You have been talking about the state of the South East economy as a result of insecurity that is ravaging the zone. What is your take on the issue?
The greatest factor that helps businesses to thrive is the security of lives and property, so all hands must be on the deck, with the state government leading the charge to provide the needed environment for our people to return home. The call by Governo Charles Soludo on Ndi Anambra and, in fact, the entire Igbo race to adopt the Isreali model by coming home to build for ourselves a livable and pros- perous homeland is one that must go beyond rhetoric. It should be taken very serious by all our illustrious sons and daughters, especially those of them making great exploits in the diaspora but face ex- ploitative and vindictive actions from time to time by their host communities.
The provocative demolition of parts of Alaba International Market serves as the most current example of some of the unfavorable situations that our people face in other people’s lands. But the question is: Which success- ful businessman will accept to come to an Anambra where our people sit at home every Monday and lose billions in potential business deals and trans- actions? Who among them will hear the sordid stories of kidnappings and payment of ransoms and still come to Anambra to invest? The other day, it was the chief security officer to one of the frontline governorship candidates in the Anambra election of 2021 that got kidnapped with reports that ransom has been paid and yet the man is still nowhere to be found.
Though I don’t have executive powers, I am presently taking the laudable step of developing a security architecture that will help bring peace, businesses, and tourism back to Anambra South Senatorial District because I understand clearly that with the present insecurity, no Anambra son or daughter in Diaspora will pay serious attention to any call to return home and invest. My reason for this selfless decision to take up that mandate of fighting insecurity even at great personal risk is not farfetched.
The Senator Ifeanyi Ubah represents Anambra South Senatorial District at the National Assembly. He speaks in this interview with OKEY MADUFORO and ECHEZONA OKAFOR on insecurity in the South East and his contribution to tackle the menace, among other issues doctrine of “Aku Luo Uno” (Wealth must go home) is one key factor that we hold very dear to our heart. This is why I have multi-billion naira investments littered all over the state but also developed a blue- print during the last governorship campaign where I talked about my vision aimed at creating a model Anambra that will be a mini nation inside Nigeria and building a database for all Anam- brarians with social security numbers irrespective of places of residence as well as the cre- ation of diplomatic missions for the state in different countries with the mandate on our youths manning those foreign missions to bring home international businesses and tourism. I also brought together over 200 sons and daughters of Anambra and got them to build state of the art hospitals in the three senatorial districts of the state within six months after contrib- uting over half a billion Naira during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Simon Ekpa has been boasting that the sit-at-home order has come to stay in the South East; do you agree with that?
I have made it clear that the so- called leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) operating from Finland, Mr. Simon Ekpa, should steer clear of Nnewi with his sit-at- home order forthwith as he has not given hope for the release of Nnamdi in no distant time. For the past years Mr. Ekpa has been enforcing his sit- at-home order on Igbo land despite the huge misfortune and hardship that came with it.
That is why I said enough is enough and resolved in agreement with my constituents that there would be no more observation of sit-at-home order beginning with my community, Nnewi. We have cooperated to obey the sit-at- home order all this while but we have also found out that we are losing our economic base, jobs and business opportunities. As the senator representing the good people of Anambra South Senatorial District, I deem it fit to say that we will not continue to have sit-at- home on Mondays. From now on, every business area in Nnewi shall be open for busi- ness. We have our men; we have our system. I know saboteurs will try to sabotage our efforts, but we are resolved to fight any aggressor that will come into this town. This is a warning to Simon Ekpa.
He has mentioned Ifeanyi Ubah 17 good times and I did not reply him. I’m reply- ing him today. He should make sure that he watches his back and never ever mention Ifeanyi Ubah or Nnewi again. His state, Ebonyi, is an All Progressives Congress (APC) state and he has never for one day mentioned it. Ebonyi doesn’t observe sit-at-home. He is in Finland contesting for councillorship or whatever, goes to work on Monday but he wants to ridi- cule us, he wants my people to con- tinue to suffer deprivation because he has communication gadgets and internet to run his propaganda. If Ekpa and those working with him should mention sit-at-home again, they should come down to Nigeria to show the people where they have their industries and offices that are also closed every Monday.
They say charity begins at home, so he must observe the sit-at-home in Ebonyi State before he starts to mention Anambra State or Nnewi. He cannot see Anambra or Nnewi as a fertile place for his dubious enterprise. New gadgets and other security apparatuses in line with modern technology have been introduced, which is sufficient enough to check- mate any security challenge in addi- tion to scores of operational vehicles. We appreciate the support the Anambra State government is giving us to see that we give our people dividends of democracy.
As you are aware, Gov- ernor Soludo officially launched the security initiative, which he blessed. We will take this initiative from Nnewi North Local Government Area, which is the capital of Anam- bra South and extend it to other coun- cil areas. We have done so much in providing light for the constituents as in empowering them and ensur- ing security, and we will continued to do so. I made available between 6,000 and 10,000 street lights at several strategic places in Anambra South, and there are about 300 invisible security cameras in Nnewi, numerous visible ones, solar system embedded with CCTV and tracking devices in addition to wireless security cameras.
Are you dismissing Simon Ekpa’s claim that his actions are aimed towards the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu?
The new National Assembly would give the push for Nnamdi Kanu’s release a new dimension with legislations and I have strong belief that it would be far reaching. I believe that the new National Assembly will re- solve to give his release a serious push. I have started by going to have a meeting with the family of Nnamdi Kanu. I have been talking with his lawyers for the past one week. Our resolve is to give the quest for his re- lease a new dimension. While we demand for his release, we have deployed a combination of artificial intelligence and native technology in tackling Insecurity in Anambra South. Security, in its wildest sense, concerns the happiness, contentment and freedom of mankind. The highest law of any society should be hinged upon the safety and security of the citizenry.
Security sets the tone for the economic growth and deployment of basic amenities in any sane society. The effect of the criminal activities ravaging the zone in the last few years has been devastating, to say the least. While the indices of lives of youths lost in the South-East are alarming, the general feeling of insecurity has made a negative impact on the socio-economic development of the zone. By leveraging artificial intelligence, we will be able to analyze large amount of data to identify patterns and predict potential security threats. This allows for a more proactive approach to security rather than simply reacting to incidents as they occur. Additionally, the use of native technology, such as community policing and the involvement of local leaders, ensures that the solutions are tailored to the specific needs and challenges of the area.
In creating the carefully thought-out security scheme, we have been able to deploy communications gadgets. Over 400 walkie-talkies and close circuit television monitors with secured reception centers are already in place and functioning. We also have long-range drones, vehicles, motorcycles and we barricades placed at strategic locations around the town ready for use in shutting down vehicular movements at a moment’s no- tice in the event of any security breach. The vigilante operatives are also being carefully profiled and placed on life insurance schemes with other mouth- watering renumerations necessary for optimum service delivery. With the huge success already being recorded by the new security architecture, the move towards extending same to the other local government areas that make up the senatorial district will soon commence.
Are you not worried that some criminal ele- ments have cashed in on the sit-at-home directive to increase the rate of kidnapping in your senatorial district? We have urged our people to imbibe the spirit of ‘if you see something, say something’ in reporting criminal activi- ties and elements in the town with the full assurance that all reports collated will be diligently looked into, investi- gated and dealt with immediately.
Recently, the South East governors and the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo had a meeting on the issue of insecurity in the zone. What do you make of that?
We are on the same page with every move aimed at restoring the security of lives and property in Igbo land and they totally have my blessings. One person cannot be greater that his kinsmen, and however right an individual may be, he cannot win a war against his kinsmen. So, Simon Ekpa cannot be bigger than Igbo land and I make bold to say that this synergy among the governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo is a welcome development and I urge our businessmen and women as well as industrialists to buy into this arrangement. It is not a government thing or governor’s project but the project of everyone because when we succeed everyone will benefit from it.
The Chief of Army Staff has ordered his men to take over those areas where the gunmen are operating from. What is your take on that?
That reminds me of the Chief of Army Staff ’s comment on the security architecture in Nnewi and that the army will also play very important role in that regard. So, what else do you want me to say? Those boys are our children and our relatives and we know all of them and you cannot claim that those people are outsiders. We know where they are and we shall help the security operatives as we have always done to fish them out. So, let me advise our children to come out from the bush and hand over their arms because when it starts, there will be no hiding place for them and people should not come here to talk about hu- man rights. You cannot say anything like that because what would say about the countless young men and women, who were beheaded and their organs harvested. Nobody has ever talked about human rights since the killings and kid- napping started, so we shall take them head-long from town to town, bush to bush, until we rid Igbo land of criminality.
Some people see the directive by the army chief as a ploy to deal with the people of the South-East… And what are the gunmen doing to us here?
Maybe they are embracing us and loving us. You need to see or experience it first-hand. You know that I not only hear reports but I experienced it when my convoy was attacked. Those saying this are not affected in their homes or villages. Let them go to Orlu or Ihiala or Okigwe or Orsumoghu and talk about this campaign of calumny against fight- ing insecurity and see what the people there will tell them. People sleep with one eye closed and any slightest noise they are awake, look- ing for where to hide. People should not play politics with the security of lives and property Ndigbo because it is not a political thing.