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OGAH: Complementing security outfits with farmers’ cooperatives will curb insecurity

By Leo Sobechi
06 December 2020   |   4:19 am
The way forward is taking young people out of the street. It is not just about organising a group or creating security outfits. By grouping different sets of people outside the regular police or arming them, you end endangering them the more.

Chinedu Ogah

Cultural Demarcation Should Define Interstate Boundaries
Comrade Chinedu Ogah, the lone APC from Ebonyi State in the House of Representatives and member House Committee on Federal Character, in this interview with LEO SOBECHI says regional security groupings can only guarantee security when backed by farmers’ cooperatives, adding that cultural boundaries should define interstate boundaries to avert constant disputes.

Southwest geopolitical zone’s security network, Amotekun rekindled talks about zonal security outfits and state police, what do you think is needed at this moment to secure the nation?
The way forward is taking young people out of the street. It is not just about organising a group or creating security outfits. By grouping different sets of people outside the regular police or arming them, you end endangering them the more.

The most effective way in which we can stop insurgence, kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery in this part of the world is for us to go into vocational training, identify skills among young people to nurture them and make skill acquisition mandatory in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

When everybody is busy, especially the young men, nobody will think of crimes.  A situation whereby one will go through the university and come out with a pass and there is no place for him or her to fit in is bad. You find that most young people not well equipped for productive ventures, they are not fit technically or enterprising enough to find their footing economically.

My question is, why can’t we go back to the era of cooperatives, during which there were a lot of farm settlements allotted to some of the people?  For example, the people that created the prison system (correctional service) before now had a plan whereby they had farm settlements. The essence was to retrain those inmates and wean them out of the crime they committed.

There is one thing we fail to understand. Even if thousands get involved in policing, it would not solve the problem of insecurity and unemployment. The only way we can solve it is to do the needful, by guaranteeing food security and making sure that only the right people get into positions of authority.

Most of the things causing these problems start from imposition of inferior people and unpopular candidates on the masses as leaders. For example, in a village town union in which you impose persons not popular with the masses, there is nothing such persons will do that the masses will accept. It becomes an avenue for the masses to resist and rebel.

When an offence has been committed, the people would expand their resistance by engaging in violent protests, carrying dangerous weapons.

In that situation some desperate politicians will lure them to extend their political interests.  So, a situation whereby even a traditional leader is not elected by his people or unanimously endorsed by his subjects, he cannot speak for them. Even in a war situation, such persons cannot speak to the masses and they will listen, because they never elected him. If it is a local government chairman they will even stone him. That is one source of our major problems.

Most of our leaders were elected in hotels; they do not know the masses and the masses do not know them and that par adventure made the security of this country get out of hand.  I am urging the various parts of the country constituting different security groups not to endanger the lives of the people, especially when they are not constitutionally backed to carry arms.

So, what we can do to reduce crimes and insecurity is to start creating job opportunities, changing our school system, emphasising vocational education and making sure our university system is really giving young the moral and social discipline they need.

But would the current economic system enable what you are suggesting?
With the population of Nigeria, we have a lot, apart from oil, we have solid minerals and we have arable land for agriculture. And if we are able to carve up the 36 states, discover the potential in each of the states and make sure we have a mandatory order in each of the local government areas and wards, such will help to reduce insurgency.

There is no crime committed on earth without having someone in-house that links the people who perpetrate it. If you tell me there is no internal collaboration it is a complete lie. If you tell me that people can come to Plateau, Enugu or Ebonyi to perpetrate crime without internal facilitators I will doubt you.

Which road did they ply, who are those on that route? There is no part of the world that you do not have a strong youth population, but because they do not have anything engaging them, unpatriotic citizens give them peanuts to commit crime. We have to bridge those gaps.

So many people that were arrested for Boko Haram, what did we do?  How did we get them engaged so that they will not go back to crime?  Most of the military and police that are being sacked are not helpful to Nigeria.

If someone committed an offence in the military, such ones should be made to serve their punishment where he or she is working. It is the ex-service men that train people on how to carry out crimes with lethal weapons and that is how crime is perpetrated.  For example, in the United States of America, if they find out that you committed crime, you will be fixed in a place where you will not have time to commit crime.

So, if we are able to implement that kind of policy to keep ex-servicemen out of reach to the civil population, it will help us in this part of the world.  For example, we are legislators; there is no legislature that people do not know.  Already, Mr. President has done a lot. Some people are saying that his service chiefs should be removed but that, to me, is not the solution.

What we are saying is that immediately a service chief is retired, sabotage can come in, instead of that you can appoint him as adviser and not an executer. Then operation get rich quick make people also to venture into a lot of things in order to make money.

If you tell me it is about religious differences, Muslim, Christianity and so on, I don’t think it is our problem. We know ourselves, we love ourselves and it is only selfish individuals that introduce such insinuations.  Calling on Mr. President to resign is also not the solution. We should begin by asking ourselves what we have done in our own constituencies.

I wish our brother Senator (Enyinnaya) Abaribe should apologise for asking the President to resign, because it is not the duty of the President alone to solve the security issues, he is trying his best, but it is the duty of everybody in this country.  It is our duty to help the security agents, who are risking their lives to secure our own.  Some of them have no insurance and some have lost their lives. Their families are suffering. The question is what we have done to make sure we are able to provide education for their children.

That is what most of the military, police and the service chiefs see and they are not motivated. We should talk of ways to motivate them through reviewing their welfare. I think we have to appreciate Mr. President for approving the new salary scheme for the military.

He has done so much, we need to commend him for that, he is really doing a lot in this country, and so saying that Mr President should resign is uncalled for.

Not long ago, you tried to mediate in the interstate border issue between Ebonyi and Cross River?  What should be done about boundary disputes, including the one between Benue and Taraba states, how do you handle the interstate crisis?
We are definitely getting over it. We are already doing something. I have moved a motion that was unanimously endorsed by the House of Representatives and I am already meeting with my colleagues from Cross River. We have all agreed on modalities to bring about lasting peace.

If you carry your research, you will find out that we have already consulted with the Reverend Fathers and other spiritual and temporal leaders.  Like last week (February 4), the people from Cross River came to attack Ebonyi people, they were just arrested, nobody was killed, and the people got the attackers and handed them to the Reverend Father in Ebonyi State, from where they were taken back to Cross River State.

That is to show that the bond of peace and harmony has returned.  What we are looking at now, by the time we are able to agree with all our legislators and the people in the grassroots, we set proper boundaries. You cannot stay in Abuja and demarcate land.  You should go to the place where it is happening to locate boundaries and get the opinions of the people.
Our cultural demarcation is the only thing that will solve these issues.  We are doing a lot. Along with my colleagues from Abii and Yako, the ones from Obubra as well as other lawmakers from other places, we have been meeting and it has been yielding results.

I married from Cross River State and we have to come back as brothers and friends so that the traditional unity will continue. Definitely we are doing something about it while we continue to support President Muhammadu Buhari to make sure the right thing are done to keep Nigeria united, peaceful and strong.

Three years ago, the Chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum went into partnership between Kebbi and Lagos States to tackle agriculture and food production, how could that kind of initiative be motivated?
It was a wonderful collaboration where the government of Kebbi was making use of the massive land in the North to produce, while the government of Lagos with large population and market was buying. Such chain reaction helps to boost the economy of the country.

There is no part of this country where each of the states or local government has no endowment of mineral or other resources. There is not local government that does not practice agriculture.  Let us go back to agricultural cooperatives, we have a lot of land and we should focus more on food production.

Show me an industry in Nigeria that is working. Agriculture should be the key driver of the economy. And I am urging that they should revoke all the power privatisation contracts, let them get capable people from Germany and hand them over the power infrastructure. I think the President is working on it.

As soon as we have constant power supply in this country, everything will change. We will begin to talk of value addition in the food chain through agro-allied industries. You will then notice that no crime will be committed, because idle hands could easily be located as those committing crimes.

Show me what we should use to check crime that is working.  The national identity card, what are they doing about it?  I am urging our civil service to seat up and do the needful, this country belong to us all and if we put the country in a good shape, it will benefit us.  We do travel, we see other countries and we can do better if we believe in ourselves.

As the only legislator from Ebonyi on the platform of APC, how challenging is your position and attempts at mass oriented initiatives?
The challenge I am having is that there are a lot of things on my head in the sense that everybody from our party, even Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra, is looking up to me. I continue to pray to God that He gives me the wisdom to pull through and the little I know I can do, I will continue to do it.  If the masses have the confidence to elect me irrespective of all the pressure, I will not disappoint them.  My duty here is to represent them, let their voices be heard, let their problems be solved so that the government can look into their individual, communal and general problems.

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