The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said infrastructure and economic development is key to reducing crime and aiding better functionality of security agencies in Nigeria.
Amaechi stated this on Friday when he delivered a lecture to participants of National Defence College Course 29 in Abuja.
Referencing his time as Governor of Rivers State, the Minister gave instances where there was chaos and unrest among the people and how he tackled the issue by addressing the deficits in infrastructure development, getting the youth engaged, thereby curbing restlessness.
“To create jobs we had to construct roads and other infrastructure projects. This process saw a lot of people been 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 right 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 why 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 Infrastructure 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 said.
The Minister for Transportation further gave insight on the connection between economic development and defence, in the light of security challenges.
“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”, Amaechi added.
Responding, the Commandant, National Defence College, Abuja, Real Admiral M.M Kadiri, thanked the Minster for gracing the lecture with his presence and also for the enlightenment on the role of economic and infrastructure development in curbing crime.