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EDITORIAL

Owerri and the unexpected

The Leader News Online

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Owerri and the unexpected

Owerri could once pass as one of the safest places in Nigeria. This is in spite of little or no Federal Government presence by way of jobs and industries. Even in recent times, the Eastern Heartland was still deemed comparatively peaceful, even with rising poverty and unemployment. But things are changing for the worse. Owerri is fast losing its attraction as a good place to live and do business, whatever Government’s propaganda tells us.

Easter Monday’s shooting, jailbreak and destruction of police headquarters, located near the seat of power, is a shocking evidence of the changing times and rising insecurity. If criminals could break into police headquarters, so strategically located and perform such heinous act, then there is no security in the state.

The attackers formerly identified as “Unknown gunmen” have been linked to the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), with or without investigation. The Owerri attacks came some days after the massacre of over 20 innocent souls in a community in Ebonyi State, by the notorious Fulani herdsmen.

We condemn the attack irrespective of who carried them out and urge Government to track them down for punishment. However, we note that the Federal Government has not said much about the perpetrators of the Ebonyi attack and many other such attacks but has read the riot act on IPOB. We also condemn any form of selective justice. Crime is crime and criminals whoever they are should be punished, according to the law.

Another issue of concern is that our police seem to be more reactive rather than proactive in fighting crime. To deal with the enormous crime rate we now have, police should be more up and doing with utilizing of intelligence. Community policing should not be in word only.

Additionally, Nigeria must rise up to the fact that insecurity is at a record high, even with new Service Chiefs in place. Regional policing is not a bad idea at this time. We would have suggested or backed the call, in some quarters, for the establishment of a state police. However, when we consider the availability of funds or lack of it, resulting in nonpayment of salaries and pensions in some states, including Imo, we hold back. That is in addition to the possibility of state governors hijacking the outfit and using it to fight political opponents.

The Federal Governments is well aware that the existing security system is inadequate. There is no point in burying one’s head in the sand like the ostrich, allowing parochial interests to rule and dominate. There is fear in the land and that fear is real. While the Federal Government wrestles with Boko Haram and its other arms – killer Fulani herdsmen and Bandits, there is need to empower the states and regions to deal with their own “smaller” or peculiar security challenges before they balloon to the size of Boko Haram.

Fighting crime is also not about waiting for it to happen and then appearing like a rainbow after the rain. For now, it seems criminals are walking several miles ahead of the police. This should not be.

EDITORIAL

To Christian Fathers with Love

The Leader News Online

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To Christian Fathers with Love

Fatherhood is a special assignment and brings with it a special responsibility. All true fathers know it is not an easy job. It is ordained by God who himself is the greatest Father. With gratitude to God for the gift of fathers, we heartily wish all fathers a Happy Father’s Day, assuring them that they are loved and appreciated. Anything less is against the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Fathers are the pillars of the home. They give character, identity and balance to the family. As a building without pillars is structurally defective, so is a home without a functioning father. Fathers give strength and support to both wives and children, whose confidence they also help to build and nurture.

A father is the head of the home, more so the Christian family. This is ordained by God and well represented in the Scriptures. The Catholic home is modeled after the image of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. Like Saint Joseph, fathers are God’s representatives in the home, good shepherds, hearing from God, leading the way, planning, providing, protecting and guiding the family according to the will of God. As the No 1 citizens of every family, fathers are favored by God when they accept the role and perform their duties responsibly, in the fear of God and to the best of their ability.

So many things are working against fathers these days but we insist that God’s grace is enough for every committed father. Unfortunately, some fathers have abused the noble role of fatherhood to their own detriment and that of the family. Some are absentee fathers unlike Saint Joseph who in the midst of tremendous challenges still fulfilled his God-given role. These days, some fathers act like mercenaries, and terrorize those they ought to protect. Some give up their position to others, including their wives and sons and take on secondary roles, which the Creator has not assigned to them. We are aware that there are circumstances which try to force fathers to neglect their home, but we also know that the grace of God abounds and is always sufficient.

We congratulate and encourage those fathers who refuse to be anything less under any circumstance. Despite, many trials, they love their wives, listen to their children, set the agenda and point the family towards God.

Let every father remember there is a Heavenly Father whose son he also is and to whom he will give account. Let the wife beaters and child abusers repent.

Let the fathers in politics and holding various positions of authority know that God is watching. Let them renounce bribery, corruption and injustice in all its forms as true Catholics and Christian fathers. Fathers in policy-making positions in government, should realize that they have a rare opportunity to make policies that are favourable to the masses and geared towards the attainment of the common good which is what the church preaches.

True fatherhood is no fiction. It is kind, loving, sacrificial, patient, moderate, accountable and disciplined. Fathers are role models especially for their sons. As we celebrate with Fathers, we urge each one to ask himself today – what kind of father have I been?

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EDITORIAL

Not Again! Sheathe your swords

The Leader News Online

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Owerri and the unexpected

Imo State and the South East were generally peaceful. Not too long ago, people were literally running to Owerri and other South East towns for safety as a result of unrest in several parts of the country. Some had pockets of violence; others were boiling outright, but Imo State, in particular was calm.  People fled to sleepy little Owerri, so to speak, for peace of mind.  Surprisingly, things are different now. We hope and pray it won’t be long before Owerri, particularly, is returned to what it used to be: a peaceful place.  The situation is disturbing.

The new wave of “one night one trouble” is worrying.  It arguably began with the mayhem in Orlu, about two months ago, where several innocent people lost their lives. Soldiers and Eastern Security Network (ESN) clashed and several innocent people died. While, we are still trying to understand what was going on, police headquarters, located opposite Government House was razed. Inmates were released at the Federal Correctional Centre, Owerri. Other ugly incidents occurred and then we woke up to a sudden attack at the country home of Governor Hope Uzodimma. Lives were lost and property destroyed.   A police station at Mbano was burnt, the very next day and a dozen or so policemen killed.  This is sad.

Other South East States had their share of such atrocities Anambra, which is at the verge of an election, has been on fire and we cannot forget the killings in Ebonyi, Enugu and Obigbo in Rivers State.  Those killed are Ndigbo, we must not forget.  Every life lost or property destroyed weakens us.

It is no longer news that Fulani herdsmen are a big threat to Nigeria, South East for sure. They are eyeing our farmlands and reportedly planning an attack. What is happening in Benue and Niger is a proof.

But in addition to the herdsmen threat, we also have unknown gunmen. Everything is pointing to killing and destruction. Who are the “unknown gunmen” and what is their mission?  Governor Uzodimma said the attacks were politically motivated. If so, who are the politicians and are they true sons and daughters of Igboland?  Do they think they will be spared grief and agony if they set Igboland on fire?

We are calling on the South East to unite. We are asking South East governors and Igbo leaders to read the writing on the wall. They must dialogue with various interest groups in order to find  a lasting solution to this mayhem.  Targeting and killing the police does not create a good image  for people who genuinely desire peace. Attacking security outfits and weakening the police is a recipe for doom.

Whatever security network we have must put the real interest of the South East first. Whether it is Ebube Agu, Ogbunigwe or Eastern Security Network, our common survival as Ndigbo is key.  Need we say we are a hated people in Nigeria? South East governors, Ohaneze, Religious leaders and every interest group must unite and face this unhealthy development. A divided Ndigbo is a defeated South East.

Onyeaghalanwanneya must become the watchword.

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EDITORIAL

Need to restore Local Govt Autonomy

The Leader News Online

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Need to restore Local Govt Autonomy

By law, Nigeria has a three-tier Government. Each has its own functions. Federal and State Governments are holding their own, having achieved a measure of independence, so to speak. But the last tier, the Local Government, which is arguably the one that has the most impact on the people, is still, regrettably, the errand boy of the State Government. Little wonder our rural areas have remained largely and shamelessly under-developed.

Some of the duties of the local government include, taking care of primary education, public health, rural/inter-community road construction & maintenance, refuse disposal, establishment, maintenance and regulation of markets, motor parks, burial grounds and public conveniences, among others.

When one considers how far behind we are in achieving decency in the above areas, one knows, for sure, Nigeria is going nowhere in a hurry, as a state, country or people without a functioning and independent local government system. A local government that can perform the above functions is not one that is being manipulated by the state government, whose chairman is a stooge or allocation controlled by a state Governor.

Nigeria has 774 Local Government Areas, each administered by a local government council consisting of supposed elected chairman and councilors. Each LGA is subdivided into wards, for easier administration.

The local government has gone through series of transformations to modernize its operations and make it more productive. However, despite all efforts, the system has been incapable of achieving the goals for which it was established. The failure is partly due to the interference of the state governors, who turn the LGs to more or less another ministry under them, to the deteriment of the grassroots.

Our constitution makes it clear that the independence of the three tiers of government is not to be compromised but earnestly pursued to achieve true democracy. That was why the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was assigned the responsibility of organizing elections at the three tiers of government. Unfortunately, the state governors, out of greed and selfishness, lobbied for the setting up of Independent State Electoral Commissions (ISEC) so as to get control of Local government elections. With this, they install stooges as chairmen, giving themselves unlimited access to local government funds and allocations.

LGs are therefore a shadow of what they should be, unable to perform any meaningful role in governance, including grading of roads, even at this time in our democracy.

The denial of local government autonomy has done much harm to life in the rural areas. The neglect of the grassroots has brought so much poverty and rot in our rural communities, which many try to flee from.

For any meaningful development to take place, Local Government Autonomy must be restored, not just in word but in reality. States must hands off local government administration, elections, allocations and funds, meant for the development of the grassroots.

Until this is convincingly done, life in the nation, especially rural communities will continue to be miserable. All developmental efforts will be synonymous to cleaning the outside of a cup: The Inside remains awfully dirty.

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