Delivering a Welcome Address at the Conference which was attended by the governors of Abia, Enugu and Delta with a representative of the governor of Ebonyi State, Governor Obiano described the conference as “finest hour” and the “turning point” in the march of the people of the region to greatness.
Describing Security as the panacea for rapid economic growth and development, governor Obiano observed that mankind’s greatest worry has always been how to ensure a safe and secure world.
Said he: “Our world has never been an easy place to live in.Speaking about mankind’s never-ending struggle for a better world, the great French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the author of The Social Contract, observed in 1762 that “man is born free, and everywhere, he is in chains.” Ladies and gentlemen, man is in a different kind of chain today,” he pointed out and further observed that despite giant leap mankind has achieved with the many wonders of science, “man remains the sole architect of his own fears.”
Reflecting on the peculiarities of the region, Governor Obiano bemoaned the fact that years of persistent assaults on the cities and communities in the South East and Delta States had driven investors away and stifled economic growth in the region.
“We have assembled here today to interrogate our circumstances; to ask ourselves hard questions and to set for ourselves a common agenda. The pertinent question we must ask ourselves is how long? How long shall the South East and Delta State and other contiguous states bear the brunt of brazen criminality and meaningless brigandage? How long shall our people’s well known enterprising spirit be driven away to nourish distant lands while our homeland wallows in squalor?” he queried, calling for a joint effort to stamp out violent crime in the region.
He recalled that there was a time Anambra State experienced waves of gang rules in the commercial city of Onitsha that were so dominant that constituted authorities felt helpless under their brutal onslaught.“The story is very much the same across the states in the region and Delta State. It may vary in degrees from one state to another but this region has had a most troubling crime history for far too long. The time has come to wipe this dark history away!” he maintained. The governor further opined that his administration had tried to answer some of the rhetorical questions on crime in the state by wiping out kidnappers and violent criminals that once held the state hostage and opened doors for investors.
Said he:“We have freed our social and economic space for businesses to thrive along with leisure.All around Anambra, there is a new sense of freedom among our people. But our freedom cannot be complete until our neighbours begin to experience a new atmosphere of liberty. Recent experience has shown that a security threat in one location is a security threat to the surrounding regions. So, our freedom over crime will remain incomplete, so long as the armed robbers and kidnappers we drive away from Anambra State can find safety anywhere in this region,” he reasoned.
Linking security to economic development, governor Obiano argued that the five South Eastern and Delta States must fight the war against insecurity together and rip the economic benefits together. “We cannot afford the consequences of a prolonged failure in this regard in an emerging Nigeria with clearly demarcated regional economic blocks.
Calling for the emergence of a regional economic block in the South East and Delta States, governor Obiano observed that “the shrinking of spaces for migrant people across the country calls for a robust economic and social agenda that will make our people less vulnerable to increasing hostilities around the world. There is a strident call by History on every leader from this region which we cannot ignore.”
According to him therefore, “Posterity looks onto us to build a befitting economy for the South East and Delta States. And for us to even contemplate anything of that magnitude, we must first find a lasting solution to insecurity in the region. This all important Conference is therefore an economic call to arms. We must all rise to wage a successful war on insecurity as a precursor to economic prosperity and greater fulfilment.”
In their separate remarks, the governor Abia State, Dr.Okezie Ikpeazu and his Enugu State counterpart, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi both identified insecurity created by crime and criminality as the greatest threat to the prosperity of the region. They both were unanimous in their commendation for governor Obiano’s successful war against criminals in the state assuring that they were willing to go the extra mile to combat crime in their home states.
Also speaking, the governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa and his Ebonyi State counterpart, Engr. Dave Umahi described the move for a regional effort against insecurity as crucial to the survival of the region.
The event was attended by top security officers in the country including the Inspector General of Police who was also the chairman of the colloquium.