July 2, 2022 9:59 am

Bishop Onuoha X-rays Strategies For Curbing Insecurity, As NOA Holds National Security Campaign


To enhance National Security, there should be mechanisms for immediate actions against conflicts and riots before they escalate to violence, the Co-chair Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, Bishop Dr. Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha has suggested.

Bishop Onuoha, a Methodist Bishop made this suggestion while delivering a keynote speech at the Michael Okpara auditorium, Umuahia during a one day sensitization programme organised by the National Orientation Agency, NOA, Abia State in collaboration with the Ministry of Information on National Security Campaign on the theme,  “Building a People of Peace: Towards Enhancing National Security”.

Bishop Onuoha also believed that insecurity would be reduced if an effective security management system with adequate precautionary measure against spontaneous attacks of terrorists is put in place in the country.

Bishop Onuoha who also regretted that Nigeria has become one of the hotbeds of conflict in Africa, stated that the prevalence of conflicts, manifests in religious intolerance, Political Thuggery, Kidnapping, Drug Addiction, Radicalization and Violent Extremism, pointing out that these vices are the greatest threats to peace, unity, security and development of our dear nation.

He called for a multifaceted approach which include: giving the youth jobs, a supportive environment for Micro, Small and medium enterprises (SME’s), maintaining that these are key in solving the perennial problem of peace and rising insecurity in Africa, particularly Nigeria.

He also decried that there is hardly any day that cases of kidnapping between Okigwe and Enugu, and the Okigwe-Ihube-Uturu-Isuikwuato axis is not recorded to the extent that students in universities and their lecturers have become constant victims to miscreants.

Bishop Dr. Onuoha said the concept of peace and security mainly rests on the principle of sanctity or sacredness of life as well as the absolute necessity to protect and safeguard lives and property.

He stated that socialization to values of peace and provision of services will assist Nigeria in closing up the worsening horizontal inequalities as it is capable of dousing all tensions, adding that humans amid all problems adopt methods of getting themselves out of socio-political marginalization, abysmal state of infrastructural facilities, environmental degradation, and high level of religious intolerance among others.

Bishop Onuoha made it clear that to fight insecurity and foster peace, sensitization campaigns is key while commending the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the Ministry of Information, for building synergy among them together with relevant stakeholders and actors in the heated polity, adding that the sensitization programme is apt in view of the current challenges confronting the country.

In his speech, the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Chris Ezem described the event as apt and informed that security is a collective responsibility and should not be left to the security alone.

While assuring that Abia State will continue to be safe and peaceful, he maintained that the state will continue to partner NOA to continue to keep the environment safe, even as he urged the people to be security conscious always.

Also speaking respectively, the Abia state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Eze Chikamnayo, the representative of Abia State Commissioner of Police, the Sector Commander,Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Abia StateCommand, Mr Paul Ugwu and Chairman of the occasion from Abia State Law Reform and Review Commission, Justice K O Nwosu called for a sustained campaign against social ills, even as they advised that the security campaign should be extended to the grassroots.

The programme which attracted Security Agencie; Ministries; Department and Agencies (MDAs); Political Leaders; Traditional Rulers; Religious Leaders; Heads of Federal Establishments; Corporate Bodies; Professional Organisations; NGOs/CSOs; Youth Organisations; Women Groups, and General Public, saw the Investiture of  Rt. Hon. (Engr.) Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji  (Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly), as Grand Patron of WAI Brigade, Abia State; investiture of Patrons of WAI Brigade, Abia State on: Barr. Chris Ezem;  Engr. Enyinnaya Nwafor;  High Chief Mel-Daimeon Osuji; Ide (Sir) Ifeanyi Okechukwu; Prince Chris Odinaka Igwe; Senator Bright Nwanne and Prof. Onyekachi Iheme.

Read Bishop Onuoha’s full speech below:
A Keynote Speech by Bishop Dr. Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha, President Vision Africa @ The National Orientation Agency (NOA) Security Sensitization and Re-orientation Campaign in partnership with the Ministry of information, Abia State held at Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia | 23rd February, 2022
Peace is a state of harmony or absence of hostility. It is a state of tranquility, quietness or freedom from civil disturbance. Wikipedia describes peace as a state of harmony characterized by lack of violent conflict and the freedom from fear of violence. It follows that where there is disharmony, civil disturbance or hostility, peace is vacated. People hold the view that every human relationship experience conflict, or that conflict is inevitable and cannot be completely prevented or eradicated in human or societal relations because of the nature of humanity in itself.
It was Ralph Waldo that said that “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself”; simply meaning that to fully reap the benefit of a civil society and good governance in Nigeria requires the full participation of every section of the Nigerian state – the government, the civil society, citizens – you and me, young and old, especially youths and women to be awake to their responsibilities and ensure that Nigeria becomes and remains a safe, strong and prosperous place to inhabit.
It is only our collective, active inclusiveness as a people that can right the long-held injustices, combat violence and peacebuilding, and create an environment for dialogue.Peace building and conflict resolution or conflict prevention should be a high and central priority in a country like Nigeria because these terms and principles are enablers of development, security, social and economic justice, and reconciliation. Peace promotes the optimum environment for human potential to flourish, and for a community to progress; because peace thrives only in tranquility and national security is linked with development.
Unfortunately, the prevalence of conflicts, manifested in religious intolerance, Political Thuggery, Kidnapping, Drug Addiction, Radicalization and Violent Extremism are the greatest threats to peace, unity, security and development of our dear nation. On the flip side of the coin is poverty, unemployment, underdevelopment and a litany of other social vices strung along the spectrum of inexplicable hardship suffered by a people.
I will read out a few public figures, judge for yourself if this is still a country. . .• 1,192 people were killed in Kaduna State by bandits, January to December 2021

Source: DailyTrust of February 1, 2022.• 1st week of Jan. 2022 | 216 killings were recorded: Zamfara State: 200 ; Kaduna:7 ; Plateau: 3 ; Ondo : 3 and Akwa Ibom 3• Jan 9-15 | 37 killings: Plateau 18; Kebbi 17; Abuja 1; and Imo 1• Jan 16-22 | 13 killings: Ebonyi 4; Niger 5; Kaduna 3; and A. Ibom 1• In Niger State alone, this year, at least 220 people were killed as a result of attacks on about 300 communities.• Tuesday, Feb 15 | people killed in Abia State at a cattle market.It means at least 494 killings have taken place in Nigeria this year so far. Source: Premium Times of January 22, 2022.• 3,384 people were kidnapped in 2021(Jan 01 to December 31) in Kaduna State• 10,366 people were killed in Nigeria, in the year 2021**(January 01-December 31,2021).Source: The Guardian of February 3, 2022.It does appear that the counts are not clear in high volume places like Benue, Katsina,Sokoto, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Anambra States. How then do we account for the many other lives that do not make the public records and thus not accounted for?

There is hardly any day we don’t record kidnapping between Okigwe and Enugu, and the Okigwe-Ihube-Uturu-Isuikwuato axis. To the extent that our students in that university and their lecturers have become constant victims.Where do we go from here and will we ever get there? “Building a People of Peace for a Secure and Safer Nigeria” The concept of peace and security essentially hinges on the principle of sanctity or sacredness of life, and the absolute necessity to protect and safeguard lives and property. The “absence of threat to life, property and socio-economic well-being” of the people is a basic right that Nigerians, and indeed people everywhere should have – where citizensare able to meet their needs, aspirations and expectations – while being free from danger or threats.To fight insecurity and engender peace, sensitization campaigns like these by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the Ministry of Information, is commendable; as is building synergy among relevant stakeholders and actors in the heated polity.Peace education and socialization as a means of entrenching culture of peace in the minds of Nigerians, especially children, youths and women should be taken to the grassroots, to the indigent, communicated in the language of those without formal education, and made appealing to the young. Government investment in youth education and empowerment programs is a panacea for combating violent acts in Nigeria. Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index assessed Nigeria as a corrupt nation. A country is presumed corrupt in their ratings if there is evidence of “abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. Add to that the obvious corruption in sections of the society and gross mismanagement that has become the order of the day. Sadly, we have unwittingly bred a young generation of scammers, deceptive students, and a high-tech crew of fraudsters.

Bishop Sunday Onuoha

Promoting development, reducing poverty, strengthening national institutions and good governance practices are essential traits which the country must imbibe to move forward. If we must get from here to there, the following are my recommendations:

1. Across the dialogue table is the thick veil of ‘Trust Deficit’, fostered from years of betrayed trust. It is a case of the ‘fat bellied politician’ fed full from the collective proceeds from which the malnourished poor are not allowed edible crumbs. There is lack of trust for leaders due to years of bad governance, corruption and nepotism.Government must therefore, address the yawning gap between the rich and the poor, and resuscitate our gradually disappearing middle class. How can we talk about food security when families can no longer farm in peace? Our women and children no longer feel safe in their own farmlands, so the poor gradually become more impoverished, as cassava, yam and fresh vegetable (hitherto staple foods) gradually get thinner on village tables because they stayed home and watched the planting season waste away out of fear for their lives. We delude ourselves if we think they do not see the outlandish lifestyles flaunted by corrupt politicians and the ‘big wigs’ of our society.
2. Nigeria must abolish the ‘state of origin’ requirement in any government documentation. This is our bane, as it has entrenched discord and disenchantment in our youths, as well as damaged their orientation of ‘Nationhood’. For a lot of them, the language they have been exposed to is not their “mother tongue”; but it has become their ‘original tongue’ because of where they were born and socialized. Where I was born and raised, the people I have grown up with, and learnt their language and customs as my own, or even where I choose to reside in for a stipulated time should be enough to determine where I identify with.
3. In tacking security, there should be no ‘they and us’, the ‘minority and the majority’, or  the ‘extremists and the agitators’. The polarization of ethnic groups and ethnocentrism has made it difficult to manage security in Nigeria. Something as simple as which tribe of security to send to which location in Nigeria is sickening, as it shows how we have allowed our diversity to be our divisive chant.
It is unfortunate for a judge to make an order based on a people’s cultural attire. How could a judge, a torch bearer of our justice system, flippantly address over 50 million people that make up a region in such a way that perpetuates the injustice the people agitate against? We all, as Nigerians know that our identities and cultural leanings can be known by what we wear or how we wear them. Asooke in the south/west, Babariga or dashiki in the north, and Ishiagu in the east are peoples’ identities. How that affects a man that is presumed innocent before the law until otherwise proven, beats me. We must stop with the disregard of others’ emotions and sensitivities!
4. We struggle to fully comprehend how bandits have taken over some parts of the country and non-state actors are still collecting security money/dues from citizens. How do you justify the spending on security when insecurity still thrives? Government must face the real issues rather than use IPOB and ESN, bandits, Boko haram etc. as a leverage for escapism. What are the intelligent reports before the powers that be? Having accessed our security capacity, can we actually deal with our problems or we would need help from other allies? What is the direction from this crossroad? 
5. How do you expect traditional rulers and other local actors to provide security information when those who did have been continually compromised? An average Nigerian feels unsafe in his country and with such situation how do we expect an investor to have confidence in the system? How many of such conglomerate investments have been relocated out of Nigeria due to insecurity, with the consequential job loses for Nigerians?
6. At this point there are no sacred places or institutions; our women, children, the clergy and Imams are kidnapped right in their places of worship and schools and taken captive; our Prisons are broken and criminals set free. In some parts of this country, the bandits levy tax and fines on community dwellers, and this must be paid else they pay the ultimate price – in a free country!“Shalom, Asalamalekun, Peace be unto you” are religious greetings, in different languages that express our divine commitment to peace – regardless of our faith leanings or scriptural believes. Where did we miss the road then?
7. There is so much relativism in dealing with moral issues amongst us. Why be quick to tag and punish an individual; and then turn around and hide the whip when another does something similar or even worse? Again, our youths are taught that they can do no wrong, because the recompense for misbehavior depends on what name you bear or where you stand on the map called Nigeria. No individual should be bigger than the society. We should have a homogenous system that regulates everything and everybody – no sacred cows or preferences. Respect for the Rule of law must be for all and not just a few.
8. To ask if those issues that brought about EndSars have been addressed, would be begging the question – but really, have we addressed the issues that triggered the nationwide protests? I was privileged to be appointed by the Abia State Governmentto serve on the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the EndSars and other related matters in the State; and hearing the horrifying and painful stories of innocent people including media staff being brutalized by those we pay to protect us, brought many of the members of the panel to tears. I ask again, have those trigger-issues been bluntly addressed? One of such trigger-issues is the working conditions and take-home pay for security officers – which for want of a better adjective is an ‘apology’. How many of you have been to any Police residential quarters? They are fellow human beings with families, and dependants, but made to live in squalors. To think we would treat our officers like that, even after their protest about these conditions while fighting terrorism in Nigeria? No wonder we have ‘official extortionists’ on our roads, causing constant conflicts between our motorists and the clad-men in charge of our security on the roads.
9. Clause 84 of the Electoral Bill that stalemated the signing of the bill into law has sincebeen amended, Mr. President. When you declined assent, you promised to sign the bill if changes are made to the clause. It is time to fulfill that promise in order to reduce tension and insecurity associated with elections in Nigeria.The world is waiting, and Mr. President, you must resist pressure from very few selfishindividuals, but respect the will of majority of Nigerians well represented in the national assembly, and sign the bill.
10.Who have we held accountable for making provocative statements? Who have we held accountable for making inciting statements? Some of our leaders have said things that made innocent young people to take to the streets to the point of destroying people of other faiths and committing heinous crimes against people of the other language group. Some leaders have set the country on fire just to be heroes in their ethnic groups but no one is held accountable.
11.The recurrent ASUU strike is counter-productive, as it endangers the future of theyoung people they are trying to revitalize the public institutions for. Have we tried to evaluate the impact of these constant academic disruptions on poor families and selfsustaining students whose lives are suddenly put on hold, as if you are pausing a movie on your Television? Try assessing the psychological impact of spending six to seven years in programs that are designed to run for four years. If you failed your courses, you have yourself to blame; but if Government is doing the failing and you are forced to bear the brunt, take a chill pill and pretend nothing is wrong – injustice cannot be better described. Our youths get the long end of the stick all the time, because even when they finally graduate, most end up in the labour force of unemployed demographic – with anger that could be unleashed, constituting security risks at the slightest trigger.
12. Those who brought adulterated PMS/fuel laced with methanol into Nigeria have caused national and economic damage to us. Nigerians are waiting for who will be held accountable. Unless the fuel passed through our borders and got distributed to marketers and outlets without a trace of downstream, depo or cargo documentation. We await the explanations from the authorities, because as at today, no one has resigned nor been fired for that embarrassment.
13.Leah Shaibu is an image issue becoming increasingly difficult to explain to the young generation, the youths, and our international friends. Why has Leah remained in the hands of her abductors for almost four years now? Each time we are confronted with the question of Leah in the global community, one lacks tangible explanation to give; because what makes her case different from others that are abducted, or remain in the hands of abductors, is that she is being held because of her faith. This has placed a very high moral burden on us as a nation. The truth remains that as long as Leah and others remain captives, we all are in captivity. Leah needs to be released to show that when one suffers, we all suffer.
Conclusively, Nigeria undoubtedly is one of the hotbeds of conflict in Africa today, and only a multifaceted approach from all of us will work. As for conflicts, humans will always adopt methods of getting themselves out of socio-political marginalization, abysmal state of infrastructural facilities, environmental degradation, and high level of religious intolerance.Socialization to values of peace and provision of services that can close up the worsening horizontal inequalities that we all see and feel will douse tension. Give the youths jobs, provide a supportive environment for Micro, Small and medium enterprises (SME’s); and insecurities will be drastically reduced. An effective/efficient security management system, that can take precautionary measures against spontaneous attacks of terrorists and take immediate actions to quench conflicts and riots before they escalate to violence is needed urgently. 
Again, this is something we all must collectively get ourselves to do, because whoever is beating the drum of conflict that we are dancing to as a country right now, does not mean well for this nation.They say a stitch in time saves nine; but it appears this fabric is torn badly. Where we go from here, and how far we go, will depend on how fast we confront theses challenges. I appeal to all – DO YOUR PART, AND DO IT NOW!
Signed,Bishop Dr. Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha

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