSC activities, he would not search for job for more than six months and if no success, that he would join the “lucrative business”.

On hearing lucrative business, I opened my ears wide like an antelope to hear this business, to my surprise it was kidnapping that attained the status of lucrative business, the other two guys seconded the motion by saying they have thought towards that direction too.

I was scared, shocked and almost paralyzed as I could be their immediate victim, but thanks to God that I got home safely and alerted my mother on what my ear heard. So what are we saying? University and polytechnics graduates are in the business of kidnaping. What about those used as political thugs? Electioneering is over, a new party took over the affairs of the state, political thugs of the oppositions no doubt are now been pushed to the walls of assassinations and kidnapping as their respective Bosses seems not to have cash to sustain them pending next election. The thugs have to survive and their survival is social havocs dependent, so what would this result?

Nevertheless, Governor Okorocha cannot share these blames alone as community leaders, political office holders from the Federal down to the local government levels, parents and guidance are not left out as ethics and culture have long decayed in so many homes of which many parents no longer live up to their responsibilities but rather engages in abuses and comparing their children with some acclaimed economically well to do age-mates even when they do not know the sources of such wealth. Kidnapping, armed robbery among other social vices you say…. What about envy among peers, wicked uncles those that setups up their fellow kinsmen as a result of greed, especial those that live outside the state? Ndi Imo,ihe na eme anyi si anyi na aka.

Above all, Imo state in the past is not known with social vices but rather home of hospitality but this seems to be no more. Hence I seize this opportunity to call on parents, guardians, community leaders and political office holders at all levels as well as institutions in the state and beyond to put hand on the desk to restore the seemingly lost glory of our Imo State.

Long live ndi-Imo
Long live Owelle Rochas Okorocha
Long live Owerri (ndi-eji-ejeh mba)
Long live Nigeria

  IK

Guest writer

 

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