Let me start by condemning in strongest terms, the car bomb blast, which occurred during the 50th anniversary celebration of our independence, on 1st October 2010, few meters away from the eagle square. I wish also to extend my condolences to the families of innocent Nigerians that died, as a result(s) of the bomb blast. May their souls and souls of other departed Nigerians rest in peace. Moments like this, calls for a serious reflection on the security situation in our country, as this bomb blast, is a serious security lapse. Therefore, all the security services must fish out the perpetrators of this crime, expose them and bring them to face justice.
It became highly disturbing, on reading from Thisday Newspaper of 2nd October 2010 (online version), that the British Intelligence warned the Nigerian authorities about the attacks. The questions are? Was it a preventable incident, what did our security services do with the information, and how capable are our security services for security challenges in this 21st century, etc. But a general look at the national security level reveals, a total breakdown of law and order. Crime rates are too high. Kidnappings have reached a dangerous level. Still on the same 1st October 2010, there was breaking news on Sky News (between 8:30am and 9:15am) that kidnapper(s) have released 15 school children at Aba. Hardly any day goes by, without a case of kidnapping been reported.
The national insecurity situation is a pointer to the near failure of government. This is because, the primary purpose of every government is welfare and security of its people. Nigeria and Nigerians must rise up, to put an end to insecurity (crimes, kidnappings, violence, robberies, etc) or insecurity will put an end to us as a nation. Every one (government and people) has a role to play. Firstly, the government should be serious with its fight against corruption. Corruption makes it difficult to; (1) create jobs for the youths, (2) create an enabling environment for the private sector to create jobs, (3) makes it difficult to develop the economy. Unemployment brings idleness, and an idle mind is a devils workshop.
A situation where, “The World Bank estimates the country’s generals and gangster politicians stole $300 billion in the three decades to 2006”(Time Magazine, May 3rd 2010 Edition, Page 42), will be a recipe for disaster, and high crime rates from those who are frustrated by the system. The government needs to redress so many structural imbalances in the country like the Niger Delta crises, conduct credible elections in 2011, etc. Above all, the government needs to be fair, honest and transparent in her dealings with Nigerians. The government cannot say one thing and do another.
The government should restructure our security services to be more proactive. Emphasizes should be focused more on preventing crimes, meaning that our security services should be more intelligence driven. The security services most cleanse itself of corrupt personnel(s), who have collaborated with criminals, kidnappers, killers etc. Nigerians should volunteer information/intelligence to the security services. For security reasons, Information can be volunteered anonymously, that way the identity of the informants can be protected. Ex governor Buba Marwa of Lagos State, tried this formula when he launched Operation Sweep (a security outfit to fight crimes) in Lagos.
Nigerians can also borrow the techniques used by the former East German Secret Police (Stasi). In the former East Germany, people were spying each other for the good of the state. Cuba used similar method at the early days of Fidel Castro’s revolution. The danger with this method is that people might tip their enemies as suspects. But that will require thorough investigations on the part of the security services, to ascertain who is guilty o not. This method if used effectively will have the potentials of reducing crimes drastically. No sacrifice will be too much for the security of Nigerians.
I will suggest community policing within each community/village by the villagers. I will also suggest a network of, and collaboration of community police with each community. I will also suggest a collaboration of the security services with the community leaders, community police or village vigilante groups. May God bless Nigeria.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta.
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group” Leicester-UK