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Big Brother is watching

By Denrele Animasaun

“The Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” – Thomas Jefferson

I do not think much of our progress in relation to crime fighting and justice. And the federal government then goes and throws the proverbial spanner in the works and proved me right. If Nigerians regularly compile crime statistics, they will be staggered by how much crime is committed in our country on a daily basis and it shows no signs of abating.

We have all been directly or know someone who has been a victim of crime. Shockingly, it has become the given that crime happens and then people just get on with life, until it happens again. In a civil society one would expect that the government would try in reducing the alarming rates of crime that is blighting the lives of its citizens, you would have hoped that it would be a priority. No, not us. It seems that the powers that be do not care much for the ordinary Nigerians.

Here in the UK, there are more cameras per person than anywhere in the world. In fact, camera surveillance has become an integral part of the government’s crime prevention strategy. It has proved a valueable device in terms of safety and security. Well, to an extent. There is disquiet feeling of invasion of privacy and human rights violation but you cannot put a price on safety. In London, it is estimated that five hundred thousand CCTV cameras are in operation.

President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan

So, why in Nigeria is life so cheap and why is there always a complication when addressing the needs of the citizens?

One would have thought the use of recording of criminal activities will prevent crimes from occurring; that it will be welcomed and encouraged; that it will serve as a deterrent due to a fear of being caught.

So when Governor Babatunde Fashola declared in 2009, that his administration intends to install 10,000 cameras to reduce crime in the State, hope sprang eternal. His rationale is very pragmatic and practical; in a state with eighteen million citizens and only 33,000 police force (and an ineffectual force at that). The State needed surveillance equipment to assist with policing the streets.

He said: “No matter how much we try to increase the number of policemen, we cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result”.

“In an information technology-driven world, we have to be counted as one of those states and communities which will adopt best practices. Cameras, sensors, tracking devices are the nerve centre of these facilities that would assist men and officers of the police force, fire service among others to do their duty much more effectively.”

The governor is right and the people of Lagos deserve to feel safe and secure.

So now big FG have flexed its muscles and stalled the Lagos Safe City Project, a scheme aimed at providing 10,000 solar-powered closed circuit cameras all over the metropolis.

Their lame excuse that Lagos was going to be in the first phase of the project means nothing and they seem not to expand on the move.

So we are talking of a lot of equipment costing billions of Naira, laying fallow. So their talk be political but what do I know? The big FG always proves me right. Not that old chestnut….

“One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”- Plato
So here we go again, the same old, tragic-comedy has reared its ugly head and raucous now ensue in Oyo politics. Why are people surprised that the accord between the Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi and the former State governor, Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja has taken a turn for the worse?

In Oyo State, many saw the acrimony between Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Senator Rashidi Ladoja coming. It has been brewing for some time, when the present governor won in 2011 by a slim margin over the then ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State. Necessity means that in order to have a workable House of Assembly he formed an alliance with the Ladoja led Accord Party. For a while it was good; there was stability in the House of Assembly.

The pact between the Governor and Ladoja of the Accord Party was to cement the political coalition. In turn, it meant that some of the Accord members were absorbed into the Ajimobi administration, until now when they were unceremoniously booted out for undermining the administration. Those that have been privy to the marriage of convenience said that Ladoja had not help matters, by being publicly dismissive of the Ajimobi’s administration. There was a time that the two were politically good friends and it helped unify many factions and that is no mean feat in Oyo State!

The cracks were there and occasionally there were glimpses of it where there were deliberate leaks to the media and as they say politics is one of the dirtiest occupations alongside other oldest professions. Some would agree that they can tell the difference between the two.

This bad blood runs deep, despite the fact that they are cousins from their Olugbesan, Oke Agbeni root; this quarrel goes much deeper than that. The bad feelings is contagious and this can be traced right back to Adedibu’s era.

Adedibu held tight political reins and it is believed that he was seen as the king maker at a cost.  It was thought he held the reins of government and belived so much in his hype as the king maker. This I tell you have got a lot to do with greed and it has been the way political favours were returned. My father wrote in his article, titled ‘The barricade for democracy’:

“It is a surprise that Rasheed associated with Adedibu at all. Two instances why he should not have done what he did: one of the instances he (Rasheed) himself quoted was “after we had our quarrel in 1994 and we wanted to make up in 2002, he came to see me and he said :Rasheed, the possibility of matters going the sticky end at the centre of the Western Region crisis was the greed for power from the centre; in the thick of this one is a similar greed”.

So fast forward eleven years, with the present discord and yet people are surprised? There is too much politicking, horse-trading and gerrymandering going on. It seems to me that one party from the accord was bound to feel aggrieved, ego bruised, ignored, felt neglected and lashed out. With what Ladoja has been through in the political arena, it seems that he should know better and with the new development he has lost the moral high ground.

Governor Ajimobi and Ladoja  are not  strangers; they are in fact related, they  are  cousins  but  the political  lines  are  been drawn and blood ties have been abandoned, which is really sad indeed.

So Governor Ajimobi duly discharged a letter to Ladoja. So the arena is prepared and set, and while the gladiators gather and many are wagering that come 2015 Ladoja will withdraw his endorsement and support, will it affect the outcome of the coming election?  Sometimes I do think that politicians underestimate the intelligence of their constituents and much I hope to their peril.The people of Oyo state should judge the achievement and progress of their governor and not on the say so of the political shaman.

The governor should remain resolute, composed and not be derailed by this development, it is better he stands for what he believes in; the interest of the people of the State, rather than pander to the whim of yesterdays men. The people of Oyo Sate deserve someone who works to get the State moving in the right direction. He should stay clear of the mudslinging or he will get covered in the process.


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