By Dirisu Yakubu, Abuja
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Friday said infrastructural and economic development will help reduce crime rate in the country as well as assisting security agencies in the discharge of their duties.
The Minister stated this while delivering a lecture to participants of National Defence College Course 29 in Abuja, the nation’s capital. Recalling his time as governor of Rivers State, Amaechi gave instances when infrastructural deficit brought about unrest amongst the people and how he quickly stepped in to arrest same through purposeful youth engagement, job creation, among others.
“To create jobs, we had to construct roads and other infrastructural projects. This process saw a lot of people engaged and insecurity dropped drastically. In education, we employed, 13,200 teachers. We set up a Banana Farm with the capacity to employ over 500 persons everyday. This saw a lot of jobless youths been engaged.
“In Rivers state, we built over 350 Model Primary Schools, which was not just to improve the standard of education and enlightenment but create employment also. We built standard Primary Health Care Centres that was acknowledged by news agencies like CNN and Al Jazeera.
“From 2000, we had major security crisis in the state and the reason given was that they were fighting for their rights and the even distribution of national resources. They began to bomb pipelines, take oil and engage in kidnapping.
“When I came in (as governor), the first thing I did was to meet with security chiefs and the then Commander, Brig. Bello. I told them that the reason there was insecurity in Rivers state was because of the state of the economy, which gave rise to youth unrest in the region,” Amaechi said.
As Minister of Transportation, Amaechi said a lot is being done to improve the economy, create jobs for Nigerians and build more infrastructure to push the overall growth of the country in different sectors.
“We have done a lot in infrastructural development and employment. The massive infrastructural development in the railway sector has employed so many Nigerians. Also don’t forget that in 2011/2012, the out-of-school children In Nigeria was 10 million which has now been reduced to about 3 million.
“In 2013, the cost of tomato was extremely high, and the then Minister of Agriculture invited me for a meeting and he said to me, ‘can you provide railway transportation from Kano to Lagos?’ I called the MD of Railway to make the trip from Kano to Lagos more regular, and in one week the price of tomato crashed”, he added.
Amaechi further highlighted the relationship between development and defence, given the dire security situation in the country.
“The only way the Army can rest and the police can do their job effectively is when the economy begins to grow. When people are properly engaged with different activities, they won’t think of engaging in criminal activities.
“The Army is not supposed to give internal security but the Police is overwhelmed by the level of crime rate, hence the Army has consistently been rescuing Nigerians.
Economic growth reduces crime and when there is no crime, the Military and Police can rest”, he stressed.
Responding, the Commandant, National Defence College, Abuja, Real Admiral M.M Kadiri, thanked the Minster for attending the event and promised to imbibe the lessons in the lecture.