By Evelyn Omotoye
Nigeria has consistently ranked low in the Global Peace Index, signifying a worsened state of insecurity in the country. With the lingering security challenges and the inability of the security apparatus of the government to guarantee safety and security in the country the questions that border everyone in Nigeria today are “Can there be security? “Is security of lives and properties achievable.
These rhetorical questions and the spate of security threat made Ondo State government to organize a one day security submit to tackle the menace of kidnapping and insecurity challenges that plagued the state recently.
The one day summit was power-packed, having two plenary sessions featuring discussions on ten different fundamental security issues with paper presentation by erudite scholars and experts in various fields relating to security including: funding security in Ondo State, criminal justice system and the current security realities, cybercrimes as well as information management system, marine crimes, youth restiveness, herdsmen and farmers clashes , arms proliferation and inter communal clashes kidnapping among others, towards redefining how to improving the security architecture of the state for sustainable peace and development.
Governor Akeredolu at the event explained that the summit could not have come at a better time as the “issue of security was becoming more complex, complicated and compounded by the very circumstances which define us as a country and our relentless quest for peace and progress. These problems appear daunting, threatening not only the tenuous harmonious relationship existing among the various ethnic groups, but also the very existence of the country.
He described insecurity as though a major global challenge, saying there was hardly any continent without its own peculiar socio-economic issues. He explained that the African continent grapples with serious challenges of existence which have had debilitating impact on their development. The understanding of the current issue of insecurity as a global challenge will, according to the governor, assist to adopt the right measures to combat the menace appropriately.
He stated that the combination of: “poverty, occasioned by incessant warfare, inclement climatic conditions, unproductive economies in a competitive and unfriendly ambience and above all, visionless leadership, make the geo-political space occupy an unenviable position in global affairs”, has engendered insecurity, noting that 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 ensure that the country slips from one crises to another.
Ondo State being an integral part of the country has, according to the governor inevitably shared from the wave of insecurity. He posited that the strategic location of the state as a gateway to North-Central, South-South, South-West and South-East coupled with her position with the longest coastline, has facilitated the influx of criminal elements into the state.
He said it has therefore become incumbent on the state to take proactive steps to confront these challenges. “While we continue to hope for God’s guidance and protection, we must not fail to approach this delicate problem with all the seriousness it deserves.
“As we strive to work on the fundamental dysfunction, a reality of existence in our nation-state, consequent upon continual interactions among the various peoples of the country, attempts must be made to deepen our efforts in ensuring that all those saddled with the responsibilities to secure the country possess the requisite capacity to perform their duties appreciably”, he maintained.
He stated that the present administration is embarking on ambitious programme of massive infrastructural development to create an enabling environment that will transform the state to an industrial hub which necessitated the need to ensure a good security architecture is put in place that would enhance all-round development of the state as well as protect the citizen and investment operating in the state.
While pointing out that the state government has singlehandedly been ensuring the security of lives and property of its citizens, he maintained that total reliance on government to achieve the lofty objective may not be enough to completely address the menace. He described the provision of adequate security as capital intensive, calling for the need to involve all well-meaning individuals to ensure a crime-free environment.
In this vein, he charged the caretaker chairmen in all the18 local government areas of the state as well as traditional rulers in all the communities across the state to be proactive and take up their responsibility as the chief security officer of their respective domains. He urged them to make themselves available, be open and trustworthy so that their people, who might be afraid to go to police station or security agents, would have confidence in them and cooperate either to fight this course.
Akeredolu who expressed the belief that the outcome of the summit will contribute significantly to the security of lives and property as well as scale up the index on the Ease of Doing Business in the state in a place of haven of peace and a dream destination for all investors.
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of the Summit Planning Committee who is also the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Administration and Policy Planning, Mr Jones Ogunmusire said the summit is designed to make the state safe for its inhabitants, investors and also make it a safe-haven for capital inflow.
Highlighting the summit’s objectives to include; appraising the current security architecture in the state and project the future of the state, Ogunmusire said it is also aimed at designing an appropriate funding arrangements and to produce suitable policy document on the sustainable development of the state.
The lead speaker who delivered a lecture on the theme of the summit: “Improving the Security Architecture of Ondo State for Sustainable Peace and Development”, a Professor of Criminology and member, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Femi Odekunle, suggested among others, the establishment of an advisory social-science based’ State Crime Prevention and Control’ body for a crime-free environment.
He explained that the body would be for articulation and coordination of the objectives of crime prevention/control instrumentalities in the state as well as for crime/criminal justice administration data collation/analysis and production for regular inputs into the state’s development and security planning.
Prof Odekunle also suggested the execution, to start with, of an ‘Area Crime Prevention /Control strategy’, based on a state-wide victim survey, to reduce criminal victimization of citizens in the state.
He maintained that the parameters of whatever architecture Ondo State comes up with, must: be preventive and proactive rather than reactive; evolve and involve threats-reduction strategies; cover urban and rural areas and both high and low density communities of the former; and ‘sharpen’ readiness of stakeholder institutions, agencies, and individuals.
The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae commended the steps taken by the state government to curb criminal activities in the state by organising the first of its kind summit and particularly prayed that the summit will yield positive results,
“The security situation in Ondo State, unlike in the past has taken a worrisome dimension in recent past when gunmen , now abduct, kidnap, wound and kill our people, and in several cases rape our women and inflict serious injuries on many. This is why the step taken to confront this challenge must be commend.” He said.
Falae however urged the state government to empower forest guards by providing them with arms to protect both the forest and the crops and strengthen all security agencies and provide the required morale for them to discharge their duties as expected. He suggested the need for cattle breeders to embrace the policy of purchasing land from owners and convert them into ranches.
Also speaking separately with newsmen, Afenifere chieftain, Sehinde Arogbofa and Dr. Laoye Adegoke described the summit as a commendable activity and well packaged having people who really matter and knowledgeable in the area of discourse coning up with great ideas to tackle the menace of insecurity and its attendant challenges.
Expressing high hopes that the recommendations would be taken seriously, they however called for concrete actions than mere lectures to tackle insecurity menace bedeviling the state, and also for individuals to develop attitude of discipline in order to achieve the goal of the summit.
Meanwhile, some local government caretaker chairmen in Ondo State including Hon. Otito Atikase of Ilaje and Mr. Agboola Ajike of Ose who spoke in separate interviews at the summit have assured of their readiness to compliment the efforts of the state government in tackling insecurity in their areas .
On the part of the media, the Chairman/Editor-in-Chief of Owena Press Limited, publisher of The Hope titles, Sir Ademola Adetula, particularly commended the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, for organising such a security summit, among other previous efforts made to stabilize peace in the state, saying it would further strengthen the security system of the state and make it safer for both local and foreign investments.
The veteran journalist who observed that the media play vital roles in curbing insecurity in the society also explained that media organisations are expected to mobilise support against criminality in the society, just as he lauded the media for living up to expectations as watchdog of the society, despite working in an environment that is not conducive.
“Anywhere there is crime there can never be peace; even the media itself would be threatened. One of the basic duties of the media is to assist in promoting peace and ensure that crime does not reign. if a media organisation is aware of any black spot within any community or where criminals hibernate, it is the duty of journalists to do an exposé of such activities. If they have collaborators, it is the duty of the media to also expose them.
“The Hope has done several Editorials on how illegal ammunitions come into Nigeria, the porosity of our borders among other things. These are some of the areas that journalists can assist to prevent perpetration of criminal activities. It also our duty not to encourage hate speech. You know today that hate speech is causing trouble; it can lead to war. When you try to set one ethnic group against the other. It is our duty as journalists that when we see things that can cause trouble, that can lead to criminal activities being perpetrated we must make sure that we didn’t give it the impetus that will turn it into a conflagration. If the society is on fire the media too will be consumed. So, it is our duty to make sure there is peace so that we can do our business peacefully.
“So, the summit is well thought out and it came at the appropriate time. I want to say that all of us, in our various communities, should assist in exposing criminals and report to the law enforcement agencies. The issue of providing security in our state is not government business alone, it is everybody’s business because if your community is peaceful you will be able to carry out your lawful business in peace”, Adetula emphasised .
In submission, collective vigilance and cooperation with security agents as well as support for the government on the part of the people were harped on while all major stakeholders were charged to live up to expectations to ensure peace and safety in their domain.
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