By Editorial Team
Insecurity, in the forms of crimes, criminality and terrorism, has been a major threat to the existence of Nigeria in over a decade now.
Not only has it adversely affected the Nigerian economy, it has hampered meaningful development in many parts of the country.
Many innocent souls have also been sent to their early graves besides the billions of naira worth of properties that have been destroyed within the period, especially due to insurgency, terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.
Money that should have been meaningfully utilized have been diverted to quell the insecurity elements that raised their heads in parts of the country at various times within the last one and half decades.
This is why it is important for Nigeria and Nigerians to begin to think of ways to tackle these insecurity issues before they even arise.
The introduction of community policing has brought a new dynamics to reducing crimes and criminality in many states in the country, but more needs to be done to fine-tune the policy and ensure total security in the country.
Will it be possible to prevent insecurity and crimes without the use of bullets? Or will it be possible for every crisis in Nigeria to be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand and consume resources that should be put to other meaningful uses?
How can we have at the helm of affairs politicians and people at the grassroots level that knows what it takes to put the final nail on the coffin of insecurity in Nigeria?
These and many more questions that will help to permanently solve the problems of insecurity should be in the minds of all those that mean well for Nigeria, especially as the 2023 general elections is barely one year away.
But surprisingly the main focus concerning the coming elections appears to be on the centre, the Presidency.
Apart from two or three states where the potential gubernatorial aspirants are now known, the airwaves and the media is always awash on a daily basis with stories and discussions on Presidential aspirants.
As at the last check, the Presidential aspirants for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), have reached twenty-eight, while those of the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not far from the same figure.
Apart from Lagos, Kano and Kaduna, very little or nothing is being heard about governorship aspirants that will possibly take charge of the states whose election fall in the year 2023.
Whether much is said about those state aspirants or not, it is high time Nigerians in and from the various localities take full charge of how peaceful and secured they want their states to be from next elections in 2023.
Knowing that security is critical to development, Nigerians should start thinking on the next set of governors that will have what it takes to handle security effectively and possibly prevent insecurity, crime and criminality without the use of bullets.
The governors should be able to drastically reduce what is being spent on bullets and other equipment for quelling insecurity and crisis and embrace more proactive measures as the Chief Security Officers of their states.
They should be ready to think outside the box as insecurity have been escalating in many states despite regular State Governors’ Security Council meetings comprising the various security agencies and spending billions of naira allegedly on “Security Votes”.
On security and other qualities Nigerians should look out for in their next state governors, two prominent security experts spoke exclusively with Security Watch Africa (SWA).
A retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Wilson Inalegwu, said “He must have intellectual capacity, he must understand the issues at stake in that state. In terms first of all, developmental projects, what are those things that are of priority to that state.
“Security of lives and properties, because you can build all the roads, if you don’t have people to ply the roads, it is useless. I will also look for neutrality.
“After the election, he is not talking about his party, he is not talking about those who voted and those that didn’t vote, he is the father of all. He is not talking about his clan. But he is looking at the state as his own. And he must have empathy. He shouldn’t think of winning, winning, winning. He should think of how he is going to galvanize the population in his state more productive.”
The new governors, he said, should also have the capacity to improve health, education, portable water supply, etc
The retired AIG went on “He should be somebody who understands the issue of security, he must have emotional intelligence. When things come, he must look at it dispassionately. He should think of win, win for the state, not win, win for himself.
“He should visit that remote place and sit down and listen to what they have to say, that village that no governor has gone to, that village of only 10 or 20 families, that hamlet. Once in awhile, he should go to that village and sit with the elders, the aged, and look at the issues.
“Because if you are a governor and you are only in Abuja, and you don’t stay in your state, I will look for somebody who identifies with the aspirations of the community,” he added
On how the incoming governors can build on the successes so far recorded on community policing, he said “Community policing is not well understood. Community policing is not vigilantism. Community policing is about the public and the police coming together to identify problems and identify ways of solving those problems.
“Community policing is not about arming any group, it is about everybody having a stake, everybody being a police officer, everybody being involved in the issues of policing. That is community policing.
“Community policing is not about setting up parallel bodies. The Federal Government has made it easy. I think N13 or N15 billion was released for their implementation across the country.”
According to him, the incoming governors should appoint competent Special Adviser on Security, who will appropriately guide his directives towards improving security in his state.
He said “The governors can give directives to the Commissioners of Police. How do you do that? You ought to have a competent and professional Special Adviser on Security. When you have somebody who is competent there, who understands the nitty-gritty of law enforcement, you begin to see how to assess the Commissioner of Police conducting law enforcement in your state.
“On a quarterly basis, you have a review of the cases of kidnapping, armed robbery, housebreaking and theft as the case may be. On a quarterly basis, you carry out a review. Just 30 minutes review within 3 months, you review the performance indicators.
“So, as the Chief Security Officer of the state, it is not by mouth. It is by action. So, the Commissioner of Police knows that his performance is being assessed, the governor is interested in security, he is asking questions, and he is having guidance from his S. A. Security, who also has the statistics, the Commissioner also gives him daily bulletin.
“In my opinion, that is being Chief Security Officer of the state. And then, he is able to give lawful directives. When you have a state operating like that, without firing a shot, crime is going to come down,” he stated.
On his part, a retired Commissioner of Police, Lawrence Alobi, pointed out that the 1999 Constitution already made it mandatory for state governors to guarantee the security and well-being of citizens of their states.
But many state governors, he said, have failed in that responsibility.
As 2023 approaches, he charged the electorate to shun money politics and vote for governors who can deliver.
He said “A governor, like the Constitution provides, one of their oaths of office is to defend the Constitution. And Section 14 of the Constitution provides that the primary purpose of every government is the security and well-being of the citizens.
“So, the governor or even Mr. President take oaths to ensure the security of the citizens are guaranteed, probably security and welfare of the citizens.
“So, anybody who wants to be governor, the citizens themselves need to decide. But unfortunately, our electorates are ill-informed of what to do. And the ruling class in this country have applied the principle of depriving the citizens a good life and promoting poverty. And by the time election comes, they go and give them stipends to lure them to vote for them.
“So, we need men of integrity, men who have compassion, men with empathy, men who think how to add value to society, men who think about well-being of the people. Not men who think about themselves, who are egoistic, who are alienated from the citizens.”
The former FCT Commissioner of Police, added “Now that the elections are coming up, they will come to the people to campaign, the moment they are elected, they become alienated from the citizens, they don’t even pick their calls, they become inaccessible.
“We want leaders who are accessible, leaders who have listening ears, leaders who are prepared to see to the welfare of the people, leaders who will ensure our security, who will fight poverty, corruption.
“Not men who will come and condone corruption who will compound corruption or promote corruption. Not men who will not pay attention to security, who will not pay attention to the needs of the security agencies like the Police.”
Nigeria, he said, is facing internal security challenges because the Police has been neglected over the years.
“The Police that ought to be empowered have been neglected over the years. That is the consequence of what the country is suffering today. If those who are to provide security are being neglected, they will be prone to corruption because the citizens are there to corrupt them.
“The government should look at the problem of the Police and other security agencies to ensure that we have a Police Force that we will be proud of, people that can guarantee our safety and security. So, the government at all levels should see about the needs of the people,” he said.
He advocated that community policing should be integrated with democratic policing in order to effectively tackle security challenges.
He said “Community policing is a philosophy that is anchored on citizens’ participation in the security of their communities, giving information to the Police, cooperating with the Police.
“But for me, I strongly recommend that community policing and democratic policing should be integrated together as a framework for policing. The citizens’ participation is good, but they must be anchored on core values of democracy.
“Experts in policing have established that the type of government in a country determines the style of policing.
Democratic policing is policing the people in conformity with democratic norms and values, Human Rights must be respected, rule of law must be respected, citizens must be protected.”
He also pointed out that there is a lacuna in the country as the Nigeria Police Force doesn’t have a policing policy or framework.
“That is why policing has become all comers affairs. There is proliferation of agencies because there is no framework and national strategy for policing,” the retired Commissioner of Police concluded.
With the 2023 general elections fast approaching, Nigerians definitely can no longer afford to sit on the fence and leave things to chance by allowing miscreants and hoodlums to dictate the pace in their states.
It cannot be overemphasised that they must, first and foremost, be ready with their PVCs to exercise their franchise in effort to determine who the next state governors should be.
They must queue behind the aspirants that have the pedigree to effectively handle security in their states, which is an essential ingredient for development.
If for nothing else, at least to ensure peace and security of their states for meaningful progress and development.
This will also usher in the necessary environment for them to go about their lawful businesses without fear or threats from any quarters.