Curbing insecurity in Ondo
By Kayode Adegbehingbe
Societies do no thrive without adequate security. This is because insecurity leads to uncertainty and a state of unrest that makes progress near impossible. Ondo State is not an exception, hence when there was a spate of kidnappings in the state last year the government convened a security summit, which was held in January.
To take the issue of insecurity lightly is to sleep with the roof on fire. And the state government has, apart from holding a security summit earlier this year, at various times, donated utility vehicles to security operatives in the state. Such an intervention is indicative of the support that the state government has been giving the security operatives to aid their mandate to secure the lives and properties of the people in the state, prevent and checkmate criminality and bring those who breach the peace to justice. It shows the impeccable commitment of the Oluwarotimi Akeredolu-led administration in the state to secure the people’s lives and property.
While the security apparatus are directly under the control of the federal government, the state governor has picked up his own end of the security stick with those interventions. As it stands, it is expected that the state will do more when its financial standing improves as it behoves on it to time and again come to the aid of the security operatives, continuing the legacy of contributing its quota to the activities of those who are charged with minding the safety of the people.
Last year, from the 15 pickup trucks that the government gave to different security agents, five went to the State Police command, three to the 32 Artillery Brigade located in the state, the Department of State Security Services got two, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, three cars, and one each was given to Special Protection unit and Naval Base in Igbokoda.
According to the governor, the reason for the distribution of the vehicles is to enhance the patrol activities of security agents.
He said: ”We are facing a lot of security challenges and patrols have become important. I believe that your combined efforts have done a lot to get to the roots, although we are not out of the woods totally.”
Before then, the government had distributed 10 speed boats to the naval operational base in Igbokoda, Ilaje Local Government area of the State. The governor said that the speed boats are to add to the number of boats that the naval officers have already so that they can manoeuvre in the hollow creeks while in pursuit of criminals.
Also, as part of the efforts of the government to diffuse the security situation in the state, the government proclaimed amnesty to militants in the Niger Delta area of the state to lay down their arms and ammunition, promising to ensure that they are incorporated into the federal government’s amnesty programme.
Headed by the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, the State Amnesty Committee within the few weeks it was given to carry out its assignment, had to collect and document the arms and ammunitions that were collected.
To have a large cache of arms and ammunition in the hands of militants runs contrary to the goal of peaceful coexistence in the riverine area and the amnesty can be regarded as a master stroke, pressing the reset button of security in the area, reducing the level of restiveness. The government is planning to set up a deep sea port and improve the infrastructure in the southern senatorial district of the state, but without peace such lofty economic aims would remain elusive.
The amnesty programme, started by the federal government has gone a long way to restore peace in the Niger Delta, and what the Ondo State government had done is to creatively use the concept to further deepen peace in the region. The people of the region do not deserve to live in fear, rather the government should ensure that they have all they need in adequate protection of their lives and properties, and the amnesty initiative has gone a long way to make that a reality. Without much ado everything must be done to ensure the enduring success of the programme, so that the ex-militants would be properly reintegrated into the society and become forces for peace, where they were threats. Peace in the Niger Delta area of the state must be protected by all means.
The Akeredolu-led government has done all these because it refuses to rest on its oars, and refused to leave all the security work in the hands of the Federal Government. And it behoves on the state government in its bid to make the state a haven for investors to ensure that all security issues are pro-actively handled and peace assured for all.
Giving credence to the effectiveness of the State’s Amnesty programme, the Deputy Governor noted that the amnesty programme has not only brought peace into the state but the effect is also being felt in far away Lagos and Ogun States.
During the January security summit, the governor reportedly said that insecurity is a major challenge globally.
“There is hardly any continent in the world without its own peculiar socio-economic issues. It is therefore expedient that we put in place the necessary security architecture that would enhance all-round development of the state and protect the citizens and investors operating in the state. We need to involve all well-meaning individuals to ensure that our environment is free of crimes.
“Poverty occasioned by incessant warfare, inclement climatic conditions, unproductive economies in a competitive and unfriendly ambience and above all, visionless leadership, make the geopolitical space occupy an enviable position in global affairs.
“The combination of these factors had engendered insecurity. There is hardly any part of the continent that is totally free of crises. Nigeria, our dear country, has had her own share of this existential burden, a phenomenon usually associated with most transitional societies. Socio-economic crises have ensured that the country slips from one crisis to another.
“The deplorable situation often compels an uncritical and most times erroneous conclusion, which suggests lack of capacity to appreciate the enormity of these challenges by political leadership,” he explained.
The governor expressed the belief that making the security situation into the state better would go a long way to improve the state’s profile on the ease of doing business scale, as it pays attention to articulating and coordinating issues surrounding crime prevention/control, crime and criminal justice administration data collection and analysis, together with the adequate security planning.
And there is the need to be proactive so that the state is not caught flat-footed in the area of security. That indicates the importance of intelligence gathering in crime prevention, since, as the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine.
According to the governor, it is important to put in place the needed security architecture for all round development of the state and protect the citizens and investors operating in the state.
While receiving the report of the security summit, the governor averred that there is need to totally overhaul the security apparatus in the state seeing that the state is poised to become a hub of investment and industrialisation. He said that the report would serve as the basis for developing a security policy document for the state.
We should note that if we fail to plan, we are therefore planning to fail. The proposed state security policy document is meant to greatly improve the security situation in the state, as it would have a monitoring and evaluation mechanism to constantly measure the performance indicators of the state in terms of sustainable peace and development.
The summit had over 500 participants from all strata of the society, including 14 resource persons who led the different aspects of the discussion. And the report, according to the government would be reviewed by the state executive council and the Ondo State House of Assembly to come up with the security policy document.
Papers presented at the summit, reflecting the divergent security issues germane to the state, included: herdsmen and farmers clashes; kidnapping, ritual killing and cultism; marine crime, youth restiveness and armed banditry; the current security architecture and inter agency collaboration in Ondo State; imperatives of state community policing and private security organisations; funding security; aligning the criminal justice system with the current security realities; drug abuse and trafficking; and cyber crime and information management system.
The Lead Speaker at the summit, Femi Odekunle, being a Professor of criminology, drew a direct link between security and development.
He said that there is an indisputable relationship between security and development and planning for security must be seen and treated as part and parcel of planning for development.
“The importance and ramifications of security cannot be overestimated. Security is the most fundamental of the socio-contractual responsibilities of the state to its citizen.
“There should be legislation to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of security work and administration in all the states,” he said.
He believes there should be a legislation to enforce regular security patrol, intelligence based policing and stipendiary justice administration. And that is the direction that the Ondo State Governor has promised to move.
Without the requisite legislation that spells out who to do what and when, what structures to put in place and how things would be regulated, matters of security becomes hit and miss, hampering long term planning and fostering an atmosphere of uncertainty. Societies are governed by laws, which spells out who does what and when for appropriate coordination and allocation of responsibilities attached with sanctions, where appropriate.
But it should not end at the point of legislation, there should be a clear guidance for enforcement and monitoring effectiveness, finding out if they are serving their purpose and if there is any need to change any aspect of them.
It therefore becomes imperative for action to be expedited on the new law. We don’t need to start panicking when a new wave of crime hit the state, looking for what to do. This process should not go the way of the numerous other product of the brain power of the people, where similar summits/meetings were held across the country end up being all talk and no walk.
A lot of novel initiative that have been turned into policy proposal documents are gathering dust all over the country. Several think tanks have been constituted, men and women of repute and cerebral acumen have sat together and come up with solutions to myriads of the intractable problems of the country, but it has ended at just that. Numerous ideas have been espoused which have not seen the light of day. It is clear that the nation is not bereft of ideas but there has been a gap between planning and execution.
Needed ideas should be given force of law for them to transform the society. And that demands a political will. The efforts of the hundreds of eggheads who gathered together at that security summit should not be in vain, but are waiting for the fruit of their labour in the form of the legislation.
With that, the Akeredolu administration would have grabbed has an opportunity to put the security of the state on a sound footing for the sake of posterity. No one is an island of knowledge, hence the summit which has come and gone and delivered on its mandate, through different memoranda from the public, and as Yoruba would say, it is with the wisdom of both the young and the old that Ile-Ife was established.