Rising insecurity in the South East region, especially in Imo State, is a major concern ahead of the November 11 governorship election to determine the occupiers of Government House Owerri, also known as Douglas House.
Many parts of the Heartland clime have recorded attacks in recent times. The most recent was the dastardly attack on security operatives at Umualumaku in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of the state.
Little wonder, this has been the leading theme of the campaign ahead of the poll, now dubbed 11/11 governorship election.
The leading opposition parties in the state – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP), while blaming the incumbent governor, Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said they will restore security to the state. However, the governor and APC have alleged that most of the violent attacks in the state are fuelled by oppositions in a bid to discredit the good works of the government.
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While condemning the recent attack on security operatives in the state, the candidate of LP, Sen. Athan Achonu, who bemoaned the alleged failure of the state governor, said he has invested millions of his personal funds to repair nine faulty armoured personnel carriers in the state.
He called on the state government to immediately deploy armoured personnel carriers in all areas for the safety of security personnel.
“It is inexplicable that Imo has become a war theatre and the epicentre of violence and bloodbath in the entire South East,” he noted.
During the launch of his campaign at the Chioma Ajunwa Sports Complex Nguru in Mbaise Local Government Area, Achonu had said that he will pay priority attention to insecurity, if elected.
He said that “insecurity has turned Imo into a river of blood and arson”, adding that “ending the daily massacre of defenceless Imo people and restoring peace, security and tranquillity in the state will be my priority agenda upon my inauguration in January 2024.”
He further pledged to industrialise the state through the establishment of two industrial parks in each zone of the state, including a pharmaceutical park in Orlu zone.
The candidate of the PDP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, on his part, also lamented that the state is gradually turning to a Boko Haram state. He argued that the level of insecurity in Imo State has driven away investors and thrown young people into the labour market.
Anyanwu during his ‘Thank you’ tour at Oguta and Oru West local government areas, promised to end the lingering insecurity, hardship and deceit in Imo State if elected in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
His words: “I did not come out to be your governor to destroy you, steal our taxpayers’ money, or enrich myself or few persons, but I have offered myself as a sacrificial lamb to restore peace, sanity, improve the economy, guarantee freedom of speech and movement of the less privileged and the downtrodden.
Gov Uzodinma, who maintained he has delivered on his 3R Government of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery agenda, also dropped his deputy to pick a female running mate, Chinyere Ekomaru, in his bid to woo the female voters in the state.
The governor also claimed the security situation in the state has improved as the wanton and unprovoked killing of citizens by mercenary criminals had abated while the indiscriminate attacks on security agencies have been checked.
“Our roads, which were mere death traps when I assumed office, are now motorable. At the last count, this administration has done more than 100 good quality roads across the entire state.
“These include the dual carriageway of Owerri – Okigwe Road and Owerri – Orlu Road, while the construction of five kilometres of roads in the 27 LGAs is at various stages of completion.
“The reconstruction of Owerri-Mbaise-Obowo-Umuahia and Orlu–Mgbidi–Akokwa-Uga Road is also ongoing,” he had said during the unveiling of Ekomaru.
Army to deploy 2,300 soldiers for polls
To underscore the state of insecurity ahead of the poll, at least 2,300 soldiers from three battalions of the Nigerian army would be deployed for the governorship election in the state.
The INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo State, Sylvia Agu, who stated this at a two-day media roundtable and engagement on the election, said she has been assured of adequate deployment of soldiers.
Mrs Agu, a professor, said: “Insecurity, no doubt, remains an issue. It is, however, a thing of joy that the Commander, 34 Artillery Brigade Obinze, has promised to deploy enough security personnel to ensure a hitch-free election in the state.
“Indeed, he promised that over 2,300 soldiers will be deployed to the state, during the 11 November 2023 gubernatorial election.”
Unless the insecurity in the state is urgently tackled, elections might not hold in some areas owing to the activities of suspected unknown gunmen.