Emmanuel Ogbonnaya assesses the value of the new Ministry of Homeland Security and Vigilante Affairs created by Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State
On December 20, 2021, the Governor of Imo State, His Excellency Hope Uzodimma, swore in about 18 new commissioners, to reconstitute a cabinet he had gutted some months ago. In what came to many as an impromptu scheduling of this event, the Governor brought into his cabinet commissioners who are mainly technocrats, not politicians.
By most accounts, the main novel and significant feature of the new cabinet is Governor Uzodimma’s creation of the Ministry of Homeland Security and Vigilante Affairs. It is bigger than bold. It suggests that he is a Governor that is conversant with global trends in the management of security.
This comes at a time when security is the most important thing on Imo people’s mind, other than perhaps food. In the current clime in Imo State, the new Ministry is by far the most important of all the ministries in Imo State.
Moreover, in filling the position of Commissioner for the new Ministry, Uzodimma also demonstrated a rare gumption in the management of security in Nigeria – he picked a civilian with no military background per se. Here again, the Governor breaks the known mold in Nigeria and aligns himself with practices in such democracies as the US, the UK and other European countries. Perhaps in the not too distant future we may have a National Security Adviser (NSA) in the presidency of Nigeria who does not come from a military or paramilitary tradition.
The appointment of Dr. Ugorji Okechwukwu Ugorji, a Security Analyst and Global Affairs scholar, with expertise in human capital development, and homeland security as the pioneer Commissioner for the new ministry says many things at the same time.
First, it suggests that Governor Uzodimma believes that in a democracy, even military and paramilitary organizations should be under civilian control. Second, it suggests that the Governor is a listening Chief Executive Officer – he must have put great stock in Dr. Ugorji’s advices to him in his (Ugorji’s) previous role as Special Adviser on Homeland Security and Intelligence. Third, it is also a testimonial to the Governor’s performance appraisal of Dr. Ugorji’s previous assignments.
The man at the helms of affairs of the novel ministry, Dr Ugorji – possesses four university degrees – two bachelor’s degrees, one master’s degree, and a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Rutgers University, New Jersey.
He also bagged a second Master’s degree in Homeland Security from George Washington University, Washington, DC. He has over 35 years of experience in public administration at local, state, national and international levels.
In January 2021 Dr. Ugorji was appointed by Governor Uzodimma as the first ever Special Adviser on Homeland Security and Intelligence for the state.
Evidently, there can be no greater appraisal of Ugorji’s performance in the last 12 months than the creation of the ministry.
Rather than basking in the euphoria of a political appointment for the wrong reasons, Ugorji declared optimistically upon his appointment: “We now have the historic and exciting task of building a new ministry at the direction of Governor Uzodimma. A ministry we hope will streamline security efforts in the state and become a model for the rest of the country,” he said.
*Ogbonnaya, a journalist and public affairs commentator writes from Abuja