Zik’s Annual Lecture: When stakeholders sought solutions to insecurity in Nigeria


As the nation passes through a tortuous moment of insecurity, everyone is putting heads together towards finding a solution. OKECHUKWU ONUEGBU reports about one of such efforts.

The security of lives and property is outmost responsibility of every government given its importance to society. Evidences show that security promotes healthy living, peace and tranquility. This is however achieved when the citizens equally contribute their time and other resources to entrench security wherever they find themselves.

In Nigeria, like other countries of the world, where insecurity seemed to have eaten deeper into the fabrics of the nation, the impact ranges from loss of lives to destructions of property, hunger, starvation, kidnapping and killings by bandits, Boko Haram insurgents, killer herdsmen, unknown gunmen and others.
As a result of this precarious situation, it has forced many to abandon their farms and houses while institutions, schools, places of worship and enterprises have been shutdown either partially or completely.

Across Nigeria, stakeholders, security experts, academics, students and professionals have been working round the clock to proffer solutions to this. As the masses await implementations of the suggestions being made nationwide, more and perhaps better solutions are coming from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka’s 11th lecture series dedicated to the first indigenous Governor General of Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, code-named Zik’s Annual Lecture.

Enough of shying away from truth – Ukiwe

Speaking at the lecture, entitled ‘Nigeria in the Throes of Insecurity Towards 2023: Any Panacea’, Chief Ebitu Ukiwe, the defacto vice president to former military President Ibrahim Babangida observed that Nigeria is in trouble, saying it actually started sliding until it totally went down.
“Nigeria in itself is in trouble. We are not here to speak grammar. But to brainstorm and proffer solutions to our problems. You in education sector, the academics and students can come together and suggest ways forward for us. We need a position paper to match forward,” Ukiwe stated.

Nigeria needs constitutional restructuring – Ozekhome

The lead paper presenter, Chief Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said that security is not only about the absence of threats or security issues but the ability to rise to the challenges posed by the threats with expediency and expertise.

“Insecurity connotes different meanings such as absence of safety, danger, hazard, uncertainty, lack of protection and lack of safety. There are various types of insecurity which include bodily insecurity, emotional insecurity, food insecurity, economic/financial insecurity, political insecurity, educational insecurity, social insecurity and environmental insecurity.
“Causes of insecurity are economic imbalance, ethno-religious intolerance, weak security apparatus, marginalisation of ethnic groups, porous borders and arms proliferation, lopsided appointments, poverty, bad governance, loss of traditional values, moral ethos and undemocratic practices in the country,” the human right lawyer maintained.

He however disclosed that insecurity in Nigeria is multi-dimensional, but noted that his paper would focus on physical insecurity, which according to him, results from insurgency, terrorism, killing, maiming and other forms of violence.
On the solution, Ozekhome suggested restructuring, power devolution through people-driven and autonomous constitution which should be subjected to the people’s referendum.

He also called for a unicameral legislature, insisting that the 360 House of Representatives member should be scrapped for only Senate to work or to alternatively make the legislative centre quite unattractive by merely paying sitting allowance for sitting sessions.
The constitutional lawyer further appealed for the release of the detained leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu in order to curb the insecurity in the region because according to him, “Nnamdi Kanu is not a separatist; he is fighting a self-determination cause which is globally recognised. IPOB didn’t start the violence. It was peaceful until September 14 when the Nigerian Army through ‘Operation Python Dance’ invaded Kanu’s home.

“Mazi Kanu lost his parents and over 20 lives were lost in the tragic incidence. Let me seize this opportunity to beg Mr president on bended knees without prejudice to release Nnamdi Kanu. We’re not saying he should subvert justice. What would bring peace to the region is not his continued detention,” he said.

We must have courage to deal with our problems – Okowa

To the chairman of the occasion and governor of Delta state, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the country’s insecurity was caused by a bad seed sowed few years back.

Okowa, who is also the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for 2023 general elections, said the security challenge was a hydra- headed monster that has undermined public safety and threatening the continued existence of Nigeria as one united, indivisible country.
He said, “Going forward, we need to urgently draw up a holistic plan to address our security challenges in the short, medium and long term. Aside from a modern security architecture anchored on technology, we must muster the political will to deal decisively with criminals, regardless of their ethnic groups, religions, or status.

“This is imperative to tackle the problem of herdsmen/farmers’ conflict, which is fast becoming the greatest threat to our nation’s unity and economic well-being. It is my considered view that ranching and cattle colonies with support of the federal government is a way out of this quagmire.
“Furthermore, criminal herdsmen must be apprehended and made to face the consequences of their action and Internally Displaced Persons need to be quickly resettled in their homes.”

The need to emulate Zik’s leadership type

For the former senator representing Anambra Central, Senator Ben Ndi-Obi, the federal government should find ways of addressing the challenges facing the educational sector and as well pay the university lecturers their full salaries and arears so as to prevent another industrial action.

In a separate remark, Senator Ndi Obi stated that the series has impacted significantly and contributed enormously to knowledge and national development.
Senator Obi, who instituted the Zik’s annual lecture since 2006, also enjoined the federal government to recognise and immortalise Zik of Africa as he was pivotal to the independence of Nigeria.
The governor of Anambra state, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, represented by his deputy, Dr Onyekachukwu Ibezim urged Nigerians to emulate late Zik’s of Africa, who according to him, was patriotic and lived as good Nigerian.

Soludo, who described the lecture worth sustaining as a way of entrenching the evergreen role played by the great nationalist in the country’s development, especially through the Zikist movement, lamented that the present generation is deviating from the principles of Dr Azikiwe.
He recalled that Zik stood for strength in unity, democracy and freedom of speech and enjoined Nigerians to look at and hold on to their diverse strength within.
“Zik’s of Africa was a true Igbo son and true Nigerian. People seemed to be deviating from what he believed on. We must keep on emulating him. In building this nation, where there are diverse culture, we must see the strength in unity and democracy. If we emulate the life of Zik, the security and most of other challenges facing our dear country would easily be solved,” he noted.

Earlier in his address of welcome, the vice-chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Professor Charles Okechukwu Esimone, praised organisers of the programme for mobilising logistics to stage the event even though universities just resumed nationwide after the suspension of its eight-month strike by lecturers.

Esimone, while noting that the theme for the year was timely as security challenges constitute a veritable threat to the conduct of the 2023 general elections, hinted that the lecture series was instituted through the Faculty of Social Sciences of the institution through Senator Obi with a view to immortalising Zik.

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