Udeme Emmanuel is a PDP chieftain and the vice chairman of Uyo Local Government Area. In this interview with PAULINUS NTA, he bared his mind on the security situation in the Niger Delta region and what the government should do to attract peace to the region.
In spite of efforts by the federal and state governments, security situation in the Niger Delta region has remained worrisome. As a longtime resident of the Niger Delta region, what do you think the federal government should do to bring lasting solution to our chronic security challenges?
In my opinion, government officials should return home and operate from their communities. Local government chairmen should return to their villages. You will agree with me that almost all the local government chairmen in Akwa Ibom, except Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, reside in Uyo. They don’t know what is going on. They do not share the experiences of their subjects. They don’t influence activities and social interactions in their different local governments. In fact, in my opinion, they should not just live in their local governments, but should reside in their villages. You know when they live there, they will ensure that electricity is supplied, roads are constructed and maintained. They will receive firsthand information on criminal activities and they will influence their communities positively.
Apart from ensuring that public office holders live among their people, what other measure should be put in place to boost security?
The government should fulfill their own side of the social contract. Our government should run all-inclusive administration and participation of governments. It is unfortunate that during campaigns, everybody is involved. Everybody’s effort is sought and appreciated. No certificates are needed; no recommendations are needed for votes, but unfortunately after election when the government is inaugurated, the electorate are segregated against; certificates are demanded; recommendations are needed. Phone numbers are changed and the electorate are chased out of the houses they built. In my candid opinion, this is the major cause of insecurity in the Niger Delta region.
When a segment of the society, especially an active segment like the youths, feel segregated or cheated, or marginalized, they will naturally become aggrieved. And when they are aggrieved, off course you know, they won’t think good or feel good about those in government. The government should be all inclusive, public office holders should see themselves as servants not the masters, and until our governors and other public officers seize to see themselves as lords, efforts to secure our societies will remain futile.
Agreed, qualifications and merit are essential aspects of the bureaucracy, but plat forms and windows should be opened for those who do not merit to be practically involved in governance. The government should always try to know how people are faring in the slumps, the creeks, the jungles, the ghetto and the villages. How do they feed? What do they do? State governors should not just sit in the comfort of their offices and the cities and expect unhappy, hungry members of the society to be law abiding. In as much as I am not supporting non conformity to laws, state governments should know that arresting and prosecuting criminals will not stop crime, but digging deep into the causes of crime, and improving the living standard of the down trodden, especially those who contributed to their emergence will naturally provide the needed security.
A number of entrepreneurs and industrialists have complained over time that your state government does not march actions with words by ways of encouraging and empowering them to step-up, what is your take on that?
First and foremost, well-placed citizens should bring their businesses and entrepreneurial initiatives to the state, by so doing, they will contribute to the peace and security of the state and off course generate employment to boost economy. The government too, should encourage private firms and initiatives. Party and other parochial affiliations should not define the government’s interest and zeal in promoting small and private firms and initiatives. Akwa Ibom people are so enterprising and industrious. For example, the Akwa Ibom Ofon Ama Traffic Intervention Initiative was established by a private individual. The civilian traffic warden team had over three hundred unemployment youths of Akwa Ibom. The project was fired by the need to assist the police traffic unit as the Godswill Akpabio administration opened new roads and junctions in Uyo metropolis. These new roads gave birth to unprecedented road accidents. An Akwa Ibom son, in his contribution to community service, conceived the idea and recruited youths to assist the police, which appeared to be under-staffed then. though the state government assisted the initiative after two years of operation, state governments should identify such members of the societies and encourage them, so that others would be spurred up to be creative.
In spite of the establishment of over 15 industries as announced by your state governor, the federal bureau of statistics declared your state, the second highest in unemployment rate. How do you reconcile this sharp contradiction?
The federal bureau of statistics should know that our state is experiencing severe population explosion. Industrialization is not an event, but a process that takes time to yield fruits. The crisis of unemployment will soon become a thing of the past.