Those delaying state police mischievous – Enugu LP gov candidate


Mr Chijioke Edeoga is the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Enugu State. In this interview with RAPHAEL EDE, he speaks on national issues bordering on insecurity, state policing, governance, and other topical issues

Your entrance into the politics of Enugu State has changed the dynamics. What has really changed?

What has really changed is that the people of Enugu State and Nigeria are responding positively, hopeful, and energetically to the changes that the current electoral law has brought to the process of electioneering and the process of announcing the results in such a way that the outcomes have been substantially in accordance with the people’s wishes.

The people have long agonised, worried or refused to participate because they said or knew that the outcomes usually were not in tandem with their expressed preferences; you vote one thing and the difference will be announced. It has been done so brazenly over the years. So, there has been substantial alienation, indifference, withdrawal, or contempt for the electoral process, but thanks to the current dispensation at the national level as it regards electoral law, which has been operationalised in Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun states, people have woken up to the reality of the situation or to the fact that a change has come.

Secondly, the people have had it up to their necks, and everybody can now see that tribalism will not do it for you; faith will not do it for you; and if you keep on removing yourself from the process, you keep on electing people who will govern you willy-nilly whether you like it or not. So, the convergence of the bad leadership that we have witnessed, especially in the past seven years at the federal level under retired General Muhammadu Buhari, and in the various states of the country, had woken the citizens to the fact that they must perform.

Thirdly, what has changed in Enugu State is that a combination of these things has conspired with fate to bring a candidate like myself, Chijioke Edeoga, who God obviously prepared for a time like this, who fate obviously prepared for a time like this, and who enjoys popular acceptance with regards to general knowledge that he is credible, that he has the cognate experience, that he is well-read, and that he has offered himself to become the torchbearer of the concerns of the concerned.

People’s wishes to decide their fate democratically have been repressed, suppressed, and outright marginalised in Enugu State. So, the opportunity presented by this new electoral law is the obvious need for change because the PDP is no longer an option and the APC is clearly worse. One is a sniper and the other is corrosive acid, corrosive acid is more dangerous than a sniper. It’s a confluence of several different factors coming from various directions, all coming together at a time when things must happen or we will perish. Change must happen, or else we are doomed. You can see the Naira is in free fall now; you can see that shops are closing, unemployment is high, and we have lost count of the unemployed or unemployable. The markets are closing, and despair and gloom are at their highest level. So we have become the torchbearers for change. That is what has changed people: the kind of people they want has come at a time when they have been empowered politically or electorally to decide their fate.

You ran for the PDP governorship ticket earlier and lost before you joined the Labour Party. People are saying that you are so desperate to be governor because you violated the pact you signed with other aspirants, to support whoever the governor anointed as the PDP governorship candidate. Can you tell Nigerians and Enugu electorates what really transpired?

I didn’t sign any pact with the governor of Enugu State. I made no agreement with anyone to give up or surrender my democratic rights to do anything legal or democratic. I didn’t sign any pact, and I am not desperate for anything. My candidacy is a response to the yearnings of Enugu State for change—change from the old order, which has clearly failed. So the fact that one was in PDP does not preclude you from having your thoughts because Jesus Christ told us to be in the world but not of the world. So one was in the PDP, but one was not touched by the numerous obvious sins of the PDP.

Your party has come under severe attacks in Enugu State. It appears to be a calculated attempt to stifle your party and frustrate your support base. Are you concerned that this is happening?

Yes, we are concerned; whatever happens to one actually happens to all. We are concerned about the increase in violence in Enugu State, particularly kidnapping. Many prominent people have been kidnapped. Former Secretary to the State Government, Dr Dan Shere, was kidnapped recently. The most prominent people have been kidnapped. It seems kidnapping has become a daily occurrence in Enugu State. People don’t go to their farms again; there is rising hunger and disenchantment, and the farms have been occupied. My Mgbuji community’s 14 villages have been occupied for almost one year now; in Ichie, the Unado area is a no-go area. Igbo-Eze North is a no-go area, and gradually we are losing territory to herdsmen and other forms of occupants and miscreants. So, yes, there have been attacks, even in Igbo-Eze North Labour Party activity was attacked. In Nomeh, Labour Party activity was attacked. In Aninri, Labour Party activity was attacked, but I am not certain; we are working towards finding an answer, but I cannot say categorically that those things are aimed only at the Labour Party operatives, agents, or people. That is the honest response to that situation. It is worrisome; it is pervasive.

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Lots of people who invested in land-property businesses have lost their investments. They have accused government officials of land racketeering and grabbing. How are you going to tackle the issue if you become governor?

We are going to computerise land administrations with the geographic information system. It is a new system that computerises land, and we are going to do it in Enugu. Kaduna State has done it, and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, has also done it. We are going to computerise land ownership in Enugu State so that at the touch of a button, all those things will be available. What has been suffocating it is the system’s inertia and corruption, which are fighting back.

So, we are going to make sure we force those changes because you have to force them a lot of the time because people don’t want them. The city of Enugu is congested already, so we are going to create other hubs around the Oji River and Nsukka. We are going to re-plan Enugu. We will properly acquire land and build outer and inner roads to decongest Enugu and reduce land racketeering unless you are a natural land racketeer.

What is your take on insecurity, and do you support the use of state police to combat the country’s ferocious insecurity?

I subscribe to the state police outfit. It is a tenet of federalism. It is a core tenet of federalism, state police, and community police. You don’t have to be afraid to take steps; once problems begin to arise, you begin to address them. The Central Police has failed us, and it has become mismanaged. The Central Police is run with a lot of insensitivity and is almost arrogant and contemptuous of the feelings of the federating units. You can’t have, for instance, an Igbo man going to Kirikasamma, Birniwa, Malam Mandoni, or Guri in Jigawa State, and you said he’s going to police; what is he going to police there? Or have him in different parts of Katsina State or the innermost part of Zamfara. He doesn’t understand the nuances, he doesn’t understand the culture, he doesn’t understand the interplay of forces, and he is there, so what can you police? You don’t understand all the dialects. What is he doing there? Policing? No.

If it is the federal police and he is involved in forensics, fingerprints, or monitoring, then if he monitors, he gives the outcome to the state police or local police for effectiveness, so we must have levels of police in Nigeria.

We need the Federal Bureau of Investigation to be involved in interstate crimes involving blood, blood testing, forensics, pictures, data, or photographs, such as data from DNA reports or facials; that is what the FBI should be doing; they should be the coordinator of state activities. The state police should be handling local issues. If you commit a crime within Enugu State, Enugu police will be on the scene; however, if you commit a crime in Anambra and cross into Enugu or in Enugu and cross into Benue, it becomes a federal offence, and federal police will descend on you; they will be properly trained, better equipped, and better remunerated. Kidnapping, once committed in your state, is a federal crime by definition, a state crime by definition, and a local crime by definition.

We must have a police force that is properly trained, properly oriented, properly remunerated, and properly equipped in accordance with those localities. So, the state police are inevitable, and to delay them or deny them is just being funny and mischievous.

Nigerians are afraid that if we have state police, the governors will hijack and abuse it. Is that not a genuine concern?

Yes, it has its challenges, but those things must exist to tackle the challenges. Let them come first, and if the governors begin to abuse them, as I am sure they will, may, or have in the past, we will say in other countries, “How do you curb the excesses of police supervising authorities? If there are clashes between local police and federal police, the law will come to moderate their relationships.”

If, for instance, governance becomes too highhanded with regard to state police, then you insist on a one-term governorship. ,

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