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Last Card for HELIU
Governor Ugwuanyi

Last Card for HELIU


By M.O Ene 

Every decent person wants peace, but permanent peace is for the dead! The dead rest in peace, eternally in silence of the cemetery. The living is in constant struggle to survive, live, and thrive in a perceived peaceful and enabling environment that is secure and sustaining.


(“A Piece on Peace,” 7.14.21)

In the above piece, I alerted that the acolytes of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (HELIU) who hoisted his legacy on “peace in Enugu State” must also compile what was achieved with the “peace.” I posited that the people needed justice, good governance, and security to sustain the peace.

I have had my share of suggesting paths of progress to successive governments since 1999. I have also offered constructive criticisms to help when and where things go wrong. The current administration is not exempt. Not all proposals saw the light of day, and they stuck out as sore thumbs. Community policing is outstanding.


With mere months to the end of this administration, things are no longer holding. The peace has all but evaporated. The crescendo of complaints has reached an unbearable pitch. Amid rising poverty in a depressed economy at the mercy of perennial sit-at-home, crippling kidnappings, constant killings, and heaps of hazardous garbage burning on highways, many have cancelled travels to Enugu for end-of-year activities.

How did this administration get it so wrong? The excuse that the security situation is nationwide no longer applies. We can secure our state even in the face of a declared war. A permanent and simple solution to these security challenges is that community offices of policing (COP) must be made much more effective within community government setups with benefits and tools. If communities secure their perimeters, where in our human habitation would the bad boys base?

It is incomprehensible that the efforts of this administration in setting up sundry security outfits have come to near nought. The ideas were sound, but implementation left a lot to be desired. On Friday, February 12, 2021, HELIU inaugurated 272 special constables from 17 LGAs trained at Oji River Police College to facilitate “our rejigged and retooled Enugu State security architecture.” This was the last we heard of the outfit!

Community policing is not new in Igbo sociocultural setup. Many Enugu communities still have vestiges of the age-grade community policing called “Ogbanaecheagu,” led by a sheriff, sometimes named “Agụnaechemba” or “Ọchịagha.” The name coveys that the assigned agemates protect the neighbourhood by keeping watch over adjourning forests, which is how the concept of “neighbourhood watch” and “forest guards” was derived. Sadly, our fondness for English has blocked the fostering of an Igbo renaissance.


Policing works well when communities are involved. Enugu State Government (ENSG) must modernize the concept and establish enhanced and empowered community governments. The continued creation of autonomous communities with 1001 “traditional rulers” is a waste of efforts and resources. Our communities are set.

Enugu State is the cradle of contemporary community policing in Nigeria. ENSG should, in addition to renewing the exhausted executive council, raise a department under the performing rural development ministry to take charge of community governments, all renewed and revitalized this December with ONLY community residents. The principle is simple: grassroots government of the people who live in the community for the people and their communities. Nigeria is probably the only country where the police live in decrepit and dehumanizing barracks, where a Sokoto son polices a Calabar community. We can change this anomaly.

Those who cite “exclusive list” are dishonest. The security situation has given rise to sundry solutions. On Monday, October 11, 2021, President Buhari reportedly released billions to facilitate community policing. His words: “We have also approved the sum of N13.3 billion for the take-off of the Community Policing initiative across the country, as part of measures adopted to consolidate efforts aimed at enhancing security nationwide.” As with the February 2021 effort in Enugu, this was the last we heard of the project.


Policing is a collective community pursuit of peace, prosperity, and progress. Policing is projected to produce an enabling environment that is safe, sacred, and secured. Police should be of the communities they police. You cannot live in Abakpa and police Agbāni effectively. No system is perfect, not even in America, where the police are called “cops,” for they are members of the “community office of policing” (COP). It takes time and training to perfect policing. If we had the system set since 2003, we would have perfected it more by now.

Policing is about keeping the peace. It takes a house rat to bring in a bush rat. If we contain the house rats, we can keep the peace by checkmating the bush rats; hence, the old concept of “Ogbanaecheagu” beckons. That was how our forefathers kept peace, REAL peace. Real peace brings prosperity and progress.

For the COP to work well, we need functional community governments to manage the setups directly, with budgets, planning, and oversight. We need a minimum of 30% women in the force. We must stop the archaic mentality that policing is about muscles: brains too are power.

We need police to engage and connect with the people that they police. It takes trust and intelligence more than force to police communities. All the armies in the world cannot protect a community that won’t help itself. Communities must chip in to fund their safety. Money means nothing when there is no life. The protection of lives and properties must be uppermost in the moving parts of good governance. We should no longer read that Fulani herders kidnap and kill locals, or that an unknown armed outfit zoomed into town and shot a traditional ruler!

Without this permanent solution to our security challenges, whatever is left of HELIU’s legacy of peace will be crushed. Whatever is left will depend on the next administration. Thus, if PDP retains power and delivers, the greatest achievement of HELIU will be the emergence of Peter Mbah.

©MOE, 7.12.22



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