By Joe Akwarandu & Onyinye Okonkwo
“Fulani herdsmen will not be part of any security arrangement in Abia state such strategy could work elsewhere but not in Abia state. We have our own plans which we will be willing to share with other people if they are interested. Our plans do not have provision for herdsmen as vigilantes”.
Okezie, speaking on the steps taken by his administration to avoid farmer-herders clash, revealed that that his administration had set up mediation committees at the state and local government levels. Shedding more light on the function of the mediation committee, he said “When cows destroy crops, the cows don’t know the difference between cash crops and normal grass. Someone must take responsibility. I have mandated the mediation committee to investigate real cases of destruction of farmlands and even, the killing of cows and when such instances are confirmed, I choose to pay either the owner of the farm or the cow owner as the case maybe. I prefer to pay for one or two cows to losing any life. One human life is more expensive than all the cows put together. However, our major emphasis is on ensuring peaceful coexistence amongst all those concerned. This is why we hear little about clashes in Abia state. There are herdsmen in Abia but we have managed to create a template that ensures peace”.
Governor Ikpeazu speaking on the issue of state police expressed his full support for the idea saying that not only will a community police reduce the crime rate at the state level, but would enable governors provide better security in their states as they would have full control of the police in their states. In his words;
“State police is the way to go. I support it 100%. Security has a lot to do with intelligence gathering and this is best achieved when the security agencies understand the terrain very well. Criminals live amongst us. They don’t come from the moon. Community policing will help check the increase in criminal activities across the country. When the Police force is peopled by those who come from the locality, it becomes way easier to manage the situation better. This is why in places like the US, there is no centralized police system and they have made a huge success of it.
“The issue of funding of the state police won’t be a problem because all we need do is to recalibrate the revenue allocation system in such a way that whatever is used to fund the Police currently will be given to states for the same purpose. It is strange that a governor who runs a state does not have any control over security issues in his state. If as a governor, you have a police commissioner who wants to be difficult, you are helpless. We can’t make progress that way”.
The fear of governors using it against their opponents is unfounded. Why should we be afraid of a situation we have not tested? If a baby on his mother’s back is afraid of the ground, that baby will never walk, talk less of running. The misuse of power is an abstract concept. Power is taken for good, not for evil. Besides, power is temporary. No governor will remain in office beyond eight years. Four years from now, I will no longer be a governor, he said.