EVERYBODY is talking about security. The concerns appear to end with the talks. As bombs go off as routine in Maiduguri, Bauchi, Kaduna, Abuja and other targets that the criminals may choose, too much attention is paid to chasing the criminals after the crime. Why the sudden rise in insecurity? What can be done? Is anyone noticing that while all the attention is on the bomb spots, kidnappers are returning? Will Nigerians ever feel safe again? What are the causes of insecurity? Where are the police and government? On a wet Wednesday morning with intimidating traffic jams on the abandoned Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, our panellists weathered the storm to x-ray the challenges and proffer solutions. The challenges are not new, though new initiatives are required to tackle them. You will find them here…
Continues from yesterday:
Obi: We are the cause of the insecurity today. The insecurity is the consequence of the things we did (badly) and the ones we failed to do.
University students have issues. Is anyone interested in coming to their rescue? They cannot pay fees, the lecturers make all types of demands on them, and the children are out there on the streets to make money to meet these needs when they should be in school.
Everyone is shifting the blame. Nobody is willing to do anything to address these issues. It is when things start getting out of hand that we apply some cosmetic solutions.
Ogbidi: We should realise that many of our criminals are clever enough to plan for their future. Some of them are funnelling the resources from their illegal activities into activities that affect the operations of legitimate affairs of society. They are the ones determining who becomes what in the society. They are sponsoring people into offices at all levels. The infiltration of governments by criminals will affect law making and implementation of our laws.
Government is part of the crime we are discussing. The suspects are in the ones in one arm of government of the other. Thieves now look after the stolen property.
The government is not responsible enough; it does not listen. God wants us to listen more before decisions and talk less that is why we have two ears and one mouth. We hear only rhetoric. Last February 1, we warned government at this Conference Hall on the impending security problems (post election violence). Nobody listened.
Balogun: Religion remains the opium of the poor. The Hamas Charter outlines the position of the Islamic Palestine. Members are those who fear God and raise the banner of Jihad. They provided education and economic power and people followed them. Where there is a failure of governance – democratic, economic failures – insecurity increases. New Zealand has good leadership and governance and provides for the people. It is rated as a leading country in terms of security.
Poverty is fuelled by corruption we cannot escape tackling the issue from that point. Everything that fails in a system comes down to corruption.
All the things that we do not have are because of corruption. We tend to talk of the past, when things worked, but the same issues we are talking about now were always there. The difference may be in the fact that there is more information about them and the number of people involved in crimes has increased, again due to the factors we have been discussing. The children are doing more of the things the older generations did. We do not plan and it hurts Nigerians very well.
Cleanness has a relationship with the level of crime. A look at our environment can easily tell the extent of crime. We may not eradicate corruption; we can minimise it. Corruption exists in both public and private sectors, but we emphasise corruption only in the public sector. The private sector has its own corruption and compromises those who are in government. When people do not compromise their positions in public office, it is an issue of personal conviction. I am talking from personal experience.
There is nothing wrong with religion. People can use religion to win over their societies. A society should be concerned about its future. What do we think would happen when the youth are uneducated? What will happen if unemployment continues? Can we see the relationship between these and the rise in crimes?
We cannot talk about security without looking at why other countries are secure. When corrupt prospers, more crimes will start. This explains why other countries take corruption serious. Corruption is not only a crime on its own, it creates other crimes. The new UK Anti-Corrupt Act is to protect the society. In those societies, they do not wait for the problems; they take measures to avert them. If we stop educating our people, if we allow infrastructure to decay, crimes will fester – and we will be building a failed society.
Uwazurike: There is poverty of leadership at all levels. The man at the top surrounds himself with sycophants who must key into his thinking or they are out of government. The lessons from the events in the Arab world are deep about how little people in power know about the people. Some Arab rulers are asking what the people want after more than 40 years in power. What have they been doing all those years? How did they rule without knowing what the people want? We face the same problem here. Those in power do not care about the people.
The first problem is the misuse of religion, it is so pervading. People in authority think that whatever they do is God’s will. Their evil deeds, they also count as God’s wish. When Babangida was in-charge, he was a master in instigating crisis, creating instability so that he could do what he wanted.
After two years in office, Obasanjo used the rest of the time to play the power game. All these they will tell the people are the will of God.
Poverty and proliferation of churches, mosques, gambling and drinking places are signs of the state of the country. People are searching for solutions. The more people pray, the worse the issues. The pastors are busy deceiving them, prospering from the poverty of the people. Most of the properties the churches acquire are in the pastors’ names. During wars and crises, churches prosper. The sycophancy that we see in governments follows all the way to the places of worship. Pastors and imams are falling over each other to be close to those in government. Who then will tell them that the people are suffering? This state of hopelessness adds to loss of faith of the people in governments. They could resort to crimes in protest.
From the sentences on people involved in corruption, the impression is that corruption pays. If I steal N200 million I am a fool, but if I steal N2 billion I can plea bargain and I am released. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is playing on the intelligence of Nigerians. If we want to fight corruption, we must fight it to the end. Almost all the people charged to court four years ago for corruption, are in the Senate.
Insecurity and infrastructure failure are linked to corruption. Until the President and Governors distance themselves from those charged with corruption, the fight against corruption will be futile. We remember that the proceeds of corruption fuel other crimes while corruption itself cripples society’s abilities to make progress.
What are the solutions?
Nnanna: We have done before, we can do it again. The killers are the enemies of the state. Boko Haram are human being, they live somewhere. The tales around them is an old trick, used by kidnappers in other places, who roped others into their trade.
They mystify themselves making it difficult for those who know them to report to the security agencies. When government moved in the soldiers against the kidnappers, things changed. The panacea for dealing with criminality is to use the force available to the State. There must be means of preventing future occurrences.
Dialoguing with Boko Haram
There are talks of dialoguing with Boko Haram. How do you dialogue with those who are killing everyone and deny Western education? They are targeting even people of their religion, saying they are the true religion. Others are fighting terrorism decisively. They are enemies and must be treated that way. After dealing with the criminalities involved, government must find ways to expand the economy for the benefit of the people. One of the fastest growing economies, according to statistics, must reflect on the lives of the people through increased production and productivity.
Obakpolor: The military incursion in 1966 came with security problems. The committee that the government has set up to tackle the security problems cannot do anything. Committees work where there are established systems that can understand the work they have done and know how to implement them.
In 1966, there was a working government.
It might have had problems, but it did not have the type of money available today. We were working with thousands, now it is trillions, and people are suffering more. A mustard seed that was sown in 1966 introduced corruption and the crimes that we are talking about today. The civil service was stable. The civil servants were hardly thinking of providing for themselves.
Everything changed by 1975, when Murtala Mohammed started removing them without paying them any benefits. Most of them died from the shock, others survived but lived in penury. Those who were still in service learnt quickly from this. They started putting things aside for themselves. From 10 per cent they have moved to 90 per cent. The abandoned projects we have all over the place are the testimonies to what corruption has done to the system.
The police have been made redundant by poor equipment and poor training. Abuja should have been built to be crime free. How can police solve a riddle without the right equipment? Ordinary CCTV (close circuit television) is not available in sensitive areas of Lagos. London put up CCTV after the training bombing. Of course, theirs will work, they have no issues with power failure.
Philomena IKULAYO, Lawyer, Professor of Psychology, University of Lagos
Obiageli OBI, Lawyer, Speaker, Governance 500, Principal Partner, Legend Advocacy
Henry Adeniyi BALOGUN, Lawyer, Security Training Consultant, The Alpha Institute
Chief Goddy UWAZURIKE, Lawyer, Principal Partner, Uwazurike & Associates, Vice President, Aka Ikenga
Rear Admiral Sunday Abiodun OLUKOYA (rtd), former Defence Attaché to Cameroon, former Military Administrator (old Ondo State)
Willy OGBIDI, Public Relations Expert, Head of Faculty, Nigeria Institute of Public Relations
Mike IKHARIALE, Professor of Constitutional Law, Executive Consultant, LRDC, Lagos
Engineer John OBAKPOLOR, retired Group Captain, Aviation Expert
Ochereome NNANNA, Deputy Chairman, Vanguard Editorial Board, Columnist
Moderator: Ikeddy ISIGUZO, Chairman, Vanguard Editorial Board
* We invited the police and SSS, but they did not attend.