Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has blamed former political office holders in the state for keeping quiet in the face of the attacks by unknown gunmen and the deteriorating security in the state.
The governor said for keeping mute in the midst of the security challenges, the former political office holders have questions to answer.
Senator Uzodinma, who stated this while briefing State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also said that him alone cannot guarantee security in the state.
He said other stakeholders including traditional rulers, religious leaders, politicians, among others must engage more with the people to restore peace in the state.
He argued that if former political office holders in the state had been speaking out in condemnation of the unwholesome activities of those destabilizing the country, things would have been different.
While he noted that he was in the presidential villa to brief the president on the situation in the state, he admitted that all is not well with the country.
The governor admonished that those who are destroying government property must be ready to face the consequences.
According to him, “In Imo state as I speak to you only me cannot restore security, only me cannot guarantee security. I have to work with traditional rulers have to work with opinion leaders, I have to work with the youth leaders to be able to deploy community kind of security programme, to be able to resist what is going on today.
“But you have heard how people will come from outside the state in the name of unknown gun men. I don’t know when we will begin to know this people and they will commit atrocities, and they will now flee.
“So, these are the things. I want to use this opportunity to invite all leaders, religious leaders, political leaders, community leaders, traditionally institution to join hands, because the only country we have is this Nigeria, we don’t have another country. And if we’re not united we will achieve nothing.
“We must contribute our quota, however it is to ensure that Nigeria remains a strong, united, a place that we will go about our businesses, equity and justice is guaranteed. And then we have a country.”
The governor stressed the need for leaders to do more to ensure peace, stating: “It is not only in Imo State, I didn’t limit to Imo State. I am saying and I want to say it again, that cases of insecurity here and there in the country, has not been helped by the posture of opposition party and some aggrieved politicians.
“Reason being that at a time like this in Nigeria, anybody worth his onions as a leader should be able to speak out. How many of them are speaking out? How many of them are condemning what is going on?
“Rather what you see are leaders fanning the embers of insecurity, blaming only government. We must be tired of this blame thing by now and then contribute our own quota towards ensuring that national security is not threatened.
“So it is not something for politics. It’s something that if you are a former senate president, and you are a former speaker, or a former deputy senate president, or a former deputy speaker, and things like these are happening in the country, and you are not able to speak out, and we’re not seeing you where you engaging in addressing the young men and women in your area on the need for united Nigeria and this is a country that have given you opportunity to serve at that level one time or the other, then it is either overtly or covertly, you have a question to answer.”
On the insinuation that his utterances and seeming foreclosure of dialogue with aggrieved groups may be fueling insecurity in Imo state, he said:
“Well, you say many people are thinking. That is their thinking. And I don’t know the kind of utterances that I have made that suggest the position that I closed door… I did not closed no door.
“If you have monitored what is going on in Imo state of late you would have seen me receiving leadership by leadership according to local government, trying to find out the the common way of resolving these security challenges we have had in the state.
“It is not only in Imo state that we have had the challenges of insecurity. There in insecurity in other states. In fact, I can even tell you that Imo case is better apart from one or two cases that involved very important personality.
“There has never been a time that 20 persons died at a time, or school children were kidnapped, and all that. We have been doing our best to see that cases of security breaches are reduced to the barest minimum if not eliminated.”
Speaking on branding those attacking government’s assets as terrorists, he affirmed that the security situation in the country is bad, adding; “I think there are two things. Either you respect government and not destroy government assets, or you destroy government assets and face the consequences. Those are the two things.
“So, let us not pretend, as if all is well. All is not well. Leaders must rise to ensure that they walk hand in hand with government to ensure their security in the country.
“Have you seen a situation where people will wake up and take buses to school and then load 200 students, you can imagine how many buses that will take 200 students and drive them away to somewhere and they will be asking for ransom. What type of society is that?
“This is not the society we used to know about our country. We should all be worried and not only be worried, or to sit down and begin to blame government or blame, Mr. President. We should all get involved.”
The governor was of the view that things as not as bad in Imo state as they are elsewhere in the country.
“Of course, not just in my state, everywhere in Nigeria there are security breaches here and there. Of course, Imo is not left out. We are doing our best.
“So far, the situation is relatively okay in Imo State than it was. Imo is okay now, people can come around and do their businesses. The normal life and activities have resumed in Imo state, security agencies are on top of their situation,” Governor Uzodinma declared.
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