Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has said that the state’s security outfit, ‘Operation Delta Hawk’, created to tackle kidnapping and other violent crimes, including farmers-herders’ clashes, would commence operations before Christmas.
The governor, who disclosed this on Tuesday at a meeting with traditional rulers and religious leaders in Asaba, the state capital, said establishing the outfit took a while because he wanted to ensure that everything was in place.
He said that necessary operational equipment required to enable it tackle carry out its mandate had been procured and that it would work closely with vigilante groups across wards and communities to discharge its responsibilities.
“The team has already been selected and trained and we have been able to get men on ground to participate.
“For them to be able to undertake such programmes, they also need body armour, the vests, which we have gotten recently.
“We are in the process of concluding installation of the communication equipment; the mast is already being provided and by the time we are able to complete the installation, then we can truly start’’, he said.
Mr Okowa also briefed the stakeholders on the activities that took place in the state during the #ENDSARS protests and thanked traditional rulers for their roles in community development.
He disclosed that a presidential delegation, led by Ibrahim Gambari, chief of staff to President Buhari, would be meeting with South-South stakeholders on Friday in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the state had already constituted a delegation, comprising two traditional rulers, one religious leader, two youths and two women, to attend the meeting.
He recalled that issues of illegal detention, police brutality and death of youths triggered the recent protests which emanated from Ughelli and Lagos.
“A lot of other issues came up with the protests and we thank God for helping us to control the process.
“The destructions that took place in Asaba were orchestrated by people who infiltrated the state from neighbouring states, and from our intelligence reports, we have them in all urban centres in the state’’, he said.
He urged traditional rulers to be vigilant and help government fish out the leaders of the perpetrators, following the destructions they caused in Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River and in Edo, where they even freed prisoners.
Mr Okowa attributed the #EndSARS protests to the unemployed and unengaged state of the youths, adding that their idle nature ignited the protests.
“They are agitated and the ENDSARS protests gave them the opportunity to vent that anger and frustration that they had bottled up over the years,’’ he said.
He appealed to leaders to brace up to their responsibilities of mentoring the youth, saying, “we all have our roles to play in building the youths as they have rightly drawn our attention about their challenges, particularly the issue of unemployment.
“We’ve just inaugurated the Rural Youths Skills Acquisition Programme (RYSA) and we had, a few months ago, inaugurated the Girl-Child Empowerment Training Programme,” he said, adding that government had earmarked N5 billion for all its skills acquisition and empowerment programmes in 2021.
On COVID-19, the governor said that Pfizer, a multinational pharmaceutical firm, had announced that it had discovered a vaccine that could provide immunity, but warned that this was no time to be complacent.
“The virulence of the COVID-19 virus in Nigeria and Africa has been minimal compared to what it is in Europe and America. However, it is not a time for us to relax, but a time to wear our masks and use our sanitisers,” he added.
The Chairperson, Delta State Traditional Rulers Council, Emmanuel Efeizomor II and the Obi of Owa Kingdom; Orodje of Okpe, Orhue I, and the Olu of Warri, Ikenwoli Emiko, who spoke at the meeting, called for the restructuring of the country for overall development.
They added that it was the failure of the country to restructure that was to blame for its backwardness.
The traditional rulers, who applauded Mr Okowa for establishing Operation Delta Hawk, advocated proper training of police personnel and better remuneration with a view to enhancing their operations.