Any serious new government that comes into office in a democratic polity is expected to have a vision of its desired destination for society and the road map to get there.
If the vision is well thought out, the road map will be clear as well. Essentially, the tenure of every government is like a journey that has a beginning and an end. Along the way, there should be milestones to measure progress. It is with that basic consciousness that the government of Anambra State under the one-year old leadership of Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, CFR, comes into focus, especially in the area of security, law and order.
After the governor has ceremonially marked his one year anniversary in office lately, it is time to put his achievements on public record and this piece is the first in the series to come.
The first one year in the tenure of Soludo’s government undoubtedly makes a foundational milestone for evaluation, especially with many critics’ distractions that the governor has had to contend with. How has the new government fared? Is it delivering on its vision? What are its vision and road map for a secure Anambra State where law and order should prevail?
It would be recalled that the current government took off with a sublime vision “To build a livable and prosperous smart megacity” which will be a place where to live, learn, invest, work, relax and enjoy. And the expected ultimate outcome of the vision is also aptly articulated to make Anambra State “Africa’s new axis of sustainable prosperity.”
When the vision becomes a reality, it is expected that the idea of Ndi Anambra living outside the homeland will be by choice and not under duress. But having such a noble vision is one thing, while achieving it is a different reality. For the Soludo administration, the most important first step towards realizing its vision is by creating an enabling environment where lives and property are secure, and law and order subsist.
Thus the governor’s clear road map from day one is crystallized as a 5-Solution Pillars strategy, namely Security, Law and Order, Infrastructure and Economic Transformation, Human Capital and Social Agenda, Governance and Value System, and Sustainable Environment. As we scrutinize the journey so far, what has been achieved under the pillar of Security, Law and Order without which no meaningful development can take place and other pillars cannot stand?
When the new government took over in March 17, 2022, the security situation in Anambra State was nationally acclaimed as frightening and alarming. There was rampant breakdown of law and order. Lives were under daily threats, just as public and private properties were not secure. Sons of anarchy, known as ‘unknown gunmen’, held sway with criminal impunity and bloodletting violence in areas such as Aguata, Ekwusigo, Ihiala, Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Orumba North, Orumba South and Ogbaru.
Kidnapping for ransom, banditry, farmers-herders clashes, communal disputes, cult and drug-related criminality and separatist agitations also compounded the security challenges.
Faced with such daunting security challenges, the Soludo government realized that its first and most crucial assignment was to take back the state from criminals and hydra-headed security crises, while restoring public confidence in our law and order system.
This critical assignment the new government began to undertake in a strategic and holistic manner, not just by a fire-brigade approach. First, Governor Soludo established a Ministry of Homeland Affairs and appointed a corresponding Commissioner as well as a Special Adviser on Security.
The next strategic action was to facilitate a functional synergy among all the security agencies in the state, which birthed the Joint Task Force (JTF) as the frontal vanguard of the all-out fight against insurrection and other forms of insecurity.
Complimenting the JTF initiative was also the restructuring and strengthening of the Anambra Vigilantes Service (AVS) with the mandate to flush out criminals in the state, especially in embattled 8 local government areas comprising the 7 in southern senatorial district and Ogbaru. Not leaving any stone unturned, the Soludo government went further to strengthen the State Security Trust Fund and set up a Truth, Peace and Justice Commission which has submitted an interim report for implementation. One of the interim recommendations by the Commission was the establishment of Bureau for Missing Persons which was recently established within the Ministry of Justice. That is taking pragmatic action by Governor Soludo which is the hallmarks of his administration.
Today, all the foregoing strategic actions taken to secure Ndi Anambra are yielding positive results. Criminal incidents and security crises have reduced drastically. Evidence can be seen in the peaceful festive celebrations across the homeland late last year, as well as in the crisis-free 2023 elections held in the state.
By and large, the Monday sit-at-home debacle has also loosened significantly, while the government is steadily kicking ‘agberos’, miscreants and hooligans off the streets. What about the administration of law and order in Anambra State? Of course, this present government acknowledges the fact that the maintenance of a functional law and order system goes in tandem with the attainment of security of lives and property. And so, key actions have been taken in the last one year towards ensuring law and order in Anambra State.
These include sequential digitization of justice delivery system by establishing Virtual Hearing facilities in 20 High courts and 4 Correctional Centers in the state; facilitating a new law for a State multi-door court house that will enhance access to justice by providing alternative mechanism to supplement litigation in the resolution of disputes; facilitating the amendment of Criminal Justice Law; designating courts at the Magistrate and High court levels for trial of sex-gender based cases; opening a Register for defendants convicted for rape or defilement; and improving power supply to 30 High courts in the state through the installation of solar equipment and battery storage.
Today, it is reassuring that the Anambra State Judiciary ranks second only to Lagos State in terms of productivity of the judges. Thus, so far, it has been one year of an action-oriented and results-driven journey by Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo’s administration towards making Anambra State a secure, lawful and orderly society. But the government is not under any illusion that everything is done and perfect, and it can rest on its oars. No. There are still pockets of security challenges and there will always be, because no human society, no matter how advanced, can ever be totally free from insecurity.
So, there is still a lot of work to be done. The journey to a safe, livable and prosperous smart megacity has just started and the Soludo government will intensify remedial and improvement actions in the next three years as far as security, law and order in Anambra State are concerned.
Yes, with the goodwill and support of Ndi Anambra, Anambra will always win!
Christian Aburime Is The Chief Press Secretary To Prof. Charles Soludo