Keynote Address presented at the Rivers State Security Summit held at the main hall of the Ministry of Justice, State Secretariat Complex on Wed. April 20, 2016
By Prince Ifeanyi Onochie, NAS Cap'n
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am deeply honoured to speak to you at this august gathering. Before getting down to the business of the day, I want to lead our minds to an expedition, to explore the nature and impact of violent conflicts that threaten both security and peaceful coexistence within nations. Not all countries confront an equal measure of conflict; some become more vulnerable than others as a result of preexisting geopolitical, social, economic, cultural, religious and ethnic predispositions. A considerable number of countries that are prone to violence rank among some of the world's poorest, comprising the "bottom billion" of the global population, living in some 58 countries. Of these, about 70% are in Africa, with an estimated combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about US$350 billion per year (Pre rebasing), less than the GDP of metropolitan Chicago. Many of these countries are assiduous development slackers; their economic conditions have remained weak or shown little improvement year after year, experiencing widespread insecurity, political instability, criminal violence and various forms of ethnic or religious conflagration.
Having undertaken this expedition, my guess is that a position hostage taking, arson, gruesome and unresolved murders and terror is not where we want Nigeria to be. Alas! That is exactly where we are heading, if we do not make sustained and concerted effort to disinfect the atmosphere which has been poisoned by rancour and mutual suspicion. Finding ways means of stalling our slide towards the precipice and erecting a forum for state and non-state actors, elders and stakeholders to extensively deliberate on the impact and consequences of violence and dissidence and collaboratively find practical, sustainable solutions are the principal objectives for the convocation of this security stakeholders' summit.
Rivers State is hosting this maiden edition of the Summit because of the strategic position it occupies in Nigeria's geopolitical space; and the incidences of violence that greeted the recently concluded elections which allegedly involved mostly the youth population. As stakeholders in sustainable peace and development in the state, the National Association of Seadogs, Rivers state chapter cannot keep quiet and let the wounds from the elections fester. We must all join hands to break this orgy of violence.
On a personal level, I become nostalgic each time I have a recollection of Port Harcourt, the famed "Garden City" which provided cutting edge memorial hospitality to various tourists, visitors, oil workers and investors who influx here to unwind in a serene, safe, secure and peaceful ambience. Rivers State was a melting pot, a strong and vibrant industrial hub. Unfortunately, this peace and serenity appears to have been disrupted by rivalry and have estranged brothers, friends, school mates, political allies and business associates; in the final analysis, we all impacted one way or another, especially, as global and national economies tend to deteriorate.
This prevailing situation has necessitated the need for a holistic review because peace and security are the greatest desire of all right thinking people of the world and their communities. Interestingly, Nigerians and indeed the good people of Rivers State will refuse to fold their hands and watch social tensions precipitating from political activities adversely impact the immense potential for economic development. There can neither be peace nor progress in an atmosphere of rancour.
In view of the foregoing, this security summit is not only timely and relevant but would also provide an opportunity for all the participants in the conflict to sheath their swords and together brainstorm on how to stabilize and move the state forward.
The NAS, through its Rivers State chapter organized this Summit as part of its corporate social responsibility role. Having provide this platform, we are optimistic that all the security experts, traditional rulers, opinion moulders, captains of industries, professionals, market associations and sundry stakeholders present here will submit ourselves to the tenet of love and peaceful coexistence. These are the preconditions for economic and human development.
At this juncture, I wish to acknowledge the government of Rivers State for the subscription to and approval for this summit to hold.
Finally, I affirm that we take a shot at immortality by voluntarily standing up for a peaceful, secure and violence-free Rivers State.
I wish you a happy deliberations.
Thank you for your attention.
Ifeanyi F Obiora Onochie