Sir Willie Nwokoye is the Principal Secretary to the governor of Anambra State. In this interview with IZUNNA OKAFOR, he disclosed how Governor Obiano has impacted on the social and economic lives of ndi Anambra, among others. Excerpts:
IN THE last seven years, Governor Obiano has committed himself to securing lives and property of Ndi Anambra. How has this impacted on the social and economic life of Ndi Anambra?
In the last seven years, Governor Obiano has defined that public safety is a fundamentally adaptive challenge for Anambra State. Before he came in Anambra state, as a huge community, had been living with what you could call an extended period of disequilibrium in public safety. Things were not as it should be. People were unsure, not confident that when they went out that they would return safely. There were all kinds of crime, kidnapping and asking victims for ransom.
There were bracing armed robbery, very organised, targeted at institutions (most especially financial institutions). The consequence of that, that is, one measurement on how public safety had deteriorated in Anambra State was that cultural festivals and activities that ordinarily would have taken place in the homeland then were being relocated and hosted elsewhere outside the state. That was the situation then —the public safety had crumbled.
So when Governor Obiano came in in 2014, he clearly stated that of all things that anybody in leadership position could do for Anambra State, the anchor, critically, would be on the reestablishment of public safety in public consciousness.
People must feel safe. Property in Anambra State must feel safe,. institutions, corporate organisations must feel a sense of safety for him to be able to deliver the things he had articulated in his developmental blueprint. So, he brought public safety, security of lives and property to the fore.
Now, I want you to listen very carefully. How do you know a leader? A leader is not he who is occupying the chairman’s seat in a gathering, or who is always appearing on TV — TV is speaking about him, talking about him, radios are talking about him. That does not conclusively make a leader. What makes a leader is he who has been able to identify the most confronting realities of a community, a society, a group, a state, a local government, a country or some multilateral or bilateral organisations, global organisations.
Anybody that has been able to identify the most confronting realities of those people is a leader. So, Governor Obiano shows that he is a leader because he identified the most confronting reality of Anambra State at his inception of office, which was in 2014. And that most confronting reality is public safety. So, he designed his own average to address the issue of public safety.
There are people who are engaged to this government, whose primary function has been to handle that aspect of activities of government, which is security. So, I would not say much on it, but I can make some high level comments on security to tell you what Governor Obiano has done on security, theoretically, on the strategic side.
He didn’t consider security as one of those fleeting technical problems or crises that you just throw in some conventional solutions to. He didn’t do that. He did something else. He appreciated that it was a fundamental challenge and therefore, designed an unconventional solution framework to it. How?
The conventional things we see, the relationship, organisation of their security agencies, their security apparatus, their brick and mortar, their hardware, the software, their logistics resources, their operational resources, their personnel morale and their operatives. He resigned them, renegotiated the attention and their faithfulness and all other such things. He designed a funding approach, a funding framework that has made sure in seven years, that those aspects of conventional security work have been operating optimally. And those fundings are from this office which is answerable (directly) to the Office of the Governor.
Funded very adequately, the conventional art of Obiano security architecture… These security agencies, there are about nine of them. Before him, there was what we called the Joint Task Force. We were limited in number. But now in his architecture, they are very very generously funded. The Nigeria Police Force, the Army, the Directorate of the State Security, the Navy (because Anambra has some riverine geographical areas), the FRSC, the Correctional Services, the Civil Defence, the Immigration, the NDLEA.
So, a lot of people didn’t know that it was in Obiano’s administration in 2014, that these agencies came under one roof; and they are coordinated by the Commissioner of Police. So, that is one aspect of the strategy in his security architecture. Before they were acting differently and uncoordinated. But he united and brought them under one roof for optimal performance, with many good results in return.
Today, go to the 179 communities and 326 political wards in Anambra State, there are presence of security personnel there. Shortly, he made it obvious that criminals were being pursued. If you commit crime, you are pursued, you are nabbed, you face what is called the long arm of the law.
The fixed sight to it is: in the grassroots communities, people who commit crime are known because they live among people and people live with them.
So, if you are committing crime and living in a community, there is a big eye that sees you and reports to the security agency or network of surveillance in question. So, it is difficult for you to commit crime once, twice, thrice, without being nabbed. And these criminals are smart guys.
So when they know that there is a big eye that actually sees and monitors them, they flew. So, the result of Anambra comprehensive security architecture is that you’re caught when you are committing crime, or the environment is too hot for you and is created for them to flee.
So that’s why ordinary people keep saying that 50% of the calmness of Anambra State now is because people who are committing crimes have fled or taken flight to other places or neighbouring states that have not instituted the kind of the comprehensive security architecture that we have here. So dealing with the ones that remain; you can see that there numbers are not much any longer.
Anybody that lived in Anambra State before Obiano came in will know that most people that have been into crime no longer live in the state; they have fled. So, that is the Obiano Comprehensive Security Infrastructure.
Now, going forward, if you were here last year… I was part of the team that went to Boston when Obiano started getting some smart security cameras. I think the pilot number was 9. You’ve seen the security cameras being moved around. When there is a sign that this place is going to be a flashpoint for something, they move it there, right? That is the next level of adapting 21st century technology to address crime. He may conclude it with his tenure or may not, but anyone coming after Obiano would know that that is a 21st century way to address crime, because that camera revolves 360°.
So, if you’re standing here, it’s just 360°, east, west, north and south, you will see clearly, good resolution, either in the day or at the night —resolution of up to three football fields ahead, right round. Resolution here means that it can pick you for who you are, your eyes, your nose and whatever act you just committed; and the images are being downloaded in the designated places where people are trained, and they are interpreting the images in the laptops.
A lot of people do not know that that thing is on. So, these are the things that we have. And so, hardened criminals know that the big eye is seeing them; and they flew. Functionaries that are involved in primarily delivering security goals will give you the details of all these things. But what I just gave you is the strategic thoughts, the leadership aspect of Obiano’s security in Anambra State as a governor.
You’re one of the key motivators of cultural renaissance in Anambra through encouragement of creativity and exhibition of talents; what is the main goal in that? And what has been the result seven years after?
You know, some of the things that people tune their eyes to see and their ears to hear in assessing the performance of a public leadership figure is to look at whether he’s done roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, electricity, public water supply and other such things as that.
Hardly do people think of one important element —what of the state craft in creating the social behavioural pattern of the people that are being led, of the society, of the community? If you have good roads, beautiful bridges, beautiful hospitals, beautiful schools; and then you have a stock of citizens whose psychology are warpped, who are warpped in their sense of value, who are warped in their social values, the things, the philosophy that rule their lives, that detects their actions; you would have a beautiful community, a beautiful city; but then, you would have a terribly disastrous community.
Therefore, it is also important to build in the mind of the citizens, what I call ‘some-soft infrastructure’. Just as bridges and roads are infrastructures that you can touch, there are also a very important component of genuine prosperity, genuinely developing a community, a society of people.
Before Obiano came in in 2014, you never had anything about poetry readings, art events, cultural events, the things of that art that fertilise the mind, that sculpture the citizens’ mind into behaving like human beings of 21st century. It’s difficult to put your hand in it.
But the way to know that that has happened now is: if you knew Anambra seven or eight years ago and the Anambra now. Just check the social behaviour; you’ll see a great change in the way people conduct themselves.
This is because people have been exposed to the things they were not exposed to –things that were very familiar in Lagos. For those of us that lived in Lagos, you would see all kinds of drama, art events and all that.
Now, the way to illustrate this better is: if you have a family of three children who are exposed to piano playing, poetry readings, literary evenings, all stuffs like that; and these have become part of their growing life; it is unlikely that out of those three would be created an armed robber, because you’ve moulded their minds into being human beings that are sensitive to values that are elevated.
In Obiano’s administration, there have been some opening up of the society to the things of art. There have been concerts, musical concerts, there have been all kinds of talent hunting events that have been redirecting the fertile mind of the young people into things that are creative, than just wandering about and being attracted to things that are socially undesirable.
This is a kind of craft that requires someone with some intellectual capacity that is brought into leadership. You cannot get it if you are not intellectually elevated. And that is why it is important to have people who are intellectually elevated to come into office, because that aspect is very tricky —the aspect of crafting out a community of human beings that live in 21st century society.
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