HEADLINE | Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2019

South-West security and our governors' dilemma


The Osun Economic and Investment Summit, previously scheduled to take place between June 25 and 27, 2019, has been postponed. Reports have it that the postponement is not unconnected with the security situation across the country. If this is the true position, then, the decision is a buck well spent.

Without being immodest, the South-West as a bloc is in need of programmes and policies that can help it recalibrate its socio-economic consciousness. But can there be economic prosperity in the face of diverse developmental challenges on the socio-political-cum-economic front? Therefore, it is needless to repeat that the just-concluded South-West Security Summit, organised to sustain the status of the region as the "safest to live, invest and recreate," was timely.

In separate addresses delivered at the event, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State advocated state police in "policing lapses in the country," while Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State urged his counterparts to "invest heavily in technology to be ahead and win the war" because "security wars are fought and won on the altars of intelligence gathering, planning and implementation."

It is no longer news that security has become relevant globally. Its presence brings about prosperity, while its absence leads to general social instability. In a narrow sense of the word, investments are secured only when the people feel secure. For us in the South-West, insecurity has for some time become the greatest geopolitical threat and it seems that the powers-that-be are caught napping.

Basically, a growing population amidst a haemorrhaging economy, high unemployment rate, poor or decaying infrastructure and unholy alliances between poor budgeting and implementation are some of the challenges facing security in this part of the country.

Besides, bad governance, an unbridled influx of light arms from neighbouring countries through our porous borders, political thuggery and the use-and-dump attitude of many politicians are also believed to be responsible for the present climate of fear and insecurity.

Others include unprofessional conduct, lack of 21st Century-compliant equipment, poor selection process, poor training, poor salaries and lack of motivation, as well as lack of intra and inter-agency collaborations among those that are statutorily saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and property in the region.

Nigerians expect President Muhammadu Buhari to proactively degrade this sense of shame that is currently troubling our country before he returns to Daura in 2023. But then, history has shown without fail that the South-West is one region whose rich heritage can't be blackmailed or contaminated with illegitimate steps.

Let it be known to intending invaders that it is possible to invoke the primordial powers to come to the rescue of Yorubaland. Whoever doubts the powers of these ancient gods to act when their help is sought may end up blaming himself. It is about time the President did something before the present security crisis snowballs into a war that is capable of consuming the entire country.

The 'DAWN Strategy Road map' urges the people of the South-West to "use the current national situation ... as an opportunity to raise awareness and enlarge surveillance capacity," based on "local knowledge and community ownership."

While I have no problem with state or community policing as a way out of this crisis, can this prescription be a 'cure-all', indigenous strategy and how do we define its selection process and 'rules of engagement', especially, in a deeply confusing clime that recklessly places personal interests above the common good?

Can restructuring do the magic in a society where ethnic and political divisions are deep and human life is getting cheaper with each passing day? Above all, how far can the creation of vigilance groups go as a remedy for insecurity in the South-West?

As Fayemi remarked at the event, all criminal activities are heavy, but they are not insurmountable. To get out of this security mess, therefore, the welfare of security personnel, who daily put their lives on the line in order to secure the lives and property of other Nigerians must be prioritised, while legislation, which prescribe stiffer penalties for perpetrators of crime and their willing collaborators, must be put in place and seen to be effectively operational.

While not sparing social media users with bad intentions, activities of fifth columnists and disgruntled politicians who are criminally bent on rubbishing the government because it is being led by a Fulani man should also be looked into. The possibility of the so-called bandits being active members of the Boko Haram on a mission to source funds from the South-West for their activities in the North-East is another angle that must be interrogated.

If resources also permit, investments in technology to determine who rules us, as well as the establishment of Security or Traffic Radio to give information on the security situations in the region will go a long way in curbing the menace of insecurity. Finally the benefits of installing massive hidden security cameras (CCTVs) in strategic places across the South-West are also enormous.

  • Abiodun Komolafe wrote in from Ijebu-Ijesha, Osun State