Group laments insecurity, widespread poverty in South-East •Calls for pressure on governors

Posted by News Express | 5 January 2015 | 3,285 times

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The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has lamented the unprecedented state of underdevelopment and the rapidly declining standard of health and other basic amenities in the south-eastern states. As a result, the association has called on the people to put their governors and respective houses of assembly under intense scrutiny and pressure, to transparently account for how the huge financial resources that accrued to the states from Federation Account in the last four years have been deployed.

HURIWA also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to practically introduce Federal Government projects in the South-East, in the spirit of equity and social justice. The group regretted that the acclaimed revolutionary achievements reportedly made in the agricultural sector have not impacted on the lives of farmers in the South-East. Conversely, it noted that there is over-concentration of multi-billion dollar projects of the agricultural and water resources ministries, such as dams, in the North, with total absence of any major agricultural and water resources project in the South-East.

The association said that the South-East state governors have failed spectacularly to effectively partner with the agricultural and water resources ministries to attract major projects to the region. It cautioned that the geo-political zone may face the challenge of food insecurity soon, if emergency measures are not activated to ameliorate the systemic neglect.

HURIWA, which expressed this concern in a statement signed jointly by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, disclosed that its findings from a three-day on-the-spot assessment of state of facilities in the five South-East states of Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Anambra and Abia show that contrary to the position by some international bodies, such as the United Nations agencies operating from Abuja, the federal capital, that poverty is less in the south-eastern states, is not correct. Findings revealed widespread poverty in the geopolitical region.

The rights group said the field visits embarked upon by a 10-man-strong team from its organisation revealed pervasive mass poverty afflicting every age group. And that the youth and the aged are worst hit. HURIWA also noted that the declining state of primary health care facilities and the deplorable state of rural roads networks in the south-eastern states have led to the untimely death of hundreds of poor rural inhabitants, before any meaningful help could reach them.

The group observed that the widespread apathy and passive disposition by the people of the area in the affairs of state in the region is responsible for the extensive devastation and the collapse of strategic infrastructure in these states. The body demanded that the state governors in the region should utilise the enormous resources derived from the Federation Account and internally generated revenue to pragmatically and comprehensively rehabilitate the deteriorating state of social and physical infrastructure in most towns and villages of the South-East. The association cautioned: Should this unpardonable level of gross underdevelopment and criminal neglect continue, sooner or later, the region may witness increased exodus of the youthful workforce to other climes in search of greener pastures. It noted with regret, the unprecedented decline of good governance in south-eastern Nigeria.

On the rising state of insecurity in the region, HURIWA observed that men and officers of the Nigerian Police Force working in most parts of the South-East geo-political zone have abandoned their constitutional and traditional roles of protecting life and property of the citizenry, and the enforcement of the rule of law, have now embraced the devilry of setting up of multiple bribe-collecting checkpoints on all the major roads. The gun-wielding operatives of the Nigerian Police are constantly harassing the citizenry and extorting varying amounts of money from them as “toll fees” to use the roads.

The group has, therefore, urged President Goodluck Jonathan to direct the Inspector-General of Police Suleiman Abba, to retrain the men and officers of the Nigerian Police, to make them more professional in their assignments. It equally charged the management of the police to instill transparent and effective disciplinary measures to expose, the bad eggs in the police, who have constituted themselves into public nuisance and threats to the lives and property of the citizenry in the South-East and other parts of Nigeria.

HURIWA charged: “The governments and people of the South-East must design fool-proof, proactive security measures to secure their environment from unwarranted attacks by hoodlums and terrorists; also set up workable machinery and mechanisms for the effective operation of community-wide vigilante groups to keep people and property safe from violent attacks of kidnappers and armed hoodlums.

“Institutionally, South-East must partner with leading private sector operators to ensure proactive security measures to keep people safe from any attacks of the armed enemies from within and without. The people must not continue to fold their arms without taking any effective security measures until a bad incident happens before taking action.

“The best approach to keep the environment safe is for residents and government officials, including the law enforcement agents, to be actively involved in intelligence gathering; and also to prevent crimes from happening in the first place, even as measures must be put in place to resolve any crime incident as soon as they are reported. The Federal Government of Nigeria must resolve now to establish well-armed state police, to complement the role of the national policing institution.”

•Photo shows Chairman of South-East Governors Forum, Chief TA Orji of Abia State.

Source: News Express

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