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Next Steps on the Reported/Possible Civil Disturbances in Anambra

By Chima Christian

I’m sure Governor Willie Obiano must have gotten reports about civil disturbances in Nnewi, including an alleged burning of Central Police Station, Nnewi. If his government works as it should, his top aides should have placed a couple of actionable plans on his table by now.

It would be both naive and reckless, if seeing reports from all over the country, they have not pieced together solid crisis containment/management plans for Anambra State.

First Governor Obiano should understand that hasty announcement of curfew didn’t work in Lagos, it didn’t work in Abia. Nothing suggests it will work in Anambra.

What we have seen is that such announcements embolden security operatives to engage in violent crack downs in a bid to enforce imposed curfews. We’ve also seen from the events of the past 36 hours in Lagos and other places that such violent responses only conflagrate issues.

Except Obiano wants to have a lot on his plate, all his speeches and actions at this time must be guided by sound reasoning and unvarnished counsel.

I strongly recommend he immediately reaches out to and reassures the President/Presidency that he is on top of the issue and extract a commitment from him/them that soldiers remain in their barracks.

Onitsha/Ogbaru/Obosi/Nkpor/Ogidi axis of the state remain succeptible to spontaneous volatile eruptions. The state government knows this already. Whether it has plans to avert, or contain such eruptions, should it occur, is in doubt.

Governor Obiano should prevail on Anambra security chiefs to limit the deployment/patrol of armed security operatives. Plain clothe officers working on intelligence gathering should be the grand norm at these times. Meanwhile, Anambra, according to reports, has made considerable investments in smart cars, CCTVs, drones, surveillance helicopter. This is the best time to smartly deploy those. Old fashioned resort-to-arms policing will not work.

Moreso, Anambra has a vast network of local vigilantes/community policing partners. Their approval rating within local communities is higher than that of the police. The state should use this goodwill to its advantage.

The state knows already about deep-seated anger brewing within the IPOB fold. Caution!

Governor Obiano should be encouraged to make a statewide address calling on security operatives to engage responsibly and begging for calm across the state. He is not particularly known to be good at making off-the-cuff remarks, so all his utterances must be scripted and properly vetted. The speech writing team should internally solicit for ideas across board. Governor’s utterances at this time is too important to be left in the hands of speech writers alone.

Governor Obiano should call his aides and political appointees to order. This is not the time to double down and make reckless comments on both social and traditional media. The fight is not between the people of Anambra State and the Government of Anambra State. His political aides should be made to understand this!

Schools should remain open at this time.

Governor Obiano should immediately, and without fanfare, empanel a team of behavioral scientists and crisis management experts to regularly counsel him on the steps the state needs to take to diffuse the anger in the land.

The anger I am seeing may not respond to the old-fashioned calling on traditional leaders, markert/town union leaders and clergy to rein in on their people. Infact, no Igwe should think so highly of himself to call the youths and make haughty pronouncements at this time. We’ve seen palaces ransacked in Oyo. We’ve seen it in Lagos. These are people that usually attach more significance to the throne than we do. Caution!

This is a watershed moment. A lot of Anambra lives/businesses is heavily dependent on how Governor Obiano responds. I have prayed for him on this particular matter, may his government and leadership not be tested and found wanting.

Please share this till Obiano gets it. We will have a lot of time to campaign next year. For now, let’s make sure the state is not burned to the ground.

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