‘Jonathan Should Tackle Niger Delta And Security’

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They have to provide them with materials such as vehicles, guns – the one that can match the one armed robbers are holding, with (the provision of) life insurance so that if anything happens to them, they can take care of their families

Considering the one–year time frame of the Goodluck Jonathan presidency, many believe he should prune-down the 7-Point Agenda, initiated by his former boss, President Umau Yar’Adua of blessed memory. Last week in Abuja, a member of the House of Representatives tasked the president on a 2-Point Agenda, namely: Niger Delta and Security.

Hon. (Barr) Vitalis Chukwuma Okafor, a Journalist and Lawyer – turned politician who represents Ihiala Federal Constituency, said if Jonathan could get the Niger Delta and security questions right, other things would fall in place. “Another area apart from Niger Delta, that I would want government to handle is Security. (This is because it is) when you are alive (that) you can think of another thing. The question of health and security are interwoven. Now apart from the fact that the Niger Delta issue is being tackled, there’s still need to tackle security across the nation. Thank God it’s one of the 7-Point Agenda of the late president. I think the (living) current president should also address that issue because the rate of criminality in this nation is progressing seriously”

Hon. Barr. Okafor, who was a freelance writer with “Nigerian Tide” and “Nigerian Tribune” in the 1980s and 1990’s told The Tide On Sunday in Abuja, last week, that with the way things were going in the country, except the government places emphasis on security, the nation would be the worse for it. He advised the government to adequately fund the law enforcement agencies, particularly the police. He was particular about the provision of equipment for the agencies. “Let the government provide necessary security materials to police and other related security agencies that are charged with the combat of crime,” he said.

“They have to provide them with materials such as vehicles, guns – the one that can match the one armed robbers are holding; with (the provision of) life insurance so that if anything happens to them, they can take care of their families”, he added, noting also that, the constitution should be amended in such a way that the police in any zone in the country is held responsible if crime persists in the zone, with armed robbers having a field day – this he believes would put the police on their toes in the fight against crime in the respective zones in the country.

Hon. Barr. Okafor defended the House of Representatives resolution in favour of multi-party system as against two-party system that was variously canvassed by some proponents in the House. “We dealt on 2-party system and multi-party system and independent candidacy issue. I supported multi-party system. If I am asked to define democracy in relation to the question you ask, I will say: “Democracy means multi party system. (two party system is not democracy). In the 1999 constitution, which is still in operation, you have ‘freedom of association under Chapter 4 – which means it’s the inalienable right of you and I to belong to any association (of our choice)”

He contended that “nobody can take that right (of freedom of association) from you but if you now say, you’re now operating two-party system, what you’re doing is no longer democracy (because you have restricted the people, you have limited the peoples’ right to associate freely). That’s my position. And now that the group I belong to, as far as the issue is concerned, succeeded in entrenching multi-party system, for people to belong to anyone they like, (it is good for democracy)”

The proponent and advocate of multi-party system said his position reflects the thinking of his constituency and “that is one area my people would want to see, put in the constitution” and gave the House a pat on the back for the way it handled the issue of independent candidature, viz: that an eligible Nigerian was free to contest for any elective post in the country as an “independent candidate; without necessarily joining any political party, saying “that‘s one of the areas that we handled very well”.

Hon. Barr. Okafor was at his best when he volunteered to The Tide On Sunday that his background as a journalist and lawyer has helped him in no small way as a legislator of the Federal Republic, thus wooing other members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm and Legal profession into politics, especially to vie for legislative positions.

His words: “Well, before I went into Law, I read Journalism, practiced it; practiced Law very little before I came in here (as a member of the House of Representatives). I think, I will say that through Journalism and Law, God helped me to where I am today. You must do English in both courses so both Journalism and English have helped me a lot… I wrote for Tide, (when Nando Gawa was the Editor and A.A. Amachree was General Manager), Daily Times and other news papers like Tribune when I was in the university … I had my first degree in Journalism before I went to do Law”.

Hon. Barr. Okafor, who said he is currently working on a bill to effect ‘Maintenance Culture in Nigeria’ told The Tide On Sunday that he has touched the lives of his constituents in various ways.” …. In the process of approving the appropriation bill into Law, we influence or attract some amenities to our local government areas (constituencies). As a matter of fact, there’s a way we do it – we’re giving MDG (Millennium Development Goal) projects which we initiate in our areas. I won’t blow my own trumpet but I know people are commending me for providing some amenities for them”.

 

Justus Awaji, Abuja