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Security – Stemming the tide (3)

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

Conference Hall in session

Obakpolor: You cannot solve problems in a place like ours where we are not using the benefits of technology. The foreign security people that came after the killing of Funsho Williams could not do anything. They had no CCTV to review activities around the scene of the crime.

After installation of a few CCTV at Eagle Square, we were celebrating. What about areas outside the CCTV coverage?  We started having increased problems of security after the Civil War. Nobody took proper care of the demobilisation of soldiers. Some of the discharged  soldiers were ammunition specialists. They applied their skills for survival as criminals. It is simple to make bombs as we are witnessing from the number of reported cases of bomb blasts.

Those who ran this country ruined it. They made the people poor.  The signature of the poverty is everywhere. They placed money ahead of implementation of programmes. What government was doing was absurd. The military came into an area that was not its own and take it over, to run it. Many of those involved in ruining the country are back as senators and making laws. We still have armed people with their knowledge intact, they can use it. Nobody greater than the nation and that is what government has to portray through its actions. There is nothing Jonathan can do; he is a product of these people. He can only do things that can pleaser them. From the media you will rate government highly with all the talks and promise.

We should arm the police properly for effective security operations. The National Assembly is busy passing old laws again, it will not help us.

Olukoya: I feel handicapped. I was trained to serve. Good governance and security are important. They are not new issues. I was Governor in old Ondo State (now Ondo and Ekiti States) when it was volatile. Boko Haram is a bad example of religion and it should be stopped for people to go on with their normal lives.

*Olukoya

Things were working with the little money we had in Ondo State that is why I feel handicapped to comment on some of the things I am hearing. When we got there in 1990, there were no roads in the State. The peoples will notice our examples of leadership, though we may think they are little. The best way to kill the rumours is to be transparent. It is the duty of government to create reasonable expectations for the people. Interactions with the people through the creation of feedbacks challenges make the people believe more in their government.

Choosing of leaders

When you are in government, society expects you to do wrong things and castigates you when you do. It is like a trap. People put pressure on you about where you live and the type of car you use. If we make the right choices and educate the society in choosing the leaders, things will improve. Those who are causing problem are in the minority.  We have to put the right people in the right places and the society should be proactive in solving its problems. If the people do not want something, it would not happen. We are the ones letting things to happen.

There are provisions in the Constitution to recall elected people who are not doing well, we can use those mechanisms. If we recall those providing poor leadership, things will work better. It is possible to change things so that by 2015, we can ensure that those elected will have the right to rule. The society’s stand matters on these things.

I will summary by saying that we make our vital interests and deepest belief by cultivating the vision and mission that created our nation. We should make law so that we will seek the continuous growth of democracy to end tyranny. We must say we are Nigerians, not minding where we are from, so that we can operate under one umbrella.

We must dream to make every citizen an agent of destiny, without fears and doubts making the society do great for all of us.

Balogun: We are here bothering about security. Are the authorities worried about what is going on? I look at the newspapers and those nominated as Ministers, I wonder who will handle security. What questions  are they asking about security? We are dealing the current issues of security but we must always prepare and prepare strategies to reduce risks.

*Balogun

Our trained 1,400 police officers on security and other areas. They were to move to other stages of security training. We are no longer sure where those officers are or if they will be available for the training.  When the authorities speak of police reforms, will the reform be professional or political?

Surveillance and intelligence gathering are important and becoming more important daily. Things are changing rapidly with technology which is easily accessible, radicalisation of people for criminal purposes, funding which sponsors made available to criminals and continuously recruiting various sects embark on to keep their campaigns going. These processes are involved in taking people and changing them from being individuals to suicide bombers. The police and other security agencies require capacity building. An anti-terrorism squad was set up. Is it working?  Whatever we are doing with security must have the best global practices as the benchmark.

Obakpolor: Politicisation of the police is still going on. Once you politicise a body like the police, you cannot depoliticise it. Too many diversions are causing problems for us and making it seem impossible to govern thee country.

*Obakpolor

Free education was simple and done under the Awolowo’s government in the West. What resources did the government have then? The political will is important to get things done.

I also want to emphasise the problems that the incursion of the military in 1966 caused. When a sergeant failed to take orders from Brigadier Ogundipe, the most senior officer in the military then, we knew there would trouble. The sergeant said he would take a captain’s order. Politics is the basis of the troubles.

We need practical solutions. We have so many theories that cannot be practicalised in our environment, they are useless to us.

The electorate in April took the politics above the politicians. People did their best to vote their own candidates; the godfathers saw the power of the people in most places. The point is that there is a lot that the people can do if the government shows interest in working for the people.

Security is impossible without involving the people. Governments that are ready must work with their people.

Ikhariale: It is apparent that because of corruption and crisis of legitimacy the government cannot handle the situation. Our government cannot give legitimate orders because the service it is supposed to provide for the people is not based on law. Until we restore to the state the essence of governance, where power is derived from the people, where government knows the basis for its existence, we are not starting.

The President appoints Ministers to serve Nigerians but to please those he is leaning on to gain power. The Nigerian people are not the source of his power. President Jonathan is not accountable to the people, but to his godfathers, who are nominating the Ministers.

While they are doing all these, things are grinding to a halt. What type of leadership can we get from politicians who the Constitution requires to have minimal education? Education barely above secondary school or four years apprenticeship, even in a barber’s shop, suffices as educational qualification to seek election in Nigeria. It does not matter if it is a legislative or executive position. What type of leadership can such people provide?

*Ikhariale

Governments that treat their people the way ours does distances the people from issues that affect them. The people start feeling alienated from the state. They believe they have no duties to the state.

It was a concerned woman who called the attention of the police when Umaru Dikko was to be kidnapped in Britain. She felt something was wrong and did her duty as a citizen. The police responded because it is a society where the police take the police serious. The woman’s action foiled the kidnap.

Provision of information

At our police stations, the police will be indifferent if presented with a case. They could detain the complainant. Nigerians therefore feel no need to provide information to the police of things happening in their neighbourhood. There are no moral or spiritual nexus and no strong pedestals connecting the Nigerian people to the sense of nationhood. I am Ishan, my ancestors were Ishan. I do not know if Nigeria will remain forever, but I know Ishan will. I doubt if prayer will solve the problem.

Ikulayo: There is need to reach a stage where we chart a course for the country. Does the government have the will power to chart that direction in order to fight terrorism? In other places, terrorists are enemies and that is how they are treated.

*Ilukayo

How can we be talking about negotiating with them? What are we going to negotiate? They are killing innocent people, they are making the country insecure, and we are talking about negotiation. We should adopt the ways others fight terrorism.

America goes all out to fight terrorists. Are we committed to fighting terrorists? Some of them are suspected to be sponsored with money that has been stolen from the people.

The same poor people who suffer when people loot the treasury are those suffering most from the terrorists. We should consider the plight of the poor people who have nothing to protect themselves. The government has a responsibility to protect everybody. I do not think that negotiating with terrorists will protect Nigerians.

Nnanna: The system started breakdown the after the Civil War. People have been working against the larger interest of the Nigerian people. We should have a conference to decide the basis for the country’s existence and how to start afresh with a genuine charter of the Nigerian people. Anything else we do, we will continue going in circles.

Ogbidi:  The public confidence in the police is waning. Various groups that people are putting together for self-defence are increasing, an indication of loss of confidence in the police.

*Ogbidi

The scope of the security challenges is overwhelming and should not be under-estimated. An integrated approach that would involve everyone and the police will be more helpful. The police and the other security agencies should share information to carry out the constitutional mandate of protecting all Nigerians.

The neighbourhood watches if used can help fish out criminals in their areas. It starts with identifying everyone. We must train our security. It is a waste buying all the expensive equipment without developing the capacity of those to use them.

Civic education is important. People should understand government’s responsibility to them and their duty to embark on lawful actions that can ensure their own security. Security education will give people better appreciation of the threats in their environment and how to handle them.  We should start asking questions about people and their wealth. The government should lead by example. People arrested for crimes should be prosecuted. Impunity grows when crimes are not punished.

Uwazurike: All governments must have the political will to stand by every policy they want. The man at the top dictates the pace and must be ready to be seen as being in charge. The President must work on the intelligence system. There is a system’s failure already. More than 50 per cent of the people working with Boko Haram are foreigners. Anything that will be done must consider this information.

*Uwazurike

Raw battles will not work. Families are involved and would be hurt in battles. Modern technology will help in isolating the attackers and dealing with them.

The human capital is important for our security people. Where are the people we are training? Is the training being applied relevantly? A friend of mine returned from working with the Interpol in Paris, he was later at the United Nation University and with that type of experience, you would expect that he will be useful to the police. He had to leave the police because of opposition to his ideas from his bosses. From this example, training of security personnel is not enough. Would the bosses use them? Will the system permit their retention in service after their training?

Dedication  of the security people is also questionable. They stop taxis and motorcyclists from whom they expect to collect money. They allow those in good cars to go. What are the criteria they use in deciding which cars to search? Officers should go around, incognito, to monitor the security people. The response system is poor. Complaints abound about police turning up hours after at crime scenes. The police complain about lack of facilities.

There are inconsistencies and discrimination in the training, promotion, and deployment of security people. These create corruption that leads to insecurity. The fight against corruption is cosmetic. How long do trials last? Speedy dispensation of justice is crucial. Those filing corruption cases do not know what to file. They continue adding amendments and the people who should be on trial are allowed to continue with impunity. Separate court dedicated to fighting corruption as we have the industrial courts for labour disputes.

Obi:  We refuse to take responsibility for anything. The same attitude applies to those in authority and other people. Until we start taking responsibility, we will be applying wrong solutions. There are some who think breaking up into different country would be a solution, I do not think so. The same Nigerians will be in those countries unless they change their attitude.

Mental laziness is making Nigerians turn to God for a messiah while the salvation is within us. We talk about terrorists, in terms of those throwing bombs, kidnapping and other crimes. I think that those who loot the treasury, those who seize opportunities that should have been available to million of Nigerians are the bigger terrorists.  Their terrorism stalls the development of the country for decades while we can deal with the effects of the other crimes within a shorter time.

We have laws, we have the courts, and the people are there to keep pressing that things are done in a manner that benefits them. We have the power to stop corruption. The resources that are stolen could have been used in creating jobs for the youth. When therefore I call them bigger terrorists, I want to reflect the extensive spans of the consequences of corruption.

*Obi

As we have said here, corruption, in all forms, contribute to insecurity and largely responsible for what we call Boko Haram.

Quality of education

Unemployment increases when the quality of education is low. Those who are unwilling to make changes that will improve society keep talking about God. When you produce half-baked graduates, will they wait for God to employ them? The Minister of Petroleum claimed to have flooded the place with kerosene, she was telling the Senate during her screening.

The Senate could not question her. Either they were not interested on the price of kerosene or they did not know. They did not ask her anything. Those in authorities are so cut off from the people. What is kerosene to them? Do they use kerosene? Even if they do, they have enough money – they have taken from our common resources – to buy it, whatever the cost.

Why do we train police officers without providing basic equipment for them? An ill-equipped security team cannot defend itself and will not defend us. The police will sell the guns to the terrorists if they pay them better. If judges take bribes, the number of new courts we build will not bring justice to the people. Let organisations take responsibility for their own sections of the country. We should do what we are supposed to do or we would not get things right. The day the Israelis bombed Entebbe Airport (in Uganda, on 4 July 1976 to rescue Israeli hostages), did Idi Amin know? Boko Haram should not know when government wants to dismantle it.

People in government feel they are safe, they have security, and it is the ordinary people who are in the line of battle. We are the ones to take responsibility. People who are illiterate should not come near governance. Academics should step out to the field so that they can propound theories that will suit the environment. Everybody should take responsibility.

Obakpolor: Government should everything to curb the crisis. People who are fed up with life are dangerous. The challenges of daily life, which governments have neglected for year, are affecting the people. There are many resources available to government to use in tackling the matter, it should use them. Government must be seen as fair in its dealings, it will give people more confidence in government.

Concluded.

CONTRIBUTORS

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


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.